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.
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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.