MILSAP Updates, September 9, 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.


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

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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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.


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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.

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