Monday, December 18, 2000
Steamboat Springs The Tread of Pioneers Museum in downtown Steamboat Springs houses a significant collection of historical skiing artifacts and photographs.
There are the long wooden skis of the late, great four-way skier Gordy Wren and the original "Snurfer," forerunner of the modern snowboard, which was created by Steamboat resident Sherm Poppen.
But until this week, visitors couldn't always count on seeing those items when they stopped by the museum. That's because up until now, the museum had not created a permanent exhibit space for its ski collection.
The Tread of Pioneers unveils "Skiing: The Turn of Three Centuries" along with a permanent collection of significant items from Routt County's history in "Tread Through Our Past," 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday during an opening party for the new exhibit.
"When people come to Steamboat and visit the historical museum, they expect to see a skiing exhibit," museum director Marty Woodbury said. "Ski Town USA now has a permanent ski exhibit. We think it's one of only two permanent ski museums in the state." The Colorado Ski Museum in Vail is the other.
Woodbury said the Tread of Pioneers hasn't displayed a full historical skiing exhibit for two years. That's due largely to the old exhibit space, which necessitated taking down and storing the ski memorabilia in order to display rotating exhibits.
Now, Woodbury, together with local graphic artist Matt Scharf, Jayne Hill and Candace Lombardo, has redesigned the museum's revolving gallery space.
The exhibit room has been split in two by a clever design of interior walls that presents many different planes for museum display.
In addition to a collection of skis that are representative of each decade in Steamboat's long history of skiing, there are new laminated panels that tell the story of different eras, from skiing pioneers to the rise of snowboarding. The displays are enhanced by new cabinetry created by Rick Bear.
Woodbury contributed one of the most creative ideas in the new exhibit.
At her suggestion, a period window sash from Richard Boyes old office at Seventh and Lincoln, was inserted into the wall between the two exhibits.
From the ski exhibit side of the wall, visitors can peer into the Routt County exhibit at an old pot-bellied stove.
From the Routt County side, one can stand right next to the saddle J.C. Trujillo used to win the world bareback bronc riding contest, and look through the window at one of the most amazing ski relics in the museum one of the original wooden chairs from the Emerald Mountain single chairlift.
Visitors to "Tread Through Our Past" will want to check out a recent addition to the museum's collection as well.
Woodbury said the staff of the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center was sorting through a closet recently when they found an old Jantzen women's bathing suit dating back to the 1930s. The lime green suit is complete with matching bathing shoes.
Ultimately, the museum will create a new rotating exhibit space by moving the current gift shop away from its location on the Eighth Street side of the building. The gift shop space will be reduced to an area behind the reception counter, but those changes will not occur until summer.
The public is invited to Wednesday's gala opening of the exhibit and Woodbury is confident they won't be disappointed by the site that greets them at the entrance to the display it's a life-sized mannequin wearing one of Claudius Banks' early "lighted man" skiing costumes originally worn during Winter Carnival.