Keystone names mountain in honor of Max Dercum | VailDaily.com
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Keystone names mountain in honor of Max Dercum

Christine McManus/Special to the Daily

KEYSTONE – On Friday morning, Keystone Mountain was renamed Dercum Mountain in honor of Max Dercum, historic founder of the ski resort.

“Keystone Resort would not be here today if it were not for Max’s vision. There is a rich history and tradition of winter sports in Colorado that Max is a huge part of,” said Roger McCarthy, chief operating officer of Keystone and Breckenridge ski resorts.

“By making this change today it reflects to a small degree the way we feel about Max’s contribution to the wonderful resort of Keystone.”



Redesigned trail maps now show that Keystone Mountain facing Highway 6 is renamed Dercum Mountain.

The larger mountain that rises 12,408 feet above sea level to the east, including The North Peak and the Outback, will remain unchanged as Keystone Mountain on U.S. Geological Survey maps.



“In a recent drive up Keystone with Max, he amazed me with his knowledge of the terrain, trail layout in his day was done the hard way, all of it on foot, I am positive he still knows every nook and cranny on these three mountains,” McCarthy said.

“It is important for Keystone Resort to always stay connected to our heritage, and this is one way of ensuring that we never forget where we came from. Max fought for years to make Keystone a reality,” he said.

Now 91 years old, Max Dercum came to Summit County in 1942 with his wife Edna and their infant son, Rolf.



They moved from Pennsylvania when Max Dercum got a job as a U.S Forest Service ranger. He had been teaching forestry at Pennsylvania State University.

The family purchased the Black Ranch, which was a stagecoach stop for miners in the late 1800s. A narrow gauge railroad in the area helped miners and loggers transport resources.

Electricity came in the mid-1940s. The Dercums transformed the dilapidated old ranch structures into the Ski Tip Ranch, one of the first ski lodges in Colorado.

After waiting for World War II to end, Max Dercum joined a group of investors in 1946 to create Arapahoe Basin. Founding investors included Larry Jump, Sandy Schauffler, Richard Durrance, Thor Groswold and Max Dercum. They each began with a $2 contribution.

At first, a rope tow took skiers up the mountain. The group financed a single-chair lift, which was built using a reclaimed mining cable that was hauled over from Monarch Pass.

Even in the first few winters, skiers flocked from Denver, Chicago and all over to the three original ski trails, said Edna Dercum.

As the Ski Tip Ranch and Arapahoe Basin became a success in the early 1950s, Max turned his attention to Keystone Mountain directly south of the Ski Tip.

Max spent years hiking the slopes of the front peak of the mountain, planning out runs. In 1967 Max formed the Ski Valley USA cooperation to develop the ski area, and finally succeeded in securing permits from the Forest Service.

After finally getting permits, Max struggled to find adequate funding for the resort. As county clerk, Edna Dercum said she learned from bankers how to borrow money to fund their dreams.

In 1969, Ski Tip Ranch guest Bill Bergman, an Iowa attorney, became interested in the Keystone project. With the help of a group of investors from Ralston Purina, he and Max formed Keystone International Inc.

Under the new company, work progressed quickly and Keystone Resort opened to the public on November 21, 1970.

Vail Resorts bought Keystone in 1997.


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