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Ramon Heller - Mount Baker Ski Area

p. 6: Bert Huntoon, an engineer and photographer, was the driving force behind efforts to build the Mt Baker Highway and create a resort hotel on the mountain at Heather Meadows. The Mt Baker Club, of which Huntoon was a member, was created to promote the mountain region. The club sponsored the Mt Baker Marathon, a footrace from Bellingham to the summit of the volcano and back, in 1911, 1912 and 1913.

p. 7: Construction of the Mt Baker Highway from Escelsior to Shuksan (on the Nooksack River) began in 1921. The key promoters of Mt Baker development were C.H. Park, J.B. McMillan, Bert Huntoon and Frank Sefrit. Everett B. Deming was enlisted as a financial backer.

p. 9: Construction of the Mt Baker Lodge began in 1925. The Mt Baker Highway, critical to the development of the hotel, was completed to Heather Meadows in autumn 1926. The lodge officially opened on July 14, 1927. The cost of construction for the complex was about $500,000. The lodge catered to the wealthy and the author describes its opulent design.

p. 25: The Mt Baker Ski Club was organized in 1927 by a group including C.A. "Hap" Fisher, Dr. E.P. "Doc" Spearin and Erwin Lusby. The early group of eight or ten skiers possessed only two pairs of skis between them so they took turns skiing while the others watched. In January 1929 Fritz Koons of the Mt Baker Club organized a party of 21 skiers who hiked from Glacier to Heather Meadows. The highway was closed in winter and winter caretakers stayed at the lodge.

p. 27: The first ski tournament at Heather Meadows was held in April 1930. It was a ski jumping meet. Erling Thompson of Seattle made a jump of 125 feet. Another ski tournament was held the following April. It featured uphill, downhill and cross-country races for men and women, geared toward novice skiers.

p. 28: On August 5, 1931 the Mt Baker Lodge burned to the ground. This page includes a spectacular photo of the building consumed by flames.

p. 29: Miss Milana Jank was mountain sports director at the Mt Baker Lodge.

p. 31: During the autumn of 1931, the state highway department improved the road to Mt Baker and extended it to Artist Point. During the winter small groups of skiers continued to venture to the resort area. The highway department was keeping the road open as far as Bagley Creek bridge, about 5 miles from Heather Meadows.

p. 33: During the summer of 1932, the season following the fire, the resort opened with the Heather Inn (formerly used for employees) serving as the guest center. Guests stayed at the Lodge Annex, which had survived the fire.

p. 34: During the winter of 1934-35, Jack London's "Call of the Wild" was filmed at Mt Baker. The highway was kept open through the middle of December, partly due to a light snowfall. After the film crew arrived, snow storms kept the road closed during part of January. Filming continued into February, and after the crew left the highway department agreed to keep the road open for the remainder of the winter. The presence of the cast and film crew and the improved access provided during this winter stimulated interest in Mt Baker as a skiing destination.

p. 36: Photo of Clark Gable, Loretta Young and Reginald Owen on skis. The stars of "The Call of the Wild" tried on skis during breaks in the shooting. Publicity photos and articles did much to encourage potential skiers to come up to the Meadows and try out the sport.

p. 38: In May 1935 the Pacific Northwest Ski Association held its first slalom tournament at Panorama Dome. In December 1935 the Mt Baker Development Company began operating a cable-drawn sled called a "ski escalator" that carried skiers from Terminal Lake up Panorama Dome. Early in 1936, after the sled had been in operation less than a month, Arthur Branlund, the developer of the lift, was killed in an avalanche that came off Panorama Dome.

p. 42a: In autumn 1937 the Forest Service granted a permit to Ski Lifts, Inc. of Tacoma, headed by Chauncey L. Griggs and James S. Parker, to build and operate a rope tow at Heather Meadows. Otto Lang opened a ski school at Mt Baker in December 1937.

p. 42b: Photos of skiers at Heather Meadows in the late 1930s.

p. 43: A ski patrol was organized at Mt Baker during the winter of 1938-39. Ted Davids was its first president and Hank Reasoner was secretary/treasurer. Another early patrol member was Dr. Otto Trott, who served the patrol from 1939 until the 1960s.

p. 45: In 1940, Henry Reasoner operated the rope tow for Ski Lifts, Inc.

p. 46: During the winter of 1942-43 wartime gasoline rationing led the highway department to cut back operations and curtail efforts to keep the highway open in winter. This spelled the end of the Mt Baker Development Company. The area was closed during World War II.

p. 49: The first Heather Cup was held at Mt Baker on the July 4 weekend of 1948. This was the only ski tournament scheduled anywhere in the country during the month of July.

p. 54: The first chairlift at Mt Baker, up Panorama Dome, was completed in May 1954.

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Last Updated: Wed Sep 8 16:13:49 PST 2004