Mission Statement: The Tread of Pioneers Museum is a not-for-profit historical institution that promotes an understanding and appreciation of the history of the Steamboat Springs area by collecting, preserving, exhibiting, interpreting, and sharing that history and heritage with audiences of all ages and interests.
Vision Statement: The Tread of Pioneers Museum will be a valued place where people may encounter, explore, and learn about the past. With diverse audiences and Steamboat Springs' unique heritage at its core, the Tread of Pioneers Museum is a historical leader in the Yampa Valley.
The Tread of Pioneers Historical Commission was envisioned and founded in 1959 by a group of Routt County residents concerned with preserving memories of Routt County's unique and colorful past. The original founders felt it was important to preserve the objects, documents and memorabilia of Routt County for future generations to see, understand and appreciate. They envisioned a museum exhibiting Native American artifacts and pioneer memorabilia of those who settled Routt County.
The Commission founders spearheaded the project by collecting papers, pictures, documents, and objects from friends, neighbors and other members of the community, along with other information on the local history of families and communities. A Board of Directors was formed, policies were established, and the Tread of Pioneers Museum opened in the summer of 1959 in the historic Zimmerman house located on the corner of 5th and Oak (now the courthouse parking lot). The organization was incorporated on April 22, 1960.
In their February, 1959 Board meeting, the minutes state that "...the Museum should be governed by a Board of Trustees, composed of interested and influential citizens. This governing Board should formulate the policies under which the work of the Museum is done, and be responsible for the economic stability of the institution. The Museum should have a full-time staff, the members of which are capable of carrying out the mandates of the Board within the limits of the physical and financial facilities available to them." When the Museum first opened, all of these goals were not fully met. For the first three decades of operation, the Museum was open only in the summer, and was staffed completely by volunteers. Furthermore, the Museum was run on a limited budget made up of donations given at the door, and memberships.
In 1988, the land used by the Museum was needed by the County to expand the Courthouse, and the Museum was forced to move. The Board of Directors began the task of moving the Museum's historic Zimmerman house and the collections to a new location. Remodeling and building an addition (the Gallery) was also required. Future expansions were also planned during this time to enable the Museum to create more display and storage space and community meeting areas.
The Museum's move served as an impetus to expand the Museum's operations from a volunteer staffed and operated organization to one that employed at least one full-time employee to oversee the Museum's activities. In the process, the Museum has become more cohesively operated and has taken a more active role in the community by hosting more events, programs, lectures and community outreach activities. Since its move from behind the Courthouse, the Museum has seen enormous growth.
The expansion continued in 1997, when the Utterback House, which was located at Oak and 4th Street, was donated to the Museum by Karin Utterback Normann. A campaign ensued and funds were raised to move and remodel the Utterback House. Many dedicated volunteers worked on the project. Ultimately, this house has provided room for a Community Room for meetings and social activities; office space for staff and volunteers; a modern kitchen; and space for the Lufkin Library research center, which houses the our research and genealogy files, oral histories, local books, historical videos, etc.
In 2003 a county-wide .3 mill levy was passed to fund museum and preservation services. This mill levy does not sunset, it is continual. During the same year, the museum Board of Director's made the decision to keep the museum at the present site in the future. Since the mill levy passage, we are proud to have accomplished so many of our long-term goals and increase the services that we provide to this community. In 2012 the museum expanded again by building an additional 500 square feet of exhibit space and a 3600 square foot museum quality collections facility.
Tread of Pioneers Museum Services
The newly expanded and renovated Tread of Pioneers Museum offers something for everyone. The heart of the museum is a 1908 Queen Anne-style Victorian home with turn-of-the-century furnishings. Engaging and interactive exhibits feature the local and regional history of Native Americans, skiing, agriculture, mining, pioneer settlement, town development, and more. Our Western Heritage Exhibit, home of an extensive firearms collection, traces our agricultural history and the story of an infamous outlaw, Harry Tracy. Special museum features include computer and video interactive exhibits, hands-on exhibits for kids, Kids Scavenger Hunt, oral history library, local history research center, unique museum gift shop, and an online historic photograph collection.
"One of the best small town museum's in Colorado."
"I cannot adequately express how jaw-dropping it was! I have been to literally hundreds of museums around the world and have seldom seen one so professional, informational and comprehensive." Deb Olsen, Steamboat Magazine