The Ute Indians claimed Eagle County lands for summer hunting and fishing grounds before Europeans explored the area. The first reliable account of European presence in the Eagle River Valley was in 1840 when Kit Carson guided the Fremont party through the region.
Fortune hunters and settlers scoured the state, striking lead carbonate ore in Leadville in 1874. The strike brought many prospectors to the valley, and by 1879 a permanent camp was established and the town of Red Cliff was born. Eagle County was carved from Summit County by the Colorado legislature in 1883 and Red Cliff, named for the surrounding red quartzite cliffs, was the first county seat. County government moved west to the town of Eagle in 1921 where it remains today.
The evolution of Vail from a quiet sheep pasture to an international resort is credited to the famous 10th Mountain Division ski troops who were introduced to the valley while training at Camp Hale in the 1940s. Following World War II, a group of former Army buddies returned to the Gore Creek Valley to fulfill their collective dream of developing a ski resort. Vail later emerged as a ski giant and the county has flourished ever since. The Colorado Ski Museum, located at the top of the Vail Transportation Center, documents this great skiing heritage with photographs and memorabilia.
The Eagle County Historical Society Museum is located in Chambers Park in Eagle and documents the history of the Eagle River Valley from the early Native Americans to the families living in the county today.
| Dick Morgan and Doc Dewey panning gold on Homestake Creek near Gold Park. Morgan was one of the pioneer prospectors in the Red Cliff region in the early 1900s.
Former President Gerald R. Ford and his family were instrumental in the development of their part-time community.