Rebuilding the Vail Trail: With newspaper now digitized and searchable from 1965-1979, library fundraisers eyeing ’80s |

Rebuilding the Vail Trail: With newspaper now digitized and searchable from 1965-1979, library fundraisers eyeing ’80s

The 1980s in Vail were an exciting time, and the Vail Trail newspaper captured the entire decade in print, appearing in newspaper boxes every Friday.

Currently, however, it’s much easier to re-experience the 1970s via the Vail Trail than it is the 1980s, because the 1970s has been recently digitized and is available for free on

Town of Vail Community Information Officer Suzanne Silverthorn had long imagined the digitization project, but it only recently began to come together thanks to grant and philanthropic funding.

A photo of sitting Vice President Walter Mondale skiing with former President Gerald Ford from the Jan. 2, 1981, Vail Trail newspaper.
Vail Daily archive

Jo Norris and Lori Barnes with the Vail Public Library describe the digitization project as one of the most exciting developments in information availability in Vail in a long time.

“And it has been funded solely through grants and donations,” Barnes said.

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But the project, now two years in, is far from complete. The entire Vail Trail digitization is expected to cost $100,000.

“We raised $6,000 the first year and $13,375 the second year,” Barnes said. “So we’re chipping away at it.”

A Vail Trail newspaper clipping from Nov. 11, 1988.
Vail Daily archive

While that initial investment gets the digital archive complete through the ‘70s, in the 1980s the Vail Trail becomes a large paper, and the project becomes more costly as a result.

“Year 1 of funding got us from 1965 to 1974, and Year 2 got us from 1975 through 1979,” Norris said.

Barnes said finishing the project is the primary focus of Friends of Vail Public Library right now, so any donations to that group will support the digitization efforts in 2022-23.

“We see tremendous value in seeing it completed,” Barnes said.

To become a member of the Friends of Vail Public Library group, a Visa or MasterCard payment of $20 for an individual, $40 for a family, $50 for a business is suggested, but interested community members are also welcome to volunteer their time, as well.

The library also put together an oral history of the Vail Trail using voice recordings which can be heard on the Vail Public Library’s website, part of the Vail Cultural Heritage Committee’s Vail Valley Voices project.

The Vail Trail front page from Jan. 5, 1979, via
Courtesy image/Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection

The value of the digitization isn’t in the access alone, Norris said, but in the searchability, and the fact that you can download PDF copies of the old papers for your own use, all for free.

“For anyone researching Vail, it’s an amazing tool,” Norris said.

You can support the effort to see the rest of the Vail Trail digitized by visiting

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