Olympians and CO’s Lost Areas

Colorado’s lost hills and ski areas launched the careers of athletes in the United States for the Winter Olympics.

A very early winter Olympian was ski jumper Anders Haugen. In 1919, he skied over Loveland Pass to the site of the Prestrud Jump at Dillon Reservoir—the hill is now under water—to take part in a competition. He set a world record of 213 feet. The next year he came back and set a new record of 214 feet. He was captain of the U.S. Olympic team at the first Winter Olympics in 1924 in Chamonix, France.

Some twenty years later, Robert L. “Barney” McLean skied the areas around Hot Sulphur Springs: Bungalow Hill, Mount Bross, and Snow King Valley. Grand County Museum Director B. Tim Nicklas said about him, “Barney McLean, many can argue, is the best skier to ever come out of Colorado. He has twelve national championships for both jumping and alpine, and he was captain of the 1948 Winter Olympic Team.”

Maggie Armstrong skied on Maggie’s Hill at Hot Sulphur Springs in the 1960s. She remembered a substitute teacher at her one-room schoolhouse in Parshall. Johnny R. Cress took the students skiing on Thursdays at the hill. He also skied Nordic Combined on the U.S. Ski Team at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics.



Happy 2017–2018 Ski Season! Remembering Lost Area in South Park

Sticker on bench made out of snowboards at Indian Mountain.

When you’re driving through the vast South Park on your way to well-known ski areas and mountain communities, try to envision a ski area right there.

Indian Mountain operated about ten miles southeast of Jefferson and served a local community.

One summer, the authors went there to investigate. We walked the old runs  and took pictures of remaining signs of the old lifts. We also found an old sticker for the area on a bench made of snowboards.

You can find out a little more about Indian Mountain in the Lost Ski Areas of the Front Range and Northern Mountains book.

Have a fun and safe ski season!


Skis for Horses

In honor of the stock show and all the folks who helped skiing get started in Colorado by offering their hills for runs and their tractors and trucks to power tows, here’s a good story found in Lost Ski Areas of Colorado’s Central and Southern Mountains.

Colorado’s ranchers, farmers, and tradesmen have always been very mechanical and ingenious. They had to be. For example, this vehicle was equipped with skis to help CDOT employees take care of the roads and skiers on the roads in early days. But did you ever hear of someone putting skis on horses so their owners could go places in deep snow?

The Colorado Division of Transportation (CDOT) used this vehicle to take care of the roads and early skiers. USFS photo.

Well, here’s just one such story, which was published in 1884 in the Rocky Mountain Sun.

A freighter named Brockman recently brought his horses from Summitville to Baker’s station on snow shoes. The shoes were made of wood, two inches thick, eight inches wide and eighteen inches long, and were fastened to the horses feet by means of wires and straps. The shoes were fastened on, and after a few days of practice in Summitville, the horses learned the modus operandi of the scheme, and on Monday Mr. Brockman rode one horse out over from fifty to one hundred feet of snow, while the second horse pulled a sled loaded with provisions over the same course.

You’re not sure whether this is real or not? Neither are the authors, who found the story while looking through old newspapers online.

Thanks to Colorado’s ranchers and tradesmen for their contributions to Colorado ski culture!