MILSAP Updates, December 16, 2014

Welcome to MILSAP! We are dedicated to collecting and publishing information about the history of lift-served ski areas in Michigan.  If you have fond memories of flying down the slopes on your favorite hill, but the area has closed, let us know about it. Michigan has a long, rich history of skiing and sliding and it should not be forgotten. Please help us keep it alive by sharing your recollections, snapshots, memorabilia, news clippings, home movies, or whatever you may have that would remind you and others of the places where people used to enjoy winter in Michigan.

For more information about our site, check the About MILSAP link on the navigation bar above or at the top of our page links in the right-hand column.

LATEST UPDATES

Well, here we are, it’s almost Xmas and many Michigan resorts have been open for weeks (although some have closed temporarily for the rain). If you are still skiing in Michigan, be sure to follow our Facebook page where people comment about both current and historic skiing venues.

In the 6 weeks since we last posted (at Halloween!) we have received 20 posts and have learned about a new lost ski area. Don B says it was on the hill below the “castle” at Canadian Lakes Resort near Mecosta and may have been “officially” called Castle Mountain. It had 3 rope-tows and operated in the ’70s and into the ’80s. We will have a page up soon, so if you know anything about the ski hill at Canadian Lakes, please let us know! This brings us to 44 currently operating areas (just moved Norway Mountain back to the land of the living), 22 jumping hills, and 140 lost ski areas.

Frank commented on the Boyne Highlands page that the current season trail map has the comment “future expansion” off to the side. He wonders if anyone knows the plan. So do we. Let us know if you are in on this. Cris skied at Mt. Maria while stationed at Wurtsmith AFB and now lives in Steamboat Springs and skis all season. He is thankful to Mt. Maria for awakening a life-long passion. Pat Frisch would like a patch from Maria; do you have one for sale? (I have one on my old patrol parka.)

Brandon Nanney clued us in on the source of the TNT Ski Area name with his comment on the Jack Pine Valley page. He says that area was bought by his uncle and aunt Tom and “Toots” Nanney, hence TNT. I will copy his comment over to the TNT page so it appears there, too. Alicia Suzanne White left a couple of comments on the Bloomer Ski Jump page. She is related to the family who owned the farm where “city folks” used to come out to use the ski jump. “City folks” struck me as a quaint term to use in the current Rochester hills area; I guess it was a bit more “rural” back in the day.

Don Diettrich is a relative of the former owners of Skyline and would like any of you to send him old photos or videos of the area. You can find his address in the comment on the Skyline page. Gary Gariglio responded to Don’s comment and NJB said that her husband took her to Skyline a few years ago (after it closed). He told her about all the great times he had skiing there when he was a teenager and mentioned that he loved the chili with oyster crackers.

Mark Prell said he skied at Thunder from ’61 to ’65 and remembers the follow the leader groups with Al. William Norton visited Fonro last year. He says the old lodge is still standing, but there is fire damage to the dining room and trees are growing through the tennis courts. Betsy said she learned to ski at Royal Valley. She skied there from ’81 almost until it closed. Then her patroller father moved her on to  Mt. Wawasee (Indiana) and finally Swiss Valley.

Scott Pryde left a couple comments on the Kandahar page. He skied there from ’81 almost ’till the end, and remembers the “olympics”, long lift lines on the poma, and duck-taping gloves to ride up Bob-el. (I remember skiing there for Eastern Michigan Region ski patrol Minnie Dole Cup races with my daughters, who are now patrollers, too.) Bill Earle lived in Newberry and remembers skiing at Iroquois Mountain. He also remembers watching the lodge collapse in the fire of ’64. After that, they had to ski at Big Valley. He remembers Mike Porcarelli skiing down under the chair at Iroquois. Karl used to work at the Polyhedron Lodge at Bear Mountain from ’70 until ’73. He remembers the band Selkie is looking for and says they were good and played “Chantilly Lace.”

Al Droscha says he has a map of lost ski areas in Colorado and would like one for Michigan. What do you think? Should we come up with one?

Finally, Kate Major from Treetops at Sylvan says Sylvan will be celebrating 60 years of skiing on December 29, 2014. Now that would mean they opened in December, 1954, definitely a venerable age for a Michigan ski area (or an American ski area, for that matter). However, the local Chamber of Commerce says the area opened in the late ’40s. Should they be celebrating their 65th?

Keep those comments coming, we love to hear from you about the history of skiing, ski areas, and skiers in Michigan.

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MILSAP Updates, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!! Say hello to snow. It’s already snowing in parts of the state and much of Michigan is slated to receive at least a dusting this evening. We have had seventeen new comments since our post last month and we have heard about a new lost ski area.

John Stevens informed us that K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base, near Marquette, had a ski hill just outside one of the back gates complete with a rope tow. It was used primarily by children living on the base. John thinks he has pictures and we would live him to share them with us. He would also like our help finding the name of the nine-hole golf course that was across from the Iron Mountain ski jump. Derek also confirmed with township authorities, that the Covington Township Ski Hill does still have a rope tow.

Reba M. (really!) reports that the new owner of Mt. Maria has no plans to open the ski areas. He is a disabled veteran who plans to live on the property. Right now he needs some help with the plumbing and electrical, so if you would like to help him out, go knock on the door of the lodge. Gary Chomiak said his parents, Jerry and Hazel, used to own Snow Valley in 1960. They helped build the “new” lodge. he has an ad from the Otsego Co. Chamber of Commerce telling of seven ski resorts within 20 miles of Gaylord. He remembers wearing the area patch on his junior ski patrol uniform.

Mike Wasnock tells about an encounter at Fonro with the men in the black suits. He also says there was a fire at the lodge years ago, but he was just back there and it is still standing. Candice Van Nort asked that very question, so we are pleased to let her know that the Fonro lodge is still standing.

Wendy S from Treetops would like to talk to Jack Daunt about the old days of patrolling at Sylvan. Doug Thomas commented on Elberta Mountain that he has been trying to find the steel structures from the jump and the lift. If you can help him out, please send a post.

Dale Lee says he patrolled at Mt Maria in ’81. He later moved to Texas but retired to Livonia and now has a lake house at Hubbard Lake. He would really like to see Mt. Maria open again, because there is no place else to ski in the north-east of the LP.

Denny says he misses the Kandahar Ski Club. Jeff Brosch remembers that Timber Lee Hills faced the sun in the afternoon, so the slopes would soften and then glaze over at night. One night, he heard the sno-cat sliding down the hill, crashing into the trees on a slide to the bottom. Jeff’s family owned Mt. Holiday from ’85 to 2002. In ’85, they bought the chair from Carousel Mountain and installed it as the main lift at Holiday, where it stands to this day. When they got it, it was not in great shape, but all the seats were painted different colors (like a carousel?). He heard that Carousel’s problem was sand blowing over the hill from the dunes making the snow very abrasive. This likely happened on years when the natural snow cover was thin and did not seal the sand down.

Lynda Toussaint remembers the Bloomer Ski Jump and says her father, Allison Toussaint, and her uncle, mason Toussaint used to jump there. Rebecca Yount remembers a tall, thin, elegant man skiing at Briar Hill. Roger Shoemaker notes that Al Almon opened Ski Village in Waters in the early 1950’s and later opened Mt. Frederic in Frederic in 1960. He says Mt. Frederic had 3 T-bars and 4 rope tows.

Please keep those comments coming and try to get out to explore some of our old, lost ski areas and enjoy the sliding at some of our still operating areas, where the skiing is better than ever. If you have any pictures, patches, brochures, lift tickets, etc. from any of our old Michigan ski areas, please see the directions on the About MILSAP page to send them along to us.

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MILSAP Updates, September 9, 2014

Here we are in September; can Autumn be far away? Another ski season is rapidly approaching and we have received 14 comments since our last update. Selkie thanked us about our information about Canada Goose, but said there was apparently another band with that name which played Bear mountain in ’72-’73. This one was out of Webster, MA led by John Matteau–stage name jack Lee Williams. Later on the band was known as the  Jackie Lee Williams Country Revue. Their drummer was Bruce from the Soo.

Trucker Mark chimed in with memories of incidents with ropes and chairs at Alpine Valley and beaver Creek, CO. Escape from Bondage in Gaylord commented on memories of Gay El-Rancho implying that it was not the most pleasant place to work. However, we still have no information that it ever had a tow; everyone seems to agree that it was a nordic-only area.

Luke passed on current directions to the site of Mt. Grampian and Dave from Lanse Creuse HS commented that he skied there with his HS ski club in ’77. Robin Galbraith Vincent was looking through the comments on the Mt. Brighton page and recognized some of the names from the past.

Rusty Yamada asked if Mio Mountain is for sale. Why Rusty, do you want to buy it? Ben Dancer left a couple comments on the Skyline page, one about trying to spray someone’s parents, with snow of course, and wiping out into them, of course; and the other about posting a picture about Skyline. Can we get a copy, Ben?

There was also a comment on Skyline by Peter, but it was personal in response to another commentator (and a little obscene and vicious–so we have not approved it!) Peter, if you intended it to be funny, please clean it up and resubmit it.

Winter will be here soon, and this year we look forward to seeing some of our “lost” ski areas reopen. Please keep your comments coming and tell your current and former skiing friends about our site.

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MILSAP Updates, August 12, 2014

It has been almost a month since we updated our blog and we are approaching the middle of August. Summer has been mild and a bit damp in Michigan, especially compared to the rest of the nation. Can we expect to be winter to be colder and snowier than the rest of the nation, like last year? Ocean reports seem to indicate that the coming winter might be similar to last year. We’ll have to wait and see.

There have been 21 comments posted on pages on our site since mid-July. Bill Endres wanted information about Thunder Mountain and we referred him to our page for that lost area. He thanked us for the information he found there. Micky MacWilliams from michigan Snowsports Industries Association sent us a Michigan ski areas map from the ’60s and we have apparently dated it to ’67-’68 based on the areas listed on it.

Anton Mal commented on both Timberline and Mt. Maria that he is interested in seeing them reopen. He also provide some old postcard information about Caberfae and said he would like to see some old Caberfae trail maps. So would we. Debra Newman commented that she remembers the Greembush Inn property after the building was torn down but some of the old features were still there. That was in the early to mid ’60s (’61-68).

Craig Whaley says that Otsego is indeed still private. Guests are permitted only one visit per season. Barb Kent says she remembers a snow-train at Snow Valley and would like to see pictures of it. We have asked her to tell us which year(s) she remembers it operating.

John Kreuger told Suzanne he would like to buy her Carousel Mountain pin. Susan Genovesi is still looking for a Tyrolean Hills trail map, but would like to hear from Keith his recollections of the “Valley Trail.” Selkie is still looking for information about the band “Canada Goose” that performed at Bear Mountain. We sent a link to information about a band by that name from Ottawa that toured in Canada and the northern US in 1970-71.

Finally, Rob M reports that his mother skied at Gay El-Rancho and says that it was nordic-only when she was there. If no one remembers a tow at the area, we may have to scratch it from our list of lost alpine areas. We haven’t attempted a list of nordic areas (aside from jumping hills) because, frankly we might have to list every clearing and forest trail in the state. But we might be tempted to provide a list of those places which had set tracks or facilities of any kind, if our correspondents are interested in passing them along.

We’re looking forward to a snowy winter; please keep those comments coming and remember the areas we used to ski at as well as the ones we frequent now.

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MILSAP Updates, July 15, 2014

Well, since our last post on July first we have found a new “lost” area, and heard news that two or three lost areas may become”unlost”!  We have also received 15 new comments on our pages.

The new “lost” area is the one we asked about on July 1, Timberline on the same ridge south of Hubbard Lake as Mt. Maria. The information was passed on via Facebook and we heard that Mt. Maria was up for auction last weekend. It was bought by a family from Colorado and Jeff notified us that they bought both the Maria and the Timberline acreage and are looking into re-opening the areas for skiing. That would make it the only operating ski area that we are aware of in the northeastern lower peninsula. Mt. Maria closed around 1980 but Timberline closed in the ’60’s(?) and that might make it the longest “lost” area to be re-opened if they follow through.  Jeff is looking for information about the areas, so if you would like to see them re-open, contact him at purplebookcat at gmail.com.

We also learned that there are new owners for the Norway Mountain Ski Area in the Upper Peninsula. That area closed in the spring of 2013 and was not open last season, but the new owners are running the lifts to check them out and are planning on opening this season.

In other news, there has been a lot of posting activity about Tyrolean Hills. kapololock replied to Susan Genovesi that he remembers the trail names and has a patch and a sweatshirt but would like to acquire a pin. Cliff replied that he doesn’t have a Tyrolean Hills pin for sale. Susan replied that she lives at the top of the hill and would like a trail map to force a neighbor to un-gate his property to allow passage on an “existing trail” as required by their deeds. Jessica Hertlein also replied to Susan.

Norman Graham commented that he remembers attending concerts at Silverbell. David Shanahan remembers riding the ski patrol toboggan downhill after dark (I bet they wondered who did that, Dave). Kerry Irons remembers skiing at Mt. Frederic in 66-7 or 67-8 (after the lodge burned?)

Steve Hanzek remembers learning to ski at Thunder Mountain in the early ’60’s. He remembers breaking a leg at Sun Valley and again at Tuckermans in New Hampshire. He also skied Mott Mountain on the ski club bus from Reed City HS, remembers it being so cold they skied the rope instead of the chair to keep warm. Mott must have been quite a come down from Thunder, Baldy and Tuckermans. His family also skied at Caberfae from the mid-60’s through the mid-70’s. He worked as a photographer for the Caberfae summer dinner theater until they went bankrupt.

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MILSAP Updates, July 1, 2014

Our last update was just after Memorial Day and now the Fourth is fast approaching. We have had 16 comments posted in the intervening weeks. But first, I have a personal request. When I skied at Mt. Maria in the 1970s, we sometimes went next door, across the top of the ridge to ski the abandoned slopes of an older area. I remember it being referred to as Timber-something, but I cannot remember the real name. Do any of you know what this area may have been called or when it operated?

John Sanderson posted on the Mt. Grampian page that he remembers an after work  ski trip there in the winter of 76-77 when he worked at Lionel Trains on 23-mile. David E. Fischer commented on the Silver Valley page about his years of camping at Camp Iroquois from 1961-67. Ken Goebel remembers summers at the Greenbush Inn where his father worked in the 1960s. He woiuld like to know the location of the inn; so would we.

Drew Jelgerhuis would like to purchase some Carousel Mountain memorabelia, if anyone has some available. Alan “Lucky” Lemke says he was the ski school director at Royal Valley from 1980-82 and remembers a lift that served two facing hills. He says the area was closed and the lifts sold off before he visited in 1993. Tom replied to his post about Royal Valley. MiK says the GRJC ski team trained at Indian Hills between 1977-79.

Scott Stillings confirmed our search for the Leelenau 4H Ski Club slope on the farm near Maple City. He also commented onthe history of Petoskey Winter Sports Park. Curtis Norton wanted to know if there are any plans for Skyline. Gary Gariglio noted that there is a new Skyline Facebook page. Susan Ayres-Genovesi is very interested in seeing trail maps for Tyrolean Hills/Pinnacles.

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MILSAP Updates, May 27, 2014

Yesterday was Memorial Day, and as I was helping to tend gravesites, I realized that Summer had arrived in Michigan along with heat and mosquitos. We have nine new posts since May Day, including a request for help and a line on a new possible “lost” ski area.

Dan left a post on the Mt. Maria page asking if anyone has any information on a contraption known as a “Portable and Self-Propelled Ski Tow” invented by Charles Budesky and patented (#2,690,230) in September ’54. Dan has found (most of) one and wants to know if anybody knows anything about it.

Bill left us a hint on the MILSAP Updates post about another “lost” ski area in the Leelenau Peninsula. He says that the Leelenau 4H Ski Club (which still exists) used to ski using a home-made rope tow with a tractor engine at Stanley Ball’s ski hill off Wheeler Rd. near Maple City. If any of you former 4Hers remember skiing there, please let us know.

We added Cliff Essman’s ski pins to our Ski Patches Page (renamed Ski Patches and Pins). He commented that he has one for Walloon Hills, which had been requested by another commenter.

Daryl confirmed the location of the Bald Mountain Recreation Area ski hill. Dr. Rebecca Yount remembers learning to ski at the age of 4 at Briar Hill, where they had to climb to the top of the hill in the morning to start the tow motors. Tom Williams named the Europeans who skied there as “Whitey and his son Jean.” Lance Climie was an employee at the Grand Valley State Colleges ski hill in 75-76 and remembers the 2-story lodge.

Tater left a comment on the Little Switzerland page about his story of Joe Montana skiing at Swiss Valley (an earlier post on the Swiss Valley page). Little Switzerland was an earlier name for Swiss Valley, but the area would have already changed names before Joe skied there during his time at Notre Dame. Bob Sisco left a comment on the Otsego page asking if the area is open to the public. If I remember correctly, it is only open to members and invited guests (and there are restrictions about how many times a guest may be invited).

Just because the warm weather is here, that doesn’t mean you can’t comment on our lost ski areas. In fact, this might be the perfect time of year to explore them and look for the lift implacements, light posts, abandoned buildings (or foundations) or other remnants of our skiing heritage.

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