History abounds in the ol’ West! Steamboat Springs has its own origin story of French fur trappers and the steamboat whistle out of the black sulfur spring – a story unique to Steamboat, not to the county. Many brave pioneers settled in Routt County without a John Wayne movie to document their adventures. Once you walk the Hot Spring Trail in Steamboat, the next step is to head north. The far north … of Routt County. There, you’ll find the Hahn’s Peak Historical Village, and the great stories about the intrepid men and women who settled north of Steamboat in search of gold.
The museum is directly next to the old schoolhouse, where there are great historical artifacts and stories about Hahns Peak. The peak itself is named for one of the earliest prospectors, Joseph Hahn, who came to find gold at the peak in 1865. Joe came to the area with his other friends, William Doyle and Captain George Way. They ultimately organized the first mining district in the Northwest Colorado territory – pre-statehood. In fact, the area was such a boom for the territory that Hahns Peak was the county seat until 1912.
Discover more about visiting the Cultural Heritage site at Hahn’s Peak
After exploring the museum and schoolhouse, make sure to check out the yard. There is actually the old jail – “Bear Cage Jail” behind the museum, which was part of the original courthouse during its county seat days. Just to the left of the schoolhouse I found my favorite building: the dynamite shed. Although I couldn’t tell how old it is, I definitely enjoyed seeing something that looked like it was from a Wiley Coyote cartoon!
Moving on across the way, you’ll see an old homestead, the Wither Cabin. The actual structure dates back to 1898 when Archie and George Wither moved to the area with their mercantile business. The Wither Cabin became known as that when Archie married a lovely lady Pearl and they had their first son, George Baxter Wither, in the cabin in 1900. Finally, George purchased the cabin in the 1940s so it could always be preserved for the Wither family. Can you imagine living in that cabin during a Steamboat snowstorm? I sure could not!
The self-guided walking tour is a great way to explore the Hahns Peak area – and the perfect activity after a hike or swim at the nearby Steamboat Lake. The museum is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, daily, from 12-4 p.m., and only a forty minute drive from Steamboat. All of the buildings are situated within a block of each other so it’s more of historical stroll than tour. Walking along a dirt road only adds to the atmosphere of going back in time a century or so.