MILSAP Updates, February 24, 2016


Sorry to have been so lax about posting, but it HAS been winter (at least most of the time), and I have been skiing, both in Michigan and back east in Vermont (where the winter hasn’t been too wintry either). As I finish writing this in the patrol room at a south east Michigan ski area, the wind is whistling and heavy snow is falling. Winter is back. We have received 72 new comments since our last update at the end of last year, including two new hints about new “lost” ski areas. I haven’t actually located the new areas, yet, but here’s the summary of the comments:

snofri commented on our Skiing History Resources page about the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in Ishpeming and about the 129th annual Ski Jumping Tourney which was just held at Suicide Hill. She also left several informative comments about the Kandahar Ski Club, including the information that they had ski jumping at the Pontiac Lakes location prior to the move to Fenton. She also left reminiscences on the Sheridan Valley page. Ellen asked how much it costs to ski down the running hill by Teal Lake at Al Quaal.

Cynthia Stewart left a Canadian skiers memories on the Dryden page and lamented the loss of the fabulous ski lodge. Another Canadian, Mark Clotier, remembersx skiing at Iroquois Mountain because the season passes were $35, a lot cheaper than Searchmont. He also remembers the blizzards blowing in from Lake Superior. Trish Ellis left good memories of Mt. Grampian. Daryl Turcott went to the Dryden site and posted a video on YouTube. (He also did Silverbell, Grampian, and Christie. Check his comment on the Dryden page for the link).

Dennis Penrod commented on the TimberLee Hills page about the White tractor they were loaned to demo as a groomer and returned in pieces after it rolled down the hill. Char Portega commented on the Snow Valley page that Indianhead also had a lodge at the top (actually not uncommon in parts of Michigan). He was replied to by Doug Leppart.

Jimmy commented that he has an old “body” board (backboard?) marked Royal Valley at the foot end, and would like more information about it. David Siekman said he would like to see a picture of it and Jimmy said he didn’t know how to post it. We told him to send it to us via the directions on the About MILSAP page. professorav (Karen Vocke) mentioned that there is a video of Echo Valley on the “Vanished Kalamazoo Facebook group from sometime in the early 1950’s (judging from the cars in the parking lot) which shows not only the  ski jump, but also people holding skis and skiing down the hill. Clearly, there was downhill skiing. Not sure about a ski lift or tow, though.

Tor Brunvand commented that he skied the Stebbins’ backyard using the old, portable rope tow before it was moved to the Lansing Ski Club. Win Stebbins, son of Rolly, a founder of the LSC in ’48, chimed in to say he is writing a history of the club. If you comment on their page, he may contact you!

Michael Schrotenboer commented on the Carousel page that he worked there as cleanup and “chief dishwasher”. He also commented on the Firsts page that he has a couple of the first Snurfers. Bill Bonkowski replied asking him if he would sell one. Evan replied to Jeff Brosch about Carousel Mtn. that he was there last year and to Michael Samis that the frame of the lift is still there, too. Bill also commented on Firsts with a lot of good information about Hanson Hills dating back to 1921, the Hanson family, and Bear Mountain. He invited us to contact Hanson Hills for more information about their claim to be “first”.

Keith Pollock commented on Tyrolean Hills that his family owned parts of the area along with the Lipperts during the Pinnacles era, then bought it and renamed it Tyrolean Hills and expanded operations year-round. It was very successful, but they sold due to a family tragedy and he hated to see it deteriorate. Tim asked on the Tyrollean Hills page if any remembered Dugan. Katherine Doyle commented that she is the daughter of Eunice and Ron Chavey and recognized her mother’s picture on the Sylvan Knob page as a ski patrol candidate.

John says that he skied Thunder Mountain in the early 60’s as a local and preferred it to Nub’s, Boyne, and Walloon. Patricia J. Dunston also had season passes to Thunder in the 60’s. She says they used to jump when they got on the Poma and it would pull her 4 feet off the ground. She still lives in the area. Chad Portenga replied to Trucker Mack on the Thunder page that several hills in the Boyne area would be great ski hills if Everett Kircher hadn’t closed them, not just Avalanche Peak.Chad also commented on the Grand haven Ski Bowl page that the bowl is contained in the Mulligan’s Hollow recreation area.Pat Myers-Featherstone commented on the Barn Mountain page that Everett Kircher bought Avalanche Peak and re-named it Barn Mountain Then he found out that he didn’t own the lots with road access. He donated the property to Boyne City with the condition that it never be developed as a ski resort.

King Daniel His Royal Highness commented that he is the heir to the Kingdom of Schuss, living in exile in Bloomfield Hills. He posted lots of memories of Schuss. Lisa Draper replied to Scooter on the Schuss page that she’s still racing. Westin Howland replied to King Daniel HRH that he remembers the old king pinning a broken bone club pin on him when he was in the 8th grade. He also remembers the Spence Bock Racing Camp.

Victoria Kiefer commented on the Bloomer Ski Jump page that her father Bruce Kent Frank made many jumps at Bloomer with the Hill brothers and replied to Alison Suzanne White that she’s her cousin. cudagirl1 replied to Victoria, “Hello, cousin.” Susan Brown Johnson commented on the Bloomer SJ page that her dad set the record on the new slide in ’37 at the age of 21, and in ’39, he and Tessmer went off it side-by-side. She also commented on the Brighton SJ page that her dad was one of the Rochester Boys and jumped there many times. She also says she has a jumping trophy her dad won at Petoskey Winter Sports Park in the early ’20s (he must have been about 6 or 7 years old at the time, but that’s not impossible).

deb johnson asked Don Tyrrell on the Mt. Christie page when his father patrol there. Pete Bechard remembers the music scene at Silverbell Village. Bill D says he developed an appreciation for snow-covered hills at Jack Pine Valley–because the hills there were seldom snow-covered. Jan Althoff-Pas remembers the sound and feel of the blasting to blow up the hill at Kandahar.

Bob Sisco commented that Pando is closed this season after being bought by Cannonsburg. They say they will re-open it, so we’re not moving it to the “lost” list just yet.

Stephen Kinn speculated on the Teeple Hill page about the source of the name. Pam Sienkiewicz responded with information from the original plat maps, now located in the Historic Wisner Home in Pontiac, that the (lake) name started as “Steeple,” then morphed to “Teeples” and finally “Teeple.”

Dave says that he would like to see the Sugar Loaf area re-opened and that he would be willing to make an 8-10% stake. Todd agreed that he would like to see the Loaf run again. Clay McNitt has great memories of skiing at Briar Hill.

Sally Peters Nowak commented that her parents owned Timberline. Jason VanderHoff  says his family owned the Ward hills property from ’87-’98 and renovated the cabin. Todd commented on the Hickory Hills page that his Grandma Katie used to run it. He never skied there and would like to know more. Bob says that he came up to ski at Royal Valley to fulfill a Notre Dame phys ed requirement. They skied there twice a week between January and March of ’79.Carrie promised to send a picture of Royal Valley. She says she has quite a few. David Siekman says he was a patroller at Royal Valley for about 13 years. His dad was the patrol director there and he has many fond memories of great times at the place.

Margo says she will gather some information for us about Bremer’s Ski Hill near Sutton’s Bay. She remembers that the dads helped with the operation of the tow and hill while the moms made hot chocolate in the old farmhouse.

Tim Carr says he skied Skyline in the ’90s and has a window sticker he would send to Gary Gariglio if he would like it. We says that he should send a picture if it to us, first. Lois Tucker-Wubbenhorst replied to Skier on the Skyline page that she skied from age 4 thru HS, her father was a part owner. She has many fond memories of the area. Martin Otberg commented on Briar Hill in reply to Jay Benda that he remembers jumping there and a trip to jump at Iron Mountain. Robert Mosford says his brother-in-lay’s father was one of the founders of Walloon. He says there is a Walloon patch on the wall of the Nub’s Nob patrol room and he will send us a picture. Don posted a link to a map of ski areas from the Detroit Free Press from 11/03/1961 on the MILSAP Update page.

Now the BIG NEWS: we have heard of TWO new lost areas (NO, not current areas that are suffering from the lack of snow and traffic this season–real old time areas). The first is Ford Mountain near Berrian Springs, passed on by Kathy. She says it may have operated in the late teens or early ’20s (that’s 100 years ago!) The other is Mad Cap near Cadillac, passed on by Bob Sisco. he says it was M115, 5 miles east of M131. If you have ever heard of these areas or know anything about ski operations there, please let us know.

Please keep those comments coming to our blog and check out our Facebook page. We love to hear more about the old days (and modern days) of skiing in Michigan. And enjoy the rest of this Michigan winter (be careful driving in this snow that’s falling today), try to patronize Michigan ski areas, and THINK MORE MICHIGAN SNOW!

Bob Knox, Publisher
Michigan Lost Ski Areas Project

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MILSAP Updates, December 29, 2015


Well, Winter seems to have finally arrived in Michigan, although from ski reports from around the Midwest, eastern North America, and Europe (where several World Cup Races have been cancelled or postponed), our lack of wintry weather to start the season seems to be the new normal. We have received fourteen new comments since our last update, as well as many comments on our Facebook Page, and several email messages.

Yesterday, we learned of the passing of Stein Erikson, Olympic Gold Medalist and former ski school director at Boyne Mountain and Pine Knob in Michigan, as well as many other ski areas in North America. He was a pillar of skiing during the modern development of our sport, contributing to ski instruction, the creation of freestyle skiing, slope layout, and resort and lodging improvements. I try to challenge myself annually on Stein’s Run at Sugarbush in Vermont, where he was also ski school director. He will be remembered.

I remember Stein’s shock of blond hair, which was always visible when he skied. I saw an interview once on TV where the interviewer asked him why he didn’t wear a hat. He replied that his hair was his most recognizable attribute. The interviewer asked how he kept his ears warm. Stein replied that he would cup them in his hands when he stopped. The interviewer asked what he did when it was too cold for that. He said with a wink, “Then it’s too cold to ski.”

Just after our last update, Dave Fons thanked us for the recap. Nice, Dave, thank you. Cyd Archer, daughter of the founder of Carousel Mountain said she had information for us about the hill. I will contact her to let her know how to send it to us and point her to our Carousel Mountain page.

Galen Walter commented on our Big M page in response to Bill Jennings that he remembers the 4:30 schuss. Bill responded to Galen that he remembers the Spaulding Sideral skis. I remember those, too, but I never had a pair. Andrew Brock said his family now owns TimberLee Hills and he would like any memorabilia anyone has from the area. Mary Henderson wants to know if Skyline is for sale. Don Shoals commented on Thunder Mountain that he remembers skiing great moguls there in the late ’70s. He said the skiing was good because it was only open on weekends and wasn’t groomed.

T. Yearego commented on our Mt. Grampian page that he would like a ticket, brochure or trail map to frame for a friend for Xmas. We hope someone was able to help him out. Mark Richardson left a couple detailed comments on our Franklin Hill page with pictures of the site, and Google Earth links, including his comments on the former locations of the lift and tow.

Dan Balluff left a comment on the Lansing Ski Club page that he taught x-c skiing there for Harold Brunvand in 78-79. Jan Harold Brunvand replied that his father, Harold Norman Brunvand, was a founding member of LCS in ’48. He remembers being taken at the age of 15 to Rollie Stebbin’s home on Morse River Rd. where Rollie had set up a rope tow in his backyard. Harold still skis 70-80 days a year at the age of 82. he now lives in Salt Lake City.

“ne” left a comment that he tried to find our Black mountain page from a link on Google, but the link didn’t work. He suspected possible government interference. I think he was being facetious, I don’t think the government would have any interest in blocking access to our site. I tried the link from Google  and it worked for me. I suggested that he go to our home page and follow the navigation bar. In case you are having the same problem, the link for the Black Mountain page is:

Please keep those comments coming to our blog and check out our Facebook page. We love to hear more about the old days (and modern days) of skiing in Michigan. We’ll try to have a year-end update out just after New Year’s with a summary of YOUR activity for the past year from WordPress and, maybe, Facebook. In the mean time, have a very Happy New Year, try to patronize Michigan ski areas, and THINK SNOW!

Bob Knox, Publisher
Michigan Lost Ski Areas Project



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MILSAP Updates, December 2, 2015


It is now officially Winter in Michigan, although the weather outside is far from wintry. Many Michigan ski areas have opened, only to close, once or multiple times, and they are waiting (im)patiently for snow-making weather. We have received 22 comments since our last update in October.

Geoff Smith left a couple comments on the Teeple Hill page in response to Tom Bullard and Cathy Gosenca Shepard. Goeff raced at Mt. Holly from 63-65 and has now retired to Colorado where he is still skiing. Speaking of Teeple Hill, Thad Sienkiewicz from the Friends of Highland Recreation Area mentioned that the docents form the Henry Ford Museum and the Edsel Ford House in Grosse Pointe visited the Haven Hill property (Henry’s farm) where the barn has been restored. This is the barn that was the lodge for Teeple Hill.

Bill Climie responded to John Baker on the Snow Valley page that his family used to camp at the nearby state park with the Knopf family from Flint in the 50’s. He remembers the lodge and the trolley. Eric Tubbs left a couple of comments on the Tyrollean Hills page. He learned to ski at age 5 at the Pinnacles and his family still owns a cottage on the property. Susan Genovesi replied to Eric that she met Billy Tubbs there a few weeks before. Rob replied to Joel on the Royal Valley page, “King’s Dive.” He also commented that he grew up three miles from the area and spent a lot of time there.

Madelyn Le Page commented on the Greenbush Inn page that her family vacationed there when she was a child and she remembers the tunnel under US-23 to get to the beach. The hotel burned in ’68. Fred L left a comment that he is looking for information of a sledding hill with toboggan runs in the Ionia area he remembers from the mid-’60’s; can anyone help him out? Randy says he just listed his home movie from ’63 on ebay with footage from Little Switzerland–anybody interested? Barb Butler confirmed that the Jack Pine Valley/Circle TNT property is for sale–anybody interested? Tammy and Michelle Tobin remembered many great times at Skyline.

Karen commented on the Mt. Grampian page to Tracey that she and Sue used to ski with her and her sister Trisha and lived very close to them. She also used to visit the old Mt. Christie area after it was closed with her brothers in the late ’70’s. She says it was on Davison Lake Rd. between M-24 and Baldwin and is now a subdivision named for the area (or the hill).

adez7 left three comments on the Fonro page. He used to patrol there in the ’70’s under Tom Straley and says he remembers Dave. Tris Harkless also was on the patrol at Fonro in the mid-’60’s. John Hurley remembers learning to ski at the Lansing Ski Club in ’67. He says he remembers it as skiing down into a hole with the lodge at the bottom.



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MILSAP Updates, October 13, 2015


It’s now mid-October and ski-swap season is upon us.  Check your local community resources to see what is available in your area. Also, ski shops are getting in their new merchandise; support your local merchants and ski areas.

We have received 12 new comments in the 6 weeks since our last update. Speaking of local merchants, Jeff @ Shaggy’s, our local ski-building company, commented that he loves our site and that Shaggy’s will be having an announcement about back-country skiing soon.

CM commented twice about skiing at Mt. Maria in the early 70’s with his middle school ski club from Oscoda. He now lives and skis in Colorado where Crested Butte reminds him most of Maria. Anton Majle left a comment on the Sugar Loaf page with a link to the Hill or Stream site on YouTube with a review and pictures of the current status of the Loaf. Charlie O commented on Norvul that they’ve made lots of improvements. Dave McDowell remarked about Iroquois Mountain that he thinks the lodge became a group home.

Jeremy said he never skied at Mt. Maplehurst, but he attended camp there and much of the equipment is still in place. He has a postcard with a view of Torch Lake in winter from the top of the hill. We asked him to please send a copy.

George Acker left 4 comments. About Nurvul he said that they have made many improvements and have a nice-looking 500′ hill. He said he learned to ski at Skyline in ’67 and in the early ’80s his wife and daughters learned to ski there. His family also skied in the ’80s at Michaywe and at Tryollean hills.

Bob Brook is doing some research on the Lansing Ski Club. So far, he has learned that it was formed in the 1940s. Apparently they acquired the land after the war and regraded it to improve the height of the hill and ski-ability of the runs. Later, when it was sold for real estate development, the land was re-graded  to the original contours. If you have any information about the history of the Lansing Ski Club, please let him (and us) know.

Please keep those comments coming to our blog and check out our Facebook page. We love to hear more about the old days (and modern days) of skiing in Michigan.

Bob Knox, Publisher
Michigan Lost Ski Areas Project

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MILSAP Updates, September 1, 2015

Well, it’s September, and labor Day and the end of Summer are rapidly approaching. We have only received a couple comments since our last post a couple weeks ago, but we have a new achievement and a couple questions from our friends.

Our achievement is that our MILSAP Facebook page reached the 500 page-likes plateau last month. If you are a Facebook member and haven’t checked it out, please do so. We often get new information from our Facebook friends and we try to share information about what is going on in Michigan.

Speaking of Facebook Friends, Scott Kurz would like to know if any of you are aware of any back-country skiing or ski touring groups that are active in Michigan. If you know of any, please respond with a comment here or on Facebook.

Back on our WordPress blog, Scott Stillings notified us on the Petoskey WSP page that the downtown bypass that destroyed the ski jumps was constructed sometime between ’62 and ’64. The jumps faced north and probably had a great view of the sand dunes that became Boyne Highlands and Nub’s Nob. The land is now the site of apartment buildings.

John Baker left a comment on the Snow Valley page about a scenic mountain ride he remembers from the mid-50’s called “The Weezil.” He says it was a red rail car on tracks with a siren and was kind of scary (remember, the was a tyke at the time). He wonders if anyone has a picture of it.

Please keep those comments coming to our blog and check out our Facebook page. We love to hear more about the old days (and modern days) of skiing in Michigan.

Bob Knox, Publisher
Michigan Lost Ski Areas Project

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MILSAP Updates, August 18, 2015

It’s been slow during the dog days of summer, with only 12 comments since we last updated you in July. This has contributed to a review of some older comments and we discovered that we had overlooked adding a page for Cole Creek, a later incarnation of the Fonro ski area. That oversight has peen corrected and we have a new lost ski area.

Tom Groenevelt advised us that on the satellite view there appear to be old ski trail cuts in the UP south of Skanee. I agree that the satellite shows the cuts, but Google terrain view shows no terrain in the area and the USGS topographic maps show a 20′ elevation change from one end of the “trails” to the other. But, please keep looking for evidence of old ski areas as you drive around Michigan or look at satellite or aerial views, old maps or road names, or hear about or see old lift equipment as you hike our hills or trails. If you find anything of interest, please let us know by making a comment or contacting us via the directions on the About MILSAP page.

Dave Fons commented on MILSAP Updates that he thought we might have been looking for south-facing slopes (to grow grapes) instead of east or north-facing slopes to hold snow. I’m not sure if he is referring to our attempts to locate Fonro or some other place. Dave, was Fonro named for the Fons and Rowe families?

Jeffrey Kurns like our non-committal response about why we do this. If we figure that out, we’ll let you know.

Scott Stillings liked our mention of the ski jumps at the Petoskey Winter Sports Park. Apparently they were removed when the land bridge was constructed to “bypass” downtown above the marina. (When was that, Scott?) He says the jumps were featured on the festival pins from 1934-1960.

Don Klosterman says the last time he was at Barn Mountain/Avalanche Peak was around 2000 when he was shooting his bow on the archery range. Anton Malje left a couple comments on the Sugar Loaf page with links to news articles about the lack of progress in re-opening the area. He also commented on the Caberfae page about the (just passed) deadline for early season pass prices. Many areas around Michigan are offering pre-season discounts for season passed–the earlier, the better price–check them out.

Tom Paluska left a very nice comment on the Kandahar page that he now lives in Colorado and has skied many great places around the world, but he learned to ski at Kandahar. Alex wondered if dirt-biking or quad-running were permitted at the old Skyline site. Gary Gariglio, the current owner, was kind enough to reply that, if people ask, he gives permission to hikers, bikers, sledders, x-cers, horseback riders, and geocachers. He and his friends occasionally ride dirt bikes or 4-wheelers there, but the topsoil is thin and the substrate is sand, so it wouldn’t hold up to much abuse.

Please keep those comments coming. When you share your memories, you are keeping the history of skiing in Michigan alive.

Robert Knox, Publisher
Michigan Lost Ski Areas Project.

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MILSAP Updates, July 20, 2015

It’s been two months since our last update and we have received 14 new comments. It is now well into summer in Michigan and prime time to visit those “lost” ski areas to hike the trails and explore the woods for archaeological remains. Be sure to watch out for ticks!

Dan Sampson left a comment on our Fonro page that his band, The Country Cousins, had played the lodge in ’75. Scott Hopkins said that he first skied (and first saw a real snowboard) at Canadian Lakes in ’89 or ’90. He returned there the following year, but the lifts were not running, so they sledded and snurfed. He left his comment in the Milsap Updates comments and I will move it to the Canadian Lakes page.

Carolyn Nye Boyd left a memorial comment on the Skyline page for her mother, Mary Lou, wife of the former owner, who passed away on  Memorial Day this year.

Emilio commented on our Kandahar page that he raced there once in ’95, his only race. Michael Hodges left memories of skiing at Dryden with his cousins. He remembers them racing (he was too young), the goat, and staying in the bunkhouse. Joe Nanney commented about Circle TNT that his father and uncles owned the place. He grew up there working and racing motocross in the summer. They just called it “the lodge.”

Torr Williams has some great memories about growing up in the Briar Hill area. Cyd Archer, daughter of the former owners of Carousel Mountain, left a comment in the MILSAP Updates comments. I will move it to the Carousel Mountain page. She has just donated a lot of memorabilia to the Thiel Research Center at Hope College which is part of the joint archives of Holland, Michigan. She has more information about Carousel and other “lost” areas that her father helped develop, like Mt. Christie. I have tried to contact her, but the email address I used isn’t working. I will try to find a correct one.

Bob Sisco sent a link to a Poma ad for Walloon Hills. Bill Endres says he would like to get us a picture of Chainsaw Mtn near Maple city. I will see if I can get it from him. Pat Dorsey left a comment about Mont Gabriel in the Milsap Updates area. I will move it to the Mont Gabriel page. Mike commented on Indianhead that both Indianhead and Blackjack are now owned by the same developer. They sell a combined ticket and run shuttles between the areas.

Monica Farrier left a comment on the Village Inn page that she is the new owner. She commented on the history and said she has information about the “baby Poma” and left a link to more information about the history of this resort.

Finally, Dave Fons asked “Why are you doing this?” Dave, I’ll let you know when I figure that out.

Bob Knox, Publisher
Michigan Lost Ski Areas Project

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