Book chronicles history of Routt County | SteamboatToday.com

Book chronicles history of Routt County

Jim Crawford/For Explore Steamboat







Dee Richard’s book “Steamboat Round the Bend” is likely the best book ever written about the early history of Steamboat Springs. Richards was a journalist for the Steamboat Pilot newspaper for many years. In 1975, she wrote 15 articles for the paper to celebrate the city’s centennial birthday. The following year, she wove the articles together to incorporate wonderful early photographs and an interview with the founder of Steamboat, James H. Crawford.

The result was “Steamboat Round the Bend.”

Each of the 19 chapters goes into detail about one phase of early pioneer life: the Crawford family, hot springs bath houses, schools, hotels, transportation, post offices, libraries, churches, Fourth of July celebrations, hospitals, fires, trains, town incorporation, newspapers, telephone, Winter Carnival, county courthouses, Main Street and early homes. The emphasis in her writing was to cover the pioneer years starting with the first settlers and extending through the arrival of the railroad in 1909. But she extended the history up to 1975, where appropriate; for example, the chapter on the railroad ends with the opening of the depot in 1909 but the chapter on fires describes the 1961 fire in the county annex and the new fire station built in 1975.

I have only two minor complaints with the book. First — as is often the case in the journalistic world, where deadlines are more important than accuracy — some of the details, such as dates, were incorrect in the original newspaper articles, and some of these errors were carried over to the book. This printing of the book includes an errata page at the end that points out the most egregious of these errors.

Second, there are gaps in the coverage I wish Richards could have used her writing skills to fill; law enforcement comes first to mind.

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We are fortunate Richards authored this book. She wrote in a very entertaining style, with each chapter able to stand on its own. And the photographs in the book are a priceless collection of the historical record.

Jim Crawford is the great-grandson of Steamboat Springs founder James H. Crawford.