From Native American hunting grounds to early pioneers; from the Flying Norseman, Carl Howelsen to the newest of our 52 Olympians; from gold and silver mining to coal ore; Routt County offers a rich, colorful and inspiring past.
For hundreds of years prior to the first settlers' arrival in the valley, the Yampatika Utes found the area ideal for summer hunting. Trappers began to come to the valley in the early 1800s. They called the area The Big Bend because the Yampa River makes its turn toward the west at this point in the valley. The name Steamboat Springs is thought to have originated around this time when French trappers thought they heard the chugging sound of a steamboat's steam engine. The sound turned out to be a natural mineral spring.
Ranching was the primary industry of the valley and in the late 1800s a mining boom was underway in the area of Hahns Peak. Today, cow and sheep ranching, hay and wheat farming, and coal mining are county industries with tourism as the major economic factor in the area.
The fascinating history of Steamboat Springs, Routt County and Northwest Colorado are well documented by the Tread of Pioneers Museum, the Hayden Heritage Center and the Bud Werner Memorial Library.
For questions or comments about this section of the site, please contact the Center Manager.
History Center Manager ~ Judy Ross ~ Bud Werner Memorial Library