Mount Harris

We are excited to announce a new collaboration with the Hayden Heritage Center, Historic Routt County and the University of Colorado, Denver.

Moving Mount Harris: An inventory and survey of buildings that were moved from Mount Harris 1914-1958

Historic Routt County and the Hayden Heritage Center are documenting the history of Mount Harris before and after it was dismantled. We are seeking information on the location of the 63 buildings that were auctioned and moved from Mount Harris. If you own a “Mount Harris House,” we want to hear from you! In a subsequent phase, this information will be compiled and, subject to owner approval, made available to the public as an interactive map to show how the town changed over time. If you have or know the location of a “Mt. Harris House,” please complete this form so we can contact you for more information.

Mount Harris – The History

Picture a tidy town with wide, tree-lined streets and as many as 1,295 residents, along the Yampa River in the canyon between Hayden and Steamboat Springs. It is difficult to imagine in 2021, but the town of Mount Harris was once the most populous community in Routt County. All that remains of the town today are a few marks on the landscape and peoples’ memories.

Mount Harris was founded in Bear River Canyon in 1914, when the Colorado-Utah Coal Company acquired the land for a coal mining venture. Two brothers from Iowa, George and Byron Harris, developed the mining company town, which would become home for a diverse group of people for the next 44 years. Miners and their families from the United States, Mexico, Italy, Greece, Eastern Europe, and England worked in the three mines in the area and resided in Mount Harris. In the early years, the town was segregated, and the Black residents lived on the western edge of town, attended their own church, and played on a segregated local baseball team. There was also a community of Japanese people who lived in Mount Harris and worked for the railroad, loading coal at the tipple.

Mount Harris was the largest coal company town in Routt County. According to the Historical Guide to Routt County, the town was laid out in three sections, each containing four long rows of houses. Most homes were painted white with gray trim and had spacious yards. Barns along the river were provided for families who kept milk cows, chicken, and geese. Most of the business district was comprised of a large sandstone building, which contained the mining office, a general store, drug store, pool hall, barber shop, and post office. The town boasted three churches, three boarding houses, a community center for dances and movies, and a two-story bandstand. In 1916, the coal company built a 4-room grade school.

In addition to the Colorado- Utah Coal Mine, which operated from 1914-1958, there were two other mines in the area that provided employement for residents of Mount Harris. The Wadge Mine was opened by homesteaders James and Sarah Wadge in 1897 and was purchases by the Victor American Fuel Co in 1917. It operated until 1951. This was the site of the disastrous methane explosion in 1942, which took the lives of 34 miners. The Wolf-Creek Mine opened in 1915 by the International Fuel Co., later owned by Pinnacle-Kemmerer (PK Mine) and ran until 1935.

As the mines began to close, the town started to diminish. On May 20, 1958, the entire town of Mount Harris was dismantled and auctioned off; houses and mining equipment were sold and moved across the region. What remained was demolished, and Mount Harris became only a memory for those who had lived there.