Lost Areas #3 - Published 17 August 1992
Greetings from THE COLORADO SKIER
During early July('92) there were several newsgroup (rec.skiing) posts from several folks concerning closed Colorado ski areas. Researching lost Colorado ski areas just happens to be the hobby of The Colorado Skier. We even wrote a book on the subject (Would you believe a pamphlet? How about a typewritten list?).
The Colorado Skier is prepared to clarify the history and status of every dead or lost ski area in Colorado. There are at least 75 of them. But that's too many for one posting. So we will pick 5 from the 20 or so discussed in the recent series of articles and provide info on them. Then we will also add five new areas to challenge your collective memories.
If we discuss 10 dead/lost ski areas every week or so, we should have covered them all by the time the snow flies and then can turn our attention to current ski area info.
EDITOR'S REMARKS: Thanks for the feedback on Newsletter Edition #2. Lots of good input, which is discussed under follow-up news in Section 3.)
LOST COLORADO SKI AREAS - EDITION #3 - August 17, 1992
1. Five lost ski areas you have been discussing:
IDLEWILD (Winter Park), [closed 1986], Located in the town of Hideaway Park a few miles north of the Winter Park ski area. There is still a highway sign pointing the way, probably to current cross-country operations. Operated from 1960 to 1986. Usually called SKI IDLEWILD. [note that the town of "Hideaway Park" seems to have disappeared from most maps - apparently merged with or was renamed "Winter Park".]
Vertical drop: 400 ft Top: 9100 Base: 8700
Lifts: 1 double chair, 1 Poma
PIKES PEAK (on Pikes Peak), [closed 1984], Operated most years from 1939 to 1984 (did not operate in the 66/67 & 80/81 seasons). The area received expansion permission from the NFS and water rights (for snowmaking) in 1978. A triple chair was added for the 1982/83 season and the vertical drop was increased from 270 feet to 900 feet. Snowmaking was installed. However, the area went "bankrupt" (not true - see next issue) after the 1983/84 season. The chairlift was repossessed by the manufacturer. One sad aspect of this situation is that the new runs were only used for two seasons. What a waste of trees! It will take 100 years or more for them to grow back, at that altitude. This may be the same area called GLEN COVE in the forties.
Vertical drop: 900 ft Top: 11,700 Base: 10,800
Lifts: 1 triple chair, 1 rope tow
ST. MARY'S GLACIER (Idaho Springs), [closed 1986], Located 7 miles north of I-70 on the "Fall River Rd" west of Idaho Springs. Operated on and off from the late thirties to 1986. The current equipment was installed in the fifties. Also known as SILVER LAKE (mid 70's), SILVER MOUNTAIN (1979/80), SKI ST. MARY'S (early 70's), and once as SKI ST. MARY'S GLACIAL ICE (!). This area was famous early on (circa 1938, 39) for an annual Fourth of July ski race, probably on the glacier itself, not at the current ski area location.
Vertical drop: 675 ft Top: 10,955 Base: 10,280
Lifts: 1 t-bar, 2 Mitey Mites
SHARKTOOTH (Greeley), [closed], Located on a sandstone bluff a few miles west and one mile north of Greeley (on county road 25). Operated from 1971 to 1986. Sometimes open for sledding and tubing. Lowest base altitude of any ski area in Colorado. Owner Dick Perchlik once stated: "30 feet of our hill is as good as anything in the Alps" !!!
Vertical drop: 150 ft Top: 4750 Base: 4600
Lifts: 1 pony lift
SQUAW PASS (Bergen Park), [closed 1975], Small area on Hiway 103 west of Bergen Park and 4 miles west of "Squaw Pass". Top of the lift is at highway level, on the north side of the road. Operated from 1962 to 1975. At one time (1988) a religious group was thinking of buying and reopening it. Hard to find.
Vertical drop: 700 ft Top: 9000 Base: 8300
Lifts: 1 t-bar, 1 rope tow
2. And here are the Ski Area Descriptions from our last post:
CLOUD CITY SKI CLUB (Leadville), [obscure], Visible in south Leadville (Stringtown) along U.S. 24 near Colorado Mtn College for the last several years. About 150 feet of vertical, one rope tow. We used to call the area LEADVILLE in our data base, but in Dec 1991 there was a sign saying "Cloud City Ski Club".
Vertical drop: 150 ft Top: Base: 9,900 (est.)
Lifts: 1 rope tow
INDIAN MOUNTAIN (near Como), [obscure], Associated with the Indian Mountain recreational housing development located 5 miles southeast of Hiway 285. Two surface lifts, several trails, circa 1979. We saw the trails from the air in 1979. Appeared on the 1980 State of Colorado hiway map. It is not known if this area ever actually operated. The Colorado Skier has a brochure which shows one poma, one pony lift, and 5 trails.
KENDALL MOUNTAIN (Silverton), [closed], Appears on many maps, frequently misspelled as "Kendal". Operated during the mid-sixties to mid-seventies. The slope is visible about one mile southeast of the town of Silverton on the flanks of "Kendall Mtn".
Vertical drop: 200 ft Top: 9300 Base: 9100 (est.)
Lifts: 1 t-bar (night skiing)
LITTLE ANNIE (BASIN) (Aspen), [planned], Adjacent to and south of "Aspen Mtn". Appears as "Annie Basin" on NFS maps. A new ski area was in the serious planning stages in 1979 by an independent developer but was never built due to lack of financing. Aspen Skiing Co. sometimes talks of expanding Aspen Mountain into the basin and they have run snowcat tours into the Little Annie terrain. A 1965 Ski Magazine ski area guide lists LITTLE ANNIE as a snowcat area. No recent development news.
MARBLE (Marble), [closed 1974], Located about two miles north of Marble. Operated with snowcats in the 1971-72 season. Opened with a chairlift in 1972 for two seasons. The area planned to add two more chairlifts for the 1974/75 season but failed to open. Never popular with the Forest Service, the town of Marble, or the public. Was built on a geologically unsound area subject to landslides. (Another faithful reader reported that air pollution in the narrow canyon was also a problem.)
Vertical drop: 1050 ft Top: 9800 Base: 8750
Lifts: 1 double chair
3. Follow up to Edition #2
a. One of our faithful readers reports having seen the rope tow at CHAUTAUQUA PARK in Boulder during the winter of 1956/57. Says it was run by the Jr Chamber of Commerce and was also used by tubers and toboggans. Neato! This is a record to shoot at. The Colorado Skier's earliest "visual" on a dead ski area is SKI BROADMOOR in 1962.
b. Thanks to a faithful California reader (how's it shaking?) for pointing out another ski area which is located in a national park. LASSEN NATIONAL PARK SKI AREA is located in Lassen Volcanic National Park. (how do you wax for cinders?)
For the record:
LASSEN (note: now closed)
Vertical drop: 600 ft Top: 7200 Base: 6600
Lifts: 1 triple chair, 2 rope tows
BADGER PASS (in Yosemite National Park)
Vertical drop: 800 ft Top: 8000 Base: 7200
Lifts: 4 chairs (1 triple), 2 surface lifts
c. Yes, there was a typo in the BERTHOUD PASS phantom elevations write-up. In paragraph 5, after "Heard enuff?", it should read ".... was reporting a base altitude of 11,022 feet which is 300 feet below the base lodge ...." We told you their numbers were crazy - so weird that even our highly paid crack team of historians, analysts, statisticians (and one English major) can't keep track of the data. Actually, after further study and reflection, a staff member concluded that 11,022 feet is the altitude of the UPPER shuttle bus stop. How would you like to ski 300 feet of vertical in 30 seconds and then wait 30 minutes for the bus? (We hope we have added enough fluff to the correction to cover up the fact that The Colorado Skier actually made a mistake.) :-)
d. RIST CANYON - Some questions, but no new data yet, stand by.
e. In Edition #2 we mentioned that SKI BROADMOOR also had an elevation fiasco and after zero, none, nada, zippo, no requests to explain that story, we will do it anyway. For many years, Ski Broadmoor reported its data as Top: 6800 ft, Base: 6200 ft, and Vertical drop: 600 ft. One day we were looking at a topo map and observed that the 6200 ft contour was almost at Hiway 115, about a mile east and considerably downhill from the Broadmoor base. Also 6800 ft was just above the Cheyenne Mtn Zoo parking lot, which one drives thru on the way (slightly downhill) to the base of the ski area. Something was amiss. So we dropped a postcard to the Broadmoor Hotel, outlining our findings. The following season, the elevation data had miraculously changed, as follows.
Top: 7084 ft, Base: 6569 ft, and Vertical Drop: 515 ft.
Ever vigilant, we remain your faithful servant, The Colorado Skier.
f. We were paging thru the original "Closed Colorado Ski Areas" newsgroup posts from early July and noticed questions about the current status of CONQUISTADOR, CUCHARA VALLEY, and POWDERHORN. In case you have missed (why?) our companion posts called "What's New for 92 at Colorado Ski Areas", Good News - all three areas WILL be open for the upcoming (92/93) season.
4. Who remembers these Lost Colorado Ski Areas?
(from the marvelous and magnificent "M" collection)
- MEADOW MOUNTAIN
- MESA CREEK
- MONTEZUMA BASIN
And the list goes on and on and on ...
5. Answer to the Edition #2 Bonus Question - The question was: "Name four (4) former Colorado ski area GONDOLAs which have been removed or replaced".
VAIL: The very first gondola (4-place) in Colorado was installed at Vail, in Dec, 1962. It ran from the main base to mid-Vail. It was removed and replaced by a double chair to the bottom of Chair 2 in 1976 and eventually by a high-speed quad chair (the Vista Bahn) back up to mid-Vail in 1985. The lower gondola terminal now has skier services and shops on the lower level and the most expensive condominium in Vail on the upper level (once owned by Australian Alan Bond of "America's Cup" yachting fame). Note that this is NOT the gondola that dropped a few cars and killed several skiers back in the mid-seventies. That gondola, at Lions Head, is STILL operating (closed in 1996). Good luck! (Try not to ride with Claudine Longet!)
CRESTED BUTTE: Their gondola just missed the honor of being the first in Colorado by opening a few days after Vail's, in Jan, 1963. This was an old three passenger gondola wisely discarded by an Italian ski area. The brightly colored egg shaped gondola cars were very pretty but were also very cramped, even for three people. The cars had no bumpers and after a few years sported patches on the round parts where the cars collided (we hope they collided only in the stations!). The entire lift was replaced by the "Silver Queen" bubble-top double chair in 1973. The old gondola cars are collector's items.
STEAMBOAT: Opened their first six-passenger gondola in 1970. It was built tram style with only two intermediate towers and great long traverses 100 feet above the ground. Europeans, who are used to trams, were reputed to be afraid to ride it. It was replaced by the eight-passenger "Silver Bullet" gondola (lower, more towers) in 1986.
KEYSTONE: Opened their spiffy new "River Run" six-passenger gondola ("the continent's longest and largest capacity") at the new "River Run" base area in 1984. However, Keystone was unhappy with the performance and safety and tore it down in 1986 after only two years of operation. (We wonder if it is still operating at some unsuspecting area in the midwest!) The new "Skyway" six-passenger gondola opened in the same place in 1986 and is still operating. We note that altho the ski area brochures clearly showed a different looking gondola in 1986, Keystone made no mention (other than the name change) of the fact that the gondola had been replaced. (We just happened to wander by and discover all the old gondola cars in the parking lot in the summer of 86, and subsequently sniffed out the story.)
6. New Bonus Questions: Which ski area had the first quad chair in Colorado? Which ski area had the first detachable (hi-speed) quad chair in Colorado? Which area had the first "six-pack" (6 passengers) chairlift in Colorado?
"Skiing is not a way of life, it's much more important than that!" (The Summit Sentinel, 1986)
Cheers from THE COLORADO SKIER