Taos Ski Valley was founded in 1955 by Ernie and Rhoda Blake. They lived in an eleven foot camper as there were no buildings in the area except an almost-completed Hondo Lodge (now the Inn at Snakedance). Even after they moved into the lodge, they lived without power until 1963.
The first lift was a Bridger-Boseman J-Bar which was installed in the fall of 1956 by Ernie, sixteen men from Taos Pueblo, and a mule named Lightening. After one day of dragging lift and tower parts through the snow up what is now Al's Run, Lightening quit.
Rancher Chilton Anderson, after 37 years of service, retired from the Ernie Blake Ski School at the close of last season. Chilton, hired in 1956, is extremely tall and was in charge of lifting the cable back on to the towers when it would fall off, which it did regularly.
The only run down the mountain in 1956 - 57 was what is now Snakedance.
In fall of 1957 a Poma (platter) lift went up Al's Run and ended where Tower 8 of Lift One is now. The lift pulled passengers along the ground at twice the speed of a modern lift. People would ski down around the lift riders because the run was so narrow. Small people were lifted completely off the ground in certain spots and hung spinning in the air.
The first rental fleet was purchased from the army at Camp Hale when the base there was closed. The skis sold for $1 per ski and had holes in the tips through which a rope could be strung so the skis could be used as a sled. Rhoda was in charge of mounting bindings on all the skis because Ernie wasn't handy with mechanical objects.
Many of the original staff of Taos Ski Valley, from Jean Mayer (the technical director of the Ernie Blake Ski School who came to TSV in 1958) to Walter Ruegg (the head of lift maintenance since 1967), still work on the mountain. Look for them as well as four generations of Blakes working and playing on the slopes.
TSV remains one of the few family owned and operated ski resorts in North America. To this day it is still run by the founders' children and grandchildren. Because of this long tradition of family, no other ski resort can make you feel as welcome. – less–ZoomInfo