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Doug Devin - Mazama: The Past 100 Years

p. 88: The remote Pasayten airfield was completed in the summer of 1936. Bulldozers and equipment were taken from Barron over makeshift roads to the site and removed after the construction was complete. The Early Winters Ranger Station was a CCC project. By the mid to late 1930s, skiing for recreation, instead of just for transportation, arrived in the upper Methow Valley. "Ski lifts were built on Forest Service land near Patterson Mountain and a 1,500-foot rope carried skiers up the slope behind the Sunny "M" Ranch" (p. 90). A "Ski Frolic" was scheduled for Lewis Butte in March 1938, including a downhill run and a slalom. Page 99 has information about a ski hill built by the Forest Service and CCC on the mountainside southwest of Patterson Lake, which became popular in the early 1940s. It's not clear whether this is the same site described on p. 90.

p. 96: Most small mines in the Methow region were failures. The Azurite Mine was an exceptional large operation which ran year-round in the 1930s. By 1938, the Azurite quit. It had produced $972,000 in gold and silver but was $120,000 short of its total investment. During the 1930s, the long discussed North Cross State Highway was planned to be built from Diablo to Slate Creek.

p. 106: In the late 1950s or early 1960s, local boosters of the North Cross State Highway staged a Pony Express-type ride over the proposed route from Diablo Dam to Early Winters to promote construction of the highway.

p. 110: Around 1968, Jack Wilson, Doug Devin and Len Miller began investigating the potential of a ski area on Sandy Butte near Wilson's Early Winters Resort. Devin and Miller formed the Methow Valley Winter Sports Council, which included Bill Henry (chairman), Lew Cooley (treasurer), and ski industry notables such as Jack Nagel, Mike Ewing, and Bob Cram. Devin, who was in the ski business, enlisted directors of Crystal Mountain, former owners of A&T Ski Company, and a group of ski instructors to purchase land near the base of the mountain before speculation drove up the price. In 1975, Aspen Skiing Company became interested in Early Winters and assigned Jerry Blann to the project full-time (p. 117). Aspen's involvement prompted a "land rush" in the valley. At the same time, a "counterculture" group started to move into the valley from California, Aspen, and other parts of the country. Prominent in this group was Maggie Coon, an East Coast native who made it her mission to "defeat the Aspen Skiing corporation's plans for a resort," according to the 11/30/77 issue of The Seattle Weekly. By 1978, Aspen pulled out to develop ski facilities at Blackcomb Mountain in British Columbia. Devin and the group of Seattle investors who had initially assembled the land that Aspen purchased formed Methow Recreation Inc. (p. 123). The author discusses the efforts of MRI, Harry Hosey, and R.D. Merrill Co. to move the resort forward against opposition by the Methow Valley Community Council (MVCC) and Friends of the Methow (FOM). Over time, the project was scaled back dramatically and around 1994 it was renamed Arrowleaf. Arrowleaf would have no ski hill, would reduce the number of residential units from 4,000 to 600, and would include a full-time environmental institute (p. 148). At the time of this book's completion, the fate of the Arrowleaf resort is still uncertain.

p. 121: Sun Mountain was developed for skiing in the mid-1970s. It was originally built as a summer resort and an extension of the old Sunny "M" Dude Ranch. Don and Sally Portman came to Sun Mountain in 1976 and opened a cross-country ski shop. Don became director of skiing at Sun Mountain and was instrumental in forming the Methow Valley Sports Trail Association (MVSTA). Doug Devin and Jack Wilson developed trails on the "Aspen property." Dick Hamel, a Winthrop motel operator, developed trails near the town. Trails were started at Rendezvous Mountain and expanded into a hut-to-hut ski experience.

p. 126: Eric Sanford, an Aspen transplant, started a business called Liberty Bell Alpine Tours, which introduced helicopter skiing to the area in 1982 and offered a variety of other outdoor adventures. Financial troubles caused him to abandon the business around 1987.

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Last Updated: Thu Oct 13 16:42:31 PDT 2005