In 1958, Sports Illustrated reported a 1200′ t-bar with a 300′ rise, and 5 ropes. New for 1958 were 3 rope tows, the lodge with locker room and bar, a new trail, lights for Friday night skiing and hi-fi skiing music.
In a Consumers Power brochure from about 1959 listing top ski areas in the northern lower peninsula, they state that Mt. Mancelona was located 1.5 miles north of Mancelona on US 131. It has 10 runs plus x-c trails, a t-bar and 2 tows, with instruction, rentals and snacks available in the club house.
In 1961, Sports Illustrated reported Mancelona had added a 1200′ Poma double chairlift with a 275′ rise and 2 new slopes with a 275′ drop, one 1200′ and one 1700′.
The Cass City Chronicle, on Dec. 10, 1970, printed the AAA Michigan 1971 Guide to Winter Sports Fun. It listed Mt. Mancelona as having 10 runs and 2 trails from 300′ to 3000′, an Austrian T-bar, Poma lift, 5 tows. They also had a tournament hill (racing?) and a dishpan hill. I had to look this last one up as I had never heard of “dishpanning.”
Dishpanning originated in the area of Newago. It seems the Indians who lived there when the fur traders were traversing the state trading European goods for furs had received dishpans (large, flat ones) from the traders. Not knowing what to do with them, the women wore them as ornaments, but soon tired of carrying the heavy things around their necks. The dishpans were put away. That winter, the Braves and Squaws were having fun sliding down the snow on local dunes or hills using boards. (I do not know it this activity pre-dated European influence or if Native Americans developed skiing independently.) One of the Squaws went home and came back with her dishpan and used it to slide down the hill, far outdistancing the Braves with their boards. Soon everyone was sliding down the hill on their dishpans. I have located several versions of this story (1, 2, 3), but all seem to agree upon the source of the dishpans and the location of the first event. None are specific about the year.
Some of the dishpan accounts credit the name of Newago to the dishpanning activity. One even states that the Squaw who originated it shouted NEW-WAY-GO as she slid down the hill. This sounds pretty far-retched. Other sources say Newago was named for Ojibwe Chief Naw-wa-goo, a signatory of the Treaty of Saginaw, or for a Native American word meaning “much water.”
Newago is about 125 mi. south of Mancelona. How did Mt. Mancelona come to have a dishpanning hill? If you know, or even if you remember dishpanning or skiing at Mt. Mancelona, please post your information or send it to us via the directions on the About MILSAP page.
Apparently Mt. Mancelona closed around 1985. Here is a link to a video of riding the partially restored T-bar at Mt. Mancelona.
We want to thank Karl Mertz for sending us this link to a documentary about the current status of Mt. Mancelona produced at Central Michigan University and published on Teton Gravity Research. Click here to view the 17-min video which includes scenes of skiing and snowboarding, the refurbishing of the aged T-bar and the old lodge which has been converted into a residence.