Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project Home

Puget Soundings Magazine, 1978

Puget Soundings Magazine, Dec 1978, p. 20 - Moffett, Webb, "A Brief History of Skiing in the Northwest"

In the mid-1930s, the Seattle Park Department under Ben Evans had a small patch of trees cleared at Snoqualmie Pass, known as Municipal Hill. This was the birthplace of what was to become Snoqualmie Summit ski area. In those days, skiing was more of a spectator sport than a participant activity. Thousands of people used to hike from the highway to Beaver Lake to watch "those crazy Norwegians" fly through the air at competitions held by the Seattle Ski Club.

In 1937, Jim Parker moved to the Northwest. He had experience with rope tows in the east and enlisted the support and finances of Chauncey Griggs of Tacoma to start a company known as Ski Lifts, Inc., for the purpose of installing rope tows in the Northwest. The author became interested in rope tows at the same time, but everywhere he went to secure a location, he found that the Tacoma people had preceded him. So he talked himself into a job with Ski Lifts, Inc. With Jim Parker, he installed rope tows at Rainier, Baker and Snoqualmie. Don Adams and Bruce Kehr set up a rope tow at Stevens Pass at the same time. Also in the 1930s, the Milwaukee Railroad opened the Milwaukee Bowl at the eastern portal of the Snoqualmie Tunnel.

With the outbreak of war in 1941, Griggs and Parker sold their operations at Rainier, Baker and Snoqualmie to the author for $3,500. Gas rationing saved Snoqualmie. "People still wanted to ski and they could pool their five gallons of gas a week, jam-pack their cars, and drive the shorter distance to Snoqualmie. Business quadrupled the first year, and Snoqualmie grew with more and more rope tows."

After the war, in 1945, Archie Talbot took over Mt Baker. In 1949, Ray Tanner obtained some Northern Pacific land just east of Snoqualmie Summit and opened Ski Acres. The author briefly describes developments at White Pass, Crystal Mountain, Mt Pilchuck, Yodelin, Mission Ridge, Alpental and several smaller areas.

Return to the Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project home page

Copyright © 2002 Lowell Skoog. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated: Wed Dec 30 16:05:15 PST 2009