Lovely local ladies

Museum honors women who shaped Yampa Valley

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The things we struggle with today seem like nothing compared to what some of Yampa Valley's pioneering women experienced.

Some of them operated ranches. Others "focused on art and culture, and their legacy lives on," said Candice Lombardo, executive director of the Tread of Pioneers Museum.

Lovely Local Ladies

noon and 5:30 p.m. Wednesday

The Tread of Pioneers Museum

Free

879-2214

To honor Women's History Month, the museum is hosting a "Lovely Local Ladies" program that will feature character monologues depicting the lives of Routt County's most influential women from the past. The women to be honored include Margaret Duncan Brown, Eleanor Bliss, Emma Peck, Lulie Crawford, Marjorie Perry and Dorothy Wither.

Margaret Duncan Brown's story is Lombardo's favorite "because it is so heart-wrenching," she said. "I think her story is truly inspirational."

Brown came to the Yampa Valley as a newlywed eager to pursue her dream of owning a ranch in Colorado. Within three years, her husband died as a result of the flu epidemic.

"Her story was about getting back on her feet and sticking it out," Lombardo said. Brown spent the next 42 years ranching and rearing sheep by herself.

Brown's two-story log home still stands off Elk River Road just outside of Clark. Upon returning to her home after her husband died, Brown wrote, "The room looked indeed as though a battle had been fought in it. A man's life had been lost. He had been the other half of my life."

Brown also was a talented writer who published the novel "Shepherdess of Elk River Valley."

"I lived each day to shreds, just ragging it out until nothing was left of the day," Brown wrote. "Let me remember I am a woman in a man's place; that I must have the guts of a man and the patience of a woman."

Each of the other women to be featured Wednesday contributed significantly to the development of the Yampa Valley.

Lulie Crawford was a painter and the oldest daughter of James and Maggie Crawford, the founders of Steamboat Springs.

Emma Peck was the first year-round teacher in Hayden, organized the first Routt County teacher's association and later became the superintendent of schools.

Eleanor Bliss founded the Steamboat Springs Council for the Arts and Humanities in 1971, and she led the committee to renovate the Depot Art Center.

Marjorie Perry was the founder and leader of the writing program at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, and she was the sister of Charlotte Perry, who founded Perry-Mansfield. She also was the person who convinced Carl Howelsen to come to Steamboat.

Dorothy Wither, who will be represented by her niece, Tiffany Wither Leeson, founded the Tread of Pioneers Museum. She was a business icon who owned and operated "The Dorothy Shop," a women's fashion store for 46 years.

The history of the Yampa Valley is entrenched with stories of struggle and triumph. The Lovely Local Ladies program will emulate the experiences of our founding female icons.

"We want to honor the women who shaped our valley," Lombardo said.

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