Moss, Perry honored | SteamboatToday.com

Moss, Perry honored

Museum hands out annual Leckenby and Larson awards

Mary Jean Perry, of Toponas, receives the Leckenby Pioneer Award from Jim Stanko on Monday night.

A do-it-yourself community librarian from South Routt and a North Routt historian who built his own museum were honored Monday night for their historic contributions to the broader community.

Mary Jean Perry, of Toponas, received the Leckenby Pioneer Award, and the late Robert “Bob” Moss received the Stanley L. Larson Award on Monday during ceremonies hosted by Tread of Pioneers Museum.

Perry, whose great-grandfather homesteaded the region known as Egeria, started the first library in South Routt. Today, she works in the Yampa Library and operates her own library in Toponas. The Toponas library, in a room above her home, was public until just a few years ago. But anyone still is welcome to drop by.

“It’s on the honor system,” Perry said after Monday night’s ceremonies at United Methodist Church in Steamboat Springs. “I’ve had a car load of foreign students drop by. And once, a group of people on those fancy motorcycles came in.”

Perry has proven a significant repository of local knowledge herself. Many people seeking to know more details about pioneer ancestors have contacted her. However, Leckenby Award committee member Jim Stanko said her greatest contribution might have been her determined work on behalf of rural electrification, an effort that spanned three decades.

“The rural areas of Routt County did not get electricity until after 1940,” Stanko said. “They were supposed to flip the switch on Dec. 7, 1941, but something else (the bombing of Pearl Harbor) happened, and they had to wait until the next day. But they really didn’t string wires until after World War II. It was just 55 years ago that some of these places were just getting electrical power.”

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Moss was a leading figure in the modern history of North Routt County. He and his family moved to Red Barn Ranch on Seedhouse Road in 1964 after selling their cattle ranch near Collbran.

He continued ranching in North Routt but also successfully developed the Elk Ridge Homesite, Running Elk and Mountain Leisure Subdivision. Hundreds of Routt County school children knew him for the charming museum he kept on his property dubbed The House of Yesteryear. Among other household items and tools, The House of Yesteryear housed Moss’s collection of antique washing machines, most of which were manufactured before 1920.

The private museum, which still is kept by his family, is a wonder, but Stanko credited Moss with reviving the community of Hahn’s Peak, which had languished in the years after the gold rush and the removal of the county seat to Steamboat.

“It took an individual to bring that little area back, and Bob Moss took on the responsibility,” Stanko said.

He played a major role in establishing the North Routt fire station near the Clark Store. His impact also was felt in Steamboat Springs, where he sat on the board of a bank and contributed to a significant piece of public art.

However, it was his willingness to work for the preservation of North Routt history that likely earned him the Larson Award.

He was a founder and lifetime member of the Hahn’s Peak Civic and Social Club, which later became known as the Hahn’s Peak Area Historical Society. They built the Hahn’s Peak Museum and recovered the historic Routt County Jail from Steamboat. He also helped move the powder house from the Royal Flush Mine.

– To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com