This remote northwest region of Colorado had long-served as the Ute Indians’ summertime hunting grounds. Later, trappers and mountain men pursued small game to sell the hides to the fur traders. Legend has it that French fur trappers thought the spring along the Yampa River sounded like a steamboat.
In 1875 James Crawford arrived with his family to file a homestead claim and establish what would become the town of Steamboat Springs. Rugged homesteaders soon followed to raise cattle or sheep. Others established businesses or worked in the nearby gold and coal mines.
The town remained isolated until the arrival of the Denver, Northwest and Pacific Railroad in 1908. The rail line from Denver across the Continental Divide enabled year-round transportation of livestock and coal as well as passenger travel. Today, the railroad still transports coal from the region.
Outside of Steamboat Springs, a wilderness of rivers and forests lush with game drew the Ute Indians to summer in the region, followed by mountain men, explorers, and trappers. About 45 minutes north of Steamboat Springs, a conical dormant volcano rose sharply above all others. Trappers called the local mountain “Old Baldy,” perhaps because of its distinctive low timberline. Later, it was named Hahns Peak, after the first gold prospector in the area Joseph Hahn, and a village at its base took on the same name.
The town still boasts original homes and cabins established during its “boom” years, but by the late 1800s the mining boom was over. Stalwart miners and the homesteaders who followed, turned to ranching—which became the primary way of life.
From Steamboat to Hahns Peak, outdoor recreation grew along with ranching and today, residents enjoy the area’s landscape in all its seasons and embody the independent spirit of earlier adventurers. Take a journey through history with tours of Steamboat Springs and Hahns Peak’s landmarks and heritage sites.