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May 30, 1997

Lost Areas #24 - Published 30 May 1997




Researching "lost" ski areas is the hobby of THE COLORADO SKIER. We have reported our findings on COLORADO, the SOUTHEAST, NEW HAMPSHIRE, and are now doing VERMONT and WYOMING. Is your state next?

For more info on skiing and ski areas, check out our separately posted companion articles entitled: "THE COLORADO SKIER - TRIVIA", "THE COLORADO SKIER - SKI NEWS", and "THE TCS LISTS".  



A. Readers have recently provided several suggestions for future trivia questions. There are two we will definitely use and we are considering some others. Thanks.

B. Some of you are probably wondering why we haven’t used your specific trivia question. There are 4 probable reasons:

1) Excellent Question - We just haven’t found room yet.

2) Very Good Question - but we have no clue as to the answer.

3) Good Question-but too difficult for our audience. :-)

4) That’s the dumbest question we’ve ever read!


[Note: Most of you are in Category 1. ;-) ]


C. Thanks to RYAN (Fredonia, NY) for contributing several trail maps (many in NY and PA) to our collection. We were able to trade him some old KEYSTONE maps he was interested in.


D. Whoops! Readers caught us in two factual errors in the last issue. See our corrections in Section 3, Trivia Follow-up.


E. Some of the data in this post was obtained from "THE WHITE BOOK OF SKI AREAS", which is copyrighted by Inter-Ski Services, Inc.


F. We’ve started to put old newsletters onto our web page. So far just a few "Lost" editions. Check ‘em out at: http://www.nyx.net/~mwallace/TCS.html




Here is the info on the 10 VERMONT ski areas we listed last time.


{Copyright 1997, THE COLORADO SKIER. All rights reserved.}


GLEN ELLEN (Waitsfield), [name change/merger], Opened in 1963. Shared lift tickets with SUGARBUSH in 1978. Name changed to SUGARBUSH NORTH (still open) in 1979. Sometimes called MOUNT ELLEN.

Vertical Drop: 2600 ft Top: 4083 Base: 1450

Lifts: 4 double chairs, T-bar (1979)



GOODRICH (Northfield), [very obscure], Mid-60’s. Probably named after "Arthur Goodrich" who was active with the Northfield Outing Club in the 40’s. Possibly a sometime name for NORWICH UNIVERSITY ski area.

Vertical Drop: 600 ft Lifts: T-bar, rope tow


HARD'ACK SKI SLOPES (St. Albans), [very obscure], Located on eastern slope of Aldis Hill. References from 1940 to 1978.

Vertical Drop: 420 ft Lifts: rope tow night skiing


HAYSTACK (Wilmington), ["merger"], Opened in 1964. Located near but not adjacent to MT SNOW. Closed during the 82/83 and 83/84 seasons. MT SNOW operated the area during the 92/93 and 93/94 seasons and now owns the area (still called HAYSTACK).

Vertical Drop: 1400 ft Top: 3200 Base: 1800

Lifts: 3 triple chairs, 2 double chairs, 1 T-bar


HIGH POND (Brandon), [closed], Located 6 miles southwest of Brandon on a gravel road. Operated from around 1960 to 1978.

Vertical Drop: 400 ft Top: 1400 Base: 1000

Lifts: T-bar, 3 rope tows 60 acres


HOGBACK MOUNTAIN (Marlboro), [closed], (Sometimes called just "HOGBACK") Located 4 miles west of Marlboro on Hiway 9. Opened in 1946. Closed in 1986. Lifts still visible in 1996.

Vertical Drop: 500 ft Top: 2400 Base: 1900

Lifts: 4 T-bars 50 acres


JOHNSON COLLEGE SKI HILL (Johnson), [closed], Operated by the college's "recreational facilities management program". Limited to local residents. {1977}

Vertical Drop: 400 ft Top: 1000 Base: 600

Lifts: 1 rope tow


JUDGEMENT RIDGE (Vershire), [very obscure], Located off Hiway 113. Highway map references only, late 60’s.


LATCHIS HOTEL SKI SLOPE (Brattleboro), [very obscure], Located 1 mile south of the downtown hotel on US 5. {1949}

Vertical Drop: 225 ft Base: 700 night skiing

Lifts: rope tow small jump


LIVING MEMORIAL PARK (Brattleboro), [obscure], Located west of downtown Brattleboro off VT 9. Small, town-run area. 1 novice trail. According to a news article: Rotary Club installed a rope tow in 1955. The Town replaced the rope with a T-bar in 1965. Run by town until 1995. No snowmaking. Group trying to re-open in 1997.

Vertical Drop: 204 ft Base: 230

Lifts: 1 T-bar night skiing


Comments from Readers: JAMES (UVM) says HARD’ACK operated during the 96/97 season. (Anyone know why the strange spelling?)


Several folks said HAYSTACK isn’t lost. OK, let’s run a test. An area is lost if folks don’t remember it. Ask a casual skier if they remember CARINTHIA - NO. (It’s now part of Mt Snow) Ask if they remember GLEN ELLEN - NO. (It became Sugarbush North) Ask if they remember HAYSTACK - YES. It’s right there next to Mt Snow, using the same old name, and still open. You win. Haystack is not lost. :-)


1B. Who remembers these Lost VERMONT Ski Areas?

  • Lord’s Hill
  • Lybrand
  • Lyndon Outing Club
  • Madonna Mountain
  • Magic Mountain
  • Marshall Hill
  • Merry Hill Lodge
  • Mountain Top Club
  • Mt Aelous
  • Mt Hunger




Here is the info on the 10 WYOMING ski areas we listed last time.


{Copyright 1997, THE COLORADO SKIER. All rights reserved.}


LIBBY CREEK (Centennial), [closed], Located about 3 miles west of the town of Centennial on the way to MEDICINE BOW ski area. Skiers stayed in nearby "Snowy Range Lodge" in 1940 & 1949. Offered a "lift with wooden towers" and steep terrain in the 40’s & 50’s. Was already a relic in the late fifties. Much cable and a shack remained. MEDICINE BOW has plans to expand into this terrain.

Vertical Drop: 780 ft Top: 9660 Base: 8880

Lifts: chairlift, 2 rope tows (1949) toboggan runs



MEADOWLARK (Tensleep), [name change], Located off US 16 west of Powder Pass. Opened in the early 60’s. Some maps show the name as "Meadowlark Lake". The area overlooks Meadowlark Lake. Changed name to HIGH PARK (still open) in 1991.

Vertical Drop: 600 ft Top: 9100 Base: 8500

Lifts: 2 Pomas



MEDICINE BOW (Centennial), [name change], Located 5 miles west of Centennial on Hiway 130. Opened in 1960. Changed name to SNOWY RANGE in 1986 a few years after another nearby ski area by that name closed. Still open.

Vertical Drop: 600 ft Top: 9500 Base: 8900

Lifts: chairlift, 2 T-bars, 1 rope tow snowmaking



MEDICINE WHEEL (Lovell), [very obscure], Located 30 miles east of Lovell on Hiway 14A. "fine expert and intermediate trails of about 2000 ft length served by a 1500 ft rope tow." Only one reference, in 1949. There is a "Medicine Wheel" historic attraction in the vicinity. A 1965 map shows the ski area on US14A near Bald Mtn.


PINE CREEK (Cokeville), [still open], Located in far western Wyoming, 7 miles northeast of Cokeville off WY 232 in Pine Creek Canyon. Municipal area. The chairlift was the old "Millicent" SINGLE chair removed from Brighton (UT) in 1974. (Note: A "94 Ski Guide, a 94 Wyoming map, and an eyewitness show a double chair??)

Vertical Drop: 1150 ft Top: 7950 Base: 6800

Lifts: 1 single chair, 2 rope tows


PINEDALE (Pinedale), [name change], Located on Fortification Mountain, 10 miles northeast of Pinedale. Started as SURVEYOR PARK, then became FORTIFICATION MTN, then PINEDALE, and finally became WHITE PINE for several years until it closed around 1987.

Vertical Drop: 980 ft Lifts: 1 Poma, 1 rope tow


RYAN PARK (Saratoga), [name change], Located 23 miles southeast of Saratoga on Hiway 130, in the town of Ryan Park and on Barrett Ridge. Formerly called BARRETT RIDGE and was renamed SNOWY RANGE about 1964.

Vertical Drop: 300 ft Lifts: 1 chairlift, 1 Poma


SINKS CANYON (Lander), [obscure], Located 10 miles southwest of Lander in "Sinks Canyon". Operated from about 1960 to 1977.

Vertical Drop: 780 ft Base: 7200

Lifts: 1 T-bar, 1 rope tow


SLEEPING GIANT (Cody), [probably open], Located 48 miles west of Cody on US 16 about 3 miles east of Yellowstone Park. Opened in the early 50’s. Dropped by one major guide book after 1992 and may have been closed for a few seasons but appears to be open in 96/97.

Vertical Drop: 500 ft Top: 7200 Base: 6700

Lifts: 1 T-bar, 1 rope tow


SNOWSHOE HOLLOW (Afton), [obscure/marginal], Municipal area located within the town limits of Afton. Opened around 1985 or 86. One reader says it is operated by the HS wrestling coach - when he is town.

Vertical Drop: 160 ft Top: 6400 Base: 6200

Lifts: rope tow


Comments from readers: We have a new reader, JIMMY (CO), who appears to be an expert on Lost Wyo ski areas. This man collects trail maps and topo maps for WY ski areas, he visits the closed ones, and he skis the small ones (he has even skied at SNOWSHOE HOLLOW!). Can you imagine anyone being so obsessed with one trivia subject? We can’t!

;-) Jimmy has come up with two more lost Wyo areas:


BEARTOOTH PASS (Red Lodge, MT), [very obscure], Located on US 212 at "Beartooth Pass" near the Montana border. This highway is closed in the winter but a summer ski camp was operated here by the Red Lodge Ski Camp. Operated in the mid-80’s. One Poma.



DEER MOUNTAIN (Rock River), [very obscure], Located about 6 miles southeast of the Arlington Exit off I-80 on "Deer Mountain". Operated briefly around 1958. One lift, two trails. Now visible from I-80 which did not exist when the area operated. Elevation: 8952 ft Also found on 1973 and 1985 Forest Service maps.


1D. Who remembers these Lost WYOMING Ski Areas?


  • Snowy Range
  • South Pass
  • Summit
  • Sundance
  • Surveyor Camp
  • Surveyor Park
  • Teton Pass
  • Two Ocean Mountain
  • Undine Falls
  • White Pine



a. No one voted on which ROCKY MOUNTAIN state should follow Wyoming. So we are thinking about doing NEVADA since we have already done the research in order to answer a question from a reader.


b. ONE CREEK OR TWO? In "Lost Ski Areas of NM" we stated that CEDAR CREEK became RUIDOSO which became EAGLE CREEK. New reader CHARLES (from ??) says that "Cedar" and "Eagle" were two separate areas. Oh goody, another fun research project! Well, research indicates that Charles is correct. The only hard data we have for CEDAR CREEK is from 1949. The area had a rope tow, 120 ft of vertical, and was located just northwest of Ruidoso on "Cedar Creek".


RUIDOSO ski area opened about 1977 further north of Ruidoso on Eagle Creek and Hiway 532, which is the road to SIERRA BLANCA/APACHE. The area changed its name to EAGLE CREEK in 1980 and closed in 1984. It had a chairlift, T-bar, and 2 rope tows and a vertical of 500 ft.


c. Please feel free to ask about any lost U.S. ski area at any time.




a. MEA CULPA. When describing the career of FRED PABST, we discussed his development of 17 ski areas, and his finally settling in at STRATTON. Of course it was BROMLEY, not Stratton.


And, John Glenn was the THIRD American astronaut in space, not the second. There were two sub-orbital shots, with Shepard and Grissom.


b. SNEAKY TRIVIA - Amazingly (at least to us) no one knew what TV Detective used the expression "Great Googley Moogley". Hint: His character name was "David Addison". NEW QUESTIONS: Which actor played the part? What detective agency? Who was his boss?


c. SNEAKY TRIVIA - What TV ad character says: "What a maroon!" Answer - BUG BUNNY (said about Daffy Duck). Several folks knew that one. Old-timers will remember that Bugs always mis-pronounced moron as maroon. SNEAKY TRIVIA: What was Bugs’ favorite (Calif) BEACH?


d. SNEAKY TRIVIA - What is the ROSSIGNOL logo? This one is strange. The name "Rossignol" translates to "nightingale". However, the bird on their logo looks like a "rooster", and in no way looks like a nightingale (which is basically a "thrush", the best U.S. example being a robin). So why did the "Nightingale" family pick a rooster for their logo? We don’t know. BTW, for the record the French word for rooster is "coq". [And this tag, we always like: The French word "rossignol" also translates to "unsaleable item", "white elephant", or basically "junk". !!


e. ERSATZ GONDOLAS - After we reported that only WILDCAT, SUGARBUSH, and CRESTED BUTTE, had 2 or 3 passenger gondola cars, two readers said "What about MT. SNOW?". Mt Snow had COVERED CHAIRS. Folding a plastic bubble over chair riders wearing their skis does not a gondola make. Gondolas have real cars, with floors, skiers remove their skis and stick them in external quivers - and there has to be someone with a long pole singing "Oh Sole Mio". :-)


4. SKI NEWS (Updates only - other news in previous issues)


a. HEAVENLY VALLEY, CA - Has announced a long range expansion program. This summer they will be adding a Doppelmayr Detachable six-pack on the upper left region of the Calif side, roughly along the "California Trail". Also some new trails in that vicinity.


b. WOLF MOUNTAIN, UT - has been purchased by ASC. They hope to develop the mountain AND more particularly, the land at the base. This is the first western purchase for ASC/LBO; however S-K-I used to own BEAR MOUNTAIN in Southern California.


c. PARK CITY, UT - Is replacing their venerable gondola (see Builder’s Emporium) with TWO "six-packs" (6 passenger detachable chairlifts). Up till now, all of the six-packs in the U.S. and Canada have been built by Doppelmayr. However the ones at Park City are being built by Garaventa-CTEC, who apparently finally figured out that the concept is all about scale, not ingenuity. :-)


d. ASPEN MOUNTAIN - Is replacing the "Ruthies Run" double chair with a very rare HS detachable DOUBLE chair. Skico determined that they didn’t really need a big increase in capacity, just more speed. The riding time will decrease from 12 to 7 minutes. The double is really a standard POMA HS TRIPLE chair with an armrest down the center to limit it to two riders. The armrest will be padded and will contain two cupholders plus dispensers for recreational pharmaceuticals.


e. SNOWMASS, CO - Has historically had a vertical drop of 3612 ft (Top 11,835, Base 8223). When they added a new base area (at 8114 ft) in 1995, the vertical grew to 3721. They claim a "hike-up" vertical of over 4000 ft but we only consider lift-served verticals. Snowmass has also been running a "free" snowcat up to 12,310 ft. This summer they plan to install a Pomalift running to the 12,310 ft altitude. This will give them a Vertical Drop Of 4,196 ft, highest in the U.S.


f. CRESTED BUTTE, CO - Is finally implementing a plan from 3 years ago which they canceled in favor of building a hotel (bad decision - service the skiers first and someone else will build the hotel). The "Keystone" triple will be replaced by a HS Quad. The triple will be moved to "East River", replacing a double there. [The double will then replace the Kratka Ridge single which will return to replace the C.B. T-bar which will replace a rope tow at Alta. The rope tow will be installed at a hidden spot in the woods near Mountain Dell, Utah to secretly aide the U.S. X-country skiers in 2002. ;-) ]


Crested Butte is for sale (currently owned by Bo Callaway of famed "Callaway Gardens" in GA). Rumor has CB going to Booth Creek.


g. BRECKENRIDGE, CO - Andy Daly, President of Vail Resorts, says there will be new lifts at Breck this year. There are several possibilities but we won’t confuse you until they firm up the plans. The most telling thing Daly said: Vail, with 1.6 mill skier days, has 11 high speed lifts. Breck, with 1.3 mill skier days has only 4 HS lifts. Breck needs to catch up.


h. WINTER PARK, CO - Is planning to open some new terrain between Vasquez Ridge and Parsenn Bowl. No new lifts this season. Hey "Coolman"! What’s this new terrain going to be like?


i. BOLTON VALLEY, VT - This area, already in Chapter 11, had a bad season and has turned over their assets to the lending agency. The bank could operate the area next season or it could end up like KING RIDGE (NH) and be sold off piecemeal.


j. OKEMO, VT - New HS Quad replaces the South Face FG quad. 2 new trails. New day lodge at base of the Solitude quad.


k. WILDCAT, NH - Is adding their very first HS Quad (Doppelmayr), which will run bottom-to-top parallel to the ancient (2-place) gondola. Altho this could mean the end of the gondola as a skilift, it may remain as a summer sightseeing ride. (Nice Mt Washington view)


l. SNOWSHOE, WV - Is replacing the "Ballhooter" FG quad with a HS Detachable Quad. There will a new snowboard park at SILVER CREEK.


"Ballhooter" is a strange name. There is a ski trail by that name at KEYSTONE (CO). It might be a mining term - or what a cross dresser needs at least one each of. ;-)


m. OTHER LIFTS: Our insider at Doppelmayr reports these other new Big D lifts:


o Crystal Mtn, WA - detachable six-pack

o Mammoth Mtn, CA - two HS Quads (courtesy of Intrawest)

o Ski Sunrise, AZ - HS Quad

o Steamboat, CO - HS Quad

o Bromley, VT - HS Quad




a. T-BAR TYPES - Some of you kidded us because we had never ridden a "telescoping tube" type T-bar as opposed to the "reel" type. Actually we never said we hadn’t ridden one, just that we couldn’t remember one. Consider this. At the current time there are only 3 T-bars in all of Colorado. One is on the upper reaches of Peak 8 at BRECK. We rode it once but we were more interested in the fact that it turned a corner. The one at CRESTED BUTTE is very old (we rode it years ago), is way off to one side, out of sight, and is mostly used by the Western State ski team for race training. The one at SKI COOPER is also old but is very visible and is a reel type.


30 years ago, WINTER PARK, BRECKENRIDGE, and LAKE ELDORA had lots of T-bars; maybe we will stumble across pictures. Newer areas like KEYSTONE and COPPER have never had T-bars. So, we don't have much to go on, from recent personal experience.


BTW, the T-bar was invented by ERNEST CONSTAM in Davos, Switzerland in 1934. By 1940 Constam had moved to the U.S. and eventually he settled in Denver. This might explain the prevalence of reel-type T-bars in Colorado. [FWIW, Constam called the reel a "spring box".]


b. GONDOLAS vs CABLE CARS - Someone asked the difference. A gondola system has many cars, and runs continuously in the same direction. It is essentially the same as a detachable quad, only with gondola cars. A cable car/tram has two large cars fixed to a cable, stops for loading, and reverses direction, after loading.


c. AUSTRALIAN GONDOLA - In northern Australia (near Cairns) there is a really neat gondola which travels over a rain forest, allowing sightseers to see the forest canopy without disturbing the forest itself. Lots of special requirements due to limited access, no grease allowed, and heat and humidity, etc. Read all about it on the POMA web page. (www.poa.pomagroup.com)


d. PARK CITY GONDOLA (being removed) - Was one of the oldest gondolas in the U.S. It was billed as the longest ski lift in the West when it opened in 1963. Altho a "European consultant" was used, the system was built by an American construction company and the fiberglass cars were built by a SLC plastics company.


Other old gondolas still operating include: GORE MTN (68), MAMMOTH (67), and SUGARLOAF (66). Technically the oldest gondola is the access gondola at SUGAR BOWL, CA (1953) but it was remodeled after 4 years of operation. Certainly the oldest gondola still serving ski runs is at WILDCAT, NH (1957).


e. LOVELAND LIFTS - We skied Loveland this season for the first time since starting the newsletter and decided to analyze the lifts. There are 5 chairlifts at Loveland Basin (we did not look at the ones at adjacent Loveland Valley). All five are "YANS". 4 of the 5 travel CCW. None has a safety bar or footrest. There are 2 doubles, 2 triples, and a FG quad. Only the quad uses bullwheel loading.


The #4 double chair is as old as any chairlift we have seen recently (actually it was originally built by Heron in 1965). The lower terminal (bullwheel and motor) is in a building - don’t see that anymore. The upper terminal is a large "erector set" structure with two big towers on either side of the off-ramp. They are padded!


The long triple (#2) has some unusual features. It has a midway load point on the LEFT. Since it is a CCW lift (loading on the RIGHT) we got to wondering how that worked. The downhill side has no hold-down towers near midway so the downhill cable and chairs travel above your head as you load. Strange. Another strange item was the inverted "L" tower in the midst of the usual "T" types. Only the uphill side cable passed thru tower wheels. Once again the downhill side was high in the air. Obviously this lift was not designed for downhill transportation! Oh, and this chair travels OVER chair #6. The two lifts share a tower at the crossover point.


The chairs themselves were thick grainy molded plastic like you find in sturdy children’s toys (tuff stuff?). The lattice-work on the back of the chairs spells out "YAN". There is a large metal windscreen at the debarking point (which is above timberline). The steel mesh incorporates the "Loveland" logo and the word "YAN". FWIW, the Loveland logo is a sort of clown balanced upside down on his poles.


f. SAFETY? Readers have mentioned the two types of safety-bars on center pole type double chairs. The horizontal (safety) bar has a problem with that center pole. The more common solution is to insert a "U"-shaped loop in the middle of the horizontal bar, which nestles around the center pole. The other design has two bars which swing in from the outside, much like the safety-bars on single chairs. [The old singles at ASPEN and SUN VALLEY had a canvas flap on the bar and the effect was of closing a little door on your legs.] Once again, since there are almost no safety-bars in Colorado, we personally never saw safety-bars on center pole double chairs, but we have seen several pictures of both design solutions.


g. MT WHITTIER, NH and CRESTED BUTTE, CO both operated with a gondola but no chairlifts - unusual. SCOTT (BC) suggested that WHISTLER (BC) opened with only a gondola. It may have, briefly, but our records show these interesting facts. GARABALDI LIFTS opened in 1966 with a gondola, a chairlift, and 2 T-bars, serving 4300 ft of vertical! The gondola rose 2110 ft, the chairlift another 1750 ft, and a T-bar another 750 ft. Reminds one of PANORAMA.





a. A SAD DAY - To get to the (closed) SKI BROADMOOR ski area you drive past the hotel, following the signs for the zoo, then travel thru the zoo parking lot to the left (south) following the signs for the Broadmoor stables and shooting range. The stables surround the still extant base lodge, and there is a riding corral in the parking lot. Not any more. The shooting range is closed, the stables have been moved, and the access road is now closed. Why? THE BROADMOOR HOTEL is selling expensive duplexes and house lots in the vicinity, overlooking the Broadmoor South golf course. One home is being built for World Champion skaters, Jill Trenary and Christopher Dean. At least the ski runs are still visible and will be forever.


b. CUCHARA VALLEY, CO - This ski area is owned by two businessmen brothers from Texas. After one season they decided they were not cut out to be ski resort operators, put the area up for sale, and did not operate it this season. Except one night. They had a little party for some friends and ran one chair for skiing. They were promptly cited for operating a ski lift without a license. Their excuse was that the lift was entirely on private property and it was not open to the public. But, apparently you still have to have a state inspection and a permit. Same as if you operated an elevator in your house.



1) Here is the first in what we hope will be a series on oddities in the wonderful, wacky world of ski area brochures. (?)


We were reviewing a brochure for BIG TUPPER and found out that Tupper Lake, NY is "Black Fly Controlled". Good to know. (Funny)



2) JACK (MT), reports that Montana has decided to do away with their state tramway (lift safety) board. Their reasoning is that the ski areas and insurance companies do their own inspections, therefore the board is superfluous. One ski area spokesman declared: If there is an accident, only the insurance companies get hurt! Remember that the next time you are injured on a ski lift - only the insurance company got hurt! (Wrong)


3) "We’ll leave the light on for ya." Slick Willie Clinton (Wrong?)


d. MARGINAL SKI AREAS - Here is what youse guys and gals had to say about our list of doubtful ski areas (and thanks for your help):


Probably Still OPEN: Spruce Mtn, ME; Belle Mtn, NJ; Warner Canyon, OR; Echo Valley, Hurricane Ridge and Loup Loup, WA; Pine Creek, WY.

Probably CLOSED: Kit Carson, CA; Highlands and Lynx Creek, NH; Elko Sno Bowl, NV; Maple Valley and Prospect Mt, VT; and Eagle Rock, WY


e. SNAVELY SNIVELINGS - We asked why SOUTH CAROLINA has no ski areas. Reader KEVIN (SC) says the mountains in SC are on the Tenn. border. If you built a ski area facing north, the area would be on the north side of the mountain ridge, and thus be in Tennessee.


We mentioned reasons why we are feeling old. One reader saw a sign in a bar saying you must have been born before 1976 to be served. He had already voted in 1976! You have heard of famous basketball player Grant Hill? One reader saw Grant’s Father, Calvin Hill, play in a college football game at Yale Bowl!



7. "SUN VALLEY SERENADE" (1939) - OK, you’ve had over two months to rent this movie or watch it on an old movie channel. We said we would discuss some unusual aspects of the making of the film, so here we are. A recap: The movie stars Sonja Henie, John Payne, and Lynn Bari, with Milton Berle and Joan Davis for laughs, along with the Glenn Miller orchestra. Appearing with the band are Ray Anthony on trumpet, Tex Beneke on vocals, The Modernaires with Paula Kelly, and the dancing Nicholas Brothers with Dorothy Dandridge. Most of the movie takes place in SUN VALLEY, with many skiing and skating scenes.


ODDITIES: Altho most of the story takes place at SUN VALLEY, very little was filmed there. The reason: The unit director was famous skier, ski instructor, and director OTTO LANG. He had directed a previous Sonja Henie film, done at Paradise Lodge on Mt Rainier. It became clear early on that Ms Henie was not a good enough skier to do her own skiing scenes. So, Gretchen (Kunigk) Fraser was engaged to double for her. However, Ms Henie was needed to do the occasional scene like walking out of the lodge door or carrying her skis to the lift, etc. But when she was needed for a scene she couldn’t be found. Eventually it turned out that she could always be found in co-star Tyrone Power’s room! Based on that experience, Otto Lang decided that if he ever did another Henie film, the stars would NOT go on location.


So, the movie was filmed with mockup sets on a soundstage at Fox. Sun Valley Lodge lobby, halls, and rooms - all done in Hollywood. Trail Creek Cabin - Hollywood. When Milton Berle looked down from the balcony to watch Sonja skate, the view was just of the backstage. And the famous outdoor ice rink at the Lodge - located on a soundstage at Fox. (Ms Henie was hired for 5 pictures so Fox figured the ice rink was worthwhile. The ice could be covered for other uses.)


Outdoor scenes were shot using "process" shots. One of the best: A long shot of a real train arriving at the real Ketchum RR station. Then a close-up of the stars getting off a phony train at a phony station. They get into horse drawn sleighs and drive off to the Lodge singing "It Happened In Sun Valley" with snowbound scenery rushing by in the background - a great process shot. Well done sequence.


The band played in a mockup of the famous "Eddy Duchin Room" at the Lodge. For the big number, "Chattanooga Choo Choo", the Nicholas Brothers and Dorothy Dandridge danced. Now these folks weren’t part of the band. So where did they come from? Were they skiing at Sun Valley? Did they just wander thru the lobby, hear the music, and decide to jam (complete with appropriate costumes?)? Who knows. But this was typical of Sonja Henie movies. She was not a very good actress and never ventured beyond light comedy. To ensure a wide audience, Fox filled her films with comedians and musical acts. (This happened years later with Esther Williams films using the likes of Lucille Ball and Jimmy Durante.)


Sonja Henie was a 3-time Olympic champion and 10 time World champion. But when she skates in her big production numbers, she just glides around gracefully, doing lots of spins, and every once in a while a SINGLE jump (women do triple jumps now). She reminds you of Katerina Witt. ;-) Things have really changed in the figure skating world.


Early on, the Payne character decides to take a ski run. At that time to reach the top of Baldy one would ride 3 single chairs. So the camera carefully followed his double up all 3. And, amazingly there was never a lift line! But actually there was. In the background of each shot as he skied up to the lift you could see a line of skiers. Apparently the other skiers were happy to wait just to be a part of a Hollywood film!


The actual skiing scenes of Payne, Henie, and Berle were done with very bad process shots and scenes of stunt doubles. The stunt skiers were very good. How good compared with today’s experts? Well, they skied a little wide-track (skis 6 inches apart) and there was a tiny hop in their turns compared to today’s smooth turners.


Midway thru the location shooting, Ms Fraser had to leave for a ski meet so some of Ms Henie’s skiing scenes were done with a local male high school skier. Have to watch closely for those scenes.


This is a great movie. We highly recommend it to fans of skiing, skating, music, comedy, and just plain movie buffs.



- OK, you’ve had over two months to rent this movie or watch it on an old movie channel. We said we would discuss some unusual aspects of the making of the film, so here we are. A recap: The movie stars Sonja Henie, John Payne, and Lynn Bari, with Milton Berle and Joan Davis for laughs, along with the Glenn Miller orchestra. Appearing with the band are Ray Anthony on trumpet, Tex Beneke on vocals, The Modernaires with Paula Kelly, and the dancing Nicholas Brothers with Dorothy Dandridge. Most of the movie takes place in SUN VALLEY, with many skiing and skating scenes.



Lots of good comments on our Europe vs US Funicular discussion. We appreciate your interest. It was fun to write. Some comments were positive while others attacked parts of our logic. In summary, we proposed 3 reasons why there are no ski area FUNICULARS and very few CABLE CARS in the U.S., as compared to Europe: HISTORY - when ski areas were built in Europe, there were no gondolas, chairlifts, T-bars or Pomas. GEOLOGY - the young, steep, rugged Alps require more serious lifts than the more benign ski terrain in most of the U.S. GEOGRAPHY - Funiculars and trams are expensive and require a year round operation which is more easily accomplished in Europe due to the much higher population density.


Our favorite reader comment came after the first paragraph: "Hey, this is good stuff!" One reader said that European towns impose a bed tax which helps support the Government owned major lifts. We were not aware that ski lifts in Europe were Government owned. With rare exceptions, the lifts in the U.S. are privately owned. Bed taxes here support infrastructure.


In our geology section we stated that the only serious mountains in the U.S. were the Rockies, the Tetons, and the Sierras and there are few ski areas in rugged portions of those mountains. [We estimate that 90% of U.S. ski areas are not on "big" mountains.] Readers suggested the Wasatch and Cascades as rugged mountains which do support ski areas. We agree. As to our argument that the steep side of the Sierras is the East side and the ski areas are mostly on the West side, one reader pointed out that almost all of the Lake Tahoe ski areas are actually on the East side of the ridge line, passes, etc. Also true. But these ski areas are "mostly new". That is, Kirkwood, Squaw, Heavenly, June, Mammoth, and Northstar, are all fairly "new" areas, built well after the chairlift and gondola were invented. (Now class, remember to look at all 3 factors. :-) )


In two cases we will take exception to reader comments. We said that Mammoth and June mountains were not true "Sierras". Mammoth is a volcano. It is free standing and almost surrounded by roads. It is not a Sierra. And we still think June Mtn is a foothill. As for Mt Katahdin in Maine, someone proposed it is a "rugged" mountain. Well, first of all it doesn’t have any ski area on it so that supports our argument. However we find Katahdin to be a very round, featureless, boring mountain, not rugged at all. In fact it is a family joke. Since most of our family lives in New England, we get yearly calendars with New England scenes. We have actually asked the family to find calendars WITHOUT pix of Mt Katahdin (because it is so boring) and to substitute a lobster boat or fall color instead! :-) [True story!]





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Cheers from THE COLORADO SKIER (your humble servant)


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