MILSAP Updates, April 8, 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.


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 bussing 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 (Airborn) 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.

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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.

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MILSAP Updates, January 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.


We have approved 13 new comments since January 7. This is our busy time of year.

Garrett Mitchell commented on Elberta Winter Sports Park and Ski Jump that you can still see some of the steel from the lift. Guy Savage commented on his many great memories of Skyline.

Tater left a very long comment about his adventures at Swiss Valley skiing with Joe Montana; you need to check this out. Tater also left a request on our About MILSAP page that we cover lost areas in Indiana; particularly Ski Valley (LaPorte), Bender Woods (South Bend), The Pines (Valparaiso), and Mt. Wawasee (Goshen). What do you think? Should we expand to Indiana? Dan H related his one and only alpine skiing experience when he broke his ankle at Mt. Grampian. Dale Price taught at Royal Valley from ’83 to ’86.

Mark left a comment about Snow Bowl that his father thinks the trails were cut in ’59-’60. Walt F commented on Bald Mountain State Rec. Area that the mark on the map might belong to Silverbell or Mt. Grampian. No, Walt, it was labeled Bald Mtn. Walt also sent a link to a DTE aerial from 1967 showing Silverbell.

Walt F also reported a new lost ski area: Oakland University ski tow. The tow was authorized and built next to the IM building in ’62, appeared on a DTE aerial from ’67, and was mentioned in the school paper in ’76. It still shows up on topo maps of the area. (however, my wife who attended OU ’65-’68 says it was not operating then–she remembers traying on the hill. She does remember it from around ’72 when she was working on a bilingual endorsement). (Why she never told me about it before, I don’t know.) I will transfer Walt’s post when I get a chance to set up a page for OU.

Dan Branch commented that he would like to see a Facebook page for alumni of Skyline. Tony Slosar commented that he has some 8mm of Skyline from the late ’70s or early ’80s, but not of the time he broke his nose. That reminds me, I might still have some Super-8 from Mt. Maria.

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MILSAP Updates, January 7, 2014.

Happy New Year! We hope you are enjoying this very wintry weather we have been having in Michigan. It has been great for skiing if you dress appropriately. There have been 18 new comments left since the day after Christmas. Please keep those reminiscences coming.

Jeff Golemba remembers making snow at Sugar Loaf in the ’90′s. Dan Branch remembers Ben Dancer being a great skier and a great guy at Skyline doing flips and double daffys while wearing headphones in the late ’70′s and early ’80′s.

JeffToepler left a very thoughtful comment about Vernier Hill in Grosse Pointe Shores bemoaning the short-sightedness of tearing down the hill and the old Vernier School which was an historic building.

manyleea confirmed that there was a tow long ago at Pinckney State Recreation Area. Bob Potocki wants information about a proposed ski area near Brighton. He says they built the lodge by Woodland Lake, but the site was transformed into apartments. Shiela R. Phillips remembers Mott Mountain. She was 16 when her aunt and uncle bought the area from Mr. Palmer. She says it was incorporated in the early ’70′s to install the chairlift.

Colleen Driscoll commented about Mt. Grampian, and Mark L says he and his friends still sneak up there to snowboard. Ben Dancer (see comment above) remembers skiing at Skyline when he was so small he had to wait for an adult to grab the rope so it would be low enough to reach–then it would lift him off the ground at the top when the adult let go.

John Thompson commented about Black Mountain where he started skiing in ’59-’60. He later patrolled at Mt. Maria and still does so at Schuss. Beth and Tom commented on Lake Valley and Danny Lippert asked what happened if you were at the bottom of Snow Valley’s hill when the tows shut down. (You climbed up to the lodge, Danny). Mark says he has old film of the construction of Snow Bowl where his dad was the first manager.

Rick Oas kindly provided the location of the artificial ski jump in Munising which was called the Forest Inn Hill. He also commented on the “Big Hill” which was across the football field from the artificial hill that came later. The old high school, football field, and both jumps were located in Brown’s Addition, within sight of M-28. He adds that there has been no jumping in Munising since the ’80′s.

Tater left a comment about Royal Valley and Michael Samis left one about Carousel. Finally, Andy says a friend of his lived in the old Moon Ridge lodge while he was in high school and they used to run the old rope and “shred” there from ’1997 through 2000.

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MILSAP Updates, December 26, 2013.

Merry Christmas everyone. Those of you who follow us on Facebook know we spent Xmas Eve watching “Sun Valley Serenade” (1941) on TCM. It hot only has the best skiing scenes of any movie before “The Blizzard of Aahs”, it has a Michigan connection. In the movie, the actors ride up the old Mt. Baldy single chair. That is the chair that Ev Kircher moved to Boyne Mountain when it opened. The following year, he converted it into a double. The original loading and unloading structures, seen in the movie, are still in use on the Hemlock double.

Since December 17, we have approved 10 new comments. More than half of them were from Tom Hammond, Henry Hammond, or Kyle Waara who have been trying to remember the names of all the slopes at Kandahar. Once they get them down, I’ll ask them what the slope names were when the area was called Summit.

Norm has fond memories of snowboarding at Skyline on a cold Friday night before moving on to Boyne the next day. He says Boyne had more vertical, but Skyline was more fun. Mike Inman also commented about Skyline where he learned to ski in ’74. Mike commented about Sugarloaf, too, remembering how Awful Awful took his breath away the first time he dropped in. Dennis Harwood remembered Sylvan Knob, especially the owners: Lynn and Ruth Mead and their son, Lynn, Jr. and ski instructors Al and Mike Weiland (father and son). His comment was a reply to a question by Chris Marty.

Chris Marty also gave us a new ski area, The Village Inn at Walloon Lake, and re-confirmed another, the Flint Parks and Recreation hill near Swartz Creek Golf Course.

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MILSAP Updates, December 17, 2013.

We just approved eight new comments we received while on a ski trip in the northern lower peninsula. We have also received a trail map and more patch pictures via email, and will post those on the site when I can get the desktop cleaned off again (more viruses). I should have some time to work on this as I cracked a couple of ribs skiing Sunday night and am taking it easy for a few days.

Paul P left a comment on our Mt. Christie page asking for pictures. We second his request. Monique commented twice on the Sylvan Knob page, once about being a southerner who learned to ski there and once about skiing with the older kids and loving the jumps. Thorn left a comment on the Skyline page for Caroline, saying “hi.” He said he and his dad worked for her dad. John McLean learned to ski at Black Forest, coming frequently on a bus from Sarnia. He remembers rental with safety straps–no brakes, and ropes that tore up cheap gloves unless you had glove protectors.

Chuck used to explore at Silverbell in the early 2000′s long after it was abandoned. The buildings and equipment were still there but dilapidated and creepy. Tom Knighton reminisced about Kandahar Ski Club in the ’50′s when it was near Drayton Plains. The ropes were run by automobile engines and he remembers passing a corn crib on the way to the lodge. He also remembers skiing with the club after they moved to Summit.

Finally, Richard Hendricks remembers skiing at the GVSC Ski Hill. He said he lived nearby (not a student?) and skied there a lot because it was free. He says the picture is taken toward the river with the A-frame lodge behind the photographer. The lodge had free hot drinks. They had lights and it was fun to ski at night. The rope was fast. The college racers made good mogul runs. He says you can still see the area if you are going up the hill to the main campus, E to W, right next to the highway.

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MILSAP Updates, December 3, 2013.

We have approved 29 comments since our last update exactly a month ago. We have been approving them throughout the month, but have waited until now to post a summary because our ski area opened very early this year, November 13th, earliest ever.

Anton Mal posted several comments about west-side areas like Big-M, Crystal, Ward Hills, and Caberfae. He included a link to Northern Edge Snowsports which was supposed to lead to a gallery of pictures of an abandoned portion of Caberfae (but we couldn’t find the gallery). If you find it, please let us know. Anton wanted to know why Big-M failed while Crystal prospered and Tom Fullerton responded with some of Crystal’s advantages. Anton also posted videos of a ride up the Caberfae chair to the “Dark Side,” expert terrain on South Peak and of a vintage (1948) skiing experience at Caberfae played to a recording of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” He also posted a link to the about-us page for Mulligan’s Hollow.

Roger Guiney commented on a Munising Ski Jump that was located on a natural slope (no scaffold) near the High School in 1963-64. Jumps of 120′-140′ were registered that year. We cannot locate this site on satellite or topo because a new school was built a few years ago and we have been unable to determine the location of the old one. If you know where Munising HS was located in ’64, please let us know. Roger also corrected our location for Pine Mountain Jump. I had inadvertently entered Iron River instead of Iron Mountain, missing by about 40 mi. Sorry, my bad.

Ed Ivenson posted a couple of comments about growing up at Fonro, which his father managed. He has very fond memories of the area in both winter and summer. Karen Olson Giradot also commented on Fonro.

Anton Mal then moved further north with questions about Mt. Mancelona which were responded to by Mikey, who commented that he never skied there when it was open, but has refurbished the t-bar and has had a lot of fun with his kids, friends and kids friends. He says the vertical was about 800′ and the t-bar is 1200′ long because that his how much wire he had to string to rig the safeties. Anton also commented on the great beginners area at Nub’s Nob, complete with chairlift. He also posted a video of the deterioration at Sugar Loaf, a very neat video taken from a remote-control ‘copter with a camera attached. Anton also posted comments about his adventure skiing at Mt. Bohemia (which is now in the “final 4″ in Powder Magazine’s contest to find the greatest American Ski Town, although I’m not sure anything near Bohemia qualifies as a town). You can sign up to vote on Powder’s Facebook page. While you’re on Facebook, check out the MILSAP Facebook page, too.

Evan Buit commented about his recent climb to the top of Carousel Mountain, where he says parts of the chairlift are still there: the top tower complete with bullwheel. Bob Sisco commented about Little Switzerland that Joe Montana used to ski there while he was attending Notre Dame (Really? The coaches let him ski?) Bob questioned the location of the photograph of people riding the rope at the Grand Valley Colleges ski hill, wanting to know which campus the hill is at. He also commented about Tower Mountain, correcting our picture captions, and about Bittersweet, noting that the history of the area is available on the Mt. Holly page (same ownership).

Gustave Rayl commented on Indian Hills Park where he skied with his brother and sister around 1960 (starting when he was 6). He says he biked there in the ’70s and nothing was left of the ski area. He also said he has pictures of Pioneer Hills taken around 1955.

Anton Mal remembers a friend, Bill Norquay stopping off at Riverview Highlands after work to practice his ski ballet after a day at the office. Ski Ballet? Must have been in the ’80s. Finally, Lori Fullerton Melton left a comment about her memories of skiing at Mt. Brighton. The new owners have put a lot of money into the hill and lodge this year and it has just opened for the season, so perhaps in another 30 years, today’s kids will be commenting about their fond memories of skiing there, too.

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