MILSAP Updates, July 15, 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.


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

The new “lost” are 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 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

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 ckeck 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 ruding 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 rembers 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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

MILSAP Updates, May 1, 2014

Happy May Day. As I write this, I think the only alpine area still open in Michigan is Mt. Bohemia, up in the Keewenau where winter may last until June or July. Michigan was officially the coldest area on the planet (compared to normal) for March 2014.

I know it has been only a couple days since our last post on April 29, when we announced two new “lost ” ski areas in the Leelanau Peninsula, but I have exciting news. We have been contacted by someone who has old ski area pins.

It seems his father was in the business of making them and he would like to sell some. His name is Cliff Essman, and he’s a Spartan, so he can be trusted. ;-) He says he wants $10/pin and he has many, many pins from around the world. Just looking through his list, I identified 21 pins related to Michigan, some for “lost” areas, some for areas which are still operating, and some for ski clubs. Areas range from Big M and Big Powderhorn to Thunder Mountain and Walloon Hills. You can contact him at cliff218 at


The complete list of pins he has to offer is currently on the Kandahar Ski Club–Fenton page in the comments section. I will likely move it to the resources page soon, and may put a list of the Michigan pins on the Ski Area Patches page. All I ask, is that if you contact him and buy a pin, please send us a photo.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MILSAP Updates, April 29, 2014

Two new “lost” ski areas in the Leelanau peninsula, several pictures received of Fonro, and eight new comments since our last update on April 8. This brings us to 138 “lost” ski areas, not to mention 42 current areas and 21 jumping hills identified so far.

On April 3, David Zemens passed along some information he found on the Friends of Sugar Loaf Facebook page about an old ski area south of Suttons Bay where the Ciccone Winery now operates. Apparently the former slopes, which are just about due east of the Loaf across Lake Leelanau, are now vinyards. While researching this area, Bremer’s Ski Hill, I came across information about another former ski area, this time right in Suttons Bay. Apparently Bahle Park, which is currently used in winter as a sledding hill, formerly sported a rope tow. I even found a picture by Andrew McFarlane on Flickr of the old rope cut with a tower and bogey wheel still standing (but was unable to post it on our site due to rights issues). If you have any information about skiing at Bremer’s or Bahle Park, please let us know.

Candy Dalton-VanNort sent along pictures of Fonro and a business card. They are displayed on our Facebook Page and will soon be added to our Fonro page.

Anton Mal, a frequent commenter, said he likes our Ski Area Patches page and would like to see more, particularly from Walloon. If you have any patches, please send them along. We were recently contacted by a gentleman (he has to be one, he’s a Spartan) whose father was in the ski pin manufacturing business. He has old pins from many areas and clubs around the US and the world. When we work out his contact information, we will pass it along (and depending on his prices, may purchase a few pins for our collection).

Jay Benda, another frequent contributor, commented that the ‘real’ Briar Hill (not the one the ski area was on, but the one across the road) is the highest point in Lower Michigan. Jay also left a comment on our Kandahar page.  Tom H complained about the guard rails that have been installed on the former Mt. Frederic slopes that interfere with snowmobiling and dirt biking.

Gayle Walsh remembers a concert in the early ’80s at Mt. Maria. She thinks it might have been Eddie Money, but isn’t sure. Can anyone help? Jackie Roe commented on Fonro that she used to live there in the early ’60s. Tom Groenvelt thinks that the problems that led Sugar Loaf to close stemmed from the owners’ failure to invest money back into the resort to upgrade the lifts. Marion Dick left a comment on the Skyline page.

Please keep those comments, pictures and tips coming.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

MILSAP Updates, April 8, 2014

Winter is finally leaving the lower part of our state, but some areas in the north and in the Upper Peninsula are still operating and may continue for some time. In the mean time, we have approved 28 comments since our last post on March 2, five weeks ago. We also have a line on a new “lost” ski area, but will post more about that when we research it further. By the way, most comments are approved within a few hours or even minutes, via mobile. Some comments take more time because we need to complete our research or because they have been left in the wrong place. If you wish to comment on a specific area, please leave your comment on the page for that area, not on our main blog or on the About MILSAP page. If you leave it on the right page, that will ensure that other people interested in that area will see your comment and perhaps even respond. We don’t mind comments on the main blog or the About MILSAP page, but it is unlikely that other people will see them, so we often move them to a ski-area page.

Andrea commented about Mt. Grampian that the site is now being used for charity–to raise produce that is distributed to charities in Oakland county. Jim H commented about Jack Pine Valley and mentioned that Black Forest drew a lot of business from it when they opened. Carla Green commented about Teeple Hill, Harry Hammond posted about Kandahar and Gustave Rayl compared historic Alpine Valley to how it is today (still operating).

Pam Sienkiewicz invited us to the Rosebud Reveal at Haven Hill (newly revived name for the former Ford estate). This celebration of springtime will be held Saturday, April 26, from noon to 4 pm. RD commented about the rope and poma lift at Mt. Christie in the late ’60s. Paul again visited Bald Eagle and promised to send pictures.

John Woitinnek, Mark Sloan, and Dan Branch left comments about Skyline, and Tim remembered skiing right to the front door and the fireplace in the lodge. Candy Dalton-VanNort and Candice exchanged memories about Fonro. Bob Couture remembered a run called “Bone Crusher” at Ogemaw Hills. Was that the real slope name or a nickname, Bob? F.S. posted that his father was one of the owners when the lodge burned down.

Randy recalled busing to Esker Hills from Charlotte HS in the early ’60s. Erik Knappen posted about Brady’s Hills. Jerry Kucera remembered skiing at Royal Valley on training exercised with the 12th Special Forces Group (airborne) and other times with friends and wives. He remembers a (triple?) chair.

Bob Sisco sent us a link to the website for Shanty Creek (they will be open this Saturday to end the current season). Mark Edmund said he skied Sugar Loaf in the ’80s and ’90s, and wishes it could come back. Anton Mal posted about Thunder Mountain.

Finally, Yvonne DiSimone Karukas commented about Vulcan that she thinks Noel Dean Turner, a relative,built the original area and operated it until ’75.

Please keep those comments, pictures, patches, brochures, etc. coming. We love to get more information about our historic ski areas in Michigan.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MILSAP Updates, March 02, 2014

We have approved 30 comments since our last post on January 15; six weeks ago. We have also added two new lost ski areas and are actively looking for a possible new jumping hill. We also have a request for your involvement.

The two new areas are the Oakland University Ski Hill at OU near Rochester, originally sent to us by Walt F, and the Bald Eagle Ski Hill at Bald Eagle Lake near Ortonville sent to us by Paul. We have already created a page for the former; a page for the latter will likely be added tonight.

Howard Taylor left a comment about Pioneer Hills, the old Ski Area near Houghton Lake, not far from Roscommon. Howard is the manager for the Wellington Farm, a historic farming attraction near Grayling. He would like to move the old toboggan house from Pioneer Hills, where it is slated for demolition, to the farm to renovate as a historic building. He has raised about 1/3 of the funds for this. If you are interested in contributing, please contact him, either by replying to his comment on the Pioneer Hills Page, or through the website for Wellington Farm.

To summarize the other posts, Andrew Santangelo commented about skiing at Mio Mountain after lights-out. He said he also has a picture of a patch. Tony Casino said he used to visit the old Bald Mountain Lodge after it was abandoned, but he remembers seeing the rope tow towers. Paul Hemenway and John would both like to see Sugar Loaf rise again.

Tom Williams’ family owned the property at Briar Hill and leased it to the club in 1949 (the club was formed in 1947). Jim Walton said he learned to ski at Black Mountain.  Sandie remembers that her dad and uncle jumped at Mt. Grampian and Todd Ellis commented that he has a plate for the poster we posted on the page. Tom Sandison skied at Mt. Gabriel. He says it was part of the Wildwood Valley development.

Jessica, kapollock and Chan Pollock had quite an exchange about Tyrollean Hills. The Pollock family used to own and manage the area, and Jessica’s grandparents worked there. There is some great history of the area in their comments. (By the way, Jessica seems to feel that the spirit of the Pollock’s mother still inhabits the area since she died in an auto accident on the access road).

Bob Miller remembers work weekends at Kandahar that were owed by members. Jerry Howcraft has a front-view picture of Kandahar. Pam and Ron Anderson used to manage the lodge alongside Michele Hillis and now live in Florida next door to other club members. Rex A Sharp commented that he skied Kandahar as a kid.

W. Patrick Lentell says that his dad took him to Irish Hills to learn to ski. Diane remembers skiing at Mio Mountain and wants to see more stories. She has created a Facebook page for the hill. You can find the address in her comment on our Mio Mountain page. Robert Simons remembers seeing Briar Hill while driving by and will check it out on his next trip. Doug Donaldson says he skied at Snow Valley as a youngster. As he was born in 1958, that must have been in the 1960’s, about the time I was skiing there. Todd Ellis commented about Vulcan that from the mid-1970’s through the mid-1980’s it was operated by the Knauss family.

Gary Gariglio commented that friends currently ski Skyline with a snowmobile and a rope. Richard Joseph also commented about Skyline that his dad had the ski shop for a long time. He would like to start an alumni association for Skyline. Richard also commented about Fred Bear’s involvement or lack of same in Bear Mountain. Carolyn Nye Boyd also commented on Skyline. She says her father worked there and she used to work as a “tow boy.” John Phillips said that he learned a lot about skiing at Thunder Mountain and had a lot of fun, too, skiing there as a boy.

Alyson commented on Indian Hills that she saw tow towers off Leonard, behind Northern Trails. Gordon Hunter says he used to take his girl to concerts at Silverbell in ’68 or ’69 for a year to two after the area closed for skiing. Davis Brackett says that Dryden was owned by Fred Molder who once experimented (unsuccessfully) with plastic-coated gravel for summer skiing. profesorav (Karen Voike) posted a link to a news clipping about a fatal accident involving a tow rope at Maple Valley.

Adam Lohner says of Missaukee Mountain that there is some kind of building at the end of Missaukee Mountain Road. He will check it out when he gets a chance. Rob Logey commented that his family used to go to Royal Valley in the 1980’s. Paco says he used to ski at Esker Hills in the 1960’s on old 10th Mountain army gear. dharmafield used to ride motorcycles on Glacier Hills in the ’80’s. mwharton posted that her husband’s family skied Glacier Hills in the ’50’s and she may have pictures of her sister-in-law as snow queen or something like that. Freddy Leal said he skied Mt. Christie just once.

Jeff says he remembers driving past a house in Farmington Hills with a ski jump on the property. He has even found a real-estate listing for it from 1977. It reads:

Attic could be finished for another bedroom, new roof
Value in land approximately 2 acres (1963) Home sits on
high land overlooking an acre of nature trails, woods and a
stream running through the property Bring offer. Beautiful
ravine lot Property has an old ski jump $49,900
Call 261 0700 (47785)”

If you know anything about a ski jump in Farmington Hills. Please let us know. and please keep those comments coming.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments