Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs Editor's note: The date of the fundraiser was incorrect in the print version of this story. The story has been updated below with the correct information.
Editor's note: Portions of this column originally published in September 2005.
South Routt County's historic Diamond Window Cabin is decaying further with every harsh Northwest Colorado winter, and now the constituents of Historic Routt County are pulling out all the stops. They even plan to have fun doing it.
Live music, handcrafted birdhouses with diamond windows and even original artwork depicting the 90-plus-year-old cabin will carry the day 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Stagecoach State Park. The all-day fundraiser is planned to raise money to help with the restoration of the cabin that once was part of a stagecoach stop on the climb up Yellowjacket Pass.
There will be group bicycle rides, fishing and food. The admission price of $15 a person (children younger than 12 will be admitted for free) covers the state parks entry pass and a donation.
Towny Anderson, of Historic Routt County, pledged in a column in this newspaper in March to complete the restoration of the cabin.
"Next fall, we will all see a restored Diamond Window Cabin once again standing proudly on the west side of Blacktail Mountain watching over Stagecoach Reservoir," Anderson wrote. "How will we accomplish all this? With a little bit of luck, generous contributions, a lot of hard work and a new partnership with Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus."
This summer, the sagging building will become a laboratory for a four-week course in the restoration of historic log buildings being conducted through Colorado Mountain College.
It could prove to be just the tonic the historic building needs.
For at least 90 years and perhaps longer, travelers in South Routt County have admired the simple architecture of the "Diamond Window Cabin." Most likely, they first gazed at it from the windows of passing stagecoaches, and later from the power windows of sleek SUVs and big pickups cruising past Stagecoach Reservoir.
The cabin is situated close to Routt County Road 14 on property owned by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. It is noteworthy for its squared log timbers, but most of all for the offset rectangular window beneath the gable. The diamond window is reminiscent of other historic buildings not far away in the upper end of Pleasant Valley.
The Diamond Window Cabin is in a corner of the Morrison Creek Valley. It sits overlooking the historic route of a stagecoach line running north from the rail terminal at Wolcott to Steamboat Springs and Hahn's Peak beyond.
Researcher Marty Alexandroff uncovered oral reports from several people that the cabin was built in the 1880s, but they could not be confirmed. The first official record of the purchase of the land on which it sits dates to 1911, when it was acquired by Park J. "PJ" Gardner under the terms of the Homestead Act of 1862.
The timbers forming the walls of the cabin are sawed logs that were scraped and notched. The southeast side of the cabin is deteriorating where light shines through the wood shingles and the remaining sawed-lumber roof.
"Because of the extent of the deterioration, the restoration will involve repair and wholesale replacement of sections of the sill logs where they rotted into the hillside. The loss of drainage above the cabin caused water to pool around the sill logs, saturating them time and again with every rainstorm. Years of winter snows were banked against the logs, as well, keeping them moist and ripe for decay," Anderson wrote in March.
You can learn more about saving the Diamond Window Cabin under the event heading at www.historicrouttcounty.org or by calling Meg Tully at 970-736-1175.
It's a chance to play a small role in preserving the area's pioneer history.