Colorado Ski History Timeline

The Colorado ski industry was born in the area of Sulphur Springs and Steamboat Springs. Carl Howelson was a champion European ski jumper who had traveled to the Denver area to live. Howelson was a participant at many winter carnivals and this helped to spark local interest in the sport. It was reported that in early 1914, Howelson gave a ski jumping demonstration near Denver (At Inspiration Point) that attracted approximately 20,000 people.

The Early Days of Colorado Skiing

1911 – On Dec. 31st, 1911; Carl Howelson and Angell Schmidt participated in a ski jumping exhibition after the Hot Sulphur Springs Winter Carnival. Hot Sulphur Springs is located approximately 70 miles to the east of Steamboat Springs by road.

The first Sulphur Springs Winter Carnival took place on Dec. 30th, 1911, and was put on by the Hot Sulpher Srings Winter Sports Club. Carl Howelson and Angel Schmidt arrived from Denver late in the evening on the 30th. They built a ski jump behind John Peyer’s house the next day and proceeded to uphold their reputation as champion skiers.

1912 – The first Sulpher Springs carnival of the winter was successful enough to prompt a 3-day winter carnival in February of 1912 (Feb. 10-12). This carnival consisted of a sledding race, an amateur ski race, and a professional ski race – of which Carl Howelson was the winner with a time of 16 seconds. Howelson is also credited by many sources as having given an impressive ski jumping exhibition here in which he jumped 164 feet.

1913 – Carl Howelson wins 1st place at the second annual Hot Sulphur Springs Winter Carnival ski jumping competition. Howelson wins the competition with a jumping distance of 163 feet.

1914 – The Steamboat Springs Mid-Winter Carnival is planned for the days following the annual Sulphur Springs Winter Carnival. This allows Carl Howelson and others to travel from Denver to attend both events. Carl Howelson is put in charge of preparing the snow jumps for the competition.

An article published in the Steamboat Pilot on Jan. 7th, 1914 indicates that a 20-foot high ski jumping tower was already in place in Steamboat Springs. The newspaper reports that a committee had been formed to oversee the winter carnival, and it was agreed upon that an additional 40 feet of height would be added to the tower; bringing the total height of the ski jumping tower to 60 feet.

1914 – The ski jump for the 1915 Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival was constructed in an area that was called Elk Park. This hill would later become known as Howelson Hill (Renamed in 1917).

Post-WWI Colorado Ski History

1936 – Loveland Ski Area is opened by J.C Blickensderfer.

1938 – The first rope tow is installed near the top of Wolf Creek Pass.

1939 – The Monarch Ski Area is opened for skiing by the Town of Salida.

1940 – Winter Park Ski Resort Opens. This ski area officially opened for the first time during the 1939-1940 ski season. Prior to this; skiers were already traveling to the area via train to ski.

1942 – Camp Hale is constructed (Later Ski Cooper). Camp Hale was initially used as a training site for the 10th Mountain Division. This camp was built during the summer of 1942.

1945 – Friedl Pfeifer and Walter Paepcke form the Aspen Ski Company.

1946 – Arapahoe Basin Opens. This ski area was formed by Larry Jump, Sandy Schauffler, Dick Durrance, and Max Dercum. The mountain first opened for the ski season of 1946-1947, but the official dedication did not take place until Feb. 15, 1948.

1946 – Aspen Mountain (Ajax) Opens; owned and operated by the newly formed Aspen Ski Company.

1951 – The Berry Family acquires the Monarch Ski Area.

1955 – Wolf Creek Ski Area moves to its current location from the top of Wolf Creek Pass.

1957 – Earl Eaton and Pete Seibert purchase 500 acres of land at the base of what would later become the Vail Ski Resort.

1958 – Friedl Pfeifer opens the Buttermilk ski area as President of the Buttermilk Skiing Corporation.

1959 – Aspen Highlands is opened by Whipple Jones.

1959 – Pete Seibert forms the Vail Corporation and begins planning development of the Vail Ski Resort.

1958 – Construction begins on the Steamboat Ski resort.

1961 – Breckenridge Opens. This resort opened as the Peak 8 Ski Area in 1961. The new area was built by The Summit County Development Corporation.

1961 – Crested Butte Opens. The Crested Butte ski resort opened for skiing on Thanksgiving Day, 1961.

1962 – Vail Ski Resort opens for skiing on December 15, 1962.

1963 – Snowcat tours begin on what would become the Snowmass Ski Area.

1963 – Steamboat Ski Resort Opens. The Steamboat Ski Resort opens for skiing on January 12th, 1963.

1963 – The Aspen Ski Corporation acquires Buttermilk.

1966 – The Powderhorn Ski Area opens on Thanksgiving Day in 1966.

1967 – Snowmass Ski Area is opened for skiing by Bill Janss.

1970 – Keystone Ski Resort is opened for skiing on November 21, 1970.

1971 – Construction begins on Copper Mountain.

1972 – Telluride Ski Resort opens for skiing. This resort was largely a project of Joseph Zoline and Emile Allais.

1972 – Copper Mountain opens for skiing on November 15, 1972.

1973 – The Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel opens to travelers.

1972 – Colorado rejects the winning bid for the 1976 Winter Olympics.

1976 – The Colorado Ski Museum is founded in Vail, Colorado.

1977 – Ground breaking ceremony for the Beaver Creek Ski Resort is held on July 28, 1977.

1980 – Beaver Creek Ski Resort Opens.

Colorado Ski Timeline