Silverbell Village Ski Area – Lake Orion

Now a housing development? No, maybe now a brownfield development, being cleaned up to become corporate offices.

The City of Auburn Hills Brownfield Redevelopment Authority apparently thinks Silverbell  was near the north west corner of Adams and Dutton Rds. in modern Auburn Hills. They say it was purchased by Bookmeyer and Gardner in the early 1960’s as undeveloped land and built into Silverbell. The developers accepted fill; including foundry sand, scrap metal, and 40-gal drums; to increase the size of the hill. Silver Bell closed in the late 1960’s and part of the land was used as a landfill in the 1970’s, apparently without complying fully with then current and very lax regulations. The site has been dormant since the landfill closed in 1979.

Yvonne Gursin passed on a scan of a booklet she found in her grandfather’s papers. It was published in September, 1966 by Ritter Productions and called “Where to Go, What to Do On a Weekend.” It said the area had 5 northeast facing slopes serviced by 2 T-bars and 5 ropetows. They had night skiing, rentals, a ski school directed by Kurt Ramel, a skating rink, a two storey, glass and timber lodge with two “massive” fireplaces, dining room and cafeteria, and nightly dancing in the tavern. They had parking for 2300 cars. This assessment is shared by the AAA 1966 Guide to Winter Fun in Michigan printed in The Cass City Chronicle on Feb. 3 of that year.

Silverbell Village Ski Resort

The booklet places the area at 4385 Bald Mtn. Rd., west of the road. This is about 1000 ft. south of Dutton Rd. and 1 mi. south of E. Silverbell Rd. The satellite shows a large brown field with heavy equipment marks and the topo map shows no remains of any elevation. This location is about 1.5 mi. west of the location listed by the city.

The Detroit Free Press on October 27, 1968 lists Silverbell as a ski area that ceased operation the previous season. However, it may have operated as a concert venue after that time/

On Dec. 20, 1969, the Silverbell Ski Lodge in Pontiac (sic) was scheduled to host a concert featuring Fleetwood Mac, backed by (among other groups) Pink Floyd. Steve Burrows, who played keyboard for the Mushrooms remembers playing at Silver Bell. Bob Seger apparently played Silver Bell several times in 1967-69. At least one person remembers Silver Bell as being on Bald Mtn. Rd. which would agree with Ms Gursin’s booklet.

If you have any memories of skiing (or concerts) at Silverbell, please post them or send them to us using the instructions on the About MILSAP page like Yvonne Gursin did.

39 Responses to Silverbell Village Ski Area – Lake Orion

  1. My first concert experience was Spencer Davis Group@ Silverbell. You had to be 16yr. to get in. Inside the hall, you find yourself body to body, yet able to enjoy the closeness of the band playing. I remember Steve Winwood dropped his microphone stand on the first row of people. They popped it back up to him and the band never missed a beat. Steve Winwood is an incredible musician. I always felt fortunate that I able to experience the Silverbell scene. I remember the glow of the roaring fire that destroyed an incredible ski resort and a most popular rock and roll hang out for us children of the 60’s. What a beautiful place Silverbell resort was!!!

    • Dan Goff says:

      Lynn, I was at the same concert and thoroughly ENJOYED it; lived out in Commerce and it was quite a distance to go for a concert. I also enjoyed concerts at Mt Holly. Thanks for the Memories of SILVERBELL! Dan Goff

  2. Kathy says:

    I went there several times during high school. It wasn’t far from my house. Going east on Silverbell, we turned left onto Bald Mountain Rd. For the life of me, I can’t remember who we saw there. We were more interested in who was attending, than who was playing!

    I do remember the corner of Adams and Silverbell was the site of a fatal accident for a classmate going home from the Ski Lodge.

  3. Dave says:

    Dave from Clarkston, saw Bob Seger System on New Year’s eve for $3 each! Awesome!

  4. Howard Barlow says:

    I saw Bob Seger at Silverbell in 1968. I stood about 3 feet away from him as he sang Heavy Music. I can still see him as the young man he was.

  5. Greg Carpenter says:

    The shows at the Hideout read like a who’s who of early detroit rock and roll, being brought up in the late 60’s in Utica we often ventured into the woods for them, times were crazy in the late 60’s out at Silverbell, or in town at the Eastown or Grande Ballrooms with there more national bands. Life was good, times were easier and much more freedom was allowed.

  6. Jon Palmitier says:

    The 4385 Bald Mtn. Rd. address seems about right per my recollection. I skied there once in the
    spring of 1965 and received a whale of a sunburn. The top of the lift could be viewed from M-24
    (Lapeer Rd.) for some time after the area closed. Subsequently, the hill was excavated to look to be a huge hollow spot, as it gave way to commercial development along M-24.

    • detroit57 says:

      I remember going there once, might have been the 1965-1967 time frame. The hill was only maybe 125 feet of vertical (+/-) and it faced east, running downhill away from M-24. It was just a big open slope, sort of a ridge along the east side of M-24. I remember it wasn’t nearly as large as Alpine Valley was at that time, back when it only had 2 or 3 chairlifts, a couple of t-bars, and some rope tows. I was only age 8-10 at the time.

  7. haha…I had many a good time t silverbell…skied there severl times but really didn’t like t bars or rope tows…pity it was built on a pile of garbage and the snow wouldn’t stick…saw many a concert, danced with many girls and generally ahd a blast…

  8. Thom Hartung says:

    It was definitely off Bald Mountain Rd south of Dutton. I grew up about a mile away in Pontiac Township long before it became Auburn Hills. It’s part of an industrial park now. My first live rock n roll experience was at Silverbell in Oct 67 when I saw the Amboy Dukes. After that it was Katie bar the door. I saw Seger, Iggy, Alice Cooper, the Frost, SRC, just an incredible place to warp impressionable youth. Most nights were $2 and never more than $5 (I think Silver Apples got $5 for their brand of synthesizer rock). Sorry to see my ancestral homeland obliterated by modernity but stuff happens.

  9. Rick Schlaud says:

    Silverbell was the place to see and hear local rock and roll bands in the late 1960’s. The Frost, Savage Grace, Bob Seger, Alice Cooper, Frigid Pink, MC5, Sunday Funnies, SRC, the Stooges, this list goes on and on. There were usually 3 bands every Saturday night, 2 upstairs and 1 downstairs, what a great place to see the bands, meet girls, and dance.

  10. John says:

    Parents use to take us here (Silver-bell) it’s where I learned how to ski. 1960’s.

  11. Chuck says:

    I was born in the early 80’s and about a decade ago my friends and I used to go out to Silverbell Village or as we called it the “abandoned ski-lodge”. It was a delapitated building that had at one time an all glass second story view towards the hills to the west where remnents of ski-lifts or lights were on the hill. When we were there it was merely an open floor with just the framing that would have held the windows in. Downstairs had many rooms that looked like living quarters. I remember a giant stone chimney fireplace in the center of the building. Also if we walked along a stream that was out front, east of the building, there was a maintenace garage that still had repair equipment and an old plow truck in it. Due to how creepy it was we used to go there we went alot to scare our friends or impress girls when we were in high school. It’s cool to read the previous posts and think about the concerts and musicians that played were i probably was standing while exploring around.

  12. WaltF says:

    Detroit Edison (DTE) Aerial from 1967

    Click to access 4583-1667.pdf

  13. Gordon Hunter says:

    I used to take my girlfriend to Silverbell after the ski resort closed.
    We saw music groups such as Friend & Lover, Bob Seager, Tower of Power, Amboy Dukes among others.
    The massive field stone fireplace always had a fire on the lower level.
    The chairs of the chairlift were gone but the towers and cables were there and the slopes were light at night and snow covered.
    The parking lot was a huge unpaved lot that was lowere then Silverbell Road and during snowy nights it sometimes was difficult getting my car to the paved roadway.
    I remember also the black light posters on the walls that always looked cool.
    There were never any issues and the stage on the upper level was standing room only with the music loud and always great.
    I graduated from Farmington Senior High School in 1969 and on Saturday nights during the winter Silverbell was the place to be.
    I think it closed after about 1 year.
    I remember driving there one night to find it dark and abandoned.
    Great memories!!

  14. Norman Graham says:

    Spent many weekends as a teen (1967 thru 1970) at Silver Bell
    Remember seeing Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes, Brownsville Station, the Sunday Funnies, Bob Segar System, MC5, Frigid Pink, Grand Funk Railroad
    To name a few

  15. pete bechard says:

    What a way to grow up,going to Rochester High, living off Orion Rd. & Gunn rd.
    That place opened my eye’s to the Detroit music. Scott Richard, Third Power,
    Bob Segar, Iggy Pop and much more.. I t was like a club for the young artists and
    people with no pressure..just good times !!

  16. Paul says:

    As Chuck mentioned above, my friends and i also used to frequent the “The Lodge” in the early 90’s and even at that time was a shell of what it once was. No windows, dirt floor in the lower-level, chunks of concrete strewn about, what looked to be the tow-rope access in the lower-level, the maintenance garage with equipment still in it, the heavy machinery parked in what was probably once the parking lot. A mess. Now gone but we had many memories of exploring The Lodge after a night at the bar!

  17. mark kimmerly says:

    anybody have any pics of silverbell?

  18. Tim Gardner says:

    I remember the great snowstorm of 67 and being snowed in at Silverbell for 2 days, It was so much fun

  19. Daryl turcott says:

    New video up showing silverbell now.

    • pecohelp says:

      Yes the Silverbell Ski Lodge was located on the south west corner of Dutton Rd and Bald Mtn Rd. Back then Dutton Rd ended at Bald Mtn Rd. I believe Dutton was expanded west to M24 in 2001. If you look at Google Maps satellite image of that corner you can see what I believe is remnants of the parking lot. Also at that time it was Pontiac Township not Auburn Hills. If you come across any pictures please post. I’m trying to find aerial pictures.

  20. Dave Sherwood says:

    Here is a list of, possibly, all the groups who had performed at Silverbell, courtesy of

  21. Mark Kimmerly says:

    Hi. Anybody have any pics of Silverbell. They are rare as hens teeth
    Cheers. Mark k

  22. Patrick.m.griffin says:

    Where to start? A memorable piece of my high school history. The ski lodge, sited far down a precarious and slippery drive, operated as an alcohol free teen music venue from about 67 until maybe 70 or 71. In the late sixties, it was madly popular with teens from all over Oakland county, invariably packed with hormonally raging teens writhing and shouting, evocative of the lemur rave in Madagascar. Though alcohol free, the bar served coke with the fake alcohol flavoring of your choice, which we considered the height of chic. I never saw any illegal drugs there in those innocent days.
    Some improbably famous groups played there, though likely not as famous then as later. The Spencer Davis group, Fleetwood Mac, Mitch Ryder. A perennial act was the many incarnations of Bob Seger (the Lost Herd ring any bells?), and occasionally The Rationals, The Unrelated Segments and Harry Perry and the Grass Roots Movement. That last may have been a hip drug reference that went over my innocent head.
    I recall vividly a group of uncertain provenace that played there once in about 68, the unforgettably named Popcorn Blizzard. The lead singer was long haired and obese, improbably hyper kinetic, and with a spiraling multi octave operatic range that would have made Freddy Mercury envious. Only decades later with the advent of Rocky Horror did I realize that it was Meatloaf. Word.

  23. Hilary Gardner says:

    My father was Thomas Gardner, the developer/owner. I have some photos. I will try to track them down! Now that he’s gone, it’s so nice to read about all the wonderful memories people have about their times at Silverbell. It was pre-snowmaking machines or it would have survived! After Silverbell, he went on to develop the Silverdome for the Lions. Thus, the name Silverdome. I bet noone knew that!!

  24. Tony Hart says:

    I was only 16years old, and a friend I was skydiving with ask if I had ever been to a concert.I told him no and that night in 1969 he took me to Silverbell Ski Resort to see Bob Seger. I loved the show, but I felt like I had lost my hearing. WOW! After that night I was hooked on concerts. Went to MT. Holly also. To me the ski lodge concerts were the best EVER!

  25. Bob Fischer says:

    Use this website and you can easily get a vintage aerial view of the location (4385 Bald Mtn. Rd) and structures.

  26. mark kimmerly says:

    Hi All,
    still on my mission to view any pics of Silverbell ski lodge…

  27. Barbara Hein says:

    I saw Bob Seger there when I was 17. That was 1967. I fell in love with him, when I was standing right in front of the stage he was on, and he knocked over the microphone and it bumped my head. He touched my head and apologized.
    He was so gorgeous with his long dark hair.
    Never had another opportunity to see him live since then.

  28. DANNY A DELAP says:

    I met my wife there in 1967. We married in 1970 and Silver Bell holds a lot of memories
    for me and her both. The bands were great but meeting my wife was the best thing that ever
    happened to me there. We will be married 50 years this April and I can still remember the night we met. We still reminisce about the good old Silver Bell day’s. Over the years we have drove passed where Silver Bell was located. I realize you can’t stop progress but it still a shame that Silver Bell couldn’t have lasted forever.

  29. Tim Gardner says:

    Panic and the Pack was the band for the Great Snow Blizzard of 1967 where we all got snowed in for 2 days with only logs in the fireplace for heat. George and Wally owned the dances and were friends of Bob Seger. Thats why he was there so many times

  30. Rick says:

    I have a photo of a poster for a Bob Seger concert there. Facebook page the 60’s $ early 70’s DETROIT rock scene.

  31. Lise A Spencer says:

    I saw Bob Seger at the Silverbell Ski Lodge in the late 1960’s. It was awesome. I went there often with friends. We loved to dance.

  32. William Chancey says:

    I went there very often when I was in late teens , I am 70 now Bands played upstairs and down stairs. I saw Ted Nugent do Journey to the Center of the Mind before it was a record , MC5 and a lot of great bands . I had black lights and posters throughout the whole place. Smoked my first joint on the parking lot

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