Celebrating 75 Years of Boyne Mountain

Welcome to a journey through time and snow, as we embark on an adventure to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Boyne Mountain Resort. Nestled in the beauty of northern Michigan, Boyne Mountain has been a winter wonderland and year-round retreat for generations of adventure seekers.

Join us as we take a nostalgic trip down memory lane, honoring the past, celebrating the present, and eagerly anticipating the future of our beloved mountain paradise. From its humble beginnings to becoming one of the Midwest's premier resorts, Boyne Mountain has woven itself into the fabric of countless family traditions and outdoor enthusiasts' hearts.

Through this blog series, we uncover stories, milestones, and the magic that makes Boyne Mountain an enduring symbol of the Midwest skiing experience. We hear from those who have grown up on the slopes, explore the innovations that shaped our destiny, and discover the timeless allure of winter enchantment.


Plans Underway for Boyne Ski Club

Everett Kircher had fallen in love with skiing. He bought his first pair of skis the same year Sun Valley opened. He took them to Lake Placid to try them out.

Sun Valley had a profound effect on Everett and his newly developing passion for downhill skiing.

Otsego Ski Club near Gaylord, Michigan, had a 250-foot vertical slope. It was the best ski facility Michigan could offer at the time, and it was the place Everett Kircher spent his weekends skiing.  It was the first ski club in the United States with its own lodging and facilities. But it wasn't much of a ski hill, and the experience was still very rudimentary. The rhetorical question for most of the skiers there was "Wouldn't it be great if Michigan had a real ski mountain?"

Later in the winter, Everett got together with two ski buddies, John Norton and Jim Christianson. They all wanted more challenging runs and they decided to get serious about finding a mountain-like slope in Michigan.

They spent long weekends through the summer of 1947 exploring the various sites.  The sixth site they examined was the final choice.  After settling on the site, the three partners each anted up $5,000 to buy the property. When they told Senator William Pearson*, the 88-year-old owner of the land, what they wanted to do with his property, he said,

"Anybody damn-fool enough to want to build a ski hill, well... I'll give you the property."

Detroit Youth Hostelers Help Clear Trails

The Youth Hostel movement began in 1909 by Richard Schirmann, a German schoolteacher, and Wilhelm Munker, a conservationist. The original idea for a hostel movement was for young people to have the opportunity to work and learn outside the city. Students were offered free or low-cost accommodations in return for working at various projects with informal education as the goal.

During the summer of 1947, the runs were being cleared for the Boyne Ski Club. There were no bulldozers at the time and the work had to be done by hand, using saws to cut down second-growth trees and teams of horses to drag the trees down the hill. The remaining stumps had to be removed by digging holes beneath them and loading them with dynamite! The jagged roots that were left had to be dug out by hand

The proiect was a perfect fit for the outdoor-oriented youth hostels of the time. So the Detroit Youth Hostel visited Boyne Falls in a coordinated, outdoor development endeavor. They were there to help cut the first ski trails for the Boyne Ski Club. In the winter, those same hostelers would return to ski on the runs they helped cut. The group, consisting of many women, camped at the base of Boyne Mountain and took part in clearing the land throughout the summer.

The First Chairlift

Averill Harriman, founder of Sun Valley Resort, wanted a better way to haul skiers up his mountain. One of his Union Pacific Railroad engineers, James Curren, a self-made bridge engineer who had learned his profession by observing and doing, came up with an idea. His inspiration was equipment used for loading bananas onto boats using hooks strung on a continuously moving cable. The hooks, he thought, could each hold a single-person chair. His superiors thought the idea was too dangerous, but Curren managed to slip his plan through to company headquarters and the "brass" in Chicago loved it and put a priority on its development.

Sun Valley's first two single-chair lifts were the first ever built in the world. They were installed in time for the 1937 winter opening season at Sun Valley. The single-chair lift that originally went up Sun Valley's Dollar Mountain is the one that Boyne later purchased for the opening of the Boyne Ski Club.

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