75th Anniversary History Blog Series - The 1940’s Part 1
75th Anniversary History Blog Series - The 1940’s Part 1
By Skiing is Life in 801 • Sun Nov 22 2015 •
Let the Racing Begin!
The first big race held at Snow Basin was the intermountain downhill and slalom tournament which was a two day event held on February 15-16, 1941. Area Ski Clubs from as far as Sun Valley competed and over 2000 spectators attended. The downhill race started just below Needles and ended at the bottom of Wildcat run. The Slalom was held on City Hill. There are still racing competitions held on City Hill throughout the season. Alf Engen won both the downhill and slalom events. Racing was a big part of Snow Basin in the early days and there were regularly scheduled races held throughout the seasons during the 1940's.
Left, Middle and Right: Slalom course on City Hill. Photo source: University of Utah Ski Archives.
Halvor Bjorngaard was a popular ski jumper from the early 1930s. Halvor competed locally at Ogden's own Becker Hill. Halvor Bjorngaard, Alf, Corey, and Sverre Engen were close friends and competitors. In 1933, Halvor was killed in a motorcycle accident near Willard, Utah. To honor Halvor's memory, the Engen brother's and Snow Basin built a jumping hill that was located to the north of City Hill (There is a Electrical Sub Station at the bottom of what was Bjorngaard Hill). As part of the racing events on February 16, 1941, Bjorngaard Hill was officially dedicated with Alf and Corey Engen performing a double jump, while in mid-flight they both dropped a bouquet of roses. I haven't been able to obtain information on how long Bjorngaard Hill was used but my guess was until the 1950's when a new jumping hill was built near School Hill.
In an interview with the Derlin Newey, who claims to be the “last living skier still skiing Snow Basin since the day it opened”, Derlin stated that he remembers the ramp being built and said that Alf Engen gave him jumping lessons. Derlin still skis at Snowbasin Resort on a regular basis.
Top left: Jumpers - Corey and Alf Engen. Top right: Halvor Bjorngaard (on the left) and Steffen Trogstad. Photo source: University of Utah Ski Archives. Bottom: Approximate location of Bjorngaard Jumping Hill. Source: Ralph Johnston Collection from the Weber State University Archives.
LOST RUN – Bjorngarrd Hill no longer exists and is what I consider a “Lost Run”. There are several Lost Runs at Snowbasin Resort and I'll point them out from time to time during this blog series.
Source: Derlin Newey Collection
Origin of Ski Run Names
De Moisey Peak – In honor of Snow Basin skier, Charles De Moisey Jr. who gave his life in WWII
Philpott Ridge – In honor of Ralph Philpott who gave his life in WWII
Becker Hill – In honor of Gus Becker who was a big supporter of Snow Basin and helped bring skiing to the Ogden area.
Gudmundson Knoll – In honor of Robert Wallace Gudmundson who gave his life in WWII
John Paul Jones Run - In honor of John Paul Jones who gave his life in WWII.
More Ski Run Name Origin will be posted throughout the blog series.
Top left: Bottom of Wildcat run. Top right: Hand drawn ski area map. Source: Nick Breeze Collection. Bottom - from left to right: 1940's punch pass, Single ride ticket, Floyd Newey's Snow Basin Ski Club Patch, and a Snow Basin Ski Club membership card. Source: Nick Breeze Collection. Note: The Ogden Ski Club changed its name to the Snow Basin Ski Club in 1947.
Wildcat Lift Construction
During the summer and fall of 1941 the base building for the Wildcat Single Chair Lift was constructed. The goal was to finish the lift in time for the 1941-42 Ski Season. There was also approval to build a permanent lodge and a road extension to the new base area and another parking lot. The Wild Cat Single Chair Lift was designed by E. Constam from Switzerland. E. Constam was one of the pioneers of early ski lift design and made a personal trip to Snow Basin in the summer of 1940 to discuss it. The lift was to be built by the Mine & Smelter Supply of Denver. The lift was to have 120 chairs, 9600 feet of 3/4” cable, 15 wooden towers and a 95 horsepower electric motor. The cost of the new lift was approximately $35,000.
Left: A partially constructed Wild Cat loading station. Right: The Wild Cat loading station patiently waiting to be completed. Source: Ralph Johnston Collection from the Weber State University Archives. Middle: Ogden Standard-Examiner article. Source: Newspapers.com
Lift Construction Delayed
Due to Ogden City budget cuts and the onset of WWII, the lift construction was delayed. Most of the materials to build the lift were already on site and had to be stored for several years. They were so close, all they needed was a construction crew to assemble the lift. Between 1941 and 1945 Ogden City and the Ogden Ski Club worked diligently, season after season, to get the lift constructed. The biggest issue was the budget cuts due to WWII. Finally in the summer of 1944 the funding was available -- but by the time a construction bid was approved, it was too late in the year to begin the job, so they would have to wait another season.
Construction Resumed in the Summer of 1945
Top middle: The superstructure that supported the 20000 lb. counterweight.. Source: Ralph Johnston Collection from the Weber State University Archives. Newspaper articles: Ogden Standard-Examiner. Source: Newspapers.com
Wildcat Single Chair Lift Opens!
Finally! After budget cuts, weather conditions, supply problems, contract negotiations and WWII.... Wildcat lift finally opens!! On January 20th 1946, the “Mile Long Chair Lift” opened to a crowd of 2500 cheering skiers that finally got to ski the upper mountain without having to hike for it. Gus Becker dedicated the new lift, Governor, Herbert B. Maw gave an address praising Snow Basin, and Former Ogden City Commissioner, Edward T. Saunders threw the first switch. Alf Engen, Corey Engen and Bob Beck skied down Wildcat Face and scattered flowers as bugles played in celebration of this great event in Snow Basin history.
Top left: A completed Wildcat loading station. Top right: Look north-east from mid way up Wildcat lift. Bottom left: Looking south three-fourths the way up Wildcat lift. Bottom right: Looking north half way up Wildcat lift. Source: Ralph Johnston Collection from the Weber State University Archives. Newspaper articles: Ogden Standard-Examiner. Source: Newspapers.com
WWII Era 1941 thru 1945
Snow Basin was open on a limited basis during WWII. The property was used at times for military training maneuvers during the summer and in the winter the Ogden Ski Club and Snow Basin set up a recreation program for military personal to learn to ski. The Ski Club rounded up the necessary clothing and equipment for the soldiers and the Ski School taught them how to ski. There were several military bases in the area that used Snow Basin and hundreds participated.
An article written by F.L. Montmorency, who was an important part of early Snow Basin development. He wrote in a local 1947 ski publication titled: SNOW BASIN, A Story of Cooperation. According to the article “Pearl Harbor put an end to all construction for the duration. That winter Sverre and Corey Engen installed an improved rope tow on school Hill and took over the ski school. They handled it in fine style and added racing instruction. In February the basin was the scene of a very successful Intermountain downhill and slalom tournament. The following year the county really felt the effects of being at war. Gas rationing made transportation difficult, but the State, which had now taken over the Snow Basin road, was persuaded to keep it clear to provide winter recreation for the military and civilian personnel of the four Army and Navy depots in the Ogden area. The Ski club collected equipment for use of enlisted men and handled a regular program for the military. The depots furnished buses for transportation, and hundreds of soldiers, sailors, Wacs and Waves had their first introduction to a pair of skis. The same sort of program was followed for the rest of the war years.”
Skiing is Life in 801 My name is Kyle Ross. I am an Ogden native, ski enthusiast, and local history buff. I've been skiing Snowbasin since 1977 and haven't looked back.
Instagram: @skiing_is_life_in_801 Email: email@example.com