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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Happy Valentine’s Day! It has been over 7 weeks since our last update and there has been a lot of activity on the blog and on our Facebook page. We have received 63 comments during that period, including 31 just about Fonro, with 4 more about the Lansing Ski Club and another 5 relating to Kandahar. We also have a new “lost” ski area: Mt. Kimberly, and are looking for another: Thornapple.
Mike Potter made a bold claim to more time on the hill at Lansing Ski Club than anyone! He skied there from the time he was 3 almost every season day, and later, night until it closed. He was into freestyle: moguls, aerials, ballet, and later into racing. he went on to become a pro racer and raced against some of his Wild World of Sports childhood heroes. Eric Harder went to E. Lansing high and raced at LSC. Bob Ucman replied to Win Stebbins on the LSC thread “Hi Win,” and to Jan Harold Brumvand “Hi, we met on a lift at Snowbird.” Gary Goodridge worked there as a lifter in ’76 with some of his freshman dorm-mates.He says the job was boring, watching the chairs go by, but the end-of-season party was great, with traying down the hill.
Richard Laws commented that he remembers skiing at Middleville Ski Area with his 6th grade class in 1980, but that it was closed by 1989. Michael S. Jaskulski commented on Lost Pines Lodge that he was never there in winter but he remembers stables and horseback riding in ’70 or ’71. H. D. Laursen says he visited Big M while in HS. he never learned to ski, but he met his Sr. Prom date there when she broke her leg and he carried her books between classes for the rest of the year. Sam Seven reminded us that Pando has been closed for two years since Cannonsburg bought it, but says they have been re-modelling the lodge and hope to re-open next year. Timothy Thoits asks if anyone has heard of an area called Thornapple owned by Bill Seidman?
Kate Villereal commented on the Thunder Mountain thread that Tim taught her how to use the T-bar and Poma lifts. She then graduated to the slope next to the beginners slope where she was run over by the groomer. Her dad rescued her and took her to the hospital to be checked out (she was okay) and while the were there her brother was also brought to the hospital, quite a day! Robert Mogford wrote that in 1990 or ’91, Warren bought the old yellow lift from Nub’s and installed it at Mt. Holiday. Mark James said that his family had season passes for Schuss Mountain from ’68-’73, but one day when his dad was sick, they went down the road to Mt. Maplehurst. It was not much of a challenge.
Katrina Gross commented on Mott Mountain that she learned to ski there in 1971-73 on the rope and the chairlift. Dave Cox wrote on the Irish Hills thread that he went there several times with his family of 8 when the Toledo Blade offered a ski and lesson special of $10 per family-they couldn’t pass up the bargain. He said it is now a housing development. Jean replied to Dave that it is sad, but the memories of those days are great.
Jody Almon Seward commented on both Mt. Frederic and Ski Village threads that she is Al Almon’s daughter and wants to know what information we would like about those areas associated with her father. Primarily, we would like to know when the areas opened and closed, how many lifts and slopes they had during those years, and any interesting stories about their operation.
Mike posted on the Fonro thread that he would like more information about the airport. Danny P. Pfaff commented that the band that played there was “The Slick City Rockers” from Traverse City. he also said that his dad and uncle helped build the lodge and that his brother, Brian, worked there in the ’70s. Karen Giradot replied to Hope Suddon that she remembered her parents Art and Marion and her Grandfather Jules. He also replied to Karen Giradot as did several others that the family name was Suddon and they had 14 children. He wrote to David Fons that Danny’s father, Wayne, helped build the lodge and roofed the Tepee. Candice Van Nort replied to David that she had been to their home when his sister had a compound fracture.
Angie replied to Karen Giradot on the Fonro page that a few Suddons still live in the area. Dawn Fredrickson also told her that Carol lives in town across from the party store. Kathy told Karen that Art and Marion Suddon were her uncle and aunt. Hope Suddon replied to Karen that there were 14 children and some still live in Comins. Tony, Morgan, B Ballard, and Robin (Suddon) Ballard all replied to Karen that there were 14 chuildren, 7 boys and 7 girls, with Robin naming them.
Ted Duckworth posted in the Fonro thread that “all the stories about Fonro are true.” He said his great uncle Art Suddon was bartender there and Ted’s first job was there in ’77-78, the year it bacame Cole Creek Lodge. Robert Emig and Morgan replied to Preston that it is on Emig Rd. 1 mi. E of M-33. Denise Peters Smith recalled that she loved going there in the ’70s and that her wedding reception was at Fonro. Robert Hink reported that his family owned a neighboring property. Mary Jones noted that she and her mother moved to the area in ’62. Her mom cooked and tended bar there and took reservations. Mary led horseback trail rides and helped with the snowmobiles. Jenny Balmer commented that when she was a waitress in the restaurant in the ’70s, she could make $60/night in tips–a lot of money in those days.
Mike and Marion Taylor have lived in Comins for 60 years and posted a detailed history of the Fonro property over the past 35 years. They note that Fonro had horseback riding and snowmobiling and as Cold Creek Lodge had a regulation Trap and Skeet range. Their post is very comprehensive–you will have to read it if you want all the details. Denise thanked them for all the history.
Nathan Kurtz wrote on the Kandahar thread that he grew up across the street and his family all had great times there. Mary Ann Carrigan-Stadler echoed that, saying she likely ate more meals at Kandahar than at home. She remembers that when they called last run, she and her friends would put on their packs, go up the Poma and ski down Intermediate and across the road where they would stick their skis in the snow and go inside to make pizza. Heidi Harrison Brown remembers the great times skiing, sledding (sometimes down the ski jump) and swinging on the Poma poles and misses all the wonderful friends she made. Stephanie Martin Storhl remembers those days because of the pictures of the ski jump that were posted.
Daryl Turcott posted a link to a video of Silver Bell as it is now. Tim Gardner remembered being snowed in at Silver Bell for 2 days after the blizzard of ’67.
Robert Leopard commented on Black Mountain that he skied there once or twice. he said the ridge was steep, but not high and the ropes offered little variety in contrast to Sylvan. Robert also commented on The Pinnacles that his family had a membership in the ’60s or ’70s because it was closer to Alpena than Sylvan. He remembers the ski rental was run by Tom Staley from Alpena who was a former Olympic skier. He says the area is located at 45,05’04.5″N28,04.4″W. Tim Finn commented about Mt. Maria that his family skied there coming up from Detroit. He said the lodge had the perfect rustic ski atmosphere.
Our new “lost” ski area is Mt. Kimberly in Gogebic County in the UP. Anthony Grudnoski reports that it was open in the late ’50s. He said the ironwood Daily Globe listed it as open on Feb 21, 1957 along with Mt. Zion and Porcupine Mountains. He also found in the Wakefield News on September 24, 1969, that the Marenisco Twp board voted to discontinue operation of the ski area.
In the mean time, we hope you have been enjoying our Michigan ski season and please keep those comments coming to our blog and our Facebook page.
Bob Knox, Publisher
Michigan Lost Ski Areas Project