Aspen Rebounds: 1936-1948

In 1936 the first glimmer of hope for Aspen’s recovery arrived in the form of a relatively new winter sport that would take advantage of the area’s abundant, light snow and dramatic terrain: skiing. The new potential “boom” would be put on hold with the onset of WWII a few years later.

Aspen Valley Ski Club begins. A six-passenger “boat tow”, powered by an old mine hoist and truck engine, is constructed at the base of Aspen Mountain and Roch Run is cut on the hill.

Elizabeth Paepcke travels to Aspen for the first time (via train to Glenwood Springs) for a skiing adventure with friends.

Aspen’s first national downhill and slalom championships are held March 8th-9th. Fritz Benedict visits Aspen for the first time.

War Years
The 10th Mountain Division, stationed at Camp Hale near Leadville, uses the Aspen area for training exercises. Many 10th Mt. veterans return after the war and help develop skiing at Aspen.

Chicago industrialist Walter Paepcke, president of the Container Corporation of America, visits Aspen at his wife Elizabeth’s suggestion. The couple begins plans for a new cultural center. Paepcke meets with Friedl Pfeifer and plans for Aspen’s first ski lift.

Aspen Skiing Corporation is formed. Lift-1 unofficially opens December 14th.

Lift-1 is dedicated as the world’s longest chairlift. Aspen Ski School begins with Friedl Pfeifer as director. Refurbished Hotel Jerome opens. Herbert Bayer’s partially refurbished Wheeler Opera House reopens. Dick Durrance becomes Aspen Ski Corp.’s General Manager.

Sardy Field officially opens for commercial flights. Walter Paepcke brings Stuart and Isabel Mace to Aspen.