County history by bicycle

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A century ago, Jim Norvell was one of those people who did everything.

Known as the first developer in Routt County, Norvell owned a general store in Hayden, was a rancher and mayor in Steamboat Springs and spread his faith as a colorful cowboy preacher.

Residents and visitors can learn more about Norvell and Routt County's roots during a historic bike tour Saturday in Steamboat.

The Craig House, one of Norvell's homes in Routt County, will be among six stops on the excursion, organized by the city of Steamboat Springs Historic Preservation Program.

The free tour will begin at Howelsen Hill lodge at 10 a.m. and end at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp at about noon.

Among the stops will be the Crawford House on Crawford Avenue in downtown Steamboat. The Crawfords were the first settlers in Steamboat.

The Romanesque Revival-style home, completed in 1894, is the oldest on the tour and is close to being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, said Laureen Schaffer, city historic preservation specialist.

The tour also will visit the Christian Science Church on Oak Street. The 1930s-era log building has a river-rock foundation and other examples of early construction techniques, Schaffer said.

City staff, homeowners and historians will be on hand at each stop to talk about the buildings' historical significance and importance to the community.

For example, Jeff Nelson of the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Department will talk about the history of Howelsen Hill, which evolved as a skiing hub in 1914 and 1915 and is named for Carl Howelsen.

The hill, which planted the seeds for Steamboat Springs' skiing heritage, is an appropriate start to the tour, Schaffer said.

"It's our greatest historical asset," she said. "It's really the anchor piece for the community."

The Historic Preservation Program is guiding the tour as a part of National Historic Preservation Month.

Organizers had many historical sites to choose from for the tour but tried to focus on areas not visited on a previous tour conducted a few years ago, Schaffer said.

All sites on Saturday's bicycle tour are listed on local, state or national historic registries. Howelsen Hill, for example, is listed on the state registry and buildings at Perry-Mansfield are part of the national registry.

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