Mt. Holly Ski Area — Holly

Mt. Holly was opened in 1955 for a short season. Over that summer, they had tested the capacity of the aquifer to support snowmaking and opened that winter with a trailer for a lodge, a rope tow or two and a parking lot. The ski patrol was formed that winter. Over the next spring, summer and fall, they built a real lodge with rental equipment, a cafeteria and restaurant, a bar and a ski shop. The ski shop was reportedly operated by Don Thomas. Snowmaking was increased and I think they added a rope or two, or may even have installed a t-bar.

The Lansing State Journal on June 8, 1956, on page 35,in an article datelined Roscommon, June 8 (UP), said that Morton Graddis of Bloomfield Hills received tentative approval to construct skiing facilities in the Holly Recreation Area including ski tows and snow making equipment. On October 30, 1956, the Battle Creek Enquirer listed the Mt. Holly Ski Club as a new ski area for the 1956 season. The Grand Opening of the lodge in 1956 is used by the area as their official date of opening. Mt. Holly later added the first chairlift in southeastern Michigan (a used, wooden-seated double that now provides the seats in the booths in the “Lift Lounge.” They continued to add vertical, lifts, and snowmaking.

The next earliest newspaper mention of Mt. Holly I have found is in The Cass City Chronicle for Friday, Nov. 9, 1956 in the “Michigan Mirror” column. It lists Holly, near Bloomfield Hills (sic) among the rapidly developing ski areas of Michigan.

Here is a picture of an early Mt. Holly ski patch sent to us by David Whitehall who sells vintage patches (and other memorabilia) on E-bay as The Vintage Argonaut:

MTHollypatch-VA

On Dec. 24, 1959, The Luddington Daily News printed a ski report which listed Mt. Holly as having a 6″ base with 3 slopes open. On Dec. 10, 1970, The Cass City Chronicle published the AAA Michigan Winter Sports Fun List which had Mt. Holly with 7 slopes, 4 chairlifts, a T-bar, 8 rope tows, snowmaking and night skiing.

They eventually added the first (and still only) high speed quad in southeastern Michigan. They now operate with seven chairs, 5 ropes, and 2 conveyor (magic carpet) lifts and have been open continuously for 56 seasons.

MtHollyPatch

Mt. Holly, like a couple other southeast Michigan ski lodges, played a small part in the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Detroit area. On this site, you will see pictures and references to performances in the Mt. Holly lodge by some of Rock’s most famous acts. Here’s a link to a list of a few of the concert dates at Mt. Holly in 1966 and 1970. Here’s another link to vintage pictures of the ski area posted by the ski area on their web site.

In 2012, Joseph F. Kosik, owner of Mt. Holly, Pine Knob, Bittersweet, and ski areas in Wisconsin, was inducted into the Michigan Ski Hall of Fame.

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10 Responses to Mt. Holly Ski Area — Holly

  1. Trucker Mark says:

    I used to ski Mt Holly at night on weekdays in junior high school ski club, probably from the winter of 1969-1970 through 10th grade, which would have been the winter of 1972-1973. Back then they only had 2 or 3 double chairs and some rope tows, and most of the time our school group was one of only two or three school groups on the hill, so we had the place mostly to ourselves. While I haven’t skied there since 1973 driving by on I-75 it is easy to see the new summit, which must be twice the vertical of the old Mt Holly! These days I ski at Eldora, one of Colorado’s smaller ski areas, where the bunny hill is bigger than Mt Holly!!!

  2. Susan Jarvis says:

    hey Trucker Mark…I see you at all the ski area sites…do you still ski….I am going back to the board this year!

    Sue at Mt Brighton

  3. geoff smith says:

    Grant Hanks was the GM for many years in the early days, and son Tom was one of the funniest people I have ever met. Mt. Holly from about 1960- to 1966 was the sole host of the southeast Michigan high school racing league, including the Detroit News Interscholastic Championship. It was fun to be part of the Bloomfield Hills High School team that won the championship for 6 or 7 years running–all before fiberglass skis! The owner of Mt Holly was a well known ski pioneer whose name escapes me after all these years. “Mort”??? He owned the gravel pit that surrounds Mt. Holly. In 1975 there was a pro race there believe it or not. Jerry Stanek George Frisch and I won qualifying spots. It was, I believe, the last race Spider Sabich ( a college teammate of mine) competed in before he was shot to death by Claudine Longet.

    • Cathy Gosenca (Sheppard) says:

      I believe Mort’s last name was Gradis (sp?). I also raced in the Detroit News Interscholastic races for Kimball High in Royal Oak

      • Geoff Smith says:

        Thank you Cathy. Yes, Mort Gradis was the pioneer who started Mt Holly. My memory is now officially jogged

  4. Tony Slosar says:

    Broke my neck here in 1983 when I was a junior in high school.

  5. Had a blast skiing on the Southfield boys and girls ski team. My brother, Ted and Gary Sayers ended up for many years in Jackson Hole and our turns skills increased greatly. I still live in WY and my brother passed, but Gary still returns from MI to ski with me and share stories of racing in HS. Co-ed bus trips were a lot of fun.

  6. Paul Tyson says:

    That is correct Geoff! Spider Sabich raced at Mt. Holly in either 1975 or ’76 – and was shot to death by his girlfriend Claudine Longet later in 1976. Very sad.

  7. Bill Jennings says:

    There was a phenomenal motel and restaurant at Holly called Hawaiian Gardens which had about 20 or so rooms if any remembers. The man that built it was the inventor of Bars Leaks, name Fred Barton. Barton had hopes of providing Mount Holly skiers with lodging in those days. I didn’t ski then but remember Barton and my dad talking about the ski area and Holly. Barton was a big hockey fan and had many of the Red Wings come to Hawaiian Gardens and get lost in it’s Hawaii atmosphere Barton created, giving him something he enjoyed creating. I’ll never forget how shocked my father was, who had been a Red Wing hockey player for six years when Barton told him of selling the mecca of Hawaiian Gardens. Barton got tired of the red tape regarding encroaching Holly and said the following which dad often repeated.
    “I own this place and it doesn’t own me”
    Years later I would ski Mount Holly after moving north as a youngster and learning to ski at Crystal Mountain during Denny Johnson’s management time frame. Seeing Jerry Stanek’s name from Sugarloaf and reading the small world we live in knit together are treasured memories.

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