Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project Home
My search through the Wenatchee World was made possible by the index compiled by Bruce Mitchell in the 1970s. The index and microfilm copies of the newspaper are available at WPL and UW. The UW collection is inferior, with issues missing or out of order.
Jul 2, 1925 - "Local Men Visit New Pass, Rugged Beauty Is Viewed"On July 1 about 100 highway boosters, local officials, and newspaper representatives drove from both sides of the Cascades to inspect the newly completed Stevens Pass Highway prior to the official opening on July 11. The highway is touted as the "shortest and most scenic route" from Spokane to Everett. The article describes the state of the road and suggests a number of improvements. One suggestion was to have the Great Northern Railway haul automobiles through the Cascade Tunnel on flat cars during the late fall and early spring in order to keep the highway open nearly all winter.
Jul 11, 1925, p. 1 - "Stevens Pass is Open, New Road Cuts 40 Miles from Everett Trip!"The article claims (in advance) that close to 3000 people attended the dedication of the new highway, which follows the old Great Northern Railway switchback topping Stevens Pass. The route is said to be 140 miles long from Spokane to Everett, with 70 miles of pavement.
Jan 21, 1933, p. 1 - "Leavenworth Bids For Ski Hill Fame"This article describes the new 'A' jumping hill at Leavenworth, which features a 240-foot takeoff trestle and a 375-foot landing hill. The hill was completed with a thousand days of volunteer labor and only $300 cash.
I copied a number of other articles about ski jumping tournaments at Leavenworth in the 1930s. A February 13, 1933 article describes the fifth annual tournament (first on the new hill), won by Tom Mobraaten of Vancouver, B.C. and featuring local jumpers Hermod Bakke and Helge Sather. 3,500 people watched the event.
Apr 26, 1935, p. 10 - "Stevens Pass to Be Winter Playground"In spite of "relatively poor roads," skiers from Leavenworth and Wenatchee have been visiting the pass to assess the potential for a skiing development there. The Forest Service plans to construct a large public shelter and clear snags from hillsides adjacent to the pass. A photo shows the slope where the Big Chief chairlift now runs. The slope is semi-open, with many snags. Another photo shows a dozen skiers in a scouting party, including the Odegard brothers and Fred Ball of the Mountaineers, Walter Anderson of Wenatchee, and Hermod Bakke, Earl Little and Helge Sather of Leavenworth. The slopes are said to be "comparable with those of Mt Rainier which attract hundreds of people from Coast cities every week-end during the skiing season." The article continues: "Cross country skiing, which has taken the coast cities by storm during the past few years has made its debut here within the past year or two and a rapid growth in popularity, similar to that which took place on the Coast, is anticipated locally."
Jun 10, 1936 - "Pleasures of the Cascades Closer"The Forest Service will begin work this summer on a ski hut at Stevens Pass. Most of the work will be accomplished by CCC workers. The Stevens Pass area is expected to attract novice skiers, while "the Leavenworth course with its jump is more adaptable for experts and advanced skiers."
Nov 17, 1936 - "Cascade Mountains Giving Up Their Gold"Two photographs depict the Azurite mine above Methow valley. I've copied several articles about the mine, but haven't made notes about most of them. An article on October 23, 1959 describes the New Light mine, which at that time was the only mine still being worked in an area with 200 active claims.
Dec 16, 1936, p. 7 - "Lure of Cascadian Beauty Starts Winter Sports Parade"Ski fever hits Wenatchee. A full-page photo spread opens a six-page ski section. One picture, "A winter sun tan on Stevens Pass," shows four women and four shirtless men enjoying the sun on skis. The section contains many short articles and advertisements and is a trove of period ski information.
Walt Anderson of Chelan National Forest describes the appeal of skiing and offers tips on equipment and learning. Another article by Fred Ball and Walt Anderson has interesting details about current ski equipment.
An article reprinted from the Seattle Times notes that the first slalom and downhill races in the Northwest were held by The Mountaineers on March 2, 1930 at Martin. In 1932 the first Seattle Junior Chamber of Commerce ski carnival was held at Paradise on Mt Rainier. Darroch Crookes, who would later become a member of the 1936 U.S. Olympic team, won a short downhill there.
Robert I. Thomas surveys ski terrain in central Washington. Close to Wenatchee, he mentions Badger Mountain, Burch Mountain, Scout-a-Vista, the Beehive, Jumpoff Ridge and Mission Peak. Farther afield, he describes Leavenworth, Blewett Pass, Lake Wenatchee and Stevens Pass. He writes that the Stevens Pass ski lodge is under construction and won't be available for use this winter. An article two pages later mentions that Lake Wenatchee skiers have toured to Dirtyface lookout for a 4,000 foot descent. (I think the Lake Wenatchee skiers must have included Dale K. Allen.)
Earl Little, writing about the 7th PNW ski jumping championships at Leavenworth, says the first Leavenworth tournament was held in 1928, a mile from the current hill. Walt Anderson was one of the guiding spirits during the early years at Leavenworth. More recently, Ben Thompson of Seattle helped lay out a 1500 foot slalom course there.
George W. Dennis of Wenatchee National Forest describes the role of the Forest Service in promoting skiing. He surveys ski areas around the state, including Snoqualmie Pass, American River, Corral Pass, Mt Baker, Darrington and Stevens Pass. About Mt Baker he writes: "Of novel interest is the machine-operated escalator which draws the skiing parties up a steep slope for 1,000 feet so that they may ski down." No ski tows are mentioned at any of the other areas.
A short note (with photo) mentions that Johnny Parkhill has succeeded Walt Anderson as president of the Wenatchee Ski Club. Anderson has moved to Okanogan. The ski club formed last year.
Jan 18, 1937 - "Jess Baird Wins 'B' Jump At Yakima Ski Tournament"The cream of Northwest's skiers competed at the "first big time ski tournament" in the Yakima Valley at the American River Bowl on January 17. Three thousand spectators were present.
Jan 19, 1937, p. 1 - "Rescue By Dog Sled"A front page article describes the unfolding drama of Fred White, a 25-year-old worker at the Azurite Mine stricken by appendicitis. Authorities hope to bring him out by dog sled, a 23 mile journey from the mine to Robinson Creek, which is 25 miles from Winthrop. Articles on January 20 and 21 describe the rescue by sled drivers including George Stonebreaker, Charles and Ed Kikendall, Earl Kimball and others. Using two dog teams, they brought White out from the mine to Robinson Creek in 11-1/2 hours, a trip that usually takes two days. The January 22 paper reported that White died at the Okanogan hospital a few hours after the operation.
Dec 8, 1937, p. 7 - "4,500 N.C.W. Skiers Welcome Winter Snows"This special ski section boasts that Wenatchee offers "more places to ski closer here than any other city." An article estimates that 3,000 people skied in north central Washington last year and the number is expected to increase 50% this year. Other signs of growth are a ski bus planned every Sunday "to the best ski spots the weather may provide." Clothing tips for men and women have an eye toward fashion. Another article advises "Courtesy is Necessary on Ski Courses."
Although the USFS ski hut at Stevens Pass is not completed yet, it is open for visitors in its unfinished state. Stevens Pass now has a "miniature city" with a restaurant seating thirty persons, a hotel with five rooms, two cabins, and a filling station with bunks installed.
New clubs and ski hills are being established throughout the region. A new club at Chelan is preparing a ski course at the foot of Chelan Butte. A new Cashmere ski club has built a ski jump in Nahahum Canyon. A new Okanogan ski club, with Walt Anderson as president, is developing a ski hill at Salmon Meadows below Tiffany Mountain, eight miles NW of Conconcully. The paper notes that Anderson, now assistant supervisor of the Chelan National Forest, has been "instrumental in organizing practically all ski clubs in North Central Washington."
Mar 29, 1938 - "Chelan to Celebrate First Shipment of Holden Copper"The article predicts that the first load of copper concentrates from the Howe Sound mine at Holden will make the trip down Lake Chelan near April 5. I've copied several articles about the mine, but haven't made notes about most of them. An article from the Annual Festival Progress Edition on April 26, 1939 calls Holden the "Model Mining Town of the World."
Dec 3, 1938, p. 1 - "Skiers Mass to Dedicate Stevens Hut"The Forest Service ski hut, designed by George Dennis, will be dedicated tomorrow.
Dec 7, 1938, p. 9 - "Skade..Goddess of Skiing Reigns Over Cascade Slopes"The annual ski section, five pages this year. There is a photo of a group of skiers including Olav Ulland, John Parkhill, Walker Pickens and Barbara Browne in front of the Stevens Pass hut at its dedication. Another photo shows Walt Anderson waxing one of his skis.
In a letter, Herald Bolin describes his start in skiing nine years earlier. He and a handful of friends took up the sport before controlled skiing became established in Wenatchee valley. "We depended on all-seeing Divine Providence to pick out a soft landing place at the foot of the hill where, if the only turn in our bag of tricks failed to work, we 'piled-up.'" In January 1933, Hoyt Wilbanks, Sam Driver and Bolin were flown by Frank Kammer in an airplane to the top of Badger Mountain for a ten-mile downhill ride to the airport.
In "Okanogan Gets the Ski Bug," Walt Anderson describes the growth of skiing in the Okanogan and Methow country. He writes that a party skied Tiffany Mountain three weeks earlier. Bob Mattison skied out from the Azurite mine, 26 miles, in eight hours. "That's pretty slow for Bob, but not bad for the first trip," writes Anderson. He mentions skiing in late November at Stevens Pass with Dale Allen of Wenatchee. He writes that he has been on skis 33 winters in a row.
In "Leavenworth..From Zero to Northwest Ski Jump Capital," Earl Little writes that in the fall of 1928 Walt Anderson called for volunteers to clear grounds for a ski jumping hill. A small hill was built and a tournament was arranged. Little writes, "The competition was made up principally of Andersons [sic] from Cle Elum and Sigurd Hansen, a former national champion." Hansen won with a 50 foot jump. In later years a new site was selected, a larger jump was built, ski trains arrived from the coast, and great jumpers made their mark. Olav Ulland was brought to Leavenworth in 1938 to teach skiing.
In "The World From a Mountain Top Is Cross-Country Thrill," George W. Dennis of the Forest Service writes about ski touring. He recommends tours around Stevens Pass, in particular the ten-mile round trip through Tye Mill Pass to Lake Josephine. He also mentions Chumstick Mountain on the Entiat divide and writes that a group made a 25-mile trip over the divide to Entiat the previous year.
Feb 16, 1939 - "Little Sun Valley--a Going Concern"The brainchild of the Wenatchee Ski Club, Wheeler Hill is a former stubble field and grazing slope 15 minutes drive from Wenatchee, "a mecca for board riders that don't like the long drive to Stevens and other ski centers." The club laid out a 1250 foot rope-tow, the longest in the Northwest, and built a temporary shelter there.
Nov 29, 1939, p. 11 - "Premier Skiing Areas of Northwest Lie East of Cascades"The annual ski section doesn't contain much of interest to this project, as downhill skiing is becoming well established. It has lots of ads, advice, event listings, and even a ski I.Q. test. There's an article about the newly formed Wenatchee unit of the National Ski Patrol. Of interest is an article about the Wenatchee Ski Club, which states that the club was formed in 1935 to establish "controlled skiing" in the Wenatchee valley. The group was headed by Walt Anderson, "the father of all ski clubs of Washington east of the Cascades." The charter members were Walt Anderson, Paul Scea, John Parkhill, Del McCracken, Frank Bush and Herald Bolin. In 1936, the Everett and Wenatchee chambers of commerce urged their respective ski clubs to purchase a tract of land at Stevens Pass from the Northern Pacific Railroad. This was done and the land was deeded to the Forest Service for conversion into a recreational area.
Dec 6, 1939 - "Ski Clubs Oppose Proposed Cascade Park--Hit New Law"The Wenatchee Ski Club has joined other organizations around the state in opposing establishment of a Cascade National Park. The club followed the lead of a delegation to the National Ski Association headed by Fred McNeil of Portland, which protested Park Service policy discouraging the development of winter sports in the parks.
Dec 8, 1939, p. 1 - "Finn Ghosts"A short article describes Finnish sharpshooters on skis "clad in ghostlike white cloaks which made them almost invisible against a background of snow" attacking Russion troops on the far northern front to score an important victory. The Russian troops, "bewildered by the attack of the white clad Finns, ran like sheep into machine gun fire from the Finnish side."
Feb 3, 1940, p. 1 - "She Skis to Scalpel"Mrs. L.A. Gourlie, 41, is recovering in a Wenatchee hospital after gallstone surgery after skiing 11 miles under her own power from her husband's mining cabin near Windy Pass. Physicians said that if she'd arrived at the hospital 24 hours later she wouldn't be recovering. Gourlie's 19-year-old son Melvin skied out ahead to summon a dog team. Gourlie and her husband followed and were met at Robinson Creek by Jim Kikendall. A front page story on February 10 includes photos of the Gourlie cabin, the sled dogs, and Mrs. Gourlie resting in a hospital bed.
Dec 4, 1940, p. 11 - "The Wenatchee Daily World Ski Section"The most interesting item in this annual ski section is the opening photograph of Tamarack Peak, near Windy Pass, taken by Bill Long. The caption says that Long is up there now, staying with the L.A. Gourlies, 16 miles south of the Canadian border. "He'll be gone three weeks, and he's spending every day skiing on hills like this." An article about the ski patrol says that George Dennis is the Stevens Pass patrol chief.
Dec 3, 1941, p. 7 - "Places to Go..Things to Wear..Ski Time Coming Again"The annual ski section opens with a photo of Black Peak taken from an airplane flying over Rainy Pass. Two women modeling the latest ski fashions are pasted into the foreground. The Forest Service estimates that 5,000 people skied Stevens Pass last season. The expert rope tow has been extended higher into the cirque below Big Chief mountain and a new beginner tow has been added. "Ski Stars in the Army Now" names prominent skiers enlisted in the 15th Infantry at Fort Lewis, including Walter Prager, Arnold Fawcus, Tom Hill and Tony Knutsen. Capt. Paul R. Lafferty is the outfit's technical ski advisor. Another article says that many skiers have left for defense jobs and school.
The article, "Leavenworth May Not Stage Famous Jumping Tournament" ponders the future of the annual meet. The draft, the growth of downhill and slalom racing, and competition from other tournaments have all reduced the number of big name skiers available. After setting a national record at Leavenworth last February, Torger Tokle surpassed it on the Snoqualmie Hill. Without major improvements to the Leavenworth hill, the record is now out of reach. Club officers sense that ski jumping at Leavenworth has reached its zenith. Unknown to all, the attack on Pearl Harbor is just four days away.
Mar 19, 1948 - "Survivor of Wellington Tunnel Wreck Recalls 1910 Disaster That Killed 101"Alfred B. Hensel, the only one of nine postal clerks to survive the Wellington avalanche, recalls the disaster. Hensel was in a party that left Wellington during the night of February 28, 1910 to walk three miles to Scenic. It snowed a foot an hour and strong winds accompanied by lightning and thunder continued throughout the night. At 1:20 a.m. the avalanche occurred. Hansel survived with broken ribs, a broken arm and other injuries.
Jan 31, 1951 - "Loup Loup's Snow Is Like the Alps"The article describes the growth of the Loup Loup ski area, started in 1946 by Ralph Parks and Tom Meyer of Okanogan. Parks began looking for a ski hill after he got out of the military after WWII. "I must have skied over most of the mountains from Okanogan to Twisp before this spot was picked," he said. They began clearing the first slope that summer. The hill now has a rope tow nearly 2,000 feet long. An article on February 12, 1968 describes expansion of the ski area.
I found various articles about other community ski hills in north central Washington. The January 15, 1956 paper has stories about Cooper Mountain, five miles NW of Chelan, and Squilchuck State Park, eight miles south of Wenatchee.
Feb 22, 1952, p. 5 - Anderson, Eva, "Rails Across the Cascades"This article describes a railroad survey of the North Cascades by D.C. Linsley for the Northern Pacific in 1870. Linsley explored the Cascade crest around White Pass and Indian Pass and recommended a rail line over Indian Pass connecting the Sauk and Wenatchee Rivers. He traveled with Indians unable to speak English who showed him how to glissade:"In coming down I practiced the plan pursued by the Indians, to-wit, sitting down upon the snow and allowing the force of gravity to take me down, using a stout stick as a brake to regulate the speed. It may have not been ... the most dignified pose of traveling known, but it was an eminently successful one in my case."
Apr 17, 1957 - "Development of Holden Recreation Area Talked"A panel of experts discussed what would happen to Holden after Howe Sound Company closes down the mine at the end of June. Development of a resort, youth camp or church camp has been suggested, but there are currently no obvious prospects for acquiring the property. After a period of time, the town buildings on Forest Service land would become property of the government. Jim Sullivan of Howe Sound said that the area near Lyman Lake offers unparalleled skiing, but keeping the road open from Lake Chelan would be a big cost in winter operation.
Mar 7, 1958, p. 1 - "How Is It With Holden By Now?"Following the first winter since the Holden mine shut down, the Daily World's "annual winter ski trip" was chartered to find out how the town buildings had come through the winter. Writers Wilfred and Bob Woods, with Dale Allen and Bill Barnett, hiked and skied from Lucerne to the town around March 1. They found most buildings in good shape following the mildest winter in the area since the mine opened in 1938.
The second part of the story (on 3-9-58) says that Dale Allen, who was with the Game Department for many years, made numerous 10-day to two-week ski trips into the backcountry with Walt Anderson of the Forest Service, making as much as 30 miles in one day on skis. "They had their equipment organized so that they carried packs of only 20 to 25 pounds each for 10 days in the woods."
May 13, 1959, p. 1 - "Holden May Be Sold As 'Luxury Resort'"A group headed by Henry Haas of Seattle plans to purchase Holden and develop it into a plush resort for the very wealthy, called "Shangri-La, The Switzerland of America." Improvements would include a heated swimming pool, trails for horseback treks and ski lifts four miles from town. (Details appeared on 5-18-59 and 5-19-59.) The 7-12-59 Daily World reported that the sale had fallen through due to failure of the buyers to secure financing. The paper also reported that Haas and associates were now negotiating to purchase the Red Mountain Mine at Trinity on the Chiwawa River.
Oct 19, 1960 - "Joy In Chelan: Holden To Be A Church Camp"The Lutheran Bible Institute of Seattle has accepted the entire Holden townsite, valued at $1,750,000, as a gift from the Howe Sound Company. Since the mine closed in 1957 rumors have circulated of various plans to develop the area. "For the Howe Sound Co. it apparently became impossible to sell the town. It was to the firm's tax advantage to give away the town buildings to a church group."
Feb 17, 1963 - "Stevens Skiing 25 Years Old"This article recalls the installation of the first rope tow at Stevens Pass by Bruce Kehr and Don Adams. The pair were early-day Mt Rainier skiers from Seattle who built a short rope tow at the pass in the winter of 1937-38 for $600. "I know it was $600 because it was my $600," said Kehr. The Forest Service counted 800 skiers that first year at Stevens.
Dec 8, 1966 - "Mission Ridge Dedication Sunday"After seven years of work, the Mission Ridge ski area will be dedicated on December 11, 1966. This paper includes a 50+ page supplement with information about the development of the ski area. One item mentions that the USFS lodge at Stevens Pass burned down in 1939 but was rebuilt in 1940. Articles on 2-15-62 and 8-20-62 mention the involvement of Walt Little of the John Graham Company in feasibility studies of the area. Other interesting articles about Mission Ridge appeared on 2-14-60, 2-25-62, 2-5-64 and 12-12-66.
Jun 30, 1968 - "Ski Facilities Eyed in Methow"The Forest Service will take a look at ski resort possibilities along the route of the North Cross State Highway, which is under construction. Don Campbell, forest supervisor, warned that it would be a "tremendous problem" to provide developments in time to meet the requirements of the thousands of people that the new road would bring into the area. "Without recreational facilities people area apt to 'pull off the road anywhere' and pollute the area." One Methow Valley resident at a meeting in Okanogan said lack of developments would create a "100-mile sewer" along the road route.
Jan 25, 1971 - "Four die as snowslide crushes Yodelin cabins"An avalanche 100 feet wide by 400 feet long crushed two cabins, killing two adults and two children. Articles on 1-25-71, 1-27-71 and 1-31-71 describe continuing avalanche danger over a period when Stevens Pass was closed for four consecutive days. (Articles on 10-29-68 and 12-7-69 describe the planning and development of the ski area.) A 1-28-71 article says that the developers of the Yodelin Ski Resort were warned two years earlier about avalanche danger in the area, based on observations by Edward R. LaChapelle of the University of Washington. The developers fought back and the state backed off because it was powerless to do anything, according to Governor Dan Evans. Articles on 5-11-71 and 5-25-71 report that claims totaling $2 million were filed against the county, state and the developers by the survivors, the estate of the victims, and other parties.
Jan 29, 1971 - "Icicle ski area possible, needed"A local group called Hochalpin Verein Inc. is studying development of ski areas near the head of Icicle Creek. The two most interesting areas are Cashmere Mountain and Ridge 6600. Bill Stark and Dwight Baker, Boeing engineers, have helped survey the sites. Articles on 1-28-71 and 5-11-71 also describe these proposals.
Jan 27, 1985 - Blonk, Hu, "Mountain Man"This exclusive interview relates the story of Gordon Stuart, who has lived for 60 years at Domke Lake trapping on snowshoes in the mountains between his home and the Entiat River.
Nov 29, 2000 - Wilfred R. Woods, "It started with a rope: The history of Stevens Pass"This short column was written on the occasion of Bruce Kehr's induction into the Northwest Ski Hall of Fame. The author describes the founding of Stevens Pass ski area by Kehr and his wife Virginia with Don Adams. He mentions events at the ski area through 1977, when the Kehrs sold it to Harbor Properties.
Sep 17, 2007 - Wilfred R. Woods, "Original smokejumper a man worth knowing"This short column provides background on Walt Anderson, Forest Service ranger and skier in north central Washington beginning in the 1920s. The column is based on an article in the Forest Service publication Management Today written by Anderson's great-nephews. In 1939 the Forest Service started an experimental project to see if parachuting men into remote fires was feasible and to develop equipment and procedures for them. Walt Anderson was chosen to supervise this project and he coined the term "smokejumper" for those aerial firefighters. Anderson made parachute jumps himself at age 43, twice the age of most smokejumpers.
Dec 15, 2007 - Wilfred R. Woods, "Early clubs started NCW's ski tradition"This short column was prompted by my visit with Wilfred Woods on December 3. He describes the early years of the Wenatchee Ski Club, the start of skiing at Stevens Pass, and attempts to develop local ski areas such as Squilchuck, Nahahum Canyon, Wheeler Hill, and Pole Ridge east of Lake Wenatchee.
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