CO Ski History

Colorado Ski History


Colorado History Overview

Before the Ski Industry

The area that is now known as Colorado has been occupied by Native Americans for thousands of years. Most recently, the Ute Indians were the dominant tribe of the region. Even after the Mexican-American war (1846-1848), settlers avoided the rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains.

In the middle of the 19th century settlers began finding gold in the Front Range, Rocky Mountain Foothills, and Pikes Peak area. In 1848, Green Russell and Sam Bates made the first significant gold claim in the region. This sparked a gold rush that would spread deeper into the Rocky Mountains throughout the rest of the 1800’s. The State of Colorado was admitted to the Union on August 1st, 1876.

The 20th Century

Many of the most popular ski towns in Colorado were founded as a result of the mining boom. By the early 1900’s, many of the local mines were shut down. After WWII, the modern Colorado ski industry was born and many of the old mining towns began to turn into destination resorts.

Several ski jumps were built around the state for local winter carnivals throughout the first half of the 20th century. One of the first ski jumps that was constructed (Which is still in existence today) is located on Howelson Hill; the oldest ski area in Colorado which is still in operation.

After WWII, many members of the 10th Mountain Division who were returning from war played a key role in the birth of the Colorado ski industry. The 10th Mountain Division had used Camp Hale and the surrounding mountain slopes to train before deployment.

Here are some of the resources we have used to find this information.

CO Ski History