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.