Oh Pioneers! Female Founders of Aspen

Meet Ruthie Brown

Modern-day Aspen was built in the boom years after WWII and much has been written about its key patrons, the Paepcke’s, especially Elizabeth, who imagined Aspen as a cultural mecca as well as a ski destination. Elizabeth was not alone. Many formidable women populated early Aspen and imbued it with a pioneering spirit. For example, consider the low-profile Ruth Humphreys Brown.

Born to a prominent family in Denver, Ruth aka “Ruthie,” learned how to fly airplanes after the breakout of the war and joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) at age 22, (as did Betty Haas Pfister, another Aspen aviatrix). Ruthie moved to Aspen shortly after the war ended, bought a house in town and painted it pink. She married D.R.C. Brown, who became the president and general manager of the Aspen Ski Corp. for 22 years.

The Congressional Medal of Honor pilot didn’t care for the final run at the bottom of Aspen Mountain. “Spar Gulch was just a gnarly, gnarly gully,” recalled her daughter, so Ruthie offered to foot the bill for a new, gentler trail to be cut as an alternative to Spar. Ruthie’s Run, as it is officially known, plays a big part in Aspen’s World Cup courses, and flows into Aztec, the steep black diamond facing town that is our brand’s namesake.

Ruthie is second from the left.

When not literally trail-blazing, Ruthie was at home on the Brown’s two ranches, equally happy hosting parties for Aspen’s early jet set, as she was elk hunting, river rafting, skiing, car racing, flying planes or patronizing the arts and other organizations in Colorado. 

We’ve named one of our favorite pieces of the women’s collection after Mrs. Brown. Much like its namesake, it is an understated classic

Photos © Aspen Historical Society

See You On The Slopes!