1939: Future matriarch visits | AspenTimes.com

1939: Future matriarch visits

While a steady string of skiers flocked to the valley, Aspen received one of its most influential visitors in February 1939. Elizabeth Paepcke, the wife of a Chicago industrialist who was living on Colorado’s Eastern Slope, was in desperate need of a place to retreat after the pipes burst in their ranch house. She headed to Aspen; her experiences and subsequent conversations with husband Walter would change the city forever.

The Paepcke dreams were placed on hold during World War II, but Walter and his wife made a Memorial Day trip to the valley in 1945. Not long after, Walter characterized Aspen as the “ideal” place for people to enhance their minds, bodies and souls.

He formed the Aspen Ski Corporation in 1946, and bought mining leases on Aspen Mountain to pave the way for a burgeoning ski area. One year later, he stood alongside Aspen Mayor Gene Robison and Colorado Governor-elect Lee Knous when, according to the Times, “the longest and highest chairlift in the world” was officially set in motion.

Ruth B. Elmont married Allen Vagneur on Dec. 21, 1939, in Denver. They raised their family on their ranch in Woody Creek.

Dick and Margaret “Miggs” Durrance were married in 1939 and went on to produce numerous film and photography projects together until Miggs’ death in 2002.

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