Saturday, February 1, 2003
Steamboat Springs Bill Fetcher is spending part of his winter tearing apart an old self-propelled hay baler and putting it back together again. His family purchased the red New Holland on Lincoln Avenue in 1959. The implement dealer was named Boggs, as in Boggs Hardware.
"The motor is in my shop right now," Fetcher said. "That baler put up a lot of hay."
The days when businesses sold farm tractors on Steamboat's main street are gone for good. And soon, Boggs Hardware will fade into history as well. The last hardware store on Lincoln held a going-out-of-business sale this week.
Fetcher possesses encyclopedic knowledge of Steamboat's history and his recollections of downtown businesses are a reminder that Lincoln Avenue commerce has gone through several evolutions.
Counting Boggs Hardware, Lincoln Avenue was once home to five automotive and implement dealerships during the 1950s. Boggs displayed Ford and New Holland tractors on a vacant lot where the Canton restaurant now stands (some people will recall the Dairy King that occupied that spot as recently as the '70s), Fetcher said.
Steamboat Motors once sold Jeeps and Pontiacs out of a location now known as the Old West Building. The dealership shared that building with Safeway.
The Luekens brothers sold Chrysler and Dodge automobiles, as well as Farmall and International Harvester implements, from a building at Ninth and Lincoln now occupied by the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, High Country Furniture and Three Rivers Gallery.
Homer Bash was the proprietor of Bash Buick across Ninth Street, the building that houses Steamboat Art Co. today. Campbell Motors showed shiny new Chevys and Fords in a showroom next to the Harbor Hotel. The building houses a variety of retail shops today.
Other kinds of businesses have also departed Lincoln Avenue for good. Convenience stores have replaced independent grocers, and all but one of the numerous full-service gas stations that once occupied every prime corner in town. Center Grocery once existed in the golden 800 block of Lincoln where the Cantina is located today. The little grocery struggled with a lack of parking, Fetcher recalled. Boys Market persisted for many years in the space behind Lyon's Drug, where Oak Street Plaza now exists. Safeway once occupied the brick building now occupied by Straightline Outdoor Sports and Embellishments. Once upon a time, there was a five and dime called Ben Franklin in downtown Steamboat, and even a second hardware store.