Monday, November 20, 2000
Steamboat Springs On Saturday, Feb. 6, 1915, Carl Howelsen raced down a 200-yard ski slope with a 60-degree pitch and took off, flinging himself 127 feet through the air the first ski jump on the hill that would later bear his name.
Did he think, perhaps at the moment when he reached the apex of his jump over the small town of Steamboat Springs, that he was participating in a historic moment? Or was he concentrating on his landing, which, according to "The History of Skiing at Steamboat Springs," by Sureva Towler, caused Howelsen to wrench his ankle?
The Colorado Historical Society Review Board was quite keen to the historic nature of Howelsen's feat and the importance of the site when it voted unanimously Friday to approve Howelsen Hill for the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties. Once it is reviewed by the society's board of directors on Dec. 13, it can be put on the state's list of historic places. The board is almost certain to approve the site, said an official from the historical society.
The designation of Howelsen as a historic property was an unprecedented event for a ski area in Colorado, which has its share of antique slopes.
"The ski industry is so much a part of Colorado's history, but it hasn't been considered historic until now," said Laureen Schaffer, the city's historical preservation specialist.
Howelsen, Schaffer said, is the oldest continually used ski area in the West, being used as a recreational skiing area as early as the winter of 1914-1915. Howelsen spearheaded the effort to make the hill a ski area, helping organize the Winter Carnival in 1915.
Since then, the area has hosted a number of events, including the international World Cup, which will come to Steamboat again in January 2001. Groups such as the Winter Sports Club have helped teach the young people of the town to ski, many of whom have gone on to the Winter Olympics.
"It's a real feather in the hat for a ski area to get on the state register," said Councilwoman Arianthe Stettner, who attended the review along with Council President Kevin Bennett, the president of Historic Routt County Kathe McCoy and Schaffer.
Being placed on the list of registered historic sites is more than just a "feather in the hat," though.
It allows the city to obtain grant money for the hill and may aid it in preserving the site as is.
Preservation of Howelsen Hill, however, is a controversial issue in the wake of recent attempts to place telecommunications facilities on the hill.
Sprint, which applied for the site over a year ago, may have difficulty in obtaining a permit for the site because of historical considerations.
On its own, designation of Howelsen as a historical site does not preclude carriers from building a wireless facility. That decision is up to the city.
But, if the Colorado Historical Society finds that the company's tower would have an adverse impact on a historical site, it could ask Sprint to mitigate that impact or suffer possible legal action, said Colorado Historical Society Intergovernmental Services Director Kaaren Hardy.
This "Section 106" review begins when Sprint submits an application and will be completed within 30 days.
Sprint is subject to this review because it is looking to establish service under a federal commission (the Federal Communications Commission), Hardy said.
Section 106 of the Historic Preservation Act requires federal agencies to consider the possible adverse effects their actions may have on historic properties.
And the city isn't stopping at state designation. The site will be considered for the National Register of Historic Properties on Dec. 13.
To reach Avi Salzman call 871-4203 or e-mail email@example.com