‘Pete’s Dream’ sculpture to honor Pete Seibert, Vail’s original pioneer | VailDaily.com

‘Pete’s Dream’ sculpture to honor Pete Seibert, Vail’s original pioneer

VAIL — What better time that Pioneer Weekend to honor Vail's original pioneer, reasoned Roger Tilkemeier.

"Pete's Dream" would be a monument honoring Pete Seibert, Vail's founder, as well as the ranchers and homesteaders who were here before Vail.

"It's emotional with me," Tilkemeier said.

Roger bounced the idea off of Bill Rey of Claggett-Rey Gallery in Vail the idea took flight again.

"This is about the risk-takers, Pete, Earl Eaton and all those early believers," Rey said.

Sketch plan

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When Pete Seibert, Sr., was still alive and the original idea for Siebert Circle was kicking around, Pete, Warren Miller and Christy Hill were working with Rey on design ideas.

They knew a guy who knows a guy, and one of the guys Rey knows is world renowned sculptor Herb Mignery, whose work is found all over the country.

Pete had some sketches, Mignery came up with some more sketches and then a model.

That model goes something like this:

In the early 1960s there was a camp tender who usually had a packhorse, who rode around the mountains supplying the local sheep camps. He'd occasionally come down to the fledgling town and inevitably run into Pete, who was always happy to tell him what was next on Vail's horizon. The cowboy in "Pete's Dream" represents that cowboy and all the ranchers who played a vital role in kickstarting Vail, Rey said.

The monument will be a life-sized bronze sculpture memorializing Pete and the ranchers who established the land and water rights, without which Vail could not exist.

The sculpture will be located in Slifer Square, as you approach Vail's Covered Bridge on your way up Bridge Street from the village parking structure and Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum.

Rey and Mignery have the clay model on display in the Claggett-Rey Gallery.

Now they're trying to raise $400,000 for the bronze sculpture.

Roger Tilkemeier is 88 years old and was the first to build houses in East Vail.

Vail's Art in Public Places board is behind it, and Vail's town council approved it. The town has also created a Pete's Dream account to make it easier for people to make tax-deductible donations to the project.

The eventual goal is to create something like a museum without walls in conjunction with the nearby Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum, honoring Vail's pioneers, Gore Creek Valley ranching families, the 10th Mountain Division and others who helped make Vail possible.

Gore Creek Valley

Vail is not really located in the Vail Valley, because valleys are traditionally named for the rivers and creeks that run through them. Vail is located in the Gore Creek Valley. The ski company's marketing department created term Vail Valley decades ago.

The Gore Creek Valley was homesteaded and settled by sheep and cattle ranchers in the late 1880s. As they were developing their land and water rights, they were also laying the groundwork for the future development of a ski resort.

One of those local ranchers was Pete's friend and fellow 10th Mountain Division veteran Earl Eaton, who had roamed these mountains since his childhood.

Pete wanted to launch his own ski areas, and spent years searching for just the right spot. It's a passion he had carried since he was a kid in Massachusetts where he and childhood friend Morrie Shephard had strung a rope tow and started a tiny ski hill as teenagers.

After World War II ended, Pete and Earl were both working at the Loveland ski area and Pete's search continued. He had rejected several areas around Colorado, when one day Earl told him about some mountains he had known since he was a child.

About 4:30 a.m. on a snowy spring morning in the late 1950s, they parked their Army surplus jeep along Highway 6, strapped on skis and skins and started climbing. Several hours later they reached the summit and Earl showed Pete what is now Vail's Back Bowls. Pete knew he was looking at his ski area.

Pete and several other investors began raising money and support. They recruited entrepreneurs and a small group of dedicated employees, and after years of planning they built their fledgling ski resort in one summer.

The lifts started turning Dec. 15, 1962. Legend has it that they celebrated Vail's original opening day with dinner at The Lodge at Vail, which was so new that when they sat down to dinner they had to be careful. The paint on the walls was still wet.

"As the ranchers did earlier, the Vail pioneers scratched and scraped to form a community of emotionally charged people who developed a distinct culture of their own, the culture of Vail," Tilkemeier said. "Without them and that essential culture, Vail would not exist today."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

For donation information

For information call Roger Tilkemeier at 505-690-1881, or email roger.tilkemeier@gmail.com.

To send tax deductible donations: Pete Seibert/Gore Valley Ranchers Monument Donation, Town of Vail/Art in Public Places, Attn: Molly Eppard, 1309 Elkhorn Dr., Vail CO 81657