Letter of Colorado Veterans supporting Continental Divide Camp Hale Protection

The Honorable Cory Gardner
United States Senate
354 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Gardner:

As our state and nation honors the fallen during Memorial Day, we request that you support the effort to preserve Camp Hale as our country’s first National Historic Landscape. The brave men of the 10th Mountain Division fought for our nation’s freedoms during World War II, and the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness, and Camp Hale Legacy Act would honor the memories and lives of the Greatest Generation.

As you may know, the United States Army established Camp Hale in 1942 to train combat troops for alpine and high-altitude conditions. Located between Leadville and Red Cliff — at 9,250 feet above sea level — Camp Hale was home to the 10th Mountain Division. During World War II, the Division used mountaineering and skiing skills to drive the German army out of the Alps of Northern Italy. The Army held German prisoners of war at Camp Hale and the Central Intelligence Agency secretly trained Tibetan troops there during the early 1960s.

Camp Hale also played an important role in the development of the ski industry from a niche sport into one of the nation’s most popular forms of recreation. After the war, the soldiers who trained at Camp Hale came home and founded come the world-renown ski resorts in Colorado’s central mountains. Among the veterans, Peter Seibert developed the Vail ski resort, Friedel Pfeifer co-founded the corporation that developed Aspen, Laurence Jump opened Arapahoe Basin in 1946, and Bill Bowerman became a co-founder of Nike. Overall, the National Ski Hall of Fame has inducted 28 veterans of the 10th Mountain Division.

In 1965, the Army shut down Camp Hale. The10th Mountain Division finally ended up in Ft. Drum, NY. Only one structure — a vault — remains standing today, although there are other ruins and eroded foundations visible on the ground. The U.S. Forest Service took over management of the area in 1966, designating it the Camp Hale National Historic Site. Situated in the White River National Forest, there is a 10-stop walking tour with signage that takes visitors on a loop around Camp Hale. Stone pillars mark the entrance to the site 17 miles south of I-70 on U.S. Highway 24.

As veterans, we fought to protect our country, including our precious public lands. Like the veterans of the 10th Mountain Division, we find strength and resilience from being on our protected lands and waters. We ask that you support the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness, and Camp Hale Legacy Act so that future generations may learn its significant history and enjoy its natural beauty.

[See PDF for signers]