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Keystone History, Keystone Colorado
Keystone History, Keystone Colorado

the history of keystone

The handshake that started it all

Keystone's Beginning

History Keystone, CO

When Max Dercum, along with his wife Edna, founded Keystone back in 1970, he knew how much fun it was to slide down snowy mountains on a pair of skis. The feeling was even better with a smile on your face, next to friends and family, in a beautiful spot high above the rest of the world.

Along with the Dercums, Bill and Jane Bergman helped shape Keystone. Bill was the first president of the resort, and the inspiration for Bergman Bowl. Family, friends, and fun—that’s what Keystone was, and still is, all about.

Today, Keystone stretches 7 miles along the Snake River, over 3 mountains, with 3,128 vertical feet, 3,148 acres of terrain, and 3 vibrant villages with shops, stores, bars, acclaimed restaurants, first-rate conference facilities and wonderful accommodations to meet any need.

Keystone also has two world-class golf courses, renowned downhill mountain biking, horse stables, spas, lake activities and much, much more.

But it’s still just a place, high above the rest of the world, where going down a snowy mountain is purely for fun. Come to Keystone and find out for yourself why Max was so right, and why one of the three mountains are named after him.

Trails Named After Towns

Mining History, Keystone, Colorado
As you ski and ride Keystone, you'll see some strange lift and trail names … like "Lower Gassy," "Jackwhacker," and "Saw Whiskers." Many of them reflect the area's rich logging and mining history, and some were named after the people who lived here a long time ago.

Jackwhacker

A burro racer. The miner who drove the ore-laden burros or "jacks" with a long whip was known as a whacker (thus the name). This is also the name of a lake at the head of Geneva Gulch.

Flying Dutchman

A mine. One of the investors, a Pennsylvania Dutchman, was an old timer back at the turn of the century. His parents were very poor and belonged to the "cracker class," a name given to them because they lived principally on cracked corn and wild game, which they secured with the crack of their rifles.

The Dutchman was a small man, and his old patch and ball rifle were so heavy that he had rest when he shot. But the boys said he could shoot the eye out of man from a mile away.

Bachelor

A mine supposedly named after another Pennsylvanian by the name of Haverly. Haverly lost his parents as an infant, was raised by a country tailor, ran away when he was 12 years old, landed in Pittsburgh with $2 while barefoot but wearing a straw hat.

He started selling newspapers and later switched to the theatrical business. Mining and other speculation had an irresistible attraction so he also plunged heavily into mining. Immaculate in his dress, and polite as a Chesterfield, he was a welcome guest in society, which he chose to favor with the buoyancy of his presence.

Wild Irishman

An old productive mine in the Saints John's Basin area. In 1906, Terrence Connors, manager of the Wild Irishman, was elected President of the Mine Owners' Association of Montezuma—an association formed to protect mines from promoters who were peddling worthless mine stock. With usual Irish wit, it is said that one of his favorite sayings was, "You never heard an ass bray when he had grass."

Paymaster

The first mining claim in the Peru District on the south slope of Gray's Peak, which was incorporated under the laws of Maine with offices in Boston. A three-story boarding house was built beside the mine.

Frenchman

There were two Frenchmen in the Snake River and Peru Mining Districts. One located the Frenchman Mine high above Timberline on Collier Mountain. The other Frenchman claimed the Cornucopia on Porcupine Mountain just across from Independence Mountain and under the shadow of Keystone Mountain.

The second Frenchman was quite blind for many years, doing only the barest assessment work needed to hold the mine. He "holed-up in the winter," in a one-room cabin on Montezuma Road and was known for his kindness.

One day, he left his cabin and no one ever saw or heard of him again. One could say he was the original dropout, but most miners were at that point. Frenchman is also named after the French Canadians who hand cut all trails on Keystone Mountain, especially Cyrille, who alone cut over 110 acres (30 percent) in two years.

Schoolmarm

"Dimp" Myers, the son of an early Keystone settler and Civil War Colonel J.H. Myer, grew up near Keystone. Dimp fell in love with a Frisco school teacher who had just come over Argentine Pass in a stage coach, named the Schoolmarm mine after her in 1906 and then married her.

Lifts Named After Towns

Mining History, Keystone, Colorado

Argentine

Originally named Decatur and also named Rathbone, this is a mining camp taking the same name as the mining district adjacent to Argentine Pass. Most of the camp was carried away by a giant snow slide off Gray's Peak in 1898.

Montezuma

Founded in 1861 and once a proud silver camp, this is where silver was first discovered in Colorado. Montezuma is famous for its night and day poker playing and social activities, and somehow survived a major fire in 1958.

Peru

Although never an official town, this was a convenient title for a group of boarding houses and miners' cabins around the Peruvian Mine. It is also the site of the famous Gassy Thompson swindle.

Saints John

This was originally named Coleyville after J. Coley, who discovered silver ore in 1863 on the crest of Glacier Mountain. Coley smelted galena sulfides in a crude furnace with a flue built from a hollow log encased with rocks and clay. In 1867, it was renamed Saints John by a group of Freemasons in honor of their patron Saints, Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist.

This unique town, in that it did not have a saloon but did have a library, was eventually taken over by "eastern capitalists."