LS: History Here and Column January 16, 2009
Model T engine powered skiers’ rope tow on mesa
First in a four-part series on the history of local skiing.
In 1935 when you strapped on your boards for skiing, it was an uphill climb all the way.
There was no ski lift, not even a rope tow.
You would have to do the herringbone method to get to the top so you could ski down.
But before you did that,you would have to use that same method to pack the snow on the slope.
Sam Sedalnick, owner of L. Cook Jewelry, got a group of local people interested in skiing.
This group used an area cleared by the Civilian Conservation Corps for a camp facility on Grand Mesa about two miles below the Wild Rose campground. The length of the run was less than 100 yards. Each day of skiing started with packing the run.
The Lands End ski area had a short life of two seasons; the run was on a southwestern slope, and snow melted quickly.
In 1934 there were two ski courses in the area: one near Cedaredge and the other in the Collbran area on the way to Vega Reservoir. The Collbran area was too flat for good skiing and was only used one season.
Ski enthusiasts would not be stopped. In 1935, a group applied for state certification to form a club and, in the fall of 1937, the Mesa Junior College organization and the townspeople’s club merged to form the Grand Junction Winter Sports Club.
Skiing improved in 1938-39 when the Grand Junction Ski Club established a new area on the north side of Grand Mesa adjacent to the Mesa Lakes Resort. The Sisac family owned Mesa Lakes Resort. The club members cut trees to clear the area for the run, which was south and east of the Mesa Lakes Resort. The run was a quarter-mile long and 100 feet
An open shelter was built next to the course, where a fire was kept burning to warm the cold skiers.
The area operated from 1938 to 1941, with the ski club members running the lift on Saturdays and Sundays, when the road to get to the area was passable. The road was cleared on Saturdays by the Colorado Highway Department and sometimes only open to the cattle guard at the U.S. Forest Service entrance well below the old Mesa Creek area.
The highway department cleared the road until World War II broke out and the plowing was suspended. The Grand Junction Lions Club loaned the ski club $250 for a rope tow, which used a four-cylinder Ford Model T engine, mounted on a chassis and run by Earl Covington.
Each month, the Forest Service was required to make a snow depth reading on the snow course at the Forest Service ranger station near the resort. Often, a group of eager skiers would gather at the town of Mesa or near the Bieser ranch and ski all day with Eric S. Ericson up Coon Creek trail to the resort.
The cabins were opened to accommodate the skiers who had made the trek. Night skiing was enjoyed by the group when there was a full moon.
Kathy Jordan is retired from The Daily Sentinel and involved in many preservation efforts, including the Avalon Theatre, the railroad depot and the North Seventh Street Historic Residential District.