With a prefect north facing slope and the Horsepasture River at the base, Ski Sapphire Valley’s design work started in late 1963. Snow making systems, a rope tow and renovation of the old farmhouse begin immediately. For the first year, Ski Sapphire Valley provided one lift, a beginner area and toboggan or bobsled run. The bobsled run was located on the lower, left section of today’s main ski run.
In 1964 in addition to the Ski Area, the Hogback Lake real estate development was also began. Anyone who purchased a lot on the new lake received free passes to the new Ski Sapphire Valley ski area. To make the deal even better, real estate purchasers also received a set of custom skis, boots, and poles.
With two very successful winters seasons at Ski Sappphire Valley, lift towers, a double chair lift and expanded snow making equipment were installed in 1966 and the intermediate and advanced ski runs opened.
Modeled after the small ski lodges and huts found in the Alps, the first Ski Lodge was an old farmhouse where afternoon cheese fondue and wine were a common offering. An adjacent ‘warming hut’ with an old free-standing fireplace provided a place for skiers to warm up and get back on the slopes.
To complete the scene, Mr. Howerdd hired two Austrian ski professionals to run the Ski School and provide entertainment at night . The Austrian pair, Hans and Deter, served up cocktails and music in the Fairfield Inn at night after a day of teaching schussing, christianias, and stemming on the slopes!
Contributed by Rick Stargel