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In common with many major western North American ski centres there are two Taos's. There is a legendary town that has existed for over 400 years and there's a legendary ski area that has existed for more than 50 years. The two are 30km (17 miles) apart. Both exist today as partners, the ski area a major winter asset to the town of Taos, and the old town a major factor in attracting destination skiers to the area - besides the great downhill.

The historic town of Taos was established by early Spanish settlers in the sixteenth century who battled with the Native American inhabitants on and off through to 1696 when they finally won permanent control. Like all of New Mexico, has a very strong Spanish influence to this day and is one of few North American ski areas outside Quebéc that takes the trouble to publish promotional documentation and even its web site in two languages.

Part of Spain until Mexican independence in 1821 and then part of Mexico until conquered by the US in 1848, Taos has belonged to three different nations. In the later nineteenth century discoveries of gold and copper in the high peaks encircling what is now Taos Ski Valley brought thousands of miners to the area in an 1880s 'rush'. Even Taos' famous mountain man, trapper and Indian scout, Kit Carson, staked claims in the Twining Valley (as it was called then). The Twining mining camp was a place of hardship, endured mostly by miners' dreams of riches. The mine itself was plagued with difficulties and faulty machinery, the local Frazer Mountain Copper Company collapsed due to embezzlement of funds and murder.

The next chapter in the history of Taos began in Sepember 1889 when two artists stopped in the town to have a wheel on their cart repaired, liked the place so much they decided to stay, and begun a century of migration by artists to the area, the most recent boom during the hippy era of the '60s and '70s. There are now more than 80 art galleries and seven museums as testament to this unique status.

Then came skiing. In 1954, Ernie Blake, founder of today's Taos Ski Valley, arrived. He had been flying over the Sangre de Cristo mountains in his small Cessna 170, tracing a route between Santa Fe Ski Basin and Glenwood Springs. He had been searching for several years from the air for a ski place reminiscent of his native Switzerland. In Twining he found a snow-rich valley where the season would be long and sunny. The north slopes were naturally steep and challenging.

Construction of the ski area began in 1955 with the installation of the first small lift. Taos Ski Valley today is a place with a world-class reputation for challenging slopes, one of the leading ski schools in the US and with snowboarding not allowed. A haven for skiers who are passionate about their sport.

There are now nearly a hundred residents and more than a dozen lodges and condominiums, plus shops and restaurants to meet every interest, budget and taste. The Village of Taos Ski Valley became New Mexico's 100th municipality in July, 1996. With its spectacular mountain scenery and European influences remaining strong to this day, many European visitors say the Village of Taos Ski Valley has a European feel to it.


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