1959 – the "Vail formula’ emerges
When you start from scratch to develop a town in a beautiful, pristine valley, you have to plan the town and all of its services. This means creating a master plan and infrastructure, including roads, water and sanitation, electricity, and phone lines. It was necessary to establish a utility company, organize services such as fire protection and a police department, and provide all the necessary ingredients that go into creating a town. Plans had to be made for hotels, commercial buildings, homes, uphill transportation on the mountain, and the ski runs, among other things. With this in mind, it became a matter of raising considerable money.
To do this, Pete Seibert suggested that they get in touch with a friend of his named George Caulkins, who liked to fly into Aspen several times a year from his oil company’s headquarters in Oklahoma and take ski lessons. Caulkins had bought a little house in Aspen a block away from the home of Seibert and his wife, Betty, and the two men had become good friends. Caulkins was invited to join the Trans Montane Rod and Gun Club in 1958, about the same time as Jack Tweedy, to help them raise money. If anyone could work the money magic, it was Caulkins, and he did not let his new friends down.
When Pete and Earl first took George up the mountain, they spent the night there with Pete’s huge Saint Bernard. “In the middle of the night, I heard this noise and realized I should probably move my sleeping bag because that noise was the dog relieving himself – uphill from me,” George recalled.
As delightful as he found Vail to be, he remained unconvinced at first, wired as he was into the Aspen social hotbed. At a New Year’s Eve party in Aspen in 1958, which became wild when a number of locals rudely crashed the party, Caulkins complained to Darcy Brown, president of the Aspen Ski Corporation.
Brown, knowing full well that Caulkins’ glitzy entourage would never abandon the Aspen life, told Caulkins, “If you don’t approve of the action, you are welcome to de-camp to Winter Park.”
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Caulkins, miffed, turned to his friend Bill Whiteford and said, “Hey, Whiteford, I want you to check out that place of Seibert’s.”
Bill Whiteford, who you will hear about later, readily agreed.
Caulkins, along with Bob Fowler’s law partner Jack Tweedy, joined the original four partners, and they, too, paid $7,500 for an interest in the Trans Montane Rod and Gun Club. This made a total of six partners who would be essential to the further expansion of Vail. It was decided that the club try to put together 20 investors from the four corners of the United States, and have each of them put $5,000 into a new, expanded company, thus raising $100,000. A list of the 20 potential investors was completed in the summer of 1959. The club chose people from different towns, who would become leaders to raise larger sums of money when it was needed in the future. This idea, which was quite successful, became known as the Vail formula.
The Vail Corporation was formed in December 1959 to plan and develop the proposed area. The original six – Caulkins, Conway, Eaton, Fowler, Seibert, and Tweedy – owned 50 percent of the authorized stock of the corporation. The other 50 percent was owned by 20 (two of the $5,000 units were split between two people) people from eight states. They were: Fredric Benedict, Keith Brown, G. W. Douglas Carver, C. T. Chenery, Cortland Dietler, Charles Dimit, Gerald Hart, Harley Higbie, Richard Hauserman, Jerome Lewis, William McBride Love, John McAllister, William McCluskey, John Murchison, Jack Oleson, William Ruby, Fitzhugh Scott, William Stevens, Vernon Taylor Jr., Joe Uihlein, William Whiteford, Jr., and Philip Wooton Jr.
As an aside, Philip Wooton Jr., an executive with Time Inc., at first was enthusiastic about being part of the original 20 investors. He wanted the mountain to be named “The Shining Mountain.” After the directors turned that name down because it might be interpreted as meaning “icy.” Wooton decided to withdraw and not become part of Vail.
During the fall of 1959, a board of directors was formed from the 26 people involved in the project to date.
Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 13th installment, an excerpt from chapter 3, “The Next Big Step.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.