‘Trip of a lifetime’: Historic house on Yampa Street successfully moved to quieter spot
July 31, 2015
Steamboat Springs — Brooke and Ryan Lightner were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary at a sushi restaurant on Yampa Street late Thursday night when they saw something surreal happening outside.
Just before 11 p.m., the 101-year-old house next door to the sushi restaurant began slowly moving through downtown Steamboat Springs behind a semi truck.
A rare, century-old reminder of Yampa Street’s quieter past had avoided the wrecking ball and was on its way to a quieter spot.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Brooke Lightner said as she watched police cars and utility trucks follow the house, which was being towed away to make way for a new public park.
On Thursday night, the Workman house was surrounded by traffic and a mix of lively bars and restaurants.
On Friday morning, it was resting in a quiet spot next to an Aspen grove and hayfields near the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon.
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In between, there was the slow, but epic, eight-hour journey on the highway.
Local artist Kelley Conner won the historic house from the city and saved it from demolition.
She called the move “the trip of a lifetime.”
“I was so surprised to see how many people came out to see it,” said Conner, who rode in the pilot car in front of the house. “It was like being in a parade.”
Leland Workman, whose family members lived in the house for several decades, was there to watch and take photos and video.
Other bystanders clapped and cheered as the house passed through a series of obstacles.
For many, the house’s move through downtown was a rare and unique spectacle.
Crews had to raise power lines at several intersections so the 25-foot-tall house could make it under.
And the truck towing the 80,000 pounds of historic house could only go as fast as five miles an hour.
Conner joked that when her new home made the first turn from Fifth Street onto Lincoln Avenue, it resembled the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man that walked the streets of New York City in the Ghostbusters movie.
“it was definitely surreal,” Conner said.
Moving a house 16 miles isn’t easy.
Several agencies and organizations, including the city of Steamboat Springs, Yampa Valley Electric Association and Union Pacific Railroad had to help direct traffic and move power lines and cables.
Mammoth Moving and Rigging, a Front Range company that specializes in moving large historic structures, did all the heavy lifting and planned the eight-hour moving operation.
“I just really want to thank all these people and the entire community for their help and their support in getting this giant miracle moved,” Conner said. “I also want to thank everybody who had to wait for me on the side of the road while my house passed.”
“It takes a village to raise a kid, and it takes a village to raise a house and move it,” Conner continued.
The house arrived at its new location around 6 a.m. Friday.
Before Conner and her sons can live in the house, the foundation needs to be finished.
Conner compared her experience with moving the house to a classic children’s book called “The Little House.”
The book tells the tale of a small house built out in the country.
The house eventually finds itself in the middle of a busy and growing city, and it is eventually moved back into the country, where the owners live “happily ever after.”
“I like the idea of recycling, renewing and rebuilding and helping something become beautiful again,” Conner said. “This was a win-win situation for everyone.”