On November 11, 2012, Roc Roney posted the following comment on our About MILSAP page informing us of a NEW lost ski area, Vernier Hill.
From the late 1960s to mid 70s we skied on the east side of the N slope of Vernier Hill and sledded on the west side. It was actually a mound, elevation less than 50+ feet above the street and reportedly formed from soils removed while excavating a stretch of I-94 along Harper Road a few miles to the west. It loomed above the distinctive but not so celebrated Vernier School which Albert Kahn designed in 1915 along with the Village Offices just to the east (http://www.gphistorical.org/league03.html). By the 60’s, the school building was used for storage and as a polling place and it was razed during the 1980s. The school and adjacent road were named for the Vernier Family, original french settlers and “Strip Farmers” of the property. The land continues to be used for municipal purposes and is located at the corner of Vernier Road and Lake Shore Drive in the city of the Village of Grosse Pointe Shores, Wayne County, Mi.
Back then, Stan Vernier and his wife Marge still lived in the family farm-house right next to the village building. Stan worked for the Village. He and his crew maintained the streets, parks and harbor improvements. They did it all, from weekly refuse pick-up (in 3 wheeled scooters) to regular street washing during the peak of fish fly season. When snow fell they plowed the streets and swept the sidewalks clean. Upon request they would clear ice rinks on Lake St. Clair for us. They also started up the rope tow on the hill, while we would trip and replug in the tether ourselves. I recall them making snow using the two below-grade water connections located on the N slope. These guys were my heroes.
The big kids taught me to ski on Vernier Hill. Later, during the freestyle boom they built jumps and perfected their back-scratchers and daffys. Even the sledders had their thrills. Like most good sled slopes, Vernier Hill featured a few trees within the run out where I saw stars on more than one occasion.
I assume that it was a sign of the times and the advice of attorneys and insurance auditors that forced the Village to mitigate the risk associated with Vernier Hill. Rope tow service was discontinued in the 70’s and sometime in the 80’s the top 1/3 or so of the mound was excavated leaving a less than thrilling sledding incline barely discernible from the lawn mower tracks on Google Earth.
We thank Roc for his historical information about this former tow-served municipal ski area. Although shorter than it used to be, it still appears on a list of sledding hills in the Detroit area. If anyone has more information about tow-served skiing at Vernier Hill, please leave a comment or send it to us via the directions on the About MILSAP page.