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.