History of Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Steamboat Springs; the land of champagne powder, a picture-perfect Western Colorado lifestyle, and trademarked as Ski Town USA.  Located on the other side of the Continental Divide as the Denver area, this mountain getaway is under 7,000 feet in elevation and yields beautiful, warm summers and fluffy snow-packed winters.

History of Steamboat Springs Colorado

Image courtesy of Tread of Pioneers Museum

The Early Years

Back in the early 1800’s, French trappers came to the area now known as Steamboat Springs. Legend says the men mistook the sound of natural running springs for the chugging engine of a steamboat, thus attaching a moniker that would live on forever. But French trappers were hardly the first humans to have roamed the area. Steamboat Springs, Colorado is steeped in a rich and lengthy history, filled with tales of ancient people and tribes who could not resist the pull of this bountiful land. Evidence shows prehistoric people lived and hunted in the Steamboat, Yampa Valley area as early as 10, 700 years ago. As summer hunting grounds of the Yamatika Ute Indians for hundreds of years, it is also considered a place of spiritual and physical healing of untold powers; the Ute and Arapaho Tribes also visited the area for its mineral, or “medicine” springs. In fact, the springs are still visited by the Ute people, even today. More than just an internationally known winter ski resort, there is power in the majestic beauty of Steamboat, and an inherent friendliness to the people who live within.

The Beginnings of a Township

Inspired by the mineral waters, James Crawford recognized the region as an ideal place to build a homestead. By the late 1800’s he settled there, erecting a cabin near present day Iron Springs and a log shelter over the nearby hot springs. Longing for company, Crawford persuaded several prominent Boulder businessmen to join him in organizing the Steamboat Springs Townsite Company in 1884. From there, five families settled in the area, including newspaperman James Hoyle. Publication of the Steamboat Pilot began that same year.

Skiing and Railroads

By 1905 the railroad came to town, ironically tamping out the natural spring sound mistaken for the chugging of a steamboat engine by those early French trappers. But the town was bustling by those beguiled with the region’s natural charms. The railroad made it easier for tourists and any hoping to settle permanently. One of those to seek enterprise in the natural surroundings was famed Norwegian skier and ski jumper Carl Howelsen, who brought ski jumping to the area and established skiing as a sport.

Steamboat Springs Colorado

Image courtesy of SkyRun

Modern Luxury

Peoples and tribes of the past recognized the uniqueness and powerful beauty in Steamboat Springs, fostering the same in others. For thousands of years, the region’s mineral springs have lured folks in, a long-lasting trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon. Looking at a panoramic view of the area, it’s nearly impossible to think of only five families living here. Nowadays, Steamboat is an internationally recognized ski resort town, with tourism serving as a chief economic boon to the town. The rich history of triumph, determination and western heritage is celebrated and honored to this day, making Steamboat Springs a unique destination, one in a million. The region’s inhabitants, skiing, nature and unforgettable inspired beauty are sure to continue to impressing for generations to come.

If you’re on your way to the wonderful Steamboat Springs this summer, plan a rafting adventure in the area!  Colorado River Rentals rents equipment out of Kremmling, Colorado and head out on an overnight excursion on the mighty Colorado River with your crew.

*Featured image courtesy of Flickr.