Arnold Barn’s Story

Research by Arianthé C. Stettner, MAHP, MBA

Walter Arnold built his dairy barn in 1928 at the base of Mt. Werner (then known as Storm Mountain) long before the idea of a major ski area existed. The barn was the centerpiece of the Arnold family’s 160-acre ranch and dairy farm. Historic photos show a complex of modest buildings that included the family home, hen house, storage and equipment sheds, and a two-seater outhouse. There was no electricity or running water.   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 ski area storage and a backdrop for ski advertising photos. In the late 1980s, an enterprising artist, Daniel Kelly, obtained permission from the ski area to mount a collection of his colorful hand crafted wooden butterflies on the gable end of the barn facing Mt. Werner Road. For decades, the barn was known by locals as the Butterfly Barn.

Over the years, the butterflies faded from sight and the ownership of the property changed hands multiple times. The rest of the farm buildings eventually disappeared. The open fields were developed into roads, a parking lot, condos, and a man-made wetland. The barn suffered from neglect and slowly sank into the earth.

In 2017, the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation regained ownership of the barn. Thanks to the advocacy of Save Arnold Barn and broad community support, emergency stabilization of the barn for winter in late 2017.

In October 2018, the Arnold Barn was relocated 1,000 up the road, where it is being rehabilitated to stand for many years to come as a welcoming and accessible landmark that celebrates Routt County’s agricultural heritage.