Ski artifacts: Items from Golden’s Research and Artifacts Collection Facility
Special to the Daily
• Ann Bonfoey Taylor’s pleated, navy blue ski skirt is heavy in weight and would be worn over pants or leggings. Just above this, and draped over the shoulders, is a knitted wool scarf with hood. In the 1940s, her skiwear designs were featured in top fashion magazines and in the windows of Lord and Taylor and Bonwit Teller.
• Two booklets from the 1964 and 1977 10th Mountain Division anniversary reunions contain written records of the lyrics of several songs. The album is “Ski-Troopers Sing Combat Songs from Yesterday.” The songs sung here are a cappella recordings by the men of the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment.
• A lift ticket from Geneva Basin, a lost ski area in Grant.
Editor’s note: The following is part of a series of articles compiled by the Colorado Snowsports Museum and Hall of Fame that will take a closer look at some of the artifacts and stories contained in the museum’s archives. The Colorado Snowsports Museum, located in the Vail Transportation Center, is currently undergoing a $2.4 million privately funded transformation that will refurbish the 24-year-old facility, add new exhibit space and modernize exhibits with interactive technology.
Skiing and the 10th Mountain Division are the cornerstones of Vail’s history and success, which the museum preserves and celebrates year-round. The museum has been a favorite family-friendly visitor attraction in Vail for 41 years and, with these improvements, will become the most comprehensive ski museum in the world.
VAIL — Have you ever wondered about what artifacts in the Colorado Snowsports Museum’s collection are not on display? The museum’s Research and Artifacts Collection Facility in Golden, which houses a library, objects, photos and archives collection, is home to more than 13,000 items. Museum staff members are continuously inventorying these items and enriching our records. The following are a few examples.
SAVVY SKIWEAR DESIGNER
Ann Bonfoey Taylor (1910-2007) lived an extraordinary life. Among her many talents, she was a successful skiwear designer who continues to influence the ski-fashion industry. Often self-designed, with no connection to the clothing chain Ann Taylor, her ski clothing and accessories demonstrated her bold, athletic and outdoor savvy elegance.
Not only was she successful with fashion, Taylor was also selected as an alternate for the U.S. Olympic Ski Team, competed at Wimbledon and was a licensed pilot and World War II flight instructor. She was also the first skier on Vail Mountain to wear a helmet — of her own design, of course.
To see more items from Taylor’s collection, pay a visit to the newly transformed museum in Vail in December and check out the first in a series of rotating exhibit exploring the past “100 Years of Ski Fashion.”
SONGS OF THE 10TH
Whether they had a message, were about everyday routines or were simply entertaining, war songs have been a part of military folklore since the dawn of history. Items from the museum’s library chronicle songs of the 10th Mountain Division, the elite mountain troops who trained in Colorado and fought in World War II.
The 10th was made up of skiers and outdoorsmen from all around the world who brought into the unit a wide variety of skiing songs, hiking songs, drinking songs and college and fraternity songs. This interaction of musical influences produced new music of its own. Soldiers sang these songs during their service, and they continue to be favorites at reunions and presentations all around the country. Often expressing the men’s connection to the mountains, the songs are playful and confident.
Preserving these songs is important because it offers an alternative view of 10th Mountain Division history. It helps descendants and researchers understand the sacrifices these men made, what everyday life was like and, sometimes, the fun they had.
COLORADO’S LOST SKI RESORTS
To some people’s surprise, Colorado is home to around 150 lost or dormant ski areas. Almost resembling ghost towns, some areas such as Fun Valley or Idlewild still have remnants of the past. Chairlifts, base terminals and other various types of machinery live among the now-overgrown landscapes.
The story goes that Geneva Basin, a lost ski area in Grant, which was also known as Indianhead Ski Area, first opened in 1963 and was owned by an Illinois family. In 1965, it went into foreclosure. At this time, former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer purchased Geneva Basin at auction. Later, in 1972, it was sold to a Kentucky investment group. This group ran into financial struggles, and the area was taken over by several different companies and owners up until 1984.
Equipment woes mounted, and when one empty chair fell from a lift in 1984, it was the last straw. A revival as Alpenbach failed in 1986.
With no one willing to invest the money needed to restore the area, it has remained dormant. Today, Geneva Basin is used recreationally for backcountry skiing and hiking. Visitors can still see remnants of lift parts.
In recent months, the museum has been actively digitizing all things related to ski resorts, either lost or active. Following the current transformation, the museum will feature an interactive touchscreen table that will let visitors explore the current and lost ski areas throughout the state.
“This is a celebration of all our veterans have done for us,” said Pat Hammon with the local VFW Post, who served as a nurse in Vietnam. “It’s not a time for sadness.”