'The Pilot' gets new sign

Historic stage wagon named after newspaper

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The stage wagon on display at the Steamboat Springs Visitors Center was used at the turn of the 20th century for daily service between Steamboat Springs and Wolcott. A one-way ticket cost about $6.50 in 1903.

— The last time Steamboat Springs author John Rolfe Burroughs traveled by stage wagon in 1903, the wagon tipped over three times, sending "husbands flying through the air to land sometimes upside down in a snow bank."

The "rather nightmarish" experience chronicling what it was like to travel from Wolcott to Steamboat Springs at the turn of the century has been captured in an interpretive sign adorning the relic near the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association building off Anglers Drive and Lincoln Avenue.

Candice Lombardo, executive director of the Tread of Pioneers Museum, said the sign has been instrumental in providing the public with information about the stage wagon's history.

Named after the Steamboat Pilot, the stage wagon was donated to the museum years ago and was moved to its current site in 1997. The stage wagon's sister, "The Sentinel," was named after another Steamboat Springs newspaper. The two wagons were used from 1890 to 1909 to take up to 15 passengers the 74 miles from Wolcott to Steamboat.

Burroughs' experience as well as stage wagon rules like not swearing or "lopping over on your neighbor when sleeping" are included on the sign, Lombardo said.

"We wanted to increase awareness of this great artifact," she said. "It's really neat that the main wagon that carried people is still around."

After receiving the artifact, the museum carefully restored and refurbished the wagon. The Sentinel's whereabouts are not known.

Lombardo said it's interesting to think about what it must have been like to depend on stage wagons as a main form of transportation.

"Transportation in Northwest Colorado has changed so much the last 100 years with the building of Rabbit Ears Pass and the railroads that came through in 1909," she said. "Before that, traveling by stage wagon was it."

The stage wagon is always on display, though viewing is best during the day, Lombardo said.

Residents and visitors are encouraged to stop by the Tread of Pioneers Museum, 800 Oak St., for more information on Routt County history and to see the museum's collection of artifacts. The museum's new hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday starting Dec. 19. Cost is free for Routt County residents and $5 for non-resident adults, $4 for non-resident seniors and $1 for non-resident children.

That's less than the $6.50 cost to ride the stage wagon in Burroughs' day.

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