Tales from the Tread: Exhibit celebrates 50 years

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The Tread of Pioneers Museum has spearheaded an exhibit partnership to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of two of Steamboat Springs’ finest institutions: Colorado Mountain College and Bud Werner Memorial Library. The exhibit, “A Legacy of Learning” provides a historical perspective of these institutions, from their founding to the thriving programs and services they provide the community today.

If you go

What: A Legacy of Learning: Celebrating 50 Years of Colorado Mountain College and the Bud Werner Memorial Library

Where: Tread of Pioneers Museum, 800 Oak St.

When: March 24 through Sept. 24

More information: treadofpioneers.org,

Tales from the Tread

Tales from the Tread columns publish the first and third Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today.

CMC and the library attribute much of their success to the Steamboat Springs community, which has embraced education, arts and culture from the town’s beginnings. The pioneer efforts to establish the town’s first schools and library are a testament to the commitment and fortitude required for the foundation of our early educational establishments in rural Northwest Colorado.

Today, the Steamboat community enjoys the fruits of a 50-year history of the local library’s and college’s unique services and programs that helped shape our extraordinary mountain town.

Colorado Mountain College

“We are thrilled and grateful to partner with the Tread of Pioneers Museum to showcase Colorado Mountain College’s rich history,” said Kevin Williams, library director at Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs. “We are celebrating our 50th anniversary throughout the entire CMC network, and each of our 11 campuses has a unique story to tell. Here in Steamboat, our story begins with the vision of Lucy Bogue and the many dedicated members of this community that helped turn that vision into reality.”

Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs was originally Yampa Valley College, which opened in 1962 as a private, four-year liberal arts college specializing in international relations.

Once Bogue, who founded Yampa Valley College, had successfully convinced academics, voters and community members that Steamboat was a perfect location for a college, she needed a campus. The first-year campus encompassed the entire town. Classrooms were in church basements, the cafeteria was composed of select tables at the Harbor Hotel and dormitories were hotel rooms.

Eventually, Woodchuck Hill, once the site of Carl Howelsen’s first Winter Carnival in 1914, became the permanent site of Yampa Valley College and, eventually, Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs.

After several major transitions, including foreclosure, salesand purchases, the campus joined the Colorado Mountain College network of campuses in 1981. Since then, the number of degrees offered has grown more than tenfold, and the number of students, faculty, and staff has quadrupled.

Thanks to support throughout Colorado and within the Steamboat community, locally provided higher education has been a success. The campus continues to elevate this remote community, and citizens continue to embrace the opportunity for creativity, inclusion, and knowledge.

Bud Werner Memorial Library

A library in Steamboat Springs was inspired by a young bachelor named William Dennison, who arrived in 1885. Dennison wrote letters ] to his family in Vermont describing the magnificent countryside and the kind and hospitable people in the new pioneered town. In those letters, Dennison expressed how the few books he could lend his friends brought them great enjoyment and appreciation. When Dennison died in 1887, his family gathered 1,000 volumes from their own library and shipped them west to the Yampa Valley to create the William Dennison Library.

In 1889, the town built its first public building for its library, public meetings and church services. Library Hall was located downtown on the north side of Pine Street, between Seventh and Eighth streets. In 1910, the building burned, and all but 400 volumes were lost to fire, but the community did not give up its library. The library was relocated several more times until it found a permanent location on 13th Street in 1967.

The Bud Werner Memorial Library was built and dedicated in memory of world-class Alpine ski racer and American skiing icon, Wallace “Bud” Werner, who died tragically in a 1964 avalanche in Switzerland.

During its founding year in 1967, Bud Werner Memorial Library served a population of 2,000 residents with a collection of 5,000 volumes. By the mid 1980s, as the town’s population had more than doubled, the library’s collection had grown to include 25,000 books, audio recordings, maps and periodicals.

The past 30 years has seen two significant facility expansions and continued rapid growth and change, in terms of number of patrons, technology and available collections. The current library facility, completed in 2008 and 2009, is a cornerstone for local learning, inspiration and entertainment. Currently, the library serves more than 1,000 patrons per day, has 295,000 collections (digital and physical) available, and hosted 709 events and programs in 2016.

“Ever since the establishment of the first free, public library in Steamboat Springs in the late 1880s, our community has placed a high value on books, culture and lifelong learning,” said Chris Painter, library director. “When the Bud Werner Memorial Library opened its doors 50 years ago, it was impossible to imagine the dramatic changes that technology would have on libraries and library services today. Despite those changes, the library remains at the very center of community life, and we are proud to celebrate our heritage with CMC and the Tread of Pioneers Museum.”

Candice Bannister is executive director of Tread of Pioneers Museum.

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