Avon cracks open history
That’s why one of former mayor Allan Nottingham’s sheep brands was among the soggy treasures dug out of the 20-year-old time capsule opened in Avon Thursday.
There was also a Rubix Cube, a copy of the old Avon-Beaver Creek Times with an April Fool’s Day photo of the space shuttle landing on the old Stolport Airstrip, dozens of polaroids and a wind-up Pac Man – the round, yellow, hungry hero of the early 1980s video-game craze.
“Avon was way out then, but we always knew it would be the hub,” said Jo Brown, who was selling Real Estate in Avon 20 years ago.
About two dozen people who lived in the area in 1982 –just four years after Avon became a town – showed up for Thursday afternoon’s time capsule opening ceremony. But many of the mementos therein were ruined by water that seeped into the capsule over the two decades as it stood in front of the Boat Building in downtown Avon.
Larry Goad, who now lives near Colorado Springs, ran Benchmark at Beaver Creek, the company that built the Boat Building. Goad also thought up the time capsule.
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“We were the redheaded stepchild, and now Avon’s the world headquarters of Vail Resorts,” Goad said. “1982 was the 20-year anniversary of Vail and we thought we should see what Avon looks like in 20 years.”
Twenty years ago, skiers had to drive across the railroad tracks to get from Avon to Beaver Creek – the slopes of which you had all to yourself most of the time.
City Market had just opened and Avon Road was two lanes and lacking in roundabouts. There were still planes landing at the nearby Stolport Airport, which will soon be a shopping complex comprised of The Home Depot and a Wal-Mart Supercenter.
In 1982, Nottingham Lake and the park had already been built. So had Sunridge and the trailer park. And the first house in Wildridge had gone up in 1980. The first roads to Wildridge were also paved in 1980.
The name most associated with Avon is Nottingham. The Nottingham family owned almost of the land that is now Avon, including Wildrige and Mountain Star.
“The town’s grown up,” Allan Nottingham said. “Though there’s a few bigger buildings than I’d like to see. The high buildings are a little overwhelming.”
Nottingham’s wife, C.C., said Nottingham Park and the lake were a sheep pasture when she first visited the area in 1973.
“Allan was driving me down the main road in a big, old brown Cadillac and he had a shovel in the back,” said C.C. Nottingham, who is originally from Chicago. “I thought it was weird to be dating a guy who always had a shovel in the back of his vehicle.”
They drove into a sheep pasture near where the lake is now. There were about a thousand sheep grazing there, C.C. Nottingham said.
“I had never been around sheep and I wanted to get out and pet them,” she said. “I started toward them, then I turned around and asked Allan if they’d bite me. He said to just go and see, and when I got close to them they all ran away.”
A horseshoe that belonged to Allan Nottingham’s brother Arnold was also in the time capsule. Mike Blair, one of Avon’s original planners, said a rusty horseshoe made Avon what it is today. The horseshoe was on a horse that went lame one day when Arnold was riding to catch a train to Grand Junction, where he planned to sell the Nottingham family’s ranch, Blair said.
“He hitched up a team of horses and headed to the railroad stop in Avon,” Blair said. “But the horse went lame so he turned around, went back to the ranch and missed the train. He didn’t sell the property and he found a way to hang on.”
Arnold could have sold the land to a developer who probably would have built an Avon that looks a lot different than the town that exists today, Blair said.
But there is some question about the veracity of the horseshoe story. There’s also a question about when it happened.
Blair said Arnold took his ride in the 1950s; Allan Nottingham said if it actually took place, it was in the 1930s.
Allan Nottingham was a town councilman for four years and was mayor for eight. C.C. Nottingham said her husband was once notified he’d been elected mayor when he was on the beach vacationing in Florida.
“You didn’t even have to be around or campaign back then,” C.C. said.
Not only did the town have to seek out candidates to run for election, it also had to find voters to vote for them.
“We were really looking for live bodies to inhabit the town,” she said.
Mayor Judy Yoder was living in Avon 20 years ago, too. She was at the ceremony on Aug. 8, 1982, when the time capsule was sealed. She said she can’t remember what job she had then.
“I think the town has come a long way and I think it’s all positive,” Yoder said. “It’ll be exciting to see the town 20 years from now. I hope I’m here, because I plan to be.”
The town sealed up a new time capsule Thursday to be opened in the year 2022. The contents include plans for the sprawling Village at Avon shopping and residential complex, photos of the Town Council, a program for the Avon Recreation Center, a People magazine from Sept. 11, a copy of the Vail Daily and the current town budget.
But there won’t be any pictures of Avon’s beach in the new time capsule –because it doesn’t exist anymore.
C.C. Nottingham said she remembers when there was a beach behind the Beaver Bench condos on the north side of the lake. It’s now a volleyball court. There were two times a day –around 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. – that the sun shone at such an angle that the lake was like a mirror, she said.
“We had a sailboat in our backyard,” C.C. Nottingham said. “And the whole lake was surrounded by wild daisies. The water was so cold you wouldn’t think anybody would go swimming, but the kids would.”
Matt Zalaznick covers public safety, Eagle County Courts and Avon/ Beaver Creek. He can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at email@example.com.