What’s the History Behind This Iconic Colorado Barn?
Nowadays, Steamboat Springs is a beloved Colorado destination that annually attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world. However, the charming ski town in the serene Yampa Valley originally started out as just a small agricultural community filled with farmers and cattle ranchers.
Folks such as James Crawford and James Hoyle were some of the town's first permanent residents, moving into the area in 1874 and 1885.
In 1928, Walter Arnold settled in Routt County and soon became well-known in Steamboat. For more than 30 years, the Arnold family operated a 160-acre ranch and sold their dairy products and eggs to people in town. The heart of the family farm was a beautiful wood barn, which Walter had hand-built right at the base of Storm Mountain (now known as Mount Werner).
In the 1960s, another James (Temple) came to town and developed Storm Mountain into a ski resort.
A year later, the Arnolds decided to retire from the agriculture industry and sold their prime piece of property to the newly formed Storm Mountain Ski Corporation. The sale, of course, included the rustic barn, which had become an iconic Steamboat symbol by this point.
Under the hands of the ski corporation, the historic barn was used for storage and as a backdrop for advertising photos.
However, several more changes in ownership in the following years left the log structure in a state of major neglect. The Arnold Barn was not only starting to sink into the nearby wetland, but its overall condition was noticeably going downhill.
Fortunately, in 2016 a concerned group of citizens chose to advocate for the preservation of this famous community landmark. Through their efforts, the Save Arnold Barn group was formed, which then led to the Arnold Barn Iconic Entry Project.
To help the old barn survive another winter, emergency stabilization was carried out in the fall of 2017.
The next part of the project involved relocating the barn about a mile up the road, plus restoring it to its former glory. According to the Steamboat Pilot, funding for the move and preservation came from the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority, as well as private donations. The two-phased rehabilitation of the barn continued into 2019.
Arnold Barn can now be seen at the intersection of Mt. Werner Road and Circle. Visitors are welcome to walk up to the structure and an informational sign sits out front, explaining its importance to the town.
The Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation regained ownership of the Arnold Barn in 2017 and has since taken responsibility for maintaining the welcoming and accessible landmark.
Thanks to the efforts of many, this local legacy continues to live on.