MILSAP Updates, August 18, 2015

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

It’s been slow during the dog days of summer, with only 12 comments since we last updated you in July. This has contributed to a review of some older comments and we discovered that we had overlooked adding a page for Cole Creek, a later incarnation of the Fonro ski area. That oversight has peen corrected and we have a new lost ski area.

Tom Groenevelt advised us that on the satellite view there appear to be old ski trail cuts in the UP south of Skanee. I agree that the satellite shows the cuts, but Google terrain view shows no terrain in the area and the USGS topographic maps show a 20′ elevation change from one end of the “trails” to the other. But, please keep looking for evidence of old ski areas as you drive around Michigan or look at satellite or aerial views, old maps or road names, or hear about or see old lift equipment as you hike our hills or trails. If you find anything of interest, please let us know by making a comment or contacting us via the directions on the About MILSAP page.

Dave Fons commented on MILSAP Updates that he thought we might have been looking for south-facing slopes (to grow grapes) instead of east or north-facing slopes to hold snow. I’m not sure if he is referring to our attempts to locate Fonro or some other place. Dave, was Fonro named for the Fons and Rowe families?

Jeffrey Kurns like our non-committal response about why we do this. If we figure that out, we’ll let you know.

Scott Stillings liked our mention of the ski jumps at the Petoskey Winter Sports Park. Apparently they were removed when the land bridge was constructed to “bypass” downtown above the marina. (When was that, Scott?) He says the jumps were featured on the festival pins from 1934-1960.

Don Klosterman says the last time he was at Barn Mountain/Avalanche Peak was around 2000 when he was shooting his bow on the archery range. Anton Malje left a couple comments on the Sugar Loaf page with links to news articles about the lack of progress in re-opening the area. He also commented on the Caberfae page about the (just passed) deadline for early season pass prices. Many areas around Michigan are offering pre-season discounts for season passed–the earlier, the better price–check them out.

Tom Paluska left a very nice comment on the Kandahar page that he now lives in Colorado and has skied many great places around the world, but he learned to ski at Kandahar. Alex wondered if dirt-biking or quad-running were permitted at the old Skyline site. Gary Gariglio, the current owner, was kind enough to reply that, if people ask, he gives permission to hikers, bikers, sledders, x-cers, horseback riders, and geocachers. He and his friends occasionally ride dirt bikes or 4-wheelers there, but the topsoil is thin and the substrate is sand, so it wouldn’t hold up to much abuse.

Please keep those comments coming. When you share your memories, you are keeping the history of skiing in Michigan alive.

Robert Knox, Publisher
Michigan Lost Ski Areas Project.

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MILSAP Updates, July 20, 2015

It’s been two months since our last update and we have received 14 new comments. It is now well into summer in Michigan and prime time to visit those “lost” ski areas to hike the trails and explore the woods for archaeological remains. Be sure to watch out for ticks!

Dan Sampson left a comment on our Fonro page that his band, The Country Cousins, had played the lodge in ’75. Scott Hopkins said that he first skied (and first saw a real snowboard) at Canadian Lakes in ’89 or ’90. He returned there the following year, but the lifts were not running, so they sledded and snurfed. He left his comment in the Milsap Updates comments and I will move it to the Canadian Lakes page.

Carolyn Nye Boyd left a memorial comment on the Skyline page for her mother, Mary Lou, wife of the former owner, who passed away on  Memorial Day this year.

Emilio commented on our Kandahar page that he raced there once in ’95, his only race. Michael Hodges left memories of skiing at Dryden with his cousins. He remembers them racing (he was too young), the goat, and staying in the bunkhouse. Joe Nanney commented about Circle TNT that his father and uncles owned the place. He grew up there working and racing motocross in the summer. They just called it “the lodge.”

Torr Williams has some great memories about growing up in the Briar Hill area. Cyd Archer, daughter of the former owners of Carousel Mountain, left a comment in the MILSAP Updates comments. I will move it to the Carousel Mountain page. She has just donated a lot of memorabilia to the Thiel Research Center at Hope College which is part of the joint archives of Holland, Michigan. She has more information about Carousel and other “lost” areas that her father helped develop, like Mt. Christie. I have tried to contact her, but the email address I used isn’t working. I will try to find a correct one.

Bob Sisco sent a link to a Poma ad for Walloon Hills. Bill Endres says he would like to get us a picture of Chainsaw Mtn near Maple city. I will see if I can get it from him. Pat Dorsey left a comment about Mont Gabriel in the Milsap Updates area. I will move it to the Mont Gabriel page. Mike commented on Indianhead that both Indianhead and Blackjack are now owned by the same developer. They sell a combined ticket and run shuttles between the areas.

Monica Farrier left a comment on the Village Inn page that she is the new owner. She commented on the history and said she has information about the “baby Poma” and left a link to more information about the history of this resort.

Finally, Dave Fons asked “Why are you doing this?” Dave, I’ll let you know when I figure that out.

Bob Knox, Publisher
Michigan Lost Ski Areas Project

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MILSAP Updates, May 19, 2015

Well, skiing is pretty much over in most of North America (although they are still getting late-season snow in parts of the west, many of the areas were already closed because of the terrible snow season they had out there). Michigan and the mid-west had a pretty good season this winter and avoided the unrelenting cold of last year. Further east, they had epic snow events in New England.

We have had twelve new comments in the month since we last updated our blog. Among them were the location of the ski hills for one of our oldest ski areas, the Greenbush Inn, and the location of a “new” lost ski area, the Kalamazoo Ski Club near Plainwell.

Charlie left the location of the Greenbush Inn as between Main and Campbell on US-23 and State/Cedar Street in Greenbush. However, the ski hills and toboggan runs were 2 miles north, on the west side of US-23, beyond the golf course. He says that by the 70’s, any remnants of facilities at the hills had vanished. Ken Goebel thanked him for his information. We would still like confirmation of whether (and when) the slopes at Greenbush Inn had a tow.

Anton Mal commented on Thunder Mountain about the links to pictures that he didn’t remember the quad chairlift. He was surprised that Boyne invested that much money in Walloon and Thunder, just to close them.

Fred Wark commented in Current Areas that he had met a Mrs. Pat Hill who claimed to be one of the original owners of Mt. Brighton. He posted another comment on the Mt. Brighton page with more detail about her. Mark left a comment on the Alpine Valley page in response to Goeff Smith, reminiscing about coach Goeff and his parents, “Doc” and “Granny” Smith. Doc was a perennial feature at ski areas in SE Michigan, serving at various times on the ski patrols at Teeple Hill, Mt. Holly, Blizzard Metro, and several others.

Kerry Weber Boone commented on the Mt. Maria page that she skied there from ’70 until ’86 and remembered all the families who skied there with her. Randy Wlodarski says he learned to ski at Royal Valley using the GLM method–every week, when his ski club came up from Indiana, they would move up to longer skis. (That’s the way GLM was supposed to work. Ski shops gave it a bad rep by selling too-short skis to customers who quickly progressed beyond them).

Jeff Knudsen commented on Carousel Mountain with memories of skiing there. John Kreuger commented on the page that he would like to buy a Carousel Mtn. pin. Drew commented on our Ski Area Patches and Pins page they he would like to purchase Carousel Mtn. memorabilia.  Apparently we have a lot of interest in Carousel Mtn. at this time.

profesorav (Dr. Karen Vocke from WMU) has informed us of a “NEW” lost ski area, a hill operated near Plainwell by the Kalamazoo Ski Club. The hill opened in the ’60s and closed in the 80’s, and apparently had at least one tow, powered by a Corvair engine. The lodge is still standing, with a sign over the front door. According to the state, the club was founded in 1960 and dissolved in 1988. If you have any memories of cruising the slopes at KSC or of the memorable teen parties that were held in the lodge, please comment on our new Kalamazoo Ski Club page in the Southwest Lower Peninsula section.

Please keep those comments coming and let your friends know about our site. That is how we will keep the history of skiing in Michigan alive.

Bob Knox
Publisher, Michigan Lost Ski Areas Project

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MILSAP Updates, April 14, 2015

It is mid-April, time to file your taxes if you don’t want to be late and a time when most (but not all) Michigan ski areas are closed for the season. Boyne Mountain remains open, as do a couple areas in the UP, but Bohemia closed this past weekend as did a few other holdouts. We have been highlighting a few areas’ end of season specials and spring carnivals on our Facebook page; check it out if you haven’t already.

We have received 14 comments in the three weeks since our last update. Bob Sisco sent us a couple pictures of the Pine Mountain Jump. Scott Stillings commented on Bob’s picture of a building at Mott Mountain that he thinks it may be the back of the “stage” someone built to hold country music concerts at Silver Valley. Rob Yates remembers seeing skiers on the hill (many years ago) while driving past Paradise Valley and wonders if anyone has pictures of the area.

Goeff Smith replied to a comment about him skiing at Alpine Valley that it wasn’t him. He raced at Mt. Holly in HS (Bloomfield Hills) and skied earlier at Mt. Christie when his dad (Doc Smith) patroller there after his dad started patrolling at Teeple Hill. Later Goeff raced for U of Colorado and started the racing program at Mt. Brighton in Dec ’69. Speaking of Teeple Hill, Thad Sienkiewicz advises us that May 9 will be the next Haven Hill “Rosebud Reveal” at Highland State Rec Area. He invites you to come see the restoration work on the old Ford barn that served Teeple Hill for many years.

Paul Trombley commented on our Iroquois Mountain page that his cousin built the A-Frame house just west of Livingston’s Restaurant. John Wyma recollected that at Cannonsburg, there used to be a loft above the cafeteria, in the peak of the ceiling. It was a popular place for teens to gather and smoke in 68-70. I might ask, what were they smoking, John?

Patrick Hanlon says Pleasant Valley was 6 mi. east of Central Lake on 624 and you could still see the rope towers with old auto rims on them until the late ’80s. Scott Stillings replied that the poles and rims are “loooong gone” and you cannot see or ski the old slopes today. He says the last person to ski them may have been Steve Erber from Harbor Springs. Pat Hanlon also remembers seeing an old, abandoned wooden ski jump with trees growing through it in the woods near Caberfae, years ago.

Gary Curatolo posted directions to an article about the founding of Thunder Mountain originally published in the Otsego County Herald in ’56. Brian said he lives across the road from Thunder and has an old trail map and brochure. We asked him to send them along.

John Wyma was looking at satellite views of the old Missaukee Mountain site and says he thinks he sees the old lodge and a couple of rope tows. He wonders if anyone locally can confirm that. David Fons replied to Preston on the Fonro page. He says his family bought the property in ’57.

Please keep those comments coming. This is how we keep the history of Michigan skiing alive. And, if you get a chance, make a few last runs at one of our great (not yet lost) Michigan ski areas. We don’t always get a lot of respect from the national ski magazines, but when winter has finally failed in the western US, we may still be getting enough cold and snow to keep our sport alive.

Bob Knox
Publisher, Michigan Lost Ski Areas Project

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MILSAP Updates, March 24, 2015

Well, it’s March, and after a great winter, many Michigan ski areas are starting to close for the season. If you look around, you will still find areas open for a couple more weeks and some great end-of-season parties. We have received 40 comments(!) since I last summarized a month ago; 20 from Bob Sisco alone, who has shared with us links to many pictures of lost areas, some taken this winter and some from the past.

Candy and Denise both posted comments about the current state of Fonro, with Denise saying that they have made some improvements to the appearance of the old Emig property. Kevin Meade says his family used to own Sylvan Knob and the family still skis, but its not the same as in the old days. John Alexander left a couple comments about Gay-El-Rancho. He was Head Wrangler there in ’85, where he met his future wife and many life-long friends and had a great summer.

As I mentioned, frequent contributor Bob Sisco left comments on many pages with links to pictures of lost areas. He commented on and left picture of Grand Valley State College’s ski hill, Mont Ripley’s T-bar, Sugar Loaf’s frontside and backside (with lost Hall chairlift), the Newago Winter Sports Park (where the hill is now open for sledding) and the remains of the old concrete toboggan chutes can be seen, Swiss Valley and Little Switzerland (he liked the story about Joe Montana), Mt. Mancelona (pictures from ’08/’09), Skyline (pictures of the chair and the lodge from ’09), and Mott Mountain (he wants to know what the big building at the bottom of the hill is). Thanks for all the work, Bob. And yes, you can get the links to the pictures to work if you remove the extraneous html tags.

Larry Dunn remembers skiing at Royal Valley in the ’70s and ’80s. Lance Climie took a ski class at GVSC and worked at the lodge from ’75 through ’77. He says it was very busy in the winter. Kevin J. Anderson also worked there in ’81 and ’82. John Wyma said he skied and tobogganed at GVSC many times. Nick says his friend Cathy used to ski at the Lansing Ski Club. Paul Price used to be on the ski patrol at Mt. Maria while he was in the USCG in ’83 and ’84. He says it was a nice place with nice people.

Gary Whitfield left a comment on our About MILSAP page asking if anyone inquires about the Big M Ski Area. I directed him to our Big M page. Mike also commented on our About MILSAP page with reminiscences of skiing at Teeple Hill in ’59-’60. I copied his comment to the Teeple Hill page. He also commented about Goeff Smith being the mogul master at Alpine Valley in the ’60s. I moved that comment to the AV page.

Bethany Draves Rutberg has fond memories of Kandahar and was devastated when she learned it was closing. Tracy Sanders remembers that his parents worked at Mt. Grampian from ’70-’73. Then they moved to Alaska where he now works as a commercial fisherman. Linda Murray Crowell says her mom, Rosie Murray, worked at Pine Knob from ’64 until ’86, starting as a bookkeeper and ending as office manager for the Locricchio family. Linda learned to ski from Dave Freeman in ’63, and says her dad started the OLD Farts Club at PK.

Last, but definitely not least, Bill Behse posted a comment with LOTS of history about the beginnings of Thunder Mountain, where his parents, Joe and Donna Behse, were the original developers in ’55-’56, along with Dee Adgate. They sold their interest to Dee in 1960.  You have to read this comment if you are interested in the history of Thunder Mountain. John D Shepherd, current owner of the property, thanked Bill for the information. He also tried to post a link to pictures or video of his kids and grandkids boarding at the hill last month, but I can’t get it to work, can you?

Please keep those comments coming. This is how we keep the history of Michigan skiing alive. And, while you’re at it, get out there and enjoy some fabulous spring skiing and go to those spring carnivals at a Michigan ski area. Michigan had a great winter (unlike many states in the west) and we need to keep those Michigan ski areas from becoming lost.

Bob Knox
Publisher, Michigan Lost Ski Areas Project

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MILSAP Updates, February 24, 2015

Well, I’m back from snowy Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont where friends and I had a great time skiing trees in knee-deep powder. Since I posted on February 8, we have received 22 new comments on the history of Michigan ski areas, lost and still operating.

Robert Moore remembers the round fireplace, hot chocolate and a summer pig roast at Sheridan Valley. Roscoe Johnson remembers skiing Eskar Hills in the ’50’s and early ’60’s. John Haggerty says he has information about the Oxbow Club and Ski Area. He says the boarhouse across the river was owned by the Mason family, the airstrip is now US Government land, and the remnants of the ski tow can still be seen. I will contact him for more information and may stop out there when I am fishing in that area.

Bob Sisco posted links to an aerial photo overlayed with trail names for Thunder. He also posted links to more current photos from the Grand haven Ski Bowl. Mark Prell thanked him for the Thunder map/pic. Bob also posted links to a trail map and ticket price brochure for Sugar Loaf for the 94-95 season. He says he skied there weekly from ’91 on. Chuck Robert confirmed that Mr. Jabarra still runs the store there.

Richard says Ski World was still open when he moved to Buchanan in ’89. He says the lodge and rental buildings are still standing and have been remodeled by the current owners. Danny Carbol remembers skiing at Royal Valley to the sound of AC/DC.

Thad Sienkiewicz tells us that the Barn at Teeple Hill (this would be the Henry Ford barn) is being restored with help from an Amish construction company from the thumb area. Scott Guthrie remembers running into the hay bales at the bottom of the beginner hill at Mt. Grampian. rpmpat still says he is looking for a Grampian patch.

We had a total of 8 comments about Fonro from Robert Collins, Karen Olson Girardot, Denise Collins Jobe, and Candice Van Nort. Some of them still live around the old resort and visit there. The lodge is in ruins and has been abandoned since Cole Creek folded, sometime around 2000. They reminisced about old friends and the old Mob hunting lodge.

In addition, we have new ski area patches for Irish Hills (a different one), Teeple Hill, and Riverview Highlands, sent to us by Mike. He wonders if the gold balls on the Riverview patch represent bags of trash. What do you think? Please keep those comments coming. We would hate for the history of Michigan skiing to be forgotten. AND if you know of any former ski patrollers who are still living in Michigan, please let them know that the NSP Eastern Michigan Region is hosting an NSP Alumni get-together at Mt. Holly this Saturday at 9 AM. There will be free skiing and free food at lunch for any retired patrollers or any current patrollers who are thinking about retiring. If they want more information, they can contact me at milsap@comcast.net.

Bob Knox
Publisher, Michigan Lost Ski Areas Project.

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MILSAP Updates, February 8, 2015

Greetings from snowy Maine, where I sit updating the blog while winter storm Marcus is dumping snow outside. Don’t worry, we’ll be skiing Sunday River tomorrow. We have had 25 new comments since our last post in early January, One of them has confirmed a suspected lost ski area for which we had almost given up hope. We now have two people, Cyndie and Spike, who state that the Steven’s Gay-El-Rancho downhill facility was at O’Rourke Lake.

Rickie D commented that he didn’t think Alpine Valley ever had a ski jump, that he thinks we’re referring to the one at Mt. Grampian. He does, however, remember a toboggan run at Mt. Christie with a 90-degree curve. He also says that Silver Bell became the home of Dave’s Hideout which hosted The Underdogs, Pleasure Seeker, and Bob Segar. Andy F remembers sledding at the old Bald Eagle hill and seeing the remains of the rope towers. Maryann Hunt remembers growing up at Mott Mountain and the owners Earl and Phyllis who emphasized fun AND safety.

Spike noted that in the mid-70s, he looked in the windows of the old ski lodge at Gay EL-Rancho on O’Rourke lake and saw many pairs of skis with cable bindings. Friends told him it operated in the late 50’s or early 60’s. Corie says his father worked at Fonro  in the early 70’s.

Niel Johnson says he set the record for the Munising Ski Jump at 191′ in ’73. The old record was 185′. He would like to know if his record was beaten before the jump closed. Kolleen Jones replied to a question from Doug Thomas about the location of the Elberta ski lift. She says it’s right behind the Betsie Bay Marina.

Dave Gardey says he skied at Major Mountain, met his wife there and coached Don Close as a racer there. Chris grew up skiing at Mt. Maria, and now skis in Germany. Glen has many fond memories of Royal Valley and says his mom may have a patch. Joel also skied Royal Valley between ’78 and ’84. He’s trying to remember the slope names: Challenger, Timberline-Train, Jupiter Bowl?

Neil Hill remembers that Bryces Hill was moved when they widened US-2. It was eventually renamed Silver Valley and then Doc Holle’s Silver Valley. We may have a new live (or lost) ski area. Bryan Kinney says his parents managed Iroquois the last year it was open. He said to look up the website “Wheels of History.”

Frank sent a link to a site with a lot of historical information about Caberfae. Jeff Richards left a long comment with many great reminiscences about Schuss Mountain. Lowell Godfrey says Martin Johnson, his grandfather, was a nephew of the Martin Johnson who donated the land for the camp of that name that eventually took over Ward Hills. Grandfather Martin was the caretaker and Lowell’s mother was born in 1940 in the caretaker’s lodge. He is starting a Facebook page about the camp with lots of pictures. When we find it, we will link to it.

Mark Gill says he grew up at Mount Grampian where his father was a friend of the owner and also patrolled there for 5 years. Paul K says he skied at the Lansing Ski Club in the 80’s while attending MSU. He says they had a great program for the collere ski club and had a very unusual  over-the-hill chairlift that served both sides.

Frank wants to know when the new chair will be installed at Boyne Highlands in the expansion area.

Fred Wark says that the old ski area in the Pinckney State Recreation Area is just south of the Lakelands Trail which is the old railroad bed.

Bill would like a large poster of Michigan’s Lost Ski Areas. he says he would buy several as gifts for his friends. We have found a source for a poster-map of Michigan’s CURRENT ski areas. However, I don’t know if it would be worth his effort to make one up for our lost ski areas. Bill would also like patches for Hickory Hills and Sugarloaf. Mike L has patches for Teeple Hill, Irish Hills, and Riverview Highlands. We have asked him to send them along.

Remember, keep those comments coming and if you wish to send us any additional information or items, see the directions on the About MILSAP page. Thanks for following us and get out there and enjoy the winter.

Bob Knox, Publisher, MILSAP

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