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, Halloween is tomorrow and my last comment summary was in May. Ski season is almost upon us and I guess I was having too much fun this summer to keep up with things. There have been 36 comments left on MILSAP since May 12, not to mention information, pictures and items that have been emailed to us.
From the pre-season issue of “Skiing Magazine” for the 1968-69 season, new areas in Michigan were Timberline near Mio, Russell’s Ridge at Hart, Newago County Winter Sports Park, And Lost Pines near Cadillac. Ski hills that ceased operation were Barn Mountain, Glacier Hills, Houghton Lake Snow Bowl, Moon Ridge, Fry’s Winter Sports Park, Mt. Christie, and Snow Valley (it was announced as temporary due to the lodge fire, but it became permanent). In other news it was announced that USSA Class A racers would compete against locals at Boyne Mountain and Mt. Holly. Skibobs were available for rent at Indianhead, Mt. Frederick, and Hulu Hills. Irish Hills uncovered a LARGE stone while installing a new chairlift. They left it in place on the hill, named it the Blarney Stone and started a “Don’t Kiss the Blarney Stone” promotion.
In 1964-65, Timberlee announced their opening with 338′ of vertical. That same year, Sugar Loaf built their lodge.
Ben Stevens left us a complement on our other LSAPS page that he grew up in Montana where his uncle operated a local ski area and enjoys hearing about old mom and pop ski areas. He now lives in Leelanau County and has started skiing at abandoned areas. We hope you respect the no trespassing signs, Ben. Terry Edwards informed us on the Milsap Updates page that the ski jump at 9 Mi Rd. was built by Henry Hall who held the world record until the ’60s. He thinks he maintained the jump by shoveling a nearby skating rink and trucking the snow to the jump. He said Henry was in his ’70’s then. Don is asking for a Canadian Lakes/Castle mountain page.
Hilary Gardner left a comment on Silverbell Village that her father, Thomas Gardner, was the developer/owner. She said she has some photos and will attempt to find them. She said now that her dad is gone, it’s nice to read about the wonderful memories people have about their times at Silverbell. She says it might have survived with snowmaking. She mentions that her dad went on to develop the Silverdome for the Lions. He called it the SILVERdome after SILVERbell. Mark Kimmerly responded to her that he would really like to see those pictures. So would we, Hilary!
Paul Tyson replied to Geoff on the Mt. Holly page that Spyder Sabich raced as a pro at Mt. holly in ’75 or ’76. He was shot to death by his girlfriend, Claudine Longet, in ’76. In the future, we’ll have some news about expansion plans at Mt. Holly. Meagan Borowy replied to T Yearago on the Mt. Grampian page asking if he got info about tickets, etc. Steve Davis said that his grandfather, Tom Davis, was a part owner of Mt. Christie and, with his brother and sister, helped run the lodge. Paul replied to Steve Davis on the Mt. Christie page asking if he has any pictures.
Shawnee Marie Bigelow commented about Mt. Maria that she lives on the south shore (of Hubbard Lake) and grew up skiing there. The trail names on the front were Mt. Maria, Chute, Baker, and Bunny. Her mom worked in the ski shop and Shawnee remembers the burgers, fries, and cocoa in the lodge. The kids rode snowmobiles to the area on snow days and had the best times ever!
Jay Mowl remembers raising hell at Mott Mountain from 1980 until Earl sold out. He met some of his best friends there. Ty Patterson commented about Mott that he grew up there. Now, at 43, he lives in Colorado but he still feels 8 years old every time he gets on a lift. Vern Hayden2 commented on Ogema Hills that he skied there from ’50-’54 on old 7′ wooden skis with no edges. He remembers 2 runs: beginner and steep (straight down) with rope tows. He became a good racer and later raced on the best equipment for the Air Force.
Dave Norris says he sent Jason an email about getting pictures of Ward Hills. Anton Mal posted a link to the Caberfae expansion plans. Ed Rogers commented on the Bear Hills page that he was the ski instructor and ski patrolman there in ’65-’66.
Jane Richards says she would like to get some old pictures of Irish Hills for the new owners. We’d like to see them, too, Jane. erbsuperb replied to Bill on the Diggins Hill page that he hopes Bill is still making turns. He says he spends most of the winter skiing the trees with his dog, Buddy. He tele-skied until April this year.
Sam Seven replied to Mikey on the Mt. Mancelona page that he got to ski in April (this year) after a big dump. They even had the T-bar running. As any of you who follow our Facebook page know, there are big plans for Mt. Mancelona. Anton Mal posted a link to the Mt. Mancelona Microbrew Festival. He also says he doesn’t think Mancelona ever had a chair, just two Poma lifts.
Lisa posted on the Cole Creek page that when her dad was 14 or 15, he lived in Atlanta. His mom made matching jumpsuits for his band to audition at Cole Creek. The owner saw them and hired them because they looked so professional. They were the house band every weekend that season.
Donald Ferguson says that his dad and he built his 1st Cub Scout derby car in the Kandahar maintenance building. He learned to ski around 1961 at Summit when Leo Doan owned it. He used to ski with John Callard whose dad was on the ski patrol. Don also replied to Tim Gaffney that he learned to ski at 5 years old at Summit. After that, he moved to Mt. Holly. He skied on wooden skis with cable bindings and lace boots. Carry Price grew up across the street from the red gate at Kandahar and could see the ski jump from her bedroom window. She remembers skiing the trails between the slopes and the hot chocolate at the fireplace and sledding down Devil’s Pit, snow forts and snowball fights. Also rope swings, biking on the track, and climbing the jump and the pines at the top in the summer. Jean (Carrigan) Moreno used to take her friends sledding below the jump. They’d push them off, spinning the saucers which would hit the hole where they took out the boulder, then they’s go airborne, cussing like sailors. C replied to Marcia Henghold on the Kandahar page that Mr. Heydon at Carter used to bring the ski club every Wednesday for $8. Never heard of it after ’78. The Poma lift was a perfect way to learn to ski. Stuart Knickerbocker said that after joining the club, he doesen’t think he ever paid dues for the next 20 years because he was active on the board and put in up to 300 hours of work to keep the place running. Susan Knockerbocker Field replied to Heidi that they had so much fun there for so many years.
Sam Seven commented on Maple Mountain in Munising that he heard a kid died on the rope around 1989. He asked a gas station for directions recently and drove up the hill on a narrow road–it’s now private property. He met two people who said it was okay to be there. The road ends near the top of the lift. He thinks it closed around 2000 and was about 300′ vertical.
Kevin Scheid posed a comment about the closing of Pando Winter Sports Park by Cannonsburg, but I cannot approve it because it contains negative personal comments. Marybeth C. Smith left a long comment on the Echo Valley page in reply to LHM Moonbeam. She said her brother posted old family movies on the Vanished Kalamazoo FB page. Their Granddad, Harold J. Moore, started Echo Valley by building a ski jump in 1934. That one blew down in a storm before it could be completed so he rebuilt in in ’35 and insured it with Lloyds of London. That one was destroyed by a tornado, and he rebuilt it in ’37, a 30m jump with a steel frame. In ’46, he built the house and 6 rental cottages. She spent the first 6 years of her life in one of the cottages and every xmas until ’95 at the house. He put in 4 toboggan runs. The first ones were mud and wood, but they only lasted a year. The later ones were concrete. They added 2 runs in 1959 and 2 more in 1960 for a total of 8.They also added a skating rink. That’s the year they took off the end of the ski jump. Before the hill was Echo Valley, it was called Devil’s Gorge and was a motorcycle climbing hill. Grandpa came form England to the UP at the age of 6 and learned to ski jump. He jumped 167′ at Rochester in 1929. He later founded the Kalamazoo Ski Club. He stopped jumping at age 54. The 1st jumping meet at Campbell Lake (Echo Valley) was in 1936, the record was 97′ and there were entrants from Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin. the jumping and skiing went on until 1955, but by 1960 there was no more ski jumping.
Barb Kent posted about Snow Valley that she remembers the ski train. Maureen Christian wants to know the location of the old lodge at Snow Valley. Was it where the indoor pool is now or perhaps at the clubhouse for the Natural golf course? She asks if there were 20 runs at Snow Valley and if any of the fairways for the Natural follow them? Joan McCombs said on the Nub’s Nob page that Dori Sarns is her Dad’s sister. Joan lives in Louisville so she didn’t ski Nub’s much. The las time she saw Dori was when she bought a kayak in ’84. She remembers her closing the slopes with her dogs following her down the hill. Bob Sisco sent pictures of Skyline to Carolyn and Erich.
We hope you have been enjoying our site and want you to keep those stories, reminiscences, and messages coming to our blog and our Facebook page. If you have any pictures or documents to send us please do so via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert Knox, Publisher
Michigan Lost Ski Areas Project