Throwback Thursday: 1971 Marble Ski Area Chairlifts, Colorado

Post by blogger | July 21, 2016      

A little Colorado cowboy throwback for all you Wildsnow readers around the world…

Marble chairlift as it looked about 15 years ago.

Marble chairlift as it looked about fifteen years ago. I’ve heard the cable is still hanging. They should start it moving again! Click images to enlarge.

The year was 1971, anyone with a golf shirt and a friendly banker could start a ski area in Colorado. A resort near the town of Marble was one such endeavor. Marble fizzled for various reasons (see below). For fun, check out this nifty report from the Aspen Times, 1971. If you know what it’s like up there, you’ll see the humor in this article, perhaps tongue-in-cheek repeating the downright weird plans of the developers. Paving the “airstrip” might be the winner pipe dream. If you saw it, you’ll know why. Ending in a lake, short, tall trees and power lines to either side and constrained by the Crystal River. It’s still used for small plane hobby flights, but paving it?

Marble chairlift news report 1971.

Marble chairlift news report 1971.

Text from Aspen Times, June 3, 1971, lightly condensed, annotations in double quotes:

Work starts on 1st Marble Chair Lift

Work has started on the first lift at the new Marble Ski Area and an Aspen firm, Esco, has been awarded a contract to build the access road to the lift and ski village at its base, the Aspen Times was told last week.

The lift, first of five to be on private land, is to be supplied by Riblet and erected by employees of the Marble Ski Area, Operations Manager Al Atkins told the Aspen Times.

It is to be 4,300 feet long with a rise of approximately 1200 feet. A total of 12 lifts on private and Forest Service Land is ultimately planned, a corporation official recently told the Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce.

About two miles above the old town of Marble, the new ski village is to be located at the base of the lift at an elevation of 8800 feet, Marble has an elevation of 7950.

However, Atkins explained, the access road is to be four miles long running up the east side of Marble Creek ((The road was build and actually is on the east side of Gallo Creek rather than Marble Creek)) and down the west side at a cost of $300,000.

First phase of the new village is to be a 200-unit condominium Atkins said. It is hoped that construction can begin on the structure later this summer ((probably the still existing shell of the ‘Crystal Lodge.’

Second phase of the village construction is to be a series of shops, about 25, in the commercial areas. Tentative construction date is next year.

Also in the pans is paving of the airstrip, already in existence below Marble. The strip is now used to fly in prospective customers and for use by the developing firms own Lear Jet ((WildSnow note: an outrageous and laughable assertion, no way a Lear could land on the short grass strip)).

Parent company for Marble Ski Area, Inc. is the Colorado Western Development ((Lee Stubblefield’s company)), creators of Crystal Lakes and Perry Parks, both near Denver. ((Google Stubblefield and you’ll see he was involved in a variety of apparently shady real estate development.))

About 650 of the lots included in the first five filings for the Marble Ski Area have already been sold, the Aspen Times was told (( hint, the idea here is say you’ll build a lift, and see who ‘invests’ in the associated land)). Another four filings are in the works for this summer.

John Lackervich, an official of Colorado Western, is President of Marble Ski Areas, Inc., and Don Weixelman is vice president.

The lift was actually built, parts are still there. It is said to have ran for all of one day. Well known pioneer ski mountaineer Chris Landry told this author some years ago that he actually rode the lift on that milemarker day of the halcyon 1970s. The private land and lots in the area are now sold as residential home sites, with no plans for ski development. A fairly large “base lodge” type building was partially built and is still intact, miraculously the would-be “Crystal Lodge” has not fallen down nor ignited — though clearly it should be condemned and razed. Rumors ran the gamut on exactly why the whole endeavor failed. Our research leads us to believe it was a combination of factors, all the way from a perhaps shady corporate foundation, to geologic hazards prevalent in the area. It’s also said a key permit filing was never done and was the nail in the coffin.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


9 Responses to “Throwback Thursday: 1971 Marble Ski Area Chairlifts, Colorado”

  1. Patrick July 21st, 2016 9:11 pm

    well for gosh sakes, and thank gawrsh, you’ve got some Colorado back-country riding eh.

  2. John Coulter July 23rd, 2016 7:26 am

    I started working construction on 1972 when I graduated from high school in Denver. Got a job with a construction company who built the foundations up there for I believe was the resort. We stayed in an A frame in Marble during the weeks we worked up there: went to a small restaurant/ lodge in town that had a large corner fireplace (remember the fireplace, not much else!).

    Tough work, a real bear to get up there from Marble to the construction site, took several runs in the truck to get up the hill. Remember watching snow slides across from where we working on the hill; surely gave one a sense in to how powerful they can be.

    First job for me each morning…. Walk around and find wood shorts to put in a barrel to help us warm up. Ahhh, memories!

  3. Jim Milstein July 23rd, 2016 10:46 am

    This reminds me of the ill-starred Village at Wolf Creek, which we locals are still fighting after thirty years, trying to save its developer from himself and certain failure. I do not mention the catastrophe that would result from trying to build a city the size of Aspen above 10,300′.

  4. Hacksaw July 23rd, 2016 11:34 am

    Colorado First Tracks Heliskiing worked out of Marble back in the day.pack

  5. Lou Dawson 2 July 23rd, 2016 12:45 pm

    Jim, you’re probably right along with the other locals, 10,300 feet in Colorado is pretty extreme, on the other hand perhaps they’re banking on global warming?


  6. Jim Milstein July 23rd, 2016 2:51 pm

    Could be, Lou, but Red doesn’t believe in global warming, so would not be counting on it. Anyway, GlobWarm won’t deliver more O2 to Wolf Creek Pass, which is what the development would need to succeed.

  7. Lou Dawson 2 July 23rd, 2016 2:58 pm

    You think that thing could ever happen? Sounds pretty far fetched at this point. Of course, large corporate financial manipulations don’t always make sense to us prolls…

  8. Grant Robbins October 14th, 2017 11:55 am

    We are working on creating a documentary on the “Abandoned” ski areas in Colorado. How did you get access to Marble, and do you have any contacts you would mind sharing? Thanks!

  9. Lou Dawson 2 October 14th, 2017 12:15 pm

    Hi Grant, some years ago, certain parcels of the private land had not been posted and locals skied it a bit now and then. Now it’s posted. Not sure where you’d get permission for access, ask around if you’re in Marble, perhaps research property ownership and write a few letters. I’m sure a few property owners would be happy to help with a history project. Lou

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