Oxbow Club and Ski Area – Lucerne

I have an old USGS topo map for Red Oak which shows a ski tow near the west bank of the South Branch of the Au Sable River, just north of Smith’s Bridge. This seems to have been a private estate, just north of the Mason Tract–a plot of more than a thousand acres donated to the state by George Mason, a former executive of Nash Kelvinator Corp., a Detroit automobile producer which later became part of American Motors. Mason had acquired the land from Billy Durant, the founder of General Motors, who had built a large Tudor mansion on the property (referred to locally as Durant’s Castle) which burned down before it could be occupied.

The land north of the highway remained private but appears to have been part of a large estate as directly across the river from the ski tow is a private airstrip, marked on current maps as Kelley’s Airport.

In an old (1970’s) book of Michigan County Maps from MUCC, I found a dot representing the Oxbow Club and Ski Area at this location. Apparently the club is still in operation, although I assume the skiing operations ceased long ago. The satellite still shows a ski slope scar on the hillside west of the river.

If you have any information about skiing at the Oxbow Club, please post it here or send it to us via the directions on the About MILSAP page.

2 Responses to Oxbow Club and Ski Area – Lucerne

  1. John R. Haggerty says:

    Let me know about your project and who you are by addressing to my personal
    e-mail address, and I will provide more information re: the ski hill you mentioned.
    A lot of history re: this area. Mason owned the boathouse located
    by bridge directly across from ski hill still occupied by current owners.
    Airport ground is now owned by U.S.
    Remnants of the tow are still visible.

  2. Ed J Baudoux says:

    I have a friend who lived on part of the Oxbow property as caretaker for a few years, and another who ran the rope tow as a young man. The caretaker told me that he had hosted several new years parties there, and sledding the old hill was part of the fun. “Nobody ever made it to the bottom”.

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