Touring Colorado’s Collections: Students Capture Routt County History

Recently the Bud Werner Memorial Library and the Tread of Pioneers Museum, both located in Steamboat Springs, partnered together to make an important local history collection, Three Wire Winter, available online to anyone anywhere.  Three Wire Winter was a magazine that captured and published oral histories of Routt County citizens.

Three Wire Winter, Fall 1976. Courtesy Tread of Pioneers Museum.

The publication was the team effort of Steamboat Springs High School teachers Bill McKelvie and Tanna Eck Brock.  Three Wire Winter was modeled after the Foxfire Magazine, a publication highlighting Appalachian heritage and produced by high school students.  The teachers wanted to engage their students in a similar way and in 1974 created a class that aimed to have students learn about community history by going outside of the classroom to seek and document stories. The first issue was published during the winter of 1975-76 and it continued publishing for 12 years with a total of 24 issues.    

At the end of the project McKelvie donated the Three Wire Winter records to the Tread of Pioneers Museum.  Since then the museum has preserved the documents, digitized the oral history recordings and partnered with the Bud Werner Memorial Library to make the collection searchable through the library’s catalog. The online collection includes the digitized oral history interviews, articles and magazines. The collection includes 69 oral history interviews including an interview with Billy Kidd, a former World Cup alpine ski racer and a member of the U.S. Ski Team and Rudi Schnackenberg who served in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II.

Three Wire Winter Collection. Courtesy Tread of Pioneers Museum

This collection is an important historical resource and provides a wealth of information on a variety of subjects including mining life, homesteading, ranching, and education in Colorado and more specifically Steamboat Springs and its surrounding areas.  The museum and the library are working together to preserve and help their patrons discover the people, places and events that have shaped Routt County’s history.