Midwest Lost Ski Areas Project







1841 First reported use of recreational skis in the United States - Beloit, WI

In 1841 miners from Beloit, Wisconsin became the first to people to be documented to ski recreationally in the US.

Fast Facts - Recreational Skiing In The US Started In The Midwest?! - Matthew Zabranksi, Midwest

Skiers and Snowboarders of the Midwest Facebook Group

History of Skiing - The Story with Great Photos -

A Brief, Incomplete, Semi-Accurate History of Skiing -

The History of Skiing - Kendall Springob - 1800s

1885 First ski jumping club in the US, the Scandinavian Ski Club of St. Paul, was established.

Ski Jumping in Washington State: A Nordic Tradition, John W. Lundin

. . . .

1887 First ski jumping competition in the US - Red Wing, MN

"In 1886, a Red Wing department store owner with a walrus mustache formed the Aurora Ski Club, only the second such organization in America. The following year, during Minnesota’s second-coldest winter on record, the club pulled off the first ski-jumping competition in the United States. Mikkel Hemmestvedt, a 24-year-old recent immigrant, established the American record, flying 37 feet over downtown Red Wing and earning himself $35 in gold. "

1896 Martin Strand opens first ski factory in North America - St. Paul, MN

" It was Martin Strand, a civil engineer born in Rendalen, Norway, who in 1896 began mass-producing skis using power equipment, in St. Paul. But the signal success was the Northland Ski Manufacturing Co., which grew to be the largest ski-maker in the world, while producing what many considered the best hickory skis available (at least until Thor Groswold began making skis in Denver in 1934)."

"A Norwegian also opened the first ski factory in North America, in St. Paul. And his apprentice later opened the nearby Northland Ski Company, known for its long, sleek hickory skis, its “How-to-Ski” brochures, and catalog sales that opened the sport to the masses. By the 1930s, Northland was the biggest ski maker in the world, and even now nearly every skier of a certain age recalls starting on Northland skis." [MWLSAP: my first good skis were Northlands]

"The next year in 1888, Martin Strand arrived in Minneapolis from Rendalen, Norway and enrolled in the University of Minnesota’s civil engineering program. After the economy collapsed in 1893, Strand began experimenting with making his own skis as the activity was, and still is, a point of Norwegian pride. Starting out of his basement, warping wood planks with a kettle, Strand quickly mastered the craft. The abundance of trees and Scandinavians in Minnesota meant that Strand was able to make a living off his new skillset, so he began selling his skis in 1896. Three years later, he had his own shop on Cedar Avenue."

"Martin Strand’s next shop was located at 2427 University Avenue, where the Tea House Chinese Restaurant now stands. Unfortunately, his entire operation burned to the ground, as was a common occurrence for many ski manufacturing buildings, so Strand moved his business to a new location two miles away at Hampden Avenue and University Avenue in Saint Paul. Six months later, this factory also burned down, so Strand sold what was left of his business to his foreman Ole Sigurd Ellevold. Strand started a new ski business in a brick building in New Richmond, Wisconsin, and Ellevold rebuilt a factory at University and Hampden. Ellevold’s new company was called The Northland Ski Manufacturing Company."

1911 according to

According to 1879 — "First North American ski manufacturing undertaken by Norwegian immigrant Martin A. Strand in Minnesota."

1905 The National Ski Association was founded - Ishpenning, MI (now the United States Ski and Snowboard Association)

In 1961 it was renamed the United States Ski Association. In the 1990s it became the United States Ski and Snowboard Association and included freestyle and disabled skiing.

History of Skiing in the United States -

Timeline of Important Ski History Dates-

1905 Norge Ski Club founded - Fox River Grove, IL - oldest continuously operating ski jumping club in the US

1911 Northland Ski Company Founded - St. Paul, MN - became the world's largest ski producer

"Ole Ellevold, St. Paul, Minnesota, founds a ski factory, later called the Northland Ski Company. Its hickory skis dominated the market for another 30 years. (Amski 1966 p446)". "The last Northlands shipped in 1970. "

1932 Minnesota became the first state to make skiing an official high school sport - Ski Jumping

1936 The world's first chairlift was designed by James M. Curran of Omaha, Nebraska, and installed at Sun Valley, Idaho. The single chairlift was moved to Boyne Mountain, MI in 1948

The Birth of the Chairlift and It's Tie to the Midwest - (5:12)
The Invention of the Ski Chairlift, Smithsonian Magazine.

1939 Otsego Ski Club opens. Otsego became oldest ski club in America with it’s own ski facility

Opened to the public in 2017

1940 Rib Mountain has the longest rope tow in the United States (3100 ft.) - Wausaw, WI

Skis Begin to Burn up Snow in Wisconsin - Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Sun, Jan 14, 1940

Still the longest in 1956 - Rib Mountain Beckons Skiers - Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin) · Sun, Dec 30, 1956

1941 Dec. 7 - Little Switzerland, WI opens / Pearl Harbor attacked

Little Switzerland (Wisconsin) - wikipedia

1949 First Chairlift in the Midwest - Boyne Mountain, MI

Everett Kircher bought the world’s first chairlift, a single, from Sun Valley in 1948 and installed it at Boyne, Michigan, in 1949.

In 1951 the lift was changed to a double chair, becoming the fifth double in the US.

Triple, Quad, 6-Seat Chairs: A Mini-History - 

1954 Ski Hall of Fame dedicated - Ishpeming, MI

Timeline of Important Ski History Dates- 

1955 Wilmot, WI - Night Skiing on The Tonight Show, NBC television.

Wilmot made The Tonight Show to show off skiing under the lights. 

1960 First summer ski jumping in the United States - Forest Hill Ski Area, Munising, MI

Weed, Not Snow to Coat Ski Jump at Munising - Lansing State Journal (Lansing, Michigan) · Tue, Jun 28, 1960
The history of ski jumping in summer -

1963 World's first bubble chairlift - Boyne Highlands, MI 

1964 World's first triple chairlift - Boyne Highlands, MI 

1964 World's first quad chairlift - Boyne Mountain, MI 

1965 The SNURFER is invented by Sherman Poppen (filed for a patent in 1966) - Christmas Day Muskegon, MI

50th Anniversary of the Snurfer - Sherman Poppen discusses his invention - 2015 Vimeo video

Michigan Snowboard Museum - The Snurfer (lots of pictures of the Snurfer

1968 First Sitzlift installed at Ski Tonka, Orono, MN

Followed the next year by Sitzlifts at Lutsen and Buffalo Valley, MN and at Snowcrest, WI, in 1969

What is a Sitzlift? (Midwest Skiers - YouTube)

1969 Copper Peak built - world's largest artificial ski jump - Ironwood, MI


1973 The first American Birkebeiner cross country ski race was held in Hayward, WI. The "Birkie" became the largest cross country ski race in the United States.

1985 First boardercross / snowboard cross race ? - Alpine Valley, MI

"In 1985 Alpine Valley Mi held its annual Mardi Gras Winter Carnival in late February. It was the annual Spring party with fun and games, various events, etc for young and old alike. We had set up a variety of events for skiers but had not included any events for the ever growing crowd of snowboarders. One of the young snowboarders came up to me and said hey mister how come there’s no race for us? So we thought that we’d add a slalom race for them. Well, there were so many boarders that signed up we were worried how we could fit it in that afternoon. We decided to run them down the course in groups of 12 until we could find a single winner. So I think it might have been the very first BoarderCross event! The event was sponsored by Surfs Up in Keego Harbor. It was very wild and fun event! FYI" Bill Byberg
See comment by Bill Byberg in Ski the Midwest Facebook Group,

Therefore, Wikipedia must be wrong when it states that the first snowboard cross race was in 1991.

1992 First six-seat high-speed chairlift in the US - Boyne Mountain, MI 

1993 First snowboard-only resort in the US - Raging Buffalo, Algonquin, IL

2018 First Olympic gold medal for the United States in cross-country skiing - Jessie Diggins, a cross-country skier from Minnesota at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

2019 Chairlift Speed Dating at Wilmot, WI 

 2024 World's Largest SnowFlex hill opens at Sleepy Hollow, IA


Media Resources -

Triple, Quad, 6-Seat Chairs: A Mini-History -

A Brief, Incomplete, Semi-Accurate History of Skiing -

 History of Skiing - The Story with Great Photos -

Timeline – North American Ski Mountaineering History -

The Evolution Of Skiing Over The Decades -

Skiing in the United States -

The History of Skiing - Kendall Springob

Timeline of Important Ski History Dates-

History of Skiing -

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the History of Skiing in the U.S. -

History of Skiing in the United States -

History of Alpine Skiing -


The Origins and Growth of Skiing in the North Star State



Dave Goode - carbon fibre skis and poles

SMI snowmakers

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