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History of Aspen, Colorado

excerpted from Aspen Skiing - The First 50 Years 1947-1997
by Lito Tejada-Flores

1893 Demonetization of Silver ended Aspen’s 14 year reign as “Crystal City of the Rockies.”
1936 Billy Fiske, Ted Ryan & TJ Flynn formed Highland-Bavarian Corp. and built the Highland-Bavarian Lodge which accommodated 16 skiers in two dorm rooms.
1937 André Roch, Swiss mountaineer, gave ski lessons. Local boys Frank & Fred Willoughby joined Roch to form Roaring Fork Winter Sports Club, later renamed The Aspen Ski Club. The Club cut a trail on Aspen Mountain 6,600 feet long but less than 50 feet wide and named it Roch Run. The Club built the “boat tow” which could transport up for 10 skiers at a time for 10¢ a ride.
1939 Bill Fiske was the first American RAF pilot to be kill in action in WWII. The Highland-Bavarian land was leased to the US Army troops for the duration of the war for $1.
1940 Aspen hosted the Rocky Mountain Championships.
1941 Aspen hosted the National Championships.
1945 Friedl Pfeifer returned to Aspen and with the help of the Ski Club volunteers Roch Run was widened and several new routes down the mountain were cut.

Pfeifer formedthe Aspen Ski School with Johnny Litchfield and Percy Rideout.

Walter Paepcke bought a half dozen homes, hundreds of residential lots and one whole commercial block. He also took leases out on the Hotel Jerome and Wheeler Opera House.

1946 Paepcke, Pfeifer, Johnny Litchfield, Percy Rideout and others formed The Aspen Skiing Corporation. Paul Nitz was the single largest shareholder.
1947 The first chairlift on Aspen Mountain was installed. It was actually 2 lifts together - #1 & #2 traveled nearly three miles and gained over 3,000 feet of elevation. Both were single chairs with a foot rest and an attached lap blanket. A trip to the top took 45 minutes, cost $3.75 a day for a lift ticket and $140 for a season pass. There was a new beginner’s slope call Little Nell. The Hotel Jerome was refurbished. Dick Durrance, 1939 Olympian became the first full-time General Manager. Opening day was January 11, 1947
1949 Goethe Bicentennial was held in Aspen. Aspen was awarded the most F.I.S. Ski Races.
1950 Aspen hosted skiers from 14 nations in the World Championships. A young Stein Eriksen raced to a third place slalom finish.
1951 Aspen Music Festival and Music School opened. Aspen held the first Wintersköl, “a toast to winter” in January when there weren't that many skiers in town.
1958 Buttermilk opened with one t-bar and became Aspen’s learning mountain.

Whipple Van Ness Jones opened Aspen Highlands with two chair lifts, a t-bar and rope tow. Stein Eriksen who helped lay out some of the trails signed on to be the first Director of the Ski School. Highland had almost 30,000 skiers that first year.

1960 Walter Paepcke died.
1961 Bob Beattie brought the US Ski Team to Aspen.

Hawaiian surfers and skiers Buzzy Bent and Joey Cabell started the Chart House chain with just 4 chairs over by the Little Nell.

Klaus Obermayer’s first success was the dawn parka. He also came out with the first ski glove shaped like a hand, invented mirrored sunglasses, distributed the first real sunscreen (developed by Friedl Pfeifer) and was the first to distribute ski brakes.

1967 Snowmass opened at a cost of $10 million. Snowmass was a planned destination resort and opened with 5 lifts.
1968 Bob Beattie brought the World Cup “White Circus” back to Aspen.
1981 Aspen hosted the Men’s American Downhill Race.

Fritz Benedict, veteran of the 10th Mountain Division helped build several of the backcountry huts that extend from Aspen to Vail.

1995 Fritz Benedict died.
1987 The 24 hours of Aspen was born in Keystone. Ed McCaffrey with partner Russ Klein set up the endurance run for downhill skiers and raised money for the National MS Society and the Jimmie Heuga Center for MS by logging 234,000 hours in 24 hours.
1988 The 24 hours of Aspen was moved to Aspen where it's been ever since.
1993 Aspen Skiing Company acquired Highlands.
2001 Aspen Mountain was opened to snowboarders.

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Aspen in 1947 by Dick Durrance

Aspen Aerial



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