Copper Mountain Ski Area History

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Copper Mountain History

Between the skiing, hiking, biking and other activities, take some time to appreciate the history of Copper Mountain, founded as a miner's retreat and transformed in 1971 by Chuck Lewis. Read More

  • The Wheeler Settlement, which would eventually become Copper Mountain, is still visible at the base of Alpine Lift.
  • In 1971, Chuck Lewis famously said, "I'm gonna build me a killer ski resort." And he did.
  • Officer's Gulch is a 19th-century work camp, where stone shelters provided slim protection from the Colorado winters.

Mining Days

When you're making the turn at the golf course, or skiing by the Alpine Lift, keep a look out for the old buildings that made up the original settlement known as Wheeler Junction.

Founded by Judge John S. Wheeler in 1880, the settlement was promoted as a retreat from the tough mining lives in the mountains. The original idea was the same as it still is - come to this beautiful place, relax, enjoy and let the worries of the outside world fade away.

Wheeler's plan worked, attracting a clientele that, today, can only make one laugh. Just imagine a settler or miner in dirty overalls, complete with a long beard, sitting at a formal table with silverware and tablecloths, quietly drinking tea with a pinky finger daintily pointed!

If you're driving on I-70 between Frisco and Copper, stop off at Officer's Gulch. There is a work camp that survived, which will help you imagine the homes of the people who might have visited Wheeler's retreat.  Rough-handed roustabouts, for certain.

Copper Mountain Ski Resort

In 1971, Chuck Lewis was already a well-known face in the business side of Colorado skiing, but he was about make a big gamble - Copper Mountain. His development of the area pioneered new capital financing and environmental impact concerns to trailblaze a new type of ski resort.

Of course, it didn't hurt that the U.S. Forest Service had determined that Copper Mountain was a near perfect ski mountain, coining a nickname that would say with the resort to this day.

Since the founding, Copper Mountain Ski Resort has grown into one of the largest ski areas in Colorado. In 1997, Intrawest purchased the resort, which then sold it to Powdr Corp. in 2009.