The ‘Lone Star’ history behind New Mexico’s ski industry

New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico’s ski industry officials are taking on a rumor that Texas created some of the state’s favorite ski areas. They say the tale of “Ski the Republic of Texas” is a myth, but its origin is unknown.

If you look online, there are maps, a Facebook page and countless other websites boasting places like Ski Santa Fe and Taos have been ‘great snow for Texans since 1836.’ However, New Mexico’s ski officials say skiing was not established in those locations until decades after New Mexico became a state in the early 1900s.

“They’re a proud group of people and I think they like to claim and boast a bit about, had things not changed, had geographics not changed when it did, that these areas would be in Texas, but they didn’t,” said George Brooks, Executive Director of Ski New Mexico. “New Mexico became a state in 1912 and part of the ski areas on this map were, most of them, New Mexico areas.”

Brooks says although all of these spots were part of Texas at one point, they didn’t become ski areas until decades after New Mexico became its own state. He says Santa Fe was the first ski area, known as Hyde Park back then, with more towns following suit. He says skiing in New Mexico and other parts of the country were developed by the 10th Mountain Division, made up of an Army division that served in Europe during World War II.

“They learned to ski in Europe, and found this was a fun activity and decided to bring this to the United States, and went home to their home villages, towns, etc and brought these ski areas around,” said Brooks.

There’s a map of New Mexico lumped in with Texas circulating online. It’s called “Ski the Republic of Texas.” Brooks says it’s not necessarily historically accurate and is unsure of where it came from, but could be a marketing ploy.

“It could be some of the proud Texans saying that this land at one time was the Republic of Texas, and had we not made these changes and joined the Union, that would be our country,” said Brooks. “I think also, maybe it’s some marketing. I think maybe some smart marketers said, ‘Hey, our Texas guests love to ski in our ski areas. Why don’t we give them some ownership, in at least the way of a map.'”

No matter where the map came from, Brooks says people that come here from Texas do help New Mexico’s ski industry. We make hundreds of thousands of dollars from these visitors.

“I’m not sure which of the two is the culprit, but I think it’s great that our guests to the south and from Texas want to claim us and come and ski in our areas,” said Brooks. “We love to have them here and it’s very important for us and we hope they keep coming.”

Ski New Mexico says the slopes are a $550 million business here. The industry employs thousands in the state.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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