Telluride ski history

There was Telluride!

There was Telluride!

Back when snow was snow and not atomized ice; when all skis were skis and not snowboards, sleds, or something halfway inbetween; when bindings were closer to leather straps than to jet aircraft ejection systems; when skiers wore warm, mostly wool, clothes and anyone with formfitting clothes obviously couldn’t ski; when poles looked more like upside-down holey umbrellas than javelins, when skiing downhill required some physical effort to get uphill…way back then, there was Telluride!

Telluride is one of the Colorado towns named for an element (tellurium), and it did start as a mining town.  Like many Colorado mining towns, Telluride was almost a ghost town before discovering the white gold of ski tourists.  With around 300 inches of snow a year, it always had the ski terrain for anyone courageous or crazy enough, but its ski resort only began in the early 1970s. At that time ski boots were usually leather, and ski clothes were often a sweater over stirrup pants made not to be form-fitting but to keep your pants from pulling out of your boots and letting the loose snow in.  Telluride’s ski resort had five chairlifts at a time when other ski areas might have rope tows, a T-bar, and maybe a chairlift.

Telluride worked at becoming a world-class ski destination; in the late 1970s a resort village was built and now Telluride has groomed slopes, lifts, terrain parks, heli-skiing, festivals, golf, mountain biking, and cultural events.  But underneath the glitz of its new prosperity is a lot of history, and part of Telluride is actually a National Historic Landmark District that could possibly become a national park someday.

Visit the Telluride Historical Museum, and read more here about Colorado’s ski areas, especially about the ones that didn’t survive such as “New Mexico’s Only Colorado Ski Area”!

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