About Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs is a town of 12,000 people in the Yampa River Valley in northern Colorado that is known for its winter recreation. Steamboat Ski Resort brings in thousands of world-class skiers and ski jumpers to tackle the slopes of Mount Werner every year.

Steamboat Springs is also the hub for the Yampa Valley's cattle, sheep, hay, wheat, and coal mining industries. Herds of cattle are still shipped through the railroad facilities in Steamboat Springs just as they have been for the past 100 years.

The "Steamboat" name may seem out of place in frontier Colorado, where no known steamboats operated in the 19th Century. The name comes from early French trappers, who thought they heard the sound of a steamboat chugging up the Yampa River. When none came, they traced the sound to a hot spring and named the area Steamboat Springs.

Hot springs are still an attraction to the town, which also developed a reputation for its agriculture, especially ranching, but passengers came for the springs and for the mountain scenery.

Originally a Yampatikas Ute summer hunting ground, the Steamboat Springs area was inhabited by Eastern settlers in 1874, when James Crawford entered the valley looking for a homesteading site. He discovered the valley had mineral water hot springs and built a cabin near Iron Spring. His family arrived to stay in 1876 and by 1884 Crawford had convinced some business owners to start a company to settle the valley.

Homes and businesses slowly popped up over the next 15 years, and in 1900, the town of Steamboat Springs was established. The arrival of the railroad in 1909 added life to the sleepy town and Steamboat grew as passengers and freight moved through.

Skiing became the town's catalyzing growth factor in the early 20th Century when Norwegian skier Carl Howelsen brought ski jumping to the area in 1910. The new winter sport caught on, and pretty soon, skiing became Steamboat Springs' new attraction. When Steamboat Ski Resort opened in 1963 on Storm Mountain (now Mt. Werner), thousands of snow enthusiasts took up residence in the town.

In fact, Steamboat has been home to 52 Olympic athletes, most recently Taylor Fletcher, a Nordic combined skier and ski jumper who competed in the Vancouver Olympic Games in 2010. Steamboat resident Johnny Spillane also competed in Vancouver and won three silver medals in Nordic events. The town has also hosted two Alpine Skiing World Cups.