Tales from the Tread: An opportunity to do something remarkable
October 5, 2016
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs is well known for its distinctive western hospitality, where real-time cowboys co-mingle with Olympic skiers. The connection between our ranching and skiing heritage is authentic — evident more than a century ago when Carl Howelsen introduced recreational skiing to this agricultural community.
Prominently located at the base of Steamboat Ski Area in the corner of the Meadows parking lot near Mount Werner Road, stands the historic Arnold Barn. It has become an iconic symbol of our ranching and skiing heritage and of our changing economy.
The barn has had many names over the years: the Arnold Barn for the ranching family that owned the property from 1927 until 1961, when the newly formed Storm Mountain Ski Corporation bought it; the Butterfly Barn during the 1980s when a local artist installed decorative wooden butterflies to the exterior; and most recently, the Mount Werner Barn for its location.
Neglected for many years, this barn is now in critical condition. No longer used for agriculture or ski area equipment storage, the property where the barn stands has been the object of bankruptcy and foreclosure. Preservationists, architects and concerned citizens fear that if work to stabilize the structure does not occur before winter, the barn will be lost forever.
The Tread of Pioneers Museum and Historic Routt County (HRC) share the mission to keep significant local buildings and their stories preserved for our current and future community. The Tread of Pioneers Museum preserves and shares the documents, photos, oral histories and objects that tell the stories of our past, while HRC helps willing property owners document and preserve the area’s character-defining historic buildings and structures for the future.
Our authentic western history is key to major tourism marketing efforts. Heritage tourism is a powerful economic development tool, especially in towns with seasonal economies. Studies have shown that heritage tourists visit year round, stay longer and spend more money than other visitors.
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By preserving and celebrating the area’s rich history, we can reap the community and economic benefits of heritage tourism. This requires the understanding, investment and commitment of local leaders, landowners and the community. Our actions today will have lasting results.
Preserving the Arnold/Butterfly Barn can be the opportunity for all parties to do something remarkable: to demonstrate stewardship of an important, unique community resource.
Save Arnold Barn is an ad hoc community action group created to work constructively with the barn’s owners, city entities, the Urban Renewal Authority Advisory Committee (URAAC), Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and other interested parties to preserve the landmark Arnold Barn and enable it to serve the Steamboat Springs community in the future.
Our goal is to bring the past, the present and the future together under one roof to showcase the beautiful tapestry that tells the story of who we were, who we are and who we can be. To learn more and/or to join this initiative, contact Historic Routt County at 970-875-1305 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Candice Bannister is executive director of Tread of Pioneers Museum and Arianthé Stettner is a member of the Historic Routt County Advisory Committee.