Our view: Breathing life into history
April 4, 2017
The Three Wire Winter collection of magazine articles and oral histories are being published online for the first time.
These stories, both written and oral, that chronicle our rich history should be shared with the world.
A collaboration between Bud Werner Memorial Library and the Tread of Pioneers Museum is breathing new life into a collection of oral histories that tell the stories of our area's history through the voices of some of this town's pioneers.
Last week, the project was introduced to the community, and we think it's incredibly exciting that the very words of some of Steamboat and Routt County's most celebrated citizens, once trapped inside decades-old cassette tapes, are now accessible to the world thanks to the digital age and the vision of library and museum staff.
The audio interviews were part of Three Wire Winter, a magazine project launched in 1976 by now-retired Steamboat Springs High School teachers Bill McKelvie and Tanna Brock. We owe a debt of gratitude to these two educators who pursued the idea of recruiting students to produce a magazine dedicated to local history.
The magazine was aptly named Three Wire Winter — a title that references the Routt County tradition of ranking the severity of winters by counting how many strands of barbed wire were buried in snow and encapsulates our area's rich ranching history.
Three Wire Winter enjoyed a 12-year run and then was almost forgotten, relegated to the museum's archives. That is until library staff began looking for a digitization project to tackle and chose the magazine project as its focus. The library's enthusiasm for bringing the Three Wire Winter back to life was shared by museum staff, who had already begun digitizing the oral interviews.
That shared passion, combined with the library's affiliation with the Marmot system, have now positioned those Three Wire Winter interviews to go global. The library has published the first seven of the magazine's issues through the worldwide Marmot system with plans to eventually place every magazine and every interview online.
In addition to the original articles and interviews, library staff have been adding online links to related material, which increases the searchability of Three Wire Winter and makes the stories of Ferry Carpenter, Hazie Werner, Wayne Light and many more accessible to a worldwide audience for the first time ever.
There's something serendipitous about converting this source material, which included oral histories on cassette tapes and magazine stories on paper, and making them available to a new audience on a robust and highly accessible website.
There are also plans for the magazine to be revived next year at the high school, and we think this presents the perfect opportunity to continue preserving the rich history of Steamboat and Routt County. It's a project we'd like to see happen, and this newspaper has pledged its support to help educators and students at the high school resurrect Three Wire Winter in print and online.
It's important that we don't let stories go untold, especially as some of our most interesting and inspiring citizens, including a host of Olympians, are growing older. And who better to tell their stories then a group of young aspiring writers in search of their roots.
The stories and history found in the original Three Wire Winter are definitely worth emulating, worth preserving, and most importantly, worth sharing with the world.