It began with a simple question over lunch in September 1979. “What have you been doing?”asked Pete Siebert, the founder of Vail, of Ron Allred, the developer of Avon, CO. Ron’s answer was that he had been traveling around the country for a year and a half trying to find a place to build one of America’s great ski resorts.
His answer set history in motion. Ron drove to Telluride the very next day to take a look at what Pete called “the most beautiful location for a ski resort.” But not before Pete cautioned Ron that he would need an entire fleet of D9 snowcats to make it work. The D9 was the premier dozer of its time, often said to increase work production by 50% over previous cats.
As Ron drove toward the town of Telluride, he stopped at the old gas station at the entrance to town (where the Conoco is now) and was overwhelmed at the beauty of the mountains and the box canyon. “I was immediately hooked,” said Ron.However, as he drove into town, he saw that it was in bad shape. “When the Idarado Mine closed in 1978, most of the miners left the area, leaving behind boarded-up buildings and a vacuum of empty houses falling to ruin,” said Allred, “the town looked like a ghost town.” The only buildings that were open were a couple of saloons, most notably the Sheridan Bar, which is still open today.
The next morning, Allred started talking to locals about the viability of skiing on the surrounding mountains. They all said he needed to look at the other side of the mountain facing the town of Telluride. Allred drove up Hwy 145 towards Cortez, parked his car near where the Mountain Village entrance is now and hiked all the way up to the current site of Allred’s Restaurant. He immediately saw where the skiing could be. “At that moment,” said Allred, “I knew I had finally found what I was looking for, in my search to build America’s greatest ski resort.
”Allred knew that the most important aspect of building a ski resort from scratch was to have a bed base. Fortunately, his 4.2 million purchase from Joe Zoline and Simonius-Vischer Corporation, included enough land for both the ski resort and future lodging. He set up a small Telluride Ski Company office on Main Street and he was in business.
While he faced a minor hurdle to negotiate the purchase from Joe Zoline and his Swiss backer, Simonius-Vischer Corporation, one of Allred’s toughest hurdles was to get the town council and county commissioners on board for the vision he had in mind. “They did not want change at all, and we fought that for 5 years, “ said Allred.
Finally, a rancher from Norwood who was supportive of Allred’s vision for the resort ran for and won the county commissioner’s seat which meant he had the support of two of the three. “We ran like hell at that point to get all of the approvals,” Allred said, “and on the advice of my attorney, we spent as much as we could, right away.”In that first year, Allred spent $5 million followed by $4 million the second year.
He also invested $4 million in the design and construction of the Telluride Regional Airport, which was a very important aspect of Allred’s vision. “If we didn’t get the airport done, we would not have built theresort,” said Allred. Allred went on to build the gondola, the only one of its kind in the country because it connects the two towns, Telluride and Mountain Village, as a free public transportation system.
The year after the gondola was constructed, Allred’s Restaurant was completed on the original site where Allred first stood to begin to realize his dream. Now and into the future, Telluride guests can see Allred’s vision and why, today, Telluride is one of the greatest ski resorts in the country.
A look into the past, present and future of Telluride and Mountain Village with short videos featuring Ron Allred, one of the founders of Mountain Village and developer of Allred’s restaurant at the top of the gondola, Johnnie Stevens and William (Bill) Mahoney two of the early leaders of Telluride Ski Resort.
Telluride, Colorado was established in 1870 when miners came to work mining copper, lead and zinc. The beginning of skiing in Telluride was a rope tow by the beaver pond for the kids to enjoy.
While mining first brought people to Telluride, when a couple of miners quit their jobs at Pandora Mine and decided to build a ski resort, the dream of Telluride Ski Resort was born.
With a couple of the first ski lifts built and the ski area in operation, Ron Allred came to the town in 1975. He came in with big ideas, and aspirations for the little town of Telluride to one day to become a top ski resort in North America.
Ron Allred’s commitment to Telluride made the far-fetched dream (to become a top ski resort) come true but not without years of hard work. That vision and commitment has become the Mountain Village visitors enjoy today.
The future of Telluride and Mountain Village is managed growth, a vibrant year-round resort community, and sustainability.
Rich in history, Telluride has a unique mountain destination tucked away in the San Juan Mountains. Once you visit, you’ll never forget your first time.