Jim and Judy Kendall have seen Routt County’s population grow and shift, change and expand.
From their home near Stagecoach Reservoir — they’re not quite in South Routt and not quite in Steamboat Springs, “just Routt County,” Judy says — the Kendalls have seen their little corner of the world grow.
And few have had a better vantage point of that growth than Jim, who has seen Steamboat explode from the cab of his grooming machine, which he mans on the slopes of Mount Werner at night all winter long.
Sometimes it’s been hard, the Kendalls admit, watching concrete truck after concrete truck rumble past the 110-year-old log home where they raised their three children.
Both have deeply rooted connections to the valley. Jim’s family settled in the area in 1939 and ranched on a large swath of land that stretched along Yellow Jacket Pass. Judy’s family, meanwhile, got its start in Routt County when her coal-mining grandfather moved to the area in the 1940s in search of a healthier climate.
She actually grew up in Fort Collins, but after more than 30 years living in the valley, she said she’s finally starting to settle in.
The couple keeps a few head of cattle to keep their ranching roots alive, and they’re active in the community. During the winter, they plow the driveways of nearby neighbors and during the summer they help a sometimes seemingly endless stream of tourists by pointing them to the lake, helping to change a tire or coming up with a gallon of gas.
They’ve seen the Yampa Valley change, they said. Sometimes it’s hurt, but they both agreed they’ve never been more at home.
“We’re almost not even locals any more,” Judy said with a laugh. “Now we’re just old-timers.”