Vail 50th anniversary: Monkey wrench gang hits Vail |

Vail 50th anniversary: Monkey wrench gang hits Vail

Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum | Special to the Daily

Editor’s Note: This came to us anonymously, so we’re not sure who this was but we’re sure they did it.

VAIL – We were living in the second house built in East Vail. This was about 1969 or 1970, before I-70 was built and when East Vail was in the middle of nowhere.

It was a big snow year. There was no television and lots of times Vail Pass would be closed. So for fun we would go ski-joring behind our Toyota Land Cruiser.

Then someone desecrated the pristine valley by placing an obnoxious billboard alongside the road, just about where the Vail Mountain School stands today. At the time it was in the middle of a pasture used by John Mahaney for his stables.

This was the only billboard between Vail and Denver. It was huge. It advertised lodging and gas in orange reflector colors and certainly did not belong in our beautiful valley.

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So with nothing to do, my husband and I strapped on our cross-country skis and backpacks. I carried a flashlight and he carried a chain-saw.

It was pitch black, with only the occasional headlight from a car along Highway 6 catching our movements. With each car that approached, I was sure it was the sheriff and we would be spending the night in jail.

We skied through the snow to that billboard. It looked humongous when we looked at its height and the telephone-pole uprights that supported it.

No problem, we decided. It had to come down.

In the silence of the night, the only sound we heard was the blaring roar of the chain saw as it cut through those uprights. With cracks and splinters, that billboard listed to the east and then to the west, and then came crashing down in a mushroom cloud of snow.

That was just about the best night we had in the early days of Vail.

Ever notice that no other billboard has been erected? We’re pretty proud of that.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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