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Harriet Freiberger has been a member of the Steamboat Springs Writers Group since 1982. She is a professional writer whose articles have been published both regionally and nationally. Moving from Memphis, Tennessee to the western slope of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains in 1982 connected her with the American West in a new way. Her biography of a New Mexican pioneer, LUCIEN MAXWELL: VILLAIN OR VISIONARY, was published (Sunstone Press: Santa Fe, NM) in 1999.
Harriet’s book reviews are a regular feature in STEAMBOAT MAGAZINE ( quarterly issues, in publication since 1978)
THEN AND NOW – A HISTORY OF STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, COLORADO, that Harriet co-authored with photographer Ken Proper was published in November, 2009 by Bud Werner Memorial Library, through a grant from The Colorado Historical Fund. Graphic designer was Deanna Simonsen of DS Design.
THEN AND NOW – A HISTORY OF STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, COLORADO presents a series of images that immerse the reader in currents of twentieth century history. Ken Proper’s architectural photographs delineate the physical essence of a small western town’s birth and development. Harriet Freiberger’s words complete a larger picture, connecting people and events in Steamboat Springs with America’s progress toward maturity. People who traveled west expressed the optimism and hope that life could be good in a new place, and they were willing to build that place. Some of what they constructed remains, not only in the buildings that line Lincoln Avenue, but also in what those buildings represented as connections between generations.
The architectural layering of a town’s 134-year development recapitulates that of our country, both reaching toward the next horizon. Seen through a continuum, photos and words offer a guide to the past as well as a key to the future. As each layer of buildings was added, individuals met new challenges in new ways. In Colorado’s northwest corner, two citadels define outer limits of an old main street. At one end, historic hot springs bubble from beneath the earth, heating waters where tourists and residents seek physical healthiness. Thirteen blocks away, at the other end of Lincoln Avenue, a newly erected Bud Werner Memorial Library contains the tools for a balancing mental strength. Ken and Harriet hope this project will fortify the citadels, bringing smiles to the faces of those who walk thirteen blocks from the past into the future.
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER EIGHT. THE NEXT LAYER TAKES SHAPE. 1960-1969
In 1960, when a Steamboat Springs fourth grader called home and no one answered, the operator could more than likely locate his mom and put the call through to wherever she was. “Central” meant exactly what it said, and the lady who ran “Central” knew everyone in town through their one-to-four-digit phone numbers. Families shared television sets, alternating weeks of watching the three networks in their own living rooms. Few traveled to Denver without a specific reason, such as the January Stock Show, but an improved road over Rabbit Ears Pass would soon make the trip to Denver much easier. Already known as Ski Town USA, and home of champions, Steamboat Springs was on the verge of an expansion for which it was hardly prepared. Some changes occurred easily and others with more difficulty, but, as always before, the people of the valley stood together to handle the impact of whatever happened. Merchants welcomed growth that would put an end to the difficulties of making a living in a town that was so isolated for five months of the year. Other townsfolk saw no advantage in developing a mountain that didn’t offer jumping potential. After three aummers of trail cutting under the auspices of the idea’s originator, Storm Mountain officially opened. By winter of 1965-66 a major building boom had begun in support of the town’s new industry. Years of the 1960s witnessed change that was reminiscent of the valley’s transformation at the beginning of the century, with a much wider impact due to advancing technology’s contribution to industry and communication. Happening at the same time as developments on the previously isolated western slope of Colorado were the dramatic events in the rest of the country and indeed across the Pacific in a place few Americans knew very much about, a small and divided country called Vietnam. When Storm Mountain officially opened with its new poma lift and the dream of Routt County’s Jim Temple became reality, John F. Kennedy had been elected as leader of the United States. Optimism soared as Peace Corps volunteers spread freedom’s message and Apollo capsules aimed for the moon. Patriotic Americans, captivated by a current Broadway musical, dubbed their government a modern-day Camelot. But, as grand and as beautiful as that dream appeared to be, seeds of disruption had been sown. As McDonald’s “fast food” under golden arches fed more and more families and
television revealed formerly far-away vistas to anyone who watched, Russia was closing the doors of Berlin with a very real “iron curtain.” East German police built a 26-mile barbed wire barricade to seal off the east-west border. Two philosophies, two nations, now designated as “superpowers” had faced off in Korea. Did the Communists seek to “rule the globe?” Implicit in the answer to that question were the problems President Kennedy had to address when Russian missiles threatened from less than 100 miles away in
………………………………………………………………. During the 1960s the United States population jumped from 180 million to over 203 million. In Steamboat Springs, 1,843 residents increased to 2,340, and along with its growth spurt came airplanes. Railroad passenger service ended in 1968 but Rocky Mountain Airlines flew into the STOLport (Short Take-Off and Landing) at the edge of town and Frontier Airlines landed on a 7,000-foot runway at the nearby Hayden Airport. ………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………….. In July 1969 Americans watched on television when astronauts landed on the moon. NASA had met the daunting goal set by President Kennedy eight years earlier. On December 1, 1969, young men in Steamboat Springs watched a lottery drawing on television to find out their number in the draft for duty in Vietnam.. This was not the time when youngsters wanted to leave. A winter season opened. No longer was Steamboat Springs only a summer experience. LTV Aerospace Corporation ( Ling-Temco-Vought Corp., Dallas, Texas ) purchased the ski area and increasing construction covered previously wide-open spaces around Mount Werner. A 7,000 square foot multi-story building stood ready for installation of the 90-car gondola. Because every project required more workers, job openings abounded. Early developer Sunray Land Company had a 30-person payroll. The new post office and telephone buildings were only the beginning of a growing commercial infrastructure. Technology that would eventually be called the Internet had begun to take shape and some 50,000 computers operated in the United States. Routt County National Bank sent credit cards to its customers who qualified for $300 unsecured loans. With competition spurring successful new enterprises, a widening horizon offered a future that surprised old-timers who wondered what it would mean for their grandchildren.