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Idaho Lost Ski Area Project

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#21 Tom @ Snake River

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 08:43 PM

Some more Idaho trivia. I did potato business with a gentleman out of Boise, and he stated that his father, by the last name of Castagneto was an engineer for the Union Pacific railroad.
When they developed Sun Valley in the late 1930's that Castagneto helped develop the first ski lifts, and that they were patterned after banana trollies in South America.

Bear Gulch was actually the 2nd ski area in Idaho, being developed in 1939.

Attached is the picture of the Bear Gulch railway tunnel which is about 1/4 mile from the parking lot.

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#22 Racer Ready

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 02:48 PM

Information from our Book Research on Idaho Lost Ski Areas (for your enjoyment)


Location: In woods just southeast of the junction of US 20 and Idaho 87 at the northeast corner of Henry’s Lake, and about ten miles west of West Yellowstone, Montaana. The location of the former chairlift is shown on the USGS topographic map.

Base elevation: 6,680 feet
Vertical: 420 feet
Years of operation:1970-72

The orginal Sunset Lodge was built in the 1940s by Bruce Frazier and Ira Fisher on 124 acres that had been homesteaded by Peter Rahn. Frazier and Fisher started with a two-story log house and then added space to the first floor, so they could put in what some called the longest bar in the state.

In 1959, Gene and JoAn Jones bought the place. They cut the longest bar into two pieces and sold it. Jones for a time operated a sawmill there. Then in about 1970 he installed a chair lift next to the sawmill. Chopping the wood to heat the lodge and tending its bar kept him very busy. He tended to start the lift in the morning and let it run all day unmanned. The Joneses also had trouble keeping track of the pigs they were raising. The pigs kept escaping and running down the highway.

Tom Howell of Ashton remembers skiing on the Sunset lift when it was operating and he found the terrain was poor skiing because most of the time you were skiing down draws, and the lift ran extremely slowly. According to him, the lodge was across the road from the foundations left by the US army’s short-lived attempt in 1941 to build a base for the Tenth Mountain Division at Henry’s Lake.

Jones wanted the ski patrol to run the lift for him, but the National Ski Patrol wouldn’t let them do this. Since no one was operating the lift, the national patrol said its members couldn’t staff the hill any longer. This resulted in the resort not being able to get liability insurance. So Jones shut down the ski lift.

In the 1980s, Jerry Swanson from Las Vegas bought a part interest in Sunset Lodge and moved to Island Park as manager in 1992. He kept busy with dances, weddings, and tourists without trying to run the ski lift. In addition new regulations and increased insurance costs discouraged him from even thinking about it. Elizabeth Laden leased the café in 1992 and ran it with the help of her son Ben. At the same time she began a monthly news magazine, The Yellowstone Gateway Post. Its success led her to start the weekly Island Park News, which is still running today.

When Swanson took over the lodge, the buildings were in poor condition. He could never make enough money to do the improvements needed, so in 2010 he sold it. The new owners took down the ski lift, and built fancy log homes they rent out as vacation properties. Before the towers were taken down, some of the chairs, with the addition of wooden legs, were sold as garden benches.

The information given here is partly from Tom Howell and partly from an article Elizabeth Laden wrote for an online magazine, Henry’s Fork Country.

This post has been edited by Racer Ready: 09 September 2012 - 02:55 PM

#23 Racer Ready

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 09:57 PM

Attached File  bkcover2x.jpg (860.93K)
Number of downloads: 25 Ski the Great Potato: Idaho Ski Areas, Past and Present
by Margaret Fuller, Doug Fuller and Jerry Painter

Ski the Great Potato: Idaho Ski Areas, Past and Present

See Idaho Magazine's March 2013 issue for an article about the book and some information about 3 ski areas covered in the book.

You'll find the histories of the 21 current Idaho ski areas and of the 72 historical or "lost" areas in this interesting new book. The book gives the basic facts about each area and how it started, and it includes... little stories of some of the people who skied at each one. There are stories of stolen snow plows, an exploding stove, and a young woman who on a very cold night froze to the seat of a porta-pottie.

While researching the microfilms of Idaho newspapers, we found many hidden and forgotten stories of ski area startups in the weekly papers. It was almost always a community deal: meet in the basement of the drugstore on Tuesday night; we are forming a ski club, says the paper. A rancher, farmer, or mechanic promises to donate an engine for the rope tow. No rope for the tow? No problem, we'll hold a box lunch social, or sell ski club memberships that include free skiing. No land for a tow?

We can arrange for Forest Service land, or lease land from private owners, have it logged, and pay the lease with the proceeds. One ski area made a movie of cars and buses stuck in the mud and showed it around town to motivate public officials to pave the road.

Many Idaho ski areas were successful only because of the major support and pure goodwill of community businessmen like Warren Brown and Jack Simplot. Most of the ski areas had the investment of several local businessmen who are not as well known as those two, but were vital in developing small ski areas such as Cottonwood Butte and Rotarun.

Our research uncovered the amazing determination of the few men and women who started Idaho's ski areas, especially the ones in remote areas. A 13-member Lions Club built a ski area from scratch, including buying a used Pomalift from a bigger ski area. When cement trucks couldn't drive up its steep hill to pour the foundations for the towers, they used a backhoe bucket and shovels to mix the cement by hand. Then they hauled an old schoolhouse 20 miles on dollies to the base of the lift for a lodge. Another area converted an old chicken coop. No ski lift or likely way to get one? One early ski hill was run by boy scouts who used horse-drawn toboggans as ski lifts.

$22.95, published by Trail Guide Books, ISBN 978-09664233-4-1

Ski the Great Potato" released November 2013 is currently available for sale at:

Chris's Books in Weiser
Family Books and Bargains in Ontario
The Benchmark in Boise

Greenwoods Ski Haus in Boise
McU's Sports in Boise
Idaho State Capitol Gift Shop in Boise
Idaho Mountain Touring in Boise
Rediscovered Books in Boise.

Or direct from the publisher: www.trailguidebooks.com
More ski shops and book stores are being added all the time.

This post has been edited by Racer Ready: 09 November 2013 - 04:44 PM

#24 snowmaster

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Posted 17 November 2013 - 11:56 AM

Isn't Telecar a Carlevaro & Savio brand?

#25 sheave

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Posted 22 January 2021 - 09:34 AM

 snowmaster, on 17 November 2013 - 11:56 AM, said:

Isn't Telecar a Carlevaro & Savio brand?

Here is more about Telecar, C&S and Miner-Denver:


The collection documents Telecar and Lift Services, two companies developed due to Pomalift. Telecar was a company Jump started in 1957 that represented the Italian firm Carlevaro and Savio which designed a gondola lift system. Later when Savio made a chairlift for the U.S. there arose a conflict with Pomagalski and Cie and Jump discontinued representing the Italian firm. Later in the 1960s Telecar represented a Denver firm Miner Machine Co. that developed hydraulic chairlifts.

Source: https://archives.den.../resources/8560

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