EAGLE COUNTY — Seventy years ago this week, around 2,000 local citizens attended dedication ceremonies for an amenity that would eventually transform the valley’s economy — the Eagle County Regional Airport.
Of course, the facility was much more humble back in 1947, when Colorado Gov. Lee Knous traveled up from Denver to preside at the dedication.
“Perfect weather was the background of the brief but impressive service when guests from many points of the state were present to dedicate another link in the rapidly growing network of transcontinental airways,” reported the Sept. 19, 1947 edition of the Eagle Valley Enterprise.
While the official airport dedication didn’t happen until after World War II, according to a 2007 book authored by Jennifer L. Taylor and the Eagle County Aviation Association titled “History of Eagle County Airport,” barnstormers occasionally landed at the site in the late 1920s and 1930s. The book said that as early as 1931, there was interest in developing an airstrip for air mail and passenger service to connect Denver to western Colorado.
The Oleson brothers — Victor Julius (Jule) and Albert (Al) — were among the very first airplane owners in western Colorado. Taylor’s book notes the brothers built a hanger on their family property, near present-day Jules Drive in Gypsum. They used a dirt landing strip, located on a mesa west of the current airport, to take off and land.
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