Mountain Towns of Western Colorado

As the current cohort of #WestCo students finish their Foundation Year (the third year for DU’s GSSW MSW program in Glenwood Springs overall) the commitment to the program they exhibit does not go unnoticed! Education, especially at the graduate level is challenging at best in the mountains of western Colorado. Blizzards, rockslides, sometimes treacherous mountain passes are just some of the obstacles that could present themselves yet our students find their way to Glenwood Springs on Friday afternoons and all day Saturdays for classes. The mountain towns our students travel from are:


Aspen, in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, is a ski resort town and a year-round destination for outdoor recreation. It’s known for its high-end restaurants, boutiques, and landmarks like the 1889 Wheeler Opera House, built during the area’s silver mining boom. Its Wheeler-Stallard House is a local history museum set in a 19th-century, Queen Anne–style home, while the Aspen Art Museum displays works from contemporary artists.

Founded as a mining camp during the Colorado Silver Boom and later named “Aspen” because of the abundance of aspen trees in the area, the city boomed during the 1880s, its first decade of existence. That early era ended when the Panic of 1893 led to a collapse in the silver market, and the city began a half-century known as “the quiet years” during which its population steadily declined, reaching a nadir of less than a thousand by 1930. Aspen’s fortunes reversed in the mid-20th century when neighboring Aspen Mountain was developed into a ski resort, and industrialist Walter Paepcke bought many properties in the city and redeveloped them. Today it is home to three renowned institutions, two of which Paepcke helped found, that have international importance: the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Aspen Institute, and the Aspen Center for Physics.

In the late 20th century, the city became a popular retreat for celebrities. Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson worked out of a downtown hotel and ran unsuccessfully for county sheriff. Singer John Denver wrote two songs about Aspen after settling there. Both of them popularized Aspen among the countercultural youth of the 1970s as an ideal place to live, and the city continued to grow even as it gained notoriety for some of the era’s hedonistic excesses as well, particularly its drug culture.

Today the musicians and movie stars have been joined by corporate executives. As a result of this influx of wealth, Aspen boasts the most expensive real estate prices in the United States and many middle-class residents can no longer afford to live there. It remains a popular tourist destination, with outdoor recreation in the surrounding White River National Forest serving as a summertime complement to the four ski areas in the vicinity.

Aspen is 40 miles from our #WestCo classrooms


Basalt began as a railroad town and was known as Aspen Junction until 1895, when the name was changed to Basalt. This name was taken from the basaltic rock formation of Black Mountain (now known as Basalt Mountain) located to the north of the town. The original settlement was actually called Fryingpan Town and was located on the south side of the Fryingpan River, near the old charcoal kilns; portions of which are still visible.

However, in 1887, the railroad established a new town site on the north side of the Fryingpan River, and the residents of the old town relocated to it, leaving the original town that eventually disappeared. Basalt was officially incorporated during the summer of 1901. Since that time, the town has gone through numerous changes and expansions.

Basalt is 28 miles from our #WestCo classrooms


As one enters this valley from the junction of the Crystal and Roaring Fork rivers today, awed by the beauty of the magnificent mountain to the south (Mt. Sopris) so too did Colorado’s First People, the Northern Ute Nation; albeit many thousands of years ago.

Northern Utes were a migratory Native American tribe. Today, we would call them “snowbirds,” leaving their mountain homelands here for warmer climes in the winter.

Due to centuries of following Nature’s natural course with minimal impacts on the land, the first white settlers to this Valley assumed that it was “uninhabited” and theirs for the taking as soon as statehood was achieved in 1876.

When gold and silver were discovered near Aspen in 1879, droves of prospectors poured into the upper Roaring Fork Valley to settle and establish mining claims, and the rich and fertile river bottom land in Carbondale was coveted by hunters and farmers wishing to supply food to the mining boom towns.

By 1880, the Northern Utes were forced out of this valley to a reservation in Ft. Duchesne, Utah 500 miles away, where they live to this day.

By 1881 twenty families had moved to the valley. These early settlers started cattle and sheep ranches and began growing potatoes, which for over 50 years was the mainstay crop of the Carbondale economy.  William Dinkle and R.W. Zimmerman filed the first land claims and opened a small store. Carbondale became a depot of the newly developed railroad in 1887, and mining, railroad construction and farming attracted a steady stream of new residents. This began the cycle of economic spurts and downturns tied to both the national and regional economies. The town was incorporated on January 31, 1888 and was named in honor of Carbondale, Pennsylvania, the original home of some of these early settlers. During this period Richard Sopris led an expedition into the valley to explore the potential for precious metals and minerals in the region. Although the report he filed was largely negative, his legacy remains in the geographical dominance of the mountain bearing his name.

When mining and railroading suffered a setback from the silver panic of 1893, the growth of Carbondale slowed to a near halt. The turn of the century saw the growth of potato farming, and the community stabilized and prospered. Potato Day, the longest standing annual community event, began with a celebration of the potato harvest in 1909.

The depression of the 1930’s saw the Town bank move to Glenwood Springs, the closing of the railroad, and a gradual decline in population. The 1940’s and 1950’s were a transition period for the community, with the further diversification of the economy from agriculture to mining and ranching resulting in a healthier economy. The residents fared comfortably during this time.

The growth of Aspen as a world-class resort during the 1960’s began to have a major impact on the lower Roaring Fork Valley and Carbondale. Despite some 30 miles of separation, Aspen’s prosperity brought dramatic changes. Tourism became the driving economic force in the region, property values soared, and the influx of people into the area intensified in the late 1970’s Carbondale found itself confronted with rapid change. Ranching and agriculture were of declining economic importance to the area. The population continued to grow, notable additions included the increased number of retired folks and many young families as well.

The growth of the population in the late 1970’s brought with it an expansion of the retail, wholesale and service establishments in the community. The oil crisis of the late 1970’s sparked initiative to secure sources of alternative fuels, including heightened interest in the development of oil shale reserves in western Garfield County. Property values soared and building increased significantly both in Carbondale and Garfield County as a whole. Oil shale development then collapsed completely in 1982, culminating in the closure of the Exxon facility outside of Parachute in May of that year.

Although the community saw little significant population growth in the years from 1983 to 1987, there was renewed enthusiasm for the physical development of the Town. A shopping center was developed at the State Highway 133/Main Street intersection, and efforts to promote tourism and economic development proceeded. A new, centrally located post office was opened in 1987. A senior citizen housing committee was selected, purchasing a site for low-income senior housing, and funding was obtained for construction. A 60-bed nursing home was completed. The Rocky Mountain Institute led a pilot program called Pioneer Project, aimed at community-based economic development

The early 1990’s ushered in the most dramatic physical and socio-economic change to affect the Carbondale area since the decline of mining and oil shale in the Valley. Suddenly, the lower Roaring Fork Valley was feeling the development pressure not yet seen in the area, including Aspen Glen and River Valley Ranch. The community began to feel the strain of property value appreciation, and began an unprecedented growth cycle that has continued.

Only recently have the Northern Utes been welcomed back to their homeland by a collective of local residents wishing to re-connect and learn of the indigenous ways inherent to this Valley’s natural abundance.

Through all the economic cycles of booms and busts, the Town of Carbondale has developed, and continues to promote, a sense of community that is unmatched when compared to other communities experiencing heightened rates of change. This sense of community has manifested itself in the promotion of the artist’s community, public radio, community gatherings and events, and a tolerance for accepting a wide range of economic, social and philosophical viewpoints into the community fabric. The Carbondale Council for Arts and Humanities, KDNK Public Radio, the Mountain Fair, Mount Sopris Nordic Council, Potato Day Celebration, and the Festival Las Americas are all examples of the vibrant sense of community connection.

Carbondale is 12 miles from our #WestCo classrooms


Clifton is a census-designated place in Mesa County, Colorado, United States. It is part of the Grand Junction Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 19,889 at the 2010 census. The Clifton Post Office has the ZIP Code 81520.

Clifton is 82 miles from our #WestCo classrooms


The City of Delta is the Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Delta County, Colorado.. The population was 8,915 at the 2010 census, up from 6,400 at the 2000 census. The United States Forest Service headquarters of the Grand Mesa, Gunnison, and Uncompahgre National Forests are located in Delta.

Delta was built as a trading post for the Ute people and early settlers. Fort Uncompahgre was built in 1828.

The town was named because of its location on the delta where the Uncompahgre River flows into the Gunnison River. The town was incorporated in 1882.

Delta is 120 miles from our #WestCo classrooms


The Town of Frisco is a Home Rule Municipality in Summit County, Colorado, United States. The population was 2,683 at the 2010 census. It is a popular town among skiers from around the world.

Frisco’s history in the Mountain West is full of passion and prosperity, heartbreak and rejuvenation, going back to the early nineteenth century and some 7,000 years before that with early Ute settlements.

Known as one of areas most significant heritage attractions, the Town of Frisco officially dedicated and opened the Frisco Historic Park & Museum on July 2, 1983, and listed the Schoolhouse on the National Register of Historic Places.

Frisco is 87 miles from our #WestCo classrooms

Glenwood Springs

The City of Glenwood Springs is the Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Garfield County, Colorado, United States. Glenwood Springs is located at the confluence of the Roaring Fork River and the Colorado River, threading together the Roaring Fork Valley and a series of smaller towns up and down the Colorado River.

Glenwood Springs is best known as a historic destination for vacationers with diverse natural amenities, most particularly hot springs, but gentrification and development have introduced modern cultural, dining, and recreational activities as well. It is also home to two of the campuses and the administrative offices of the Colorado Mountain College system.

Glenwood Springs in 2015 was awarded both as the Most Vibrant Small Town Arts Environment in the United States by SMU and the 5th Best Place to Live in America by Outside Magazine. It was also named the Most Fun Town in America by Rand McNally and USA Today in 2011.

Glenwood Springs is home to University of Denver’s GSSW MSW #WestCo classrooms & administrative offices


The Town of Granby is a statutory town which is the most populous municipality in Grand County, Colorado. Granby is situated along U.S. Highway 40 in Middle Park about 85 miles west of Denver, Colorado, southwest of Rocky Mountain National Park. In 2010, the town had a total population of 1,864.

The town was founded in 1904 along the route of the Denver, Northwestern & Pacific Railway, and incorporated one year later. It was named after Granby Hillyer, a Denver lawyer who later served as the United States Attorney for that city’s district.

Granby is 109 miles from our #WestCo classrooms

Grand Junction

The City of Grand Junction is the home rule municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Mesa County, Colorado. The city has a council–manager form of government, and is most populous municipality in all of western Colorado. Grand Junction is situated 247 miles west-southwest of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 58,566. Grand Junction is the 15th most populous city in the State of Colorado and the most populous city on the Colorado Western Slope. Grand Junction serves as a major commercial and transportation hub within the large area between the Green River and the Continental Divide. It is the principal city of the Grand Junction Metropolitan Statistical Area which had a population of 146,723 in 2010 census.

The city is located along the Colorado River, where it receives the Gunnison River from the south. The name “Grand” refers to the historical Grand River, which was renamed the upper Colorado River in 1921, and the word “Junction” is from the joining of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. Hence, Grand Junction has been given the nickname “River City”. The city sits near the midpoint of a 30-mile arcing valley, known as the Grand Valley, a major fruit-growing region, historically home to the Ute people and settled by white farmers in the 1880s. In recent years, several wineries have been established in the area as well. The Colorado National Monument, a unique series of canyons and mesas, overlooks the city on the west, while most of the area is surrounded by public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Book Cliffs are a prominent series of cliffs that define the northern side of the Grand Valley. Interstate 70 connects the city eastward to Glenwood Springs and Denver and westward to Green River, Utah; Salt Lake City (via Interstate 70 and U.S Route 6); and Las Vegas (via Interstate 70 and Interstate 15)

The Country Jam Ranch is located near Grand Junction just north of I-70 at the Mack exit. This is a permanent festival site built for music festivals, including Country Jam, an event that has been held since 1992 and one that draws thousands of country music fans to the area.

The Grand Junction area has turned into a major mountain biking destination, with many bikers coming from the Front Range of Colorado, the Salt Lake City area, and even as far away as California to enjoy the area’s abundant single-track trails. Two prominent trails among others are the Tabeguache and Kokopelli trails, the latter running from near Loma all the way to Moab, Utah. Fruita, Colorado with its 18 Road trail system is within 10 miles of the city and has become a major mountain biking destination.

Grand Junction is 87 miles from our #WestCo classrooms

Hot Sulphur Springs

The Town of Hot Sulphur Springs is the Statutory Town that is the county seat of Grand County, Colorado. The town is located near Byers Canyon between Granby and Kremmling 1 hour 45 minutes northwest of Denver and 30 minutes west of Winter Park Resort. The town population was 663 at the U.S. Census 2010, and has an elevation of 7,680 feet (2341 m).

Hot Sulphur Springs was originally a winter campground for Native Americans who came to use the hot springs for medicinal purposes. In 1840 William Newton Byers, founder of the Rocky Mountain News discovered the springs. The town was established in 1860, making it the oldest town in the county, originally named Saratoga West and sometimes called Warm Springs.

In 1863 the town site was bought by Byers in a backroom deal with a Minnesota Sioux woman despite a treaty naming the Ute tribe as the lawful owners, who unsuccessfully sued Byers, while Byers and territorial governors William Gilpin and John Evans launched a “The Utes Must Go” campaign with the help of the U.S. Cavalry. Wishing to create a world-famous spa and resort (“the American Switzerland”), Byers changed the name and surveyed, platted, and named the streets, attracting famous visitors including Zane Grey and John Wesley Powell. The first pool house was built ca. 1900.

When Grand County was formed, it was the first county seat from 1874 to 1882, after which it moved to Grand Lake. The county seat returned in 1888 and has been there ever since.

Byers died on March 25, 1903. The town was incorporated on April 1, 1903. His original family cabin is located at 204 Byers Avenue along what is now Highway 40, and still exists to this day. The building is currently the county’s only mortuary.

The first winter carnival in Hot Sulphur Springs was held on December 31, 1911. The success of this event led to a 3-day carnival which took place on February 10–12, 1912. The following winter, a second annual winter carnival was planned in conjunction with the first Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Carnival. This series of events led to the creation of Howelson Hill in Steamboat Springs, and is credited with playing a large role in the birth of the Colorado ski industry.

The big plans of Byers were prevented by the slow arrival of the railroad in 1928 (after the construction of the Moffatt Tunnel), and eventually the railroad quit stopping there, although the town is still a resort attracting many visitors. The first lodging rooms opened in 1926.

In 1997 the resort was extensively renovated, and the Ute tribal spiritual leader blessed the waters at the opening ceremony, attended by almost 1,000, which welcomed the Utes to use the springs once again.

Payday was always the last day of the month and was considered a dangerous day because of the many gunfights that occurred. Because Halloween is October 31, the last day of the month, the people of the town celebrated Halloween on the 30th to keep children safe, which continues to the present day.

Hot Sulphur Springs is 99 miles from our #WestCo classrooms


The Town of Marble is a Statutory Town first incorporated in 1899 in Gunnison County, Colorado. The town population was 131 at the 2010 United States Census.

The town is the location of a historic Yule Marble quarry along the mountains that began operations in the late 19th century, and from which the town draws its name. The marble of the quarry is considered to be of exceptional quality and has been used for the Tomb of the Unknowns, as well as for parts of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and civic buildings in San Francisco. It was also used for the construction of the Equitable Building, a historically important early skyscraper in New York City.

The quarry has enjoyed a renaissance since its acquisition in 2004 by Polycor, a Canadian-based dimension stone company. In spite of significant transportation costs, this high-quality stone is now exported in large quantities to Europe and Asia for transformation and use throughout the world, as well as being sold into the US market.

In the late 20th century and the 21st century, Marble has become a summer tourist destination, benefiting from the quarry’s renown. It is also the gateway to the nearby Crystal town site. It is the site of the Marble/marble sculpting symposium held every summer since 1988.

Seven sites within Marble have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Marble is 34 miles from our #WestCo classrooms


The City of Montrose is the Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Montrose County, Colorado. The city population was 19,132 at the 2010 United States Census. The main road that leads in and out of Montrose is U.S. Highway 50.

Montrose was incorporated on May 2, 1882 and named after Sir Walter Scott’s novel A Legend of Montrose. The Denver & Rio Grande railroad building west toward Grand Junction reached Montrose later in 1882, and the town became an important regional shipping center. A branch railroad line served the mineral-rich San Juan Mountains to the south.

In 1909 the US government completed construction of the Gunnison Tunnel, which provided irrigation water from the Gunnison River in the Black Canyon to the Uncompahgre Valley, helping turn Montrose into an agricultural hub. The Uncompahgre Project is one of the oldest of those in the area by the US Bureau of Reclamation.

Today the canal is also used for recreation: water rushing through the canal below the tunnel creates a kayak-surfing spot called the M-wave. Tourist and recreation opportunities are important to the regional economy. Montrose is a gateway to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to the east of town; in the winter, it is a transportation hub for ski areas of the San Juan Mountains to the south.

Early in the area’s history, prehistoric people lived in the Montrose vicinity and left rock art panels at the Shavano Valley Rock Art Site from 1000 BC or earlier until about AD 1881. The panels recorded cultural events and were a means of artistic expression. The site is listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties and the National Register of Historic Places.

Montrose is the birthplace of the acclaimed American screenwriter and novelist Dalton Trumbo, who scripted films including Roman Holiday, Exodus, Spartacus, and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.

Montrose is 142 miles from our #WestCo classrooms

New Castle

New Castle, Colorado, named after the English coal mining town Newcastle upon Tyne, was incorporated in 1888. The mountains rich with coal surrounding the Town were the impetus for New Castle’s development into the bustling mining community it became in the late 1880s.

Shortly after celebrating its centennial, New Castle started growing rapidly and was identified in the 2000 census as Colorado’s 7th fastest growing community. Along with strong residential population growth, the Town has experienced significant commercial development as well, with the construction of a grocery store, bank, restaurants, convenience stores, doctor and dentist offices, health club, bowling alley, and other businesses. In 2004, an 18-hole golf course designed by award-winning golf course architect James Engh opened for public play.

Located on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains, 173 miles west of Denver, this town of 4,500 residents rests at 5,550 feet elevation. The Town is bordered on the north by 7,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management lands and 20,000 acres of White River National Forest lands. South of Town are 11,000 acres of protected Division of Wildlife properties. A large deer and elk population as well as black bear and mountain lion inhabit these mountainous terrains. The Colorado River flows through Town, presenting wonderful opportunities for trout fishing, white water rafting and kayaking, and wildlife viewing. World-class alpine and cross-country skiing and snowboarding, big game hunting, boating, snowmobiling, wilderness hiking and camping, mountain biking—all are in New Castle’s backyard.

New Castle offers one of the best public school opportunities in the state. Kathryn Senor Elementary School is located at the center of the Town’s fastest growing neighborhood. Constructed in 1997 for grades K through 4, the school has received high performance marks from the Colorado Department of Education. Riverside Middle School provides an excellent learning environment for students in grades 5 through 8. Coal Ridge High School, located between New Castle and its neighboring community of Silt to the west, opened in 2005. In 2006, voters approved a bond issue for the Garfield RE-2 School District that funded the construction of a new middle school (grades 5 through 8) adjacent to Kathryn Senor Elementary School, and the conversion of Riverside Middle School to a second elementary school for New Castle students. Which is now Elk Creek Elementary School, named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2014.  

New Castle is 12 miles from our #WestCo classrooms


The City of Rifle is a Home Rule Municipality in Garfield County, Colorado. The population was 9,172 at the 2010 census. Rifle is a regional center of the cattle ranching industry located along Interstate 70 and the Colorado River just east of the Roan Plateau, which dominates the western skyline of the town. The town was founded in 1882 by Abram Maxfield, and was incorporated in 1904 along Rifle Creek, near its mouth on the Colorado. Rifle Creek is named for an incident involving trappers in the late 19th century. According to local lore, one of the trappers accidentally left his rifle along the creek, giving it its name.

The land that Rifle resides on was once in the heart of the Ute Nation, a classification of the Indigenous peoples of the Great Basin. The most common tribe in the area were the Tabagauche, who hunted and lived on the land slightly to the east of Rifle in the Roaring Fork Valley. Due to their location, the Tabagauche were somewhat less exposed to white settlers, and to some extent their ways remained less altered than other native peoples. In 1879, Nathan Meeker was appointed as the director of the White River Ute Agency (the town of Meeker 40 miles north of Rifle was named after him). Meeker had no training or knowledge of Ute culture, and launched into a campaign centered on sedentary agriculture and European-American schooling. As this clashed with the culture of the nomadic Utes, he was met with resistance. It all came to a head when Meeker had the pasture and racetrack for the Ute’s horses plowed under. The event that followed is known as the Meeker Massacre, during which Meeker and his 10 employees were killed. Aftermath of the conflict resulted in nearly all members of the Ute nation being forcibly removed from Colorado into Eastern Utah, despite the fact that they had been formerly guaranteed the land on which they were residing by the federal government.

Rifle became more and more settled as the 19th century gave way to the 20th. In 1889, the railroad cut through from the east and ended in Rifle for a while before connecting lines were completed. This opened up the floodgates for new travelers, settlers, and trade. Long drives of cattle over the mountains towards the Front Range and Denver became a thing of the past. Rifle was now a thriving hub for commerce. If it needed to be shipped east to a buyer’s market, or shipped west into ranching country, it came through town.

The first major economy known to Rifle was ranching. The land surrounding the town was arid and much of it was unsuitable for farming without irrigation. Despite the large stretches of land available, tension arose and manifested between those that tended cattle and those that herded sheep. Good grazing practices were not in place, and the summer pastures at the top of the Roan Plateau were contested over. One rancher lost two-thirds of his flock and went bankrupt when competing cowboys drove the sheep over the cliff.

Rifle is located in the east portion of the Piceance Basin. The basin is home to different forms of fossil fuels, the largest quantity of which is oil shale (not to be confused with shale oil). The unreliability of this fossil fuel has left the city in the throes of a cycling boom and bust economy.

Rifle is 25 miles from our #WestCo classrooms


The Town of Silt is a vibrant, close-knitted community located on Interstate-70 about 67 miles east of Grand Junction, Colorado and 20 miles to the west of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  For the last forty or so years, the Town has been a bedroom-community to the towns of Vail, Snowmass Village and Aspen, all within an easy hour’s drive from Silt.  

Historically, the Town of Silt has been an agricultural and mining area, with hard-working families that support their community in fields of construction, engineering, and oil and gas development.  The climate here is mild and comfortable through all seasons, and the heavy snowfall that is present in Vail, Snowmass Village, Aspen and even Steamboat Springs is not felt in the immediate hillsides.  

The area boasts hunting, fishing, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, snowmobiling, rafting, biking, boating and horseback riding throughout the year, and is frequented by many of the same travelers that visit the Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs annually.  

Silt is 20 miles from our #WestCo classrooms

Snowmass Village

Long before skiers and even settlers discovered Snowmass’ Brush Creek Valley, the Ute Indians hunted, fished, and gathered wild foods here in the summers. The first European / non-natives explored the Elk Mountains as early as 1853, during the Gunnison Survey, but it wasn’t until the Hayden Survey in the 1870s, that the prominent peaks visible from Snowmass were named.

Mount Daly is named after then-president of the National Geographic Society, Augustus Daly, while the triangular Capitol Peak paid tribute to the Washington, D.C., building.

By the 1880s, ranches running sheep and cattle came to occupy the Brush Creek Valley. One of the most prominent ranchers Charles Hoaglund and his family emigrated from Sweden to Aspen during the silver crash and was hired to close down Aspen’s Smuggler mine. They acquired land in Brush Creek to raise cattle, sheep, wheat, and hay. Today, several buildings from his ranch have been incorporated into the renowned Anderson Ranch Arts Center.

Hoaglund’s daughter Hildur was raised on the ranch and attended the community’s one-room school house, which today is known as The Little Red Schoolhouse. The schoolhouse celebrated its centennial in 1994, and still functions as an early childhood learning center today.

In 1958, Olympic skier Bill Janss began buying up ranches in the valley with an eye toward emulating the Aspen ski area’s success. By 1961, he owned six ranches at the base of Baldy and Burnt mountains and planned to build a ski area served by a European-style ski community on 3,300 acres. In December of 1967, Snowmass-At-Aspen opened with five chairlifts, 50 miles of ski trails, seven hotels, and six restaurants. Lift tickets cost $6.50. A decade later the town of Snowmass was incorporated, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Snowmass Village is 40 miles from our #WestCo classrooms

Steamboat Springs

The City of Steamboat Springs, often shortened as Steamboat, is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Routt County, Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 12,088.

The city is an internationally known winter ski resort destination. The Steamboat Springs tourism industry is highlighted by Steamboat Ski Resort, which is on Mount Werner in the Park Range just east of the town. It also contains the much smaller Howelsen Ski Area.

It is located in the upper valley of the Yampa River, along U.S. Highway 40 just west of the Continental Divide and Rabbit Ears Pass.

The area surrounding Steamboat Springs was originally inhabited by the Yampatikas Utes, who hunted in the valley during the summer. Trappers began to move through the area during the first decades of the 19th century. James Harvey Crawford, the founder of Steamboat Springs, first arrived in the spring of 1874. The Crawford family moved there in 1876, and for the first five years were the sole permanent residents of the town. The native Utes were forcibly removed from the area to a reservation in Utah by the U.S. Army starting in 1879. Milestones in the development of the pioneer town included the first sawmill in 1873, incorporation of the town in 1900, and the arrival of the railroad in 1909. The economy of the region was originally based on ranching and mining, which still have a large presence in the county.

Steamboat is home to natural hot springs that are located throughout the area. Upon first hearing a chugging sound, early trappers believed that a steamboat was coming down the river. When the trappers saw that there was no steamboat, and that the sound was coming from a hot spring, they decided to name the spring Steamboat Springs.

Originally, skiing was the only method of transportation during harsh and snowy Rocky Mountain winters. In turn, the popularity of skiing as a winter pastime catalyzed development of the town and other communities all over the Rocky Mountains. In 1913, Carl Howelsen, a Norwegian, moved to town and introduced ski jumping. Howelsen built the first jump on Howelsen Hill, now part of the Howelsen Ski Area. He also founded the annual Winter Carnival, a celebration still held each winter. The festival includes ski racing and jumping, dog sledding, and chariot events down Lincoln Avenue, the city’s main street. Light shows on both Mount Werner and Howelsen Hill are highlights.

The Steamboat Ski Resort was largely established by two local men, Jim Temple and John Fetcher. Temple led the effort to develop the area. Fetcher, a local rancher, was the main designer and builder. The resort opened on what was then called Storm Mountain in 1963.

In 1974, The Industrial Company (TIC) was started in Steamboat Springs and has since grown into one of the largest industrial construction companies in the United States with revenues of approximately $2 billion in 2007. The company is one of the largest employers in Routt County and has more than 9,000 employees worldwide.

In 1993, the City Council of Steamboat Springs, Colorado conducted a poll of its residents to choose a new name for the bridge that crossed the Yampa River on Shield Drive. With 7,717 votes, the winning name was “James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge”. The bridge was officially dedicated in September 1993, and James Brown appeared at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the event.

Historical buildings in Steamboat Springs include:

Steamboat Springs is 115 miles from our #WestCo classrooms

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