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Known as Ski Town, U.S.A., for its deep powder and its growing crop of winter Olympians, Steamboat Springs was named nearly two centuries ago by French trappers. Hearing the chug, chug of one of many hot springs, they supposed they had reached navigable waters. For centuries, the area's abundant fish, game, and mineral springs drew the Yampatika, a Ute subtribe. In the 1870s, a rush of settlers came, first for precious metals, followed by more renewable riches--the lush summer pastures--and next the extraction of carbonized forests (coal) millions of years old. Ironically, real wealth ultimately fell free from leaden winter skies, and this Routt County community experienced a boom like few places on earth. Winter sports, including ski jumping, with some world records, made Steamboat Springs famous worldwide.
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