Lloyd and Ruth Pierce's Story
My father Woolsey Lloyd Pierce was born in Miller County Missouri on April 10th, 1918. Everyone called him Lloyd and he named his construction company W.L. Pierce Construction Company. He quit school in 1933 at the age of fifteen, to go to work at the CC camps that had been started by the government as a worker relief program. This is where he got his start in the field of construction. He was only in the CC program for about a year, when he and a cousin decided to hop a freight train and go in search of work. Like so many other people of this time period he was looking for a new permanent home and a chance to build a better life.
He came to Steamboat Springs in 1937 and took a job working at the Pine Grove Ranch, putting up hay and helping with the wheat harvest. On one occasion he had gone into town and taken himself out for dinner at the Harbor Hotel restaurant where Miss Ruth Violet Anderson just happened to be his waitress. She didn't seem to be paying enough attention to Lloyd so he proceeded to take the salt and pepper shakers that where on his table home with him. He figured she would soon be out to the ranch to retrieve them, as in those days when something went missing from a table, it was deducted from the waitresses pay check. Lloyd was right and Ruth was at the Pine Grove Ranch the next day, though at this point she did not go on a date with him. That fall Lloyd decided to go to Brown's Park as he was offered a job there wrangling wild horses for the Johnny Grounds Family. As he was leaving town he stopped by the Harbor Restaurant to tell Ruth Violet that he would be coming back soon to marry her. Whether, she was trying to play hard to get or just being contrary, she told him that she doubted if that would ever happen! Lloyd worked for the Grounds Family that entire winter and returned to Steamboat as promised in the early spring of 1938. He had not forgotten about Ruth, soon they where dating and Lloyd finally convinced her to marry him. They went to Denver to get married on July 19th, 1938. Ruth wanted the Reverend Fooks, who had, until recently, been the Congregational Church minister in Steamboat Springs to perform the ceremony, his daughter whom was Ruth's good friend stood up for them. Lloyd and Ruth had four children all born and raised in Steamboat Springs, Colorado; Thomas Joel born December, 31st, 1939, Carron Ingrid born October 2nd, 1941, Lloyd Bertrand (Tyke) born October 4th, 1950 and Debra Sheen born December 12th, 1952.
In that same summer of 1938 Lloyd had been hired by Pete Darvey to build a new house on the old Carren Ranch north of Columbine. The newlyweds lived there in a two room log cabin on the north end of the ranch along Box Creek into late fall. In 1939 Lloyd teamed up with his Father in-law Joel Anderson to build a Swiss Chalet type home for Rex Gill. Lloyd had also purchased a two ton truck that did not have a dump bed. For spare money he hauled gravel for people which he hand loaded into the truck and then back out of the truck on the other end!
Atthe beginning of World War II: Lloyd pulled up his tools and decided to do work for the war effort. Doing work for Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri , Lowry Air Force Base and built the first barracks at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. He took his family with him to work on the building of Camp Hale Training camp for the Tenth Mountain Division and they lived in a one bedroom shack in the "Pando" work camp that my mother said: was so small, that she had to sit on the foot of the bed in order to cook on the stove. On their way back to Steamboat he had loaded all of their belongings including the dismantled shack on to a trailer, which came unhitched on the road heading up hill on the North side of State Bridge. The whole thing went off the road and into the Colorado River, and they lost everything.
When 1944 rolled around and a number of his friends had joined the armed forces, Lloyd decided to join the Naval Construction Battalion, landing him in the Pacific Theater. Some of the demolition experts in his company were the first to land on Iwo Jima. He ended up Chief Petty Officer in charge of the Base Shop Operations on Iwo Jima. When 1946 rolled around and his commanding officer tried to get him to re-enlist, offering him the rank of Warrant Officer, he declined. He was simply too home sick and wanted to get home to his family and his work in Steamboat Springs.
After returning to Steamboat Springs, Lloyd and Ruth decided to buy a property near the 5th Street bridge, which they developed into the Anchor Motel. Here, they raised their family until 1960. In 1948 Lloyd partnered up with Rube Jensen (the manager of Steamboat Lumber Company) and they built four spec homes on Missouri Avenue-the houses where all done and sold in a matter of six weeks-they were sold for $8,500.00 each. Lloyd also became good friends with John Burroughs (the Author), who hired him to build two log cabins on Wither's Hill. John gave my father two boxes of inlay woods which he had gathered form all over the world which I still have some left in my shop today.
By the year 1950, Lloyd's construction business was really taking off. He was keeping busy building commercial buildings in Northwest Colorado. In 1952 Phillips Petroleum Company asked him to build and develop their executive retreat at Lake Agnes on the East side of Rabbit Ears Pass. His company built all of the infrastructure, buildings, water/sewer systems, stables, roads, marina, and boat docks. He kept a crew busy with this project from 1952 thru 1959. In 1959, he built Steamboat's first condominium building which had only eight units. The project was built for Dorothy Wither and Gene Sternberg was the Architect. This Building is still located at the top of Crawford Hill on 11th Street with a great view of the 90 meter ski jump on Howelson Hill. This was the first project that Tyke worked on, he painted the insides of the closets.
Tyke and his brother Tom worked with their father for many, many years. We both remember hand mixing concrete for all of our projects up until 1969, when ready mix plants eased some of our manual work load. In the year 1966, Lloyd, Tom and Tyke hand mixed enough concrete to build the spillway at Sherriff's Reservoir in one summer. We lived in an army tent for three months during this job.
In 1963 Lloyd's Company built Steamboat Springs a new reservoir which held 5 million gallons of water and because it was built 100 feet higher then the old one, greatly improved the water pressure for the town.
In the 60's his company also installed the water system for the Steamboat Cemetery from a pump station out of the river, the new courthouse annex, a large addition to the Yampa Valley Electric Building (which was originally built in the 50's), Routt County National Bank at 3rd street and Lincoln, the R&B market, a residence for Ed and Marydene Root, and several other projects around Routt County. Lloyd was a community man, He was a member of the Kiwanis's Club, a life time member of the VFW Club where he served as commander for a couple of years, and he also served two terms on the Steamboat Springs City Council in the 70's.
Both of his sons had the privilege of working with their father for a long time. Tom until he was hired as the Regional Building Inspector in Routt County in 1978 and Tyke until Lloyds death in 1995.
The number of buildings and construction projects completed by Lloyd seems to be nearly bottomless. Banks, schools, hospitals, municipal water systems, utility buildings and new residences in a five county area. To name a few: Rifle State Bank in Rifle, the Fire station and Town hall in Meeker, the BLM Building in Craig, Moffat County State Bank in Craig, First Federal Savings and Loan in Craig, three additions to the Memorial Hospital in Craig, the Congregational Church in Hayden, the Yampa Valley Electric Building and two additions, Steamboats two Fire stations, four additions to the Steamboat schools, Steamboat's Catholic Church, The Old west Building, the Inn at Thunderhead Condominiums, the original Gallery restaurant at the base of Mt. Werner, the first commercial building at the ski area, two post offices for Steamboat, addition to the Kremmling elementary school, the Burns Post Office, the Eagle Post Office, and the Baggs Wyoming High School.
In 1990, Lloyd, Tom and Tyke sat down and counted all of the buildings on the main street in Steamboat Springs, there were only two that they had not built, remodeled or altered at some point in time. In 1974 they had 75 employees working with several jobs going at one time in Northwest Colorado. Colorado Macco which later became TIC was a subcontractor to W.L. Pierce Construction Company when the ski mountain was first being built. Ruth single handedly ran the office until 1974 when it became too much for her, at which point Tyke moved into the office to learn and perform that end of the business. Woolsey Lloyd Pierce died while working on a piece of property he had purchased on November 1st, 1995 at the age of 77. Ruth died on January 17th, 1989 four months short of her 70th birthday.
Wells Fargo Bank Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Lloyd and Tyke
Woolsey Lloyd Pierce
First Condominiums Built in Steamboat 1959
Woolsey Lloyd Pierce at 75
Ruth Violet Pierce
The Congregational Church in Hayden, Colorado
90 Meter Ski Jump Howelson Hill