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Lost Areas #9 - Published 9 Feb 1993

Greetings from THE COLORADO SKIER
 

Researching "lost" Colorado ski areas is the hobby of THE COLORADO
SKIER. We are 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 pick 5 lost ski areas for
each edition and provide location, statistics, and a little history on
each area. Then we challenge you to remember five new ones.

ATTENTION Lost Planet Airmen: If you have a limited interest in old
Colorado ski areas, check out our separately posted companion articles
entitled: "THE COLORADO SKIER - TRIVIA" (with skiing trivia
questions) and "THE COLORADO SKIER - SKI NEWS" (current ski news).
 

LOST COLORADO SKI AREAS - EDITION #9 (9 February 1993)
 

EDITOR'S REMARKS:

A. We took a lot of static about including HOWELSEN HILL as a lost
ski area in our last post. All right, we made a mistake - but not, by
our rules, a very big one. Several of you used statements like "It's
not even Closed" and "I just read their snow report". Guess What! A
ski area doesn't have to be closed to be on our "Lost" list.

A further discussion on how HOWELSEN HILL came to be listed appears in
Section 5. A list of the seven categories we divide lost ski areas
into is contained in Section 6.

B. Thanks for the continued interest in lost ski areas. Altho we
understandably receive many more responses from the "Trivia" series,
LOST #8 did have the highest response to date for "Lost". It's partly
due to some of you actually guessing about the five "new" lost areas.
More fun for you and us!

 


1. FIVE MORE LOST COLORADO SKI AREAS

{Copyright 1993, The Colorado Skier. May not be reproduced in whole
or in part without expressed "written" consent.}
 

CUCHARA BASIN (La Veta), [closed], Located 11 miles south of the
town of La Veta about two miles north of the location of the current
CUCHARA VALLEY ski area. Operated from about 1963 to 1971. Also
called CUCHARA SKI BASIN. Listed in 1964 AAA guide as a weekend area.
[Note1: CUCHARA VALLEY, first known as PANADERO, opened in 1981.]
[Note2: The property on which the former Cuchara Basin is located is
owned by Red Groom, who formerly owned the Denner Nuggets (NBA), and
now (we believe) owns the Minnesota Vikings (NFL).]
Vertical drop: 285 ft Top: 8885 Base: 8600
Lifts: 1 platterpull
 

HOWELSEN HILL (Steamboat Springs), [open, small], One of the first
important ski areas in Colorado. Opened with a "boat tow" in 1934.
Located across the river from downtown Steamboat Springs. The lifts
serve the ski jumps. This is the most important ski jumping hill in
Colorado. Named after Carl Howelsen, a Colorado ski pioneer.
Frequently misspelled Howelson. The area had a combination single-
chair/T-bar during the early fifties (we have a neat color picture).
Was shown on many early maps as just STEAMBOAT SPRINGS. [Note: Added
a double chair in 1991 and joined Colorado Ski Country USA - as many
of you have thoughtfully pointed out.]

Vertical drop: 440 ft Top: 7136 Base: 6696
Lifts: 1 double chair, 1 poma, 1 rope Night Skiing
 

PEANUT HILL (Crested Butte), [obscure], In 1950 there was a rope tow
area on CF&I property next to the Peanut Mine. The Peanut Mine is
located two miles northwest of the town of Crested Butte, past Peanut
Lake. Note: There were rumored to be many rope tows in the Crested
Butte area between the time when PIONEER closed (1951) and CRESTED
BUTTE opened (1961).
 

QUAIL MOUNTAIN (Twin Lakes), [planned], "Quail Mountain" is a few
miles southwest of Twin Lakes Reservoir. This was to be a medium-
sized destination-type resort. The early permit process was active in
1988. Then the developer failed some environmental study wickets in
1989, apparently due to insufficient funding. The project became
dormant by 1991 and the project office in southwest Leadville was
closed.
 

TAMARRON (Durango), [small], Very small area located on the grounds
of the Tamarron Resort about 18 miles north of Durango, and south of
the PURGATORY ski area. Operated publicly from about 1975 to 1982.
Added a chairlift for the 1981/82 season. A 1990 hiking guide issued
by the resort showed the chairlift as an extant landmark. Currently
the area is either closed or is operated for the exclusive use of
resort guests. PRIVATE PROPERTY!

Vertical drop: 172 ft Top: 7750 Base: 7578
Lifts: 1 double chair, 2 Mitey Mites

 


2. WHO REMEMBERS THESE LOST COLORADO SKI AREAS?

ALPINE LAKES

BATTLE MOUNTAIN

DEL NORTE HILL

RATON PASS

VELOCITY PEAK
 

And the list goes on and on and on ...

 


3. LOST SKI AREA FOLLOW-UP

a. APEX - Rob, from Nederland, CO, wondered how to find the APEX lost
ski area. Unfortunately, as we pointed out, we didn't find it on our
last trip. However: Drive west and then north from Central City
about 5 miles on FR 176 (?). Just before the ghost town of Apex, the
main road turns left (west) and then heads north over a hill to
Tolland, near the Moffat Tunnel. That is the route we took recently.
Instead, go straight north into Apex. We remember (from the 60's) the
ski area being on the right. Please tell us what you find.
 

b. INDIAN MTN - Little Tommy Moore, out Boston way, was traveling
over Hoosier Pass (did you mean Kenosha Pass?) with his Daddy, back in
the seventies. "There is a new housing development near Como", his
Daddy said; "it even has its own ski area". Little Tommy, that is
Tom, wondered if this could be the same as our INDIAN MTN. Yes. At
least we know of no other development around Como. Note, however,
that the INDIAN MTN development would be about 3 miles southeast of
Como on the opposite side of US 285.

For you tourists: Como has an old RR roundhouse, and is the start of
the very scenic (and easy, when dry) Boreas Pass road to Breckenridge
(also good cross-country and spring downhill skiing).
 

c. QUAIL MOUNTAIN - Kevin, from St. Paul, said he had heard that the
problem (leading to project abandonment) was with some still active
mineral claims. We have not heard that. One of our field agents
subscribes to a Buena Vista newspaper and the news there was that the
developer kept missing deadlines for one of the EIS-type documents.
The Forest Service kept extending the deadline and finally canceled
the permit. The assumption was that the developer was underfinanced
and couldn't afford to do the EIS.

Kev mentioned the ghost towns of Vicksburg and Winfield. "Quail Mtn"
is 1 mile north of Vicksburg (and 5 miles south of the town of Twin
Lakes). There is an extremely tough (runners) road race that travels
from Leadville around Turquoise Lake and over the mountains to
Vicksburg, then back to Leadville. The race is The "Leadville Trail
100", held in August. Anyone game?
 

d. PAN ARK LODGE - Kevin also mentioned this one which we had
forgotten about. The lodge was built in connection with a planned ski
area on the northeast flanks of Mt. Elbert. We vaguely remember the
proposal and even more vaguely (this would be circa 1965) remember
that the developer was killed while surveying the area in his
airplane. (Sounds too much like the Rifle-2 story, tho.) We don't
remember a name for the proposed ski area.

Meanwhile, a lodge was built. It is located on the west side of US
24, north of the Twin Lakes road, out in the open, flat prairie. Most
of you Denver types would never go by it except maybe in the summer on
the way to Independence Pass. The "luxurious" lodge is cheap looking,
two story. It started as condominia, then changed to apartments, and
now is operated as a motel (rated at only 1 diamond by the AAA). An
interesting architectural feature is the uncompleted "day lounge". It
is round, about 50 feet in diameter. Stone posts, separated by
windows, were built to support the roof. All that stand, however, are
the posts, arranged in a circle. "Colorado Stonehenge"!
 

e. GENEVA BASIN - Kevbo (and also Chester, from Gunsmoke, AZ)
requested the data on this area. We originally covered GENEVA in
"LOST #2" back on 10 August 1992. Gee, has it really been that long?
What fond memories of glorious times gone by! Anyway, thru the magic
of hard disks and COTS software, it is easy to reproduce the original
(edited) entry here. Nothing new to report; we fear that GENEVA BASIN
is about to join the snowsnakes.
 

GENEVA BASIN (Grant), [temporarily closed], Located off US 285, 8
miles north of Grant, near the summit of Guanella Pass. Last operated
for the 1983/84 season as ALPENBACH (was originally called INDIANHEAD
from 1962 to 1965). Supposedly the lifts and lodge were upgraded in
1985 (a new triple chair), but the area did not open for the 1985/86
season and has not operated since. Note that the last owner just
walked away from the area, so the improvements, e.g., lifts and
buildings, now belong to the US Forest Service. They have said that
they want an operational commitment or the improvements will be
removed by summer 1993. Two potential buyers made proposals to the
USFS in 1992, but nothing happened. [Note: Altho not technically
PRIVATE PROPERTY, the parking access road is always closed in summer
and trespassing in the base area would be frowned upon. Please
inspect the area with "heavy lenses" from the adjacent Guanella Pass
road.] {Update: the lifts and base lodge were removed.}

Vertical drop: 1250 ft Top: 11,750 Base: 10,500
Lifts: 2 double chairs, 2 pomas (possibly a triple chair)
 

[Note: It you want info on a Lost ski area that we have already
covered, please ask. It is easier to pull a copy and stick it into a
new post than to repost entire versions of "Lost - Edition n".
 

f. SKI TRAIL MOUNTAIN - Rick says his 1974 Arapaho National Forest Map
doesn't show this ski area. Ah, Rick, check your *1968* Arapaho
Forest Map.
 

g. GLENWOOD SPRINGS - Rick says: "a 1946 chairlift before WWII" -
doesn't compute. True. We unfortunately juxtaposed two sentences:
1) Fact - chairlift built in 1946. 2) Unrelated Hypothesis - "They
shouldn't have built a new chair in 1942, bad timing". But they
DIDN'T (it was 1946) - hence the Postulate [1942 chair] is flawed. Is
it clear now?

 


4. FRASER VALLEY

Thanks for all the help in finding FRASER VALLEY. Several of you
verified the existence of the tubing hill, with rope tow, in Fraser,
nightlighted, behind the Safeway. We have never seen it. We seldom
go behind a Safeway, except when we are moving - and need boxes. You
were also unanimous in your declarations that the YMCA ranch, west of
Tabernash, had no lifts, no alpine trails, and was too far north to be
FRASER VALLEY. BTW, the State of Colorado map calls it "YMCA of the
Rockies" but John calls it "Snow Mountain Ranch". (both are true)

However, none of you stated that the Fraser tubing hill was called
"Fraser Valley". So, we decided to do some more research. We were
scanning a 1976 Denver Post (yes, strangely, we do that) when we found
some hot data. First we noticed an ad with a map showing a "FRASER
VALLEY RECREATION AREA", just west of Fraser. Intrigued, we read on
and, in a long text ad for WINTER PARK, found: "The FRASER VALLEY
WINTER SPORTS AREA has a large lighted hill. You can rent an inner
tube on weekend afternoons and at night. .... a lift pulls the tuber
back to the top of the run. ...."

[Update: We have seen the tubing area twice in the past few years.
It is no longer "behind the Safeway", as the Safeway has moved. It is
just west of town, behind a strip mall.]
 

Note 1: Rick - To find the date of your "Lamm" maps, look in the far
lower left corner of the large state map. Discovering that ended our
frustration; maybe yours too. (Would yours be "1-83"?)

Note 2: "John Cooley" was the first marketing director at SNOWMASS -
Any connection?

 


5. WHO DAT CALLING HOWELSEN LOST?

We took a lot of static (from Coloradans) about including HOWELSEN
HILL in our last post. All right, we made a mistake. Some of you
used statements like "It's Still Open". Flash: A ski area doesn't
have to be closed to be "Lost". We have included CHAPMAN HILL, CRANOR
HILL, and OURAY in our posts and they are still open. We have also
included CUCHARA VALLEY and CONQUISTADOR and got no complaints.

Actually, by our rules, the issue is not "open or closed" but rather
whether or not the ski area is a member of Colorado Ski Country USA.
In the opening chapter of our book we state that we will cover all
areas which are not CURRENT members of Colorado Ski Country. Of
course, HOWELSEN HILL has been a member for two years now and that was
where we erred. When we started this project in "earnest" (a small
town in Ohio) about six years ago, Howelsen Hill was legitimately
"lost" and we just forgot to remove them from our list when they hit
the big time. Sorry about that. [This is a test: How many of you
outside of Colorado had ever heard of HOWELSEN HILL?]

We really hate to lose an area from our Lost list. A while back
ARROWHEAD had to be deleted from the "planned" area list and of course
just this last fall CONQUISTADOR and CUCHARA VALLEY were deleted from
our "temporarily closed" list. An explanation of the seven
categories of "lost" ski areas we use is contained in Section 6 for
your edification, amusement, and enjoyment.

[Update: ARROWHEAD is back on the lost list as it was swallowed up by
Beaver Creek. And CONQUISTADOR is closed forever.]

 


6. LOST SKI AREA CATEGORIES

1) OPEN, SOMETIMES (or temporarily closed or status uncertain)

2) CLOSED (solid data confirms onetime existence)

3) OBSCURE (existed, or probably existed, but little hard data)

4) PLANNED (but never built)

5) NAME CHANGE (official name change or frequent literature
references)

6) PART OF ANOTHER AREA (either planned or existing expansions)

7) VERY OBSCURE AREAS (rumors, single references, or "Internet"
suggestions [ha-ha] - also non-ski areas)
 

The total number of all ski area NAMES in our Lost List is currently
about 160. In the "Lost" posts we generally cover only categories 1,
2, and 3 but we occasionally throw in a #4 or a #7. [Update: That
was 160 areas in Colorado; for all states it is now about 1500.]

 


Cheers from THE COLORADO SKIER

"You never know when you're making a memory" Rickie Lee Jones


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