Steamboat Springs “Dad, can we go to the cemetery sometime?”
The question came innocently enough from my daughter, Casey. We had passed a few on a recent road trip and had worn the “People are just dying to get in there” joke thin. But in the process, she asked if Steamboat had one.
So this spring, I took her and a few friends there on a whim before their Saturday basketball game, turning north by the Steamboat Springs Transit Center onto Conestoga Circle followed by a quick left onto Cemetery Drive.
Once there, they scampered over its rolling hills looking for the oldest birth year they could find. The years moved back from Robert Amos, 1880; to Eddy Herbert, 1859; Josephine Jones, 1850; and finally the winner, Eliza Mosser, 1817, which Casey called out proudly.
More important than keeping the kids occupied, it painted a picture of the locals who lived here centuries ago as well as the hardships they endured and the joys of small-town living they got to celebrate. The hardships manifested themselves in the young ages etched onto many tombs, including 16-year-olds Thomas Foster and Mary Novell, who died in 1932 and 1926, respectively; 4-year-old Elinor Vancha, who died in 1918; and the infant McKinney twins from 1926.
But it also told a tale of fixtures in Steamboat long before us, from the town-founding Crawfords to the Klines, Werners and Hitchens, who are honored today with the Hitchens brothers ski jumping nights on Howelsen Hill.
The point is, they were all locals just like you and me. They might have had different priorities — running the ranch instead of local trails, planting fields instead of poles and peddling wares instead of pedaling Mount Werner — but they were locals to the core, living here for the same quality-of-life reasons we do.
What they didn’t have is a magazine like Steamboat Living honoring them every year. So what better reason to celebrate our own fixtures of town than to bring you this annual look at some of our favorite locals, as nominated by our readers.
And by calling attention to some of today’s marquee residents, hopefully you’ll be inspired to take a trip up Cemetery Drive and pay respects to some of those who paved the way before us. Just let us know if you find a birthday before 1817.