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