Buying the dream … piece by piece
Trans Montane is the geological name for the area between 8,000 and 10,000 feet above sea level. Vail is at 8,200. It didn’t fool anybody, but they used it anyway.
The way it worked, Bob Fowler and John Conway put in $7,500 each. Earl Eaton assumed the first mortgage that was still on the building – around $10,000. He also put in $5,000. He would make payments on the mortgage and be responsible for it. Pete Seibert, through his wife, Betty, put up the balance of the money, which was $35,000. This group was the sole owner of the property. It’s important to know that, without the lion’s share of the money that came from the Seibert family, the purchase probably would not have happened.
Eaton had a dream. He had looked at many ski-area sites, but none offered as many possibilities as his first discovery – Vail.
Seibert had a dream, too. From the age of 12 he never had anything on his mind but building a ski area. It all stemmed from his growing up in the gentle hills of Sharon, Mass. Young Pete first strapped on skis when he was just out of toddlerhood. The exhilarating sport caught fire in him, and skiing soon became the center of his world. Before his teens, he was pouring over ski magazines, absorbing pictures and articles about the mountain villages of Europe, where skiing was truly a way of life. When the family moved to North Conway, N.H., he sharpened his skills on the challenging slopes of the White Mountains. Much has been written about Pete. He was a visionary, he had a goal, and he reached that goal. So, suddenly, the dreams of men began to emerge. It was the beginning of a bond and friendship that should have lasted forever, for Earl and Pete were the true creators of Vail.
Having purchased the Hanson Ranch, the dreams of men were beginning to come true. The entity that was to become Vail had formed a corporation from which the future Vail Associates would evolve.
The next ranch purchased was the Katsos’s property, but the price went up. It was bought within a year for $75,000, or $150 per acre. The Anholtz purchase was more difficult. It consisted of 160 acres and was just east, adjacent to the Hanson property. It was necessary for the planned development, but the Anholtz family did not want to sell. They were hostile in the beginning. They said that the Vail people were going to ruin their peaceful summer retreat.
In fact, Henry Anholtz drove Pete Seibert off with a shotgun and told him never to set foot on the property again. He had a mine claim on what is now Henry’s Hill, at the bottom of the Golden Peak runs, that had a sign which read, “Anyone coming near this mine will be shot into hell!” The Anholtz family mellowed over the next few years, and a trade-out for land in the Gunnison area was made in 1962. The price was around $1,000 an acre. For a few years, the Anholtz family retained the 44 acres that now comprise Ford Park. Manor Vail is located on the former Anholtz Ranch.
The last 500-acre parcel to the east was the Kaihtipes Ranch, which is now East Vail. It was not purchased due to lack of money. Bill Rounds and Bill Stark, who developed Breckenridge, bought it. The property would have been a welcome addition, but with little money there are limits. The ranch house is the bus station in East Vail today.
As for the Hanson ranch house, it was torn down in the late 1970s. What a shame. It should have been preserved as a museum or as something to remind the world of the beginning.
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 12th 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.