Project Overview and Vision
Long before Steamboat Springs was known as Ski Town USA, it was a humble, isolated agricultural community. The vision of the Arnold Barn Iconic Entry Project is to honor Routt County’s rich agricultural heritage by transforming the dilapidated Arnold Barn into a welcoming and accessible landmark.
Walter Arnold built his dairy barn in 1928 at the base of Mt. Werner (then called Storm Mountain). The barn was the heart of the Arnold family’s 160-acre ranch and dairy farm. For more than 30 years Walter, his wife, and their three sons raised Holstein cows, sheep, chickens, oats, and hay, and sold dairy products and eggs in the small town of Steamboat Springs.
In 1961, the Arnolds retired from agriculture and the newly formed Storm Mountain Ski Corporation purchased their property to allow access to the fledgling resort. For many years the barn was used for storage and a backdrop for advertising photos. Over time, farm buildings disappeared, the fields became roadways and a parking lot, and development transformed the landscape. As ownership of the property changed hands multiple times over the years, the barn suffered from neglect and slowly sank into the manmade wetland and the edge of the Meadows parking lot.
How the community saved the Arnold Barn
In 2016 the Save Arnold Barn group formed to advocate for the preservation of the barn and to galvanize community support. Historic Routt County served as fiscal agent and team lead for the grassroots group. Soon after, a public/private partnership among the Urban Renewal Area Advisory Committee, Save Arnold Barn/Historic Routt County, Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation, Steamboat Grand Homeowners Association, and the Tread of Pioneers Museum, was launched to save this irreplaceable symbol of rural Northwest Colorado.
In 2017, the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation regained ownership of the barn. Emergency stabilization of the barn was completed in fall of 2017 to brace the building for another winter. In October 2018, the barn was relocated about 1,000 up the road to the intersection of Mt. Werner Road and Circle. A two-phased rehabilitation of the barn in its new site continued into 2019. Now that the Arnold Barn is a welcoming and accessible landmark, residents and visitors alike are able to explore the site and learn about the agricultural heritage of the Yampa Valley. The Tread of Pioneers Museum hosts agriculture history talks there every summer and there are a number of interpretive signs for curious visitors of the site.
The project was funded by the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority and generous contributions from community members.