Local tradition should keep residents on their toes

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— The Tread of Pioneers Museum and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association can't make you a millionaire. But they've left $100 lying around somewhere within the city limits, and beginning today in Steamboat Today, they'll start providing clues on where you can find the dough.

The money won't be found in cash instead, it's in the form a three-foot-long log that weighs about 50 pounds.

The first clue in the traditional search for the Yule Log is as follows: Of course you'd stare, if you could see Exactly where they've hidden me. Last year I was at Eighth and Oak Now start the hunt, pry and poke.

A Steamboat tradition that has continued for more than 20 years is the annual search for the "Yule Log," with clues provided in the newspaper on and local radio stations. The first person to put the clues together and follow them to the log wins a chamber gift certificate for $100, good at any chamber member. The most successful log hunters have an appreciation for local history, Jayne Hill said. She is in her fourth year of writing the clues.

The clues are more than straightforward prose the clue-meister must be clever enough to weave them into a rhyming poem that both tantalizes and entertains.

For more than a decade, TIC employee Jon Bower was the clue master, and three different times, he stumped the panel and no one found the log. Now, Hill, a local historian, crafts the 10 daily clues with bits of history to test locals' knowledge of their hometown.

The Yule Log search has become a kinder, gentler contest since Hill took over from the irascible Bower.

"If Jon was clever enough with his clues and no one found the log, he got to keep the money," Hill explained. "I write them so that it can be found."

Bower's arrangement with the chamber allowed him to keep the gift certificate if no one was able to find the log by Christmas Day. Thus, Bower had a strong incentive to make his hiding place difficult and his clues nearly inscrutable.

Bower had a pretty profitable run back in 1986 and 1987 when no one found the log. But sharp-eye city bus driver Mark Krueger solved Bower's puzzle in 1988 when he spied the log on the roof of the gazebo that protects Soda Spring in Lincoln Park.

The first clue is always a reminder of where the log was found last year it was under the back porch at the museum in 1999 and the clues remain pretty difficult for the first eight days. Don't worry about missing a clue on the weekend; they are suspended for two days and resume the following Monday.

Shauna Waterson found the log last year. Skip Dierdorff and Kurt Mohler found the log on Christmas Day 1998 and Matt Stoddard teamed with David Snow to find the log both in 1997 and 1996.

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