Tales from the Tread: 10th Mountain Division exhibit opens at the Tread

Candice Bannister/For the Steamboat Today

Other 10th Mountain Division members from Routt County include:

William A. Bowes

Henry Buchtel

Roger Butler

Marvin Elkins

Fred Furlong

Quincy Ginter

Hans Hagemeister

Charles Hogue

Ed Jones

Arthur Johnson

Oley Kohleman

Bob Krear

George Orrell

Crosby Perry-Smith

Karl Schnackenberg

Rudi Schnackenberg

Paul Stettner

Gordy Wren

Robert Wright

Don Kinney

Ralph Selch

Bud Werner

Chester Backes

The newest feature exhibit at the Tread of Pioneers Museum, “Soldiers on Skis: Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division,” opens to the public May 29.

The exhibit, created in partnership with the Aurora History Museum, focuses on the World War II special unit and the Routt County veterans who were members of the group.

The exhibit will feature a 10th Mountain Division camping tent and other ski and military equipment from our local 10th Mountain veterans.

The exhibit will feature a 10th Mountain Division camping tent and other ski and military equipment from local 10th Mountain veterans.

The 10th Mountain Division was an elite World War II armed services unit trained in skiing, climbing and winter survival. The majority of the intensive training took place at Camp Hale, near Leadville.

The hand-picked division was created for unique and specific purposes during World War II, including infiltrating Axis lines in the mountains of Italy. During this bitter campaign, 990 men died.

Like many other ski areas in the United States, Steamboat Springs capitalized on the extensive training and passion for skiing of skilled veterans of the 10th Mountain Division.

“Colorado’s first resorts were the sparkling vision of several soldiers on skis who served during World War II in the specialized 10th Mountain Division. While training near Leadville, they glimpsed the mountains’ potential, held on to their dreams, then returned after the war to bring them to life” (Rocky Mountain News, Nov. 13, 1988).

Steamboat native Gordy Wren joined the 10th Mountain Division after the 1940 Olympics was canceled because of the war.

Wren once was known as the “greatest all-around American skier of all time.” In 1950, he became the first American ski jumper to exceed the 300-foot mark. He was the only American to qualify in all four Olympic ski events of the time: slalom, giant slalom, downhill and Nordic combined.

During his career, he was a ski instructor, Olympic coach and mountain manager at Howelsen Hill and Mount Werner.

Many members of the 10th Mountain Division transformed the Colorado ski industry and became successful and famous men, including: Pete Seibert, Earl Eaton and Bob Parker, the founders of Vail Ski Resort; Friedel Pfeifer, founder of the Aspen Ski Corp.; Larry Jump, founder of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area; and Bill Bowerman, founder of Nike.

Learn more about this exclusive mountain warfare unit in this summer’s feature exhibit at the Tread of Pioneers Museum. In addition to the exhibit, the Tread of Pioneers Museum will open its Brown Bag Summer Lecture Series on June 27 with Flint Whitlock, author of “Soldiers on Skis: A Pictorial Memoir of the 10th Mountain Division.”

Candice Bannister is the executive director of the Tread of Pioneers Museum.

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