Vail pioneer Caulkins to be honored
Ryan Summerlin December 15, 2012
VAIL – Vail pioneer George Caulkins will be enshrined as the 2013 Pioneer, announced Susie Tjossem, director of the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame.Others brought the vision of a European-style ski resort and town, but Caulkins brought the money. Caulkins raised more than $1 million in 1961 and ’62, almost $8 million in today’s dollars. “It is befitting the announcement of George’s upcoming induction coincides with Vail’s 50th-year celebration,” Tjossem said. “It is not an exaggeration to say that there would be no Vail today without the efforts of this modest man who, as one of the original eight founding board members, led the charge to raise the money that brought the dream to reality.”Caulkins met Pete Seibert while the two were in Aspen in the 1950s. It was there that he agreed to help Seibert make the dream of Vail a reality.Caulkins formed the Caulkins Securities Corporation in 1960 to raise the money they’d need to build a ski area. Caulkins was already successful in the oil, Caulkins Oil Co., and citrus business.He and Seibert crisscrossed the country in Caulkins’ red Porsche to pitch their plan. They were careful to select individuals who would not just invest in the ski company.They were still scrambling to find startup capital in October of 1962. Because of Caulkins’ efforts and creativity, Vail opened Dec. 15, 1962. Caulkins formed the Gas Facilities Company to provide the infrastructure Vail would need for fuel and power as the community grew. Then he loaned the upstart ski company some of his oil company’s top hands to help with finance and accounting while Vail built its own management team.Years later, Caulkins provided the seed money for the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver, which is named for his wife, Ellie.Caulkins died in 2005. He was 83. He is survived by Ellie; his sons George, John, David and Max; his daughter, Mary; and seven grandchildren. The 2013 class of the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, including Caulkins, will be honored at an October ceremony.