Rock Creek Stage Stop restored

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Before Rabbit Ears Pass was even an inkling, travelers made their way to Routt County by horse through the only route available: Gore Pass. After crossing the steepest leg of the pass, travelers could rest at the only place available, the Rock Creek Stage Stop.

From about 1880 to the 1930s, the two-story log building served as a post office, motel and supply store for Wells Fargo Stagecoach carriers, settlers and other freight runners.

But since then, the building has deteriorated and almost collapsed. In 2000, it was placed on Colorado Preservation Inc.'s Most Endangered Places list.

In the past six years, Historic Routt County and the Tread of Pioneers Museum have raced to save Rock Creek Stage Stop before it was lost. After several years, fund-raisers, grants and donations, the once endangered building has been completely restored.

The original building had no foundation, so during the restoration process, a foundation was poured onto which the building was set and anchored. Interior braces were installed and window panes put in to keep out the elements.

Historic Routt County will host a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. today celebrating the years of work that have gone into restoring the landmark. The Gates family, whose ancestors built the stage stop, will hold a family reunion at the site at the same time.

Jayne Hill of Historic Routt County said major work was completed last year, but Historic Routt County wanted to coordinate the ribbon-cutting ceremony for a time when the Gates family could attend.

The most recent work on the structure included painting and cleaning for today's ceremony.

Several years back, though, much more vital work was needed. In the fall of 1997, a group had to brace the building to prevent the winter's snow loads from crushing it, Hill said.

The Rock Creek Stage Stop was a one-day ride from Steamboat Springs up what is now Colorado Highway 131. A trail also went from the stage stop to what is now State Bridge. Near the stop were pastures and corrals where tired horses could spend a few days munching on mountain hay and meadow grass.

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