Cockaigne Ski Resort remains on the market

CHERRY CREEK – For 45 years, a welcome sign bearing the German word “Gemutlichkeit” greeted guests at the Cockaigne Ski Resort. The noun – which represented acceptance, cheerfulness and the opportunity to spend quality time – fit in well with the utopia image that the name “Cockaigne” called forth from the medieval trope of a mythical land of plenty where the harshness of life did not exist.

Due to a fire in January 2011, this sign now reads “Gemutlich,” and Andy Goodell, the attorney leading the sale of Cockaigne, has been in the process of finding a new owner. He has been marketing the resort not only as a possible ski resort, but as a home to various other recreational activities to once again fulfill the promise of a place that is “warm and congenial, pleasant and friendly,” as the half-burned sign promises.

There are plenty of interested parties looking to buy the Cockaigne Ski Resort, but not much has progressed in terms of the sale since November 2011, Goodell said. He was unable to say more beyond that.

Cherry Creek rezoned the area for year-round activities.

“It is a big draw,” said William Young, supervisor of Cherry Creek, when asked what the importance of getting someone to buy the property would be. “A big economic value and, of course, a good tax base.”

Cockaigne opened in 1966, a year after the World’s Fair closed in New York City and a group of men purchased the Austrian pavilion at $3,000 to fulfill their dream of creating a four-season recreational area in the hills between Cherry Creek, Ellington and Sinclairville, with the pavilion to be its centerpiece.

In a 1996 interview, Melvin Pearson, who was foreman for the construction of the lodge at Cockaigne, said that many in the area were skeptical about bringing the building to the area.

“A lot of people said the Austrian pavilion was only a temporary building built for the fair and it wouldn’t hold up to our winters,” Pearson said. “Others said we would be lucky if the building lasted 10 years. I guess we have the last laugh.”

The lodge lasted long past the 10-year lifespan non-believers gave it, successfully operating for 45 years before it was destroyed in a fire.