Steamboat Mountain School: A Brief History

Steamboat Mountain School was founded in 1957 by traveler, outdoorsman, adventurer, horseman, cowboy, and entrepreneur Lowell Whiteman, and it bears his Renaissance-man imprint today. The School’s origins date back to the 1930s, when Lowell sought to open a summer camp for boys as a complement to the famous Perry-Mansfield performing arts camp for girls a few miles down the road. World War II delayed his plans. When the war ended he started the Lowell Whiteman Ranch for Boys.

Becoming a School

In 1957 Lowell Whiteman Ranch became Lowell Whiteman School, an independent college-preparatory boarding school for boys and girls. Challenging academics and outdoor adventure proved a good match. Lowell believed there were important lessons to be learned in the outdoors, and this belief remains a school value today. Another reminder is that students are expected to work on campus, which builds a sense of responsibility and stewardship.
Lowell loved the Rocky Mountains, which he thought were best viewed from the back of a horse. Another love was learning, which he believed to be a worthwhile daily occupation that should continue for a lifetime.

His camp was devoted to learning, and the mountains were among its most valued teachers. Even the School’s ambitious Global Immersion Studies program has its origins with Lowell Whiteman. During the school's earliest years, he would take students each spring to Mexico. While his goals may have been a little different from ours today—he sought to escape the Colorado mud that accompanied the season’s snowmelt—the impact on students’ lives was no less profound.

The School became Steamboat Mountain School in 2014, the new name better capturing the mountain ethic and adding greater visibility as the School expands its international footprint. Lowell Whiteman passed away in 2001.

About That “Steamboat”

Steamboat Mountain School takes its name from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and Steamboat Springs takes its name from a mistake. In the early 1800s, fur trappers moved to the area. The bubbling, gurgling, chugging sound of the hot springs that flow here made them think a steamboat was coming down the river, so Steamboat Springs is what they named the place.