SCHWEITZER Turns 40
Dr. Jack Fowler,
center; Grant Groesbeck, right
Four decades of history: Schweitzer milestones
April 1960: Dr. Jack Fowler of Spokane stops for roadside break at Hope on return from a skiing trip to Big Mountain and notes the amount of snow in Schweitzer bowl. Seed is planted to develop a ski area. Subsequent trips to Schweitzer by foot, all-terrain vehicle and even flyovers reinforce Fowlers belief in the area. Discussions with friends and Sandpoint community leaders such as Bud Moon, Jim Parsons, Mayor Floyd Gray and banker Bill Ballard result in fund-raising efforts, including stock sales and federal grants.
1963: Road is constructed and Schweitzer facilities take shape.
Opening Day: Dec. 4, 1963. Sam Wormington and crew open Schweitzer Basin Ski Area. Chair 1 at 5,100 feet with a capacity of 660 skiers per hour begins operations as does rope tow. Three-story rectangular ski lodge, designed by Spokane architect Grant Groesbeck, opens. Jim and Margaret Toomey from Post Falls purchase Schweitzer Basin lift tickets Nos. 1 and 2.
1963-64: Austrian skier Werner Beck starts junior racing program.
January 1964: T-bar is added.
February 1964: Stockholders meeting determines need for lift expansion and that facility should be extended to Colburn Basin to the north. Current investment in lodge, road, land and lifts amounts to $575,000. After 2.5 months of operation, cash taken in exceeds operating costs.
March 1, 1964: Official dedication ceremony.
Summer 1964: Construction of Red Cricket Condo, the first condominium in Idaho, occurs on Fowler property.
1967-68: Chair 2 replaces T-bar. Chair 3 replaces rope tow. Chair 4 is installed; opens up new terrain in south bowl. T-bar 2 is moved to top of Chair 4 to serve Swede Creek area. Parking lot is enlarged. Bear tracks in new cement at base of Chair 3 inspire naming Grandpa Bear (Chair 1), Mama Bear (Chair 2), Baby Bear (Chair 3) and Papa Bear (Chair 4).
1969: Construction of Blue Beetles (three small condos, each with eight units).
1970-71: T-bar moved to Colburn Basin to serve No-Joke Run. Two T-bars installed to serve Swede Creek better. Powder House is built at bottom of Down-the-Hatch run to improve food service and provide mid-mountain warming hut. T-bar is installed on Sky-Edge Run to service top of Stiles Run.
1971-72: Colburn Basin is opened; Chairs 5 and 6 are installed. T-bar 3 is moved to serve Overnighter guests. Outback Inn is built in Colburn Basin. Construction of The Overnighter Hotel with 36 rooms; adjoins the Keg Restaurant.
1973-74: Main road into Basin is paved.
1974-75: Chair 7 is installed to increase capacity on front side. Lower terminal is installed below lodge for easier skier access from parking lot. Maintenance building constructed.
1977: Sam Wormington leaves Schweitzer. Dan Larson serves as manager for a short time, followed by Ski School Director Bill Haskins.
Jan. 15, 1978: Dedication of newly completed Schweitzer Chapel.
1978-79: Lodge improvements include enclosure of first deck. Addition of second deck provides space for Bierstube. Mill Building constructed; Ski Shop established inside.
1982 to Mid-80s: With purchase of Schweitzer stock from community owners for $15 per share, Jim Brown Jr. family (Pack River Management Co.) takes over sole ownership of Schweitzer.
1981-82: Ecosign (ski area planning company from Whistler, British Columbia) is hired to devise first Schweitzer Master Plan.
1984-85: Ecosign hired to do second Schweitzer Master Plan. Economic Research Associates hired to do market research in conjunction with master plan. Both point to addition of destination facilities. Ownership decides proposed village is too risky.
1985: Festival at Sandpoint initiates Festival Cup benefit race and Summer Music Institute at Schweitzer with composer Gunther Schuller as artistic director.
1986: Tim Hinderman from Big Mountain takes over as general manager. Summer chairlift rides begin.
1985-86: Pack River Management builds Crystal Run Condos to initiate the ski-in, ski-out concept.
1987-88: Schweitzer is rezoned from recreational to planned unit development. Land-use map is filed at Bonner County Planning Office. Chair 6 is relocated to top of North Bowl, bringing access to more terrain in Colburn Bowl. Lodge and Mill Building are remodeled.
1988: Schweitzer Basin Ski Area name changed to Schweitzer Mountain Resort, signaling multi-recreational use.
1988-89: Addition of Creek Side Condos. New ski runs added. Bike trails advertised for summer riding.
April 17, 1989: Jim Brown dies. Daughter Bobbie Huguenin moves from managing partner to full leadership of Schweitzer.
1990: Beginning of 10-year, $100-million plan to convert Schweitzer into world-class destination resort with plans to create a village. Construction of Green Gables Lodge, new Headquarters Day Lodge and Great Escape high-speed quad; Chair 2, Chair 3 and Chair 7 are removed; Chair 2 replaces the beginner T-bar; night-skiing and snow-making equipment installed; road improved, trails and slopes renovated.
May 27, 1990, 7:30 a.m.: Original lodge is torched and razed to make way for expansions.
April 5, 1991: Flash flood causes road washout; strands guests at Schweitzer for two days and closes resort. Washout contaminates city watershed. Later that spring, Gov. Cecil Andrus approves $499,385 state economic development grant to help with $900,000 cost of repairing road. Resort reopens July 4.
1992: U.S. Dept. of Commerce awards $750,000 grant for further repairs on Schweitzer Road, including paving the lower repaired section and stabilizing the upper section.
1993-94: Steve Cramer serves as general manager.
Jan. 14, 1994: Biggest day ever when 5,803 tickets were sold; considered a bit of a fluke since it was Friday and $5 Day.
1994: Schweitzer Snowboard Club, headed by Dr. Bob Rust along with parents and snowboarders, is organized.
1995: Kevin Rowe and Dave Morris build first Schweitzer Half Pipe.
November 1996: With revenues failing to meet expectations, the Brown family asks court to put the resort into receivership while attempting to pay off debts. Sandpoint attorney Ford Elsaesser is appointed to run Schweitzer.
1996: Half-pipe area becomes tubing hill.
1997: Brown family files for bankruptcy.
Dec. 31, 1998: Harbor Properties, Inc. from Seattle area purchases Schweitzer from U.S. Bank. Tom Fortune assumes position as general manager.
1999: Harbor Resorts invites representatives from Schweitzer as well as local leaders to a three-day workshop to brainstorm planning strategies for the future. Major renovation project results in 82-unit condominium Selkirk Lodge (formerly Green Gables).
1999: Current terrain park with music, handle tow and park operations tower opens with Teague Mullen as park supervisor.
Winter 2000-01: Stella, Idahos only high-speed 6-passenger lift, adds to available terrain.
Summer 2002: White Pine Lodge opens. Chimney Rock Restaurant in Selkirk Lodge undergoes renovation. Major landscaping project beautifies village.
Dec. 28, 2002: Record day for standard ticket prices. Ticket sales totaled 5,560.
April 2003: At seasons close, more than 4.5 million Schweitzer ski passes have sold since the Toomeys purchased tickets 1 and 2 in 1963. The Toomeys, now in their 80s, live in the Sandpoint area and still ski at Schweitzer.
July 2003: NORBA mountain bike race attracts thousands to watch regional competition.
Dec. 4, 2003: Schweitzer kicks off its 40th anniversary celebration.
By Marianne Love