Shingobee Winter Playground - EV

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United States
Department of        CHIPPEWA NATIONAL FOREST,
                      CASS COUNTY, MINNESOTA

                           Andrea K. LeVasseur

February 2008
                         Recreational Use of National Forests 1
Since the first Federal forest reserves-renamed National Forests in 1907-were created in the
1890s, Americans had hiked, picnicked, and camped in "their" Forests. However, the use of
Forests for recreational purposes initially was limited by the Forests' remote locations. In addition,
recreation was not among the original purposes of the Forests, which were created for timber
production, grazing, and watershed protection-the conservation of natural resources through
professional management. Automobile transportation, however, allowed more and more
Americans to escape to the Forests for wilderness getaways, forcing the Forest Service to add
recreation to the list of major purposes of National Forests.

                                                 Recreational uses of forest reserves were
                                                 acknowledged in forest regulations as early as 1902,
                                                 when "it was stated that permits could be secured
                                                 for the building and maintenance of sanitariums and
                                                 hotels at mineral and other springs, and that land
                                                 could be leased there for a fee for certain periods of
                                                 time." Provision for private recreational facilities in
                                                 National Forests was strengthened in 1915, when
                                                 Congress passed the Term Occupancy Act,
                                                 enabling the Forest Service to "allow private use and
                                                 development of public forest lands for terms of up to
                                                 30 years by persons or organizations wishing to
                                                 erect summer camps, hotels, or other resorts."

                                                 Private development in National Forests, or
                                                 development by entities other than the Forest
                                                 Service, brought interesting results. During the
                                                 1910s in the Angeles National Forest, for instance,
                                                 the City of Los Angeles built three municipal summer
                                                 camps that were available only to residents of the
                                                 city. Thousands of private summer homes were built
                                                 in Forests, along with hundreds of camping and
                                                 resort facilities of various types.
Figure 1 A youngster starts down the ski
hill in 1940.                                  A 1918 study of recreational uses in National
                                               Forests determined that the Forests had attracted
some three million "recreational visitors" in 1917, a number that was only expected to increase.
The study, therefore, urged the Forest Service to recognize recreation "as a permanent and
universal factor in Forest administration" and to begin assuming responsibility for constructing
and maintaining necessary recreational facilities (as opposed to just allowing such facilities to be
developed privately). Doing so, the study said, would require the Forest Service to "employ men
suitably trained and experienced in recreation, landscape engineering, and related subjects."

In 1919 the Forest Service hired a young man named Arthur Carhart as its first "landscape
engineer" (i.e., landscape architect), but his tenure was short-lived. He resigned in 1922, largely
out of frustration with the lack of funding for recreational development. It was 1935 before the
Forest Service again employed a trained landscape architect, but recreational use of National
Forests remained an important issue, if only because of the National Park Service's creation in
1916. Public recreation-was a primary mission of the National Park Service from the outset. In
order to keep National Forests from being turned into National Parks (something that did happen
in several instances), the Forest Service had to ensure the public's "enjoyment" of the Forests.
Recreational use of Forests expanded, though the Forest Service continued to lag behind in
providing public recreational facilities.

With recreational development on public lands, whether Forests or Parks, came the need for

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buildings that would meet the requirements of visitors without detracting from the scenic qualities
that drew those visitors to National Forests and Parks in the first place. A form of architecture that
came to be called "rustic" was the response to this need, until modernism took over after World
War II.

Rustic architecture is well documented. During the 1930s the National Park Service published
volumes of examples of appropriate park buildings: Park Structures and Facilities in 1935 and the
three-part Park and Recreation Structures in 1938. In more recent years, National Park Service
staff members have produced several studies of rustic architecture. Much less has been written
about rustic architecture in National Forests, but the Forests played by virtually the same rules as
the Parks. In July of 1933, Landscape Architecture published "regulations governing architectural
structures in the Forests," which included such dicta as
• The building should be adapted to its site; it should ‘fit the ground’;
• Building materials should be suitable to the forest and, as far as practicable, native to the
• Foundations should be low and inconspicuous;
• Decoration should be extremely simple, in most cases it should be altogether lacking;
• In general, simplicity is the keynote of good design.

                                     The CCC and the WPA
The primary reason that the National Park Service and, to a lesser extent, the Forest Service felt
the need in the 1930s to set out guidelines for appropriate buildings in Parks and Forests was the
arrival of the New Deal. New Deal programs-especially the Civilian Conservation Corps and the
Works Progress Administration-made possible the construction of a vast array of facilities on
public lands. The CCC and WPA went to work in National Forests and National Parks, building
every conceivable type of facility, from roads and dams to latrines to cabins and lodges.
Guidance from the National Park Service and the Forest Service was needed to ensure that all of
this construction fit properly into its wilderness settings.

The Civilian Conservation Corps began less
than a month after President Franklin
Roosevelt took office in March 1933. By July
1 of that year, the agency was fully
operational: 274,375 young men were
"enrolled and in camp." In 1935, enrollment
peaked at 500,000 men in over 2,600
camps. The CCC was a joint operation of
the Department of Labor, the War
Department, and the Departments of
Agriculture and Interior. Men were selected
for enrollment by the Department of Labor;
they were enrolled, fed, clothed, housed,
and transported by the Army (which also
was in charge of the men during non- work
hours); and, as the so-called "technical           Figure 2 Skiers at the top of the hill, 1940.
agencies," the Departments of Agriculture
and Interior selected work projects and
supervised the work, much of which initially had to do with conservation of natural resources.
Many CCC camps were located in National Forests; others were in National Parks and on other
types of federal lands, in state forests and parks, and in privately- owned forests.

Because of the youth and inexperience of CCC enrollees, their work initially was confined to
projects that did not require much skill, such as planting trees and creating trails. It soon became

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obvious, though, that with proper supervision, CCC workers could do much more. Among the
most significant of the CCC's many accomplishments was construction of recreational facilities,
especially in state parks and Recreational Demonstration Areas (see below), but also in National
Parks, municipal parks, National Forests, and on other publicly-owned lands.

 The Works Progress Administration arrived on the scene about two years after the CCC. It was
created by executive order in May 1935, under authority provided the President by the
Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935. The WPA originally had two major purposes: (1) to
operate a nationwide program of "small useful projects" that would employ needy, employable
workers, and (2) to coordinate the activities of the "Works Program," which was to be comprised
of over forty Federal agencies, all operating projects to put the unemployed to work. In practice,
however, most agencies were unable to provide emergency employment, so the WPA itself
provided the necessary work projects.

An operation that from 1935 to 1943 employed some eight million people, the Works Progress
Administration engaged in projects as diverse as sewing, drama, play supervision and road
construction. With large budgets, little overview, and great ambitions, it was a flawed but effective
program. Unlike the Public Works Administration, with which it is often confused, the WPA not
only financed eventually up to 80 percent of the cost of its projects, but hired, fired, secured
materials, and supervised. Recreational facilities also were among the myriad projects of the
WPA, but the WPA's contributions to recreation typically were more urban in character. After just
two and a half years of existence, the WPA had built or expanded literally thousands of
auditoriums and stadiums, athletic fields, swimming pools, bathhouses, playgrounds, golf
courses, amphitheaters, and band shells.

                                         History of Skiing
The first evidence of skiing comes from rock carvings showing hunters wearing skis. A
Scandinavian peat bog produced crude ancient wooden skis that were radiocarbon dated as early
as 4500 years ago. Icelandic poetry composed around 1000 AD mentions skiing, not just for
hunting but for racing and wagering. Later records of ski sport in Norway indicate it was
accomplished with toe-strap bindings and “stick riding,” a technique using a single stick to steer
and brake by dragging the tip of a long staff in the snow to the rear and leaning on it.

Nordic skiing developed from techniques invented in Norway’s Telemark country northwest of
what is now Oslo during the last half of the 1800s. About 1850, the Norwegian farmer Sondre
Norheim invented a heel strap binding that held the ski firmly enough to the foot so that the skier
could maneuver the ski without losing it. With the new, more secure binding, Norheim proceeded
to develop a more precise technique of steering and braking that came to be called the Telemark
technique. Norheim and later Telemarkers also reengineered the ski itself, making the waist
narrower than the tip and tail, helping the ski flex as soon as the skier tipped it on edge.
Norwegians embraced the new skiing techniques and equipment, and by the late 1880s, the sport
was catching on in other parts of Europe. Hundreds of thousands of Scandinavians also set sail
for America, many ending up on Midwestern farms (including Sondre Norheim, who immigrated to
North Dakota.)

Skiing at this time emphasized endurance and efficient movement cross country using the new
Telemark techniques, as well as fearless flight through the air for those competing in ski jumping.
Going slow and steady on steep pitches required considerable skill until the invention of the
“stem” by Austrian Mathias Zdarsky. This technique allowed beginners to ski in a slow, controlled
manner and to practice a controlled descent after climbing their favorite mountain, essentially ski
mountaineering. Zdarsky assembled large ski classes that taught the technique to hundreds of
new skiers in the Alps and he also published a book in 1896.

The British changed focus from ski mountaineering to alpine skiing with the invention of Europe’s
first ski races. First was the downhill race, the Roberts of Kandahar Challenge Cup in 1911.

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Then in 1922, Arnold Lund persuaded some friends to race through a series of short poles stuck
in the snow and the slalom was born. The slalom played speed off against control and soon was
paired with downhill in alpine combined races which were scored together, as jumping and cross
country was paired in Nordic combined competitions. Throughout the 1920s, the popularity of
alpine skiing rose and alpine resort hotels and inns began to capitalize and develop the new ski
tourism. In Austria, a former army ski instructor, Johann Schneider, developed a logical
sequence for teaching ski techniques based on the stem turn and hired teachers to instruct it. His
system, called the Arlberg Technique, was later shown in the world’s first ski film and spread
throughout the world of skiing.

In the early 1920s, jumping and cross country were the only officially recognized skiing in
international competition. The Federation Internationale de Ski, or FIS, who ran both the world
championship competitions and skiing in the Olympics, was run by Scandinavians who viewed
alpine skiing as unworthy of association with the Nordic disciplines. The FIS banned alpine
events from the first winter Olympics in 1924 at Chamonix, France, and from annual world
championship competitions. However, the popularity of alpine skiing, especially slalom,
continued to grow with their inclusion in other competitive ski events. In 1931, the FIS allowed
the first alpine world championship, and alpine events were finally included in the Garmisch 1936
Olympics. During the rest of the 1930s, new resorts in the Alps continued to develop the new
winter pastime.

In the 1920s, America had only a few places to learn to ski; Lake Placid, New York and a couple
of resorts in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. All the teachers were Norwegian Telemark skiers until
1927, when a German instructor, Otto Schneibs began to teach stem skiing to clubs and college
teams such as Harvard. By the mid to late1930s, a modest number of Austrian instructors fleeing
Nazi annexation arrived in the US to teach skiing. They had an enormous influence in the
development of American skiing by becoming key resort founders, mountain managers, ski
school directors, race coaches and trail designers.

Early skiing was affordable and lacked sophisticated equipment. It was more nordic than alpine
and skiers used pastures, logging roads, and natural hills. Ski tows and cable lifts brought alpine
skiing to greater popularity. In 1933, Alex Foster built the first rope tow at Shawbridge, Quebec
powered by an automobile jacked up on blocks with a rope looped around a wheel rim. The
following year the first rope tow in the US was installed in Woodstock, Vermont, and dozens more
quickly followed. Other kinds of lifts, J-bars, T-bars, and chairlifts, were developed and improved.
By 1940, alpine skiing was a fast-growing and popular pastime, but its growth was temporarily
suspended by the outbreak of the war.

During World War II, the Army established a skiing unit, the 10th Mountain Division, which led the
breakthrough from Italy’s Apennines to the Brenner Pass in 1945, suffering one of the war’s
heaviest casualty rates of 30% killed or wounded. After the war, many of the 10th survivors made
their living skiing. Sixty two resorts were founded by, directed by, or had ski schools run by 10th
veterans, and about 2000 vets had become ski instructors. The post war boom also kicked off a
surge of technological improvements that made skiing much more enjoyable and safe; full release
and step-in entry bindings, buckled plastic boots, insulated quilted parkas that replaced smelly
and bulky wool clothing, ski brakes to prevent dangerous runaways, aluminum ski poles, and
other improvements in skis and ski techniques.

The number of ski areas in America grew from 78 in 1955 to 662 ten years later. 2 By 1970,
skiing supported large rural populations in remote regions. A snow drought could leave hundreds
unemployed, and the invention of snowmaking and grooming machines guaranteed that skiers
would not be turned away by the weather.

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                                     Skiing Closer to Home
The first Scandinavian immigrants arrived in Wisconsin in the 1830s, bringing a long heritage of
Nordic skiing with them. Skiing was practiced by Norwegian and other miners in Minnesota’s
Mesabi Range. Ski clubs formed in New England and the Midwest in the 1880s. Norwegian
lumberjacks built a ski jump and founded a club, now the oldest in America, in Berlin, New
Hampshire, in 1882. The St. Paul Ski Club was organized in Minnesota in 1885, and the Aurora
Ski Club in Red Wing the following year. Additional clubs were soon founded in Minneapolis,
Albert Lea, and Winona, and in Wisconsin at St. Croix, Eau Claire, Stoughton, and LaCrosse. 3
The Midwest, with its abundance of Scandinavian immigrants, became a prominent center of
American skiing organizations.

In 1879, the first ski manufacturing in Minnesota was undertaken by Norwegian immigrant Martin
A. Strand. In 1911, C.A. Lund founded a ski factory later called the Northland Ski Company in St.
Paul. Its hickory skis dominated the market for another 30 years. 4

The Aurora Ski Club in Red Wing hosted the first organized ski jump competition on February 8,
1887. In it, Mikkel Hemmestved, the newly arrived winner of the 1886 Norwegian King’s Cup,
established the first recognized American ski jumping record of 37 feet. The Aurora Club
developed a 6-point scoring system based on both style and jump length for an 1890 tournament
that was adopted 15 years later by the National Ski Association. Club members also introduced
what became known in the US as “Red Wing style” ski techniques. Aurora became a leading and
charter member of the original Central Ski Association (1890) and provided crucial support for the
1904 founding of its replacement, the National Ski Organization. Aurora continued to produce
champion ski jumpers, and hosted two NSA National Ski Jumping Tournaments in 1928 and
1936. 5

At Buena Vista, Bemidji MN, the first ski run was cleared in 1936 by Leonard R. Dickinson. The
original chalet was made out of a grain bin. The first rope tow was installed in 1949 and chairlifts
were added in 1975. 6

Trollhaugen, Dresser WI, was built in 1950 by Wally Pederson and Lee Rogers. The current
owners purchased the facility with a small lodge and rope tows in 1967. 7

Lutsen Mountains, Lutsen MN, resort was established in the 1880s by C.A.A. Nelson. Skiing was
added in 1948 by his grandson, George, a veteran of the 10th Mountain Division created during
World War II. It began with one lift and two runs, and now includes 87 ski runs on four
mountains. 8

Buck Hill, Burnsville MN, was started in 1954 when Charles Stone Jr. and his future wife Nancy
Campbell obtained a lease from the landowner Grace Whittier of Northfield, Minnesota. In the
1930’s Fred Pabst, founder of Bromley Ski Area in Vermont, started a ski area on this site, but the
drought years with a lack of snow caused him to abandon the plan. During the years from 1954
until 1961, Buck Hill was only open a few weekends due to very meager snowfalls. In 1961 the
Stones added snowmaking and a t-bar lift. In the following years, more lifts and trails were added,
as well as a new chalet and rental shop, and the Sports Bucket Restaurant was added in 1978. In
2006, Buck Hill installed a new quad chairlift at the south end of the ski area, and brought in over
100,000 yards of fill to raise the elevation of the top of the new chairlift. Today, Buck Hill offers 15
different runs to skiers and snowboarders of all abilities, as well as snow tubing. Buck has 11 lifts
including 2 quads and a triple chairlift.

Powder Ridge, Kimball MN, was started in 1958 with 3 rope tows and 5 ski runs. 10

A group of private stakeholders founded Giants Ridge at Biwabik MN, in 1959 as a local ski hill.
A deep recession hit the Iron Range in 1980, and the facility fell into bankruptcy. Iron Range

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Resources, a state agency that promotes economic development of the Iron Range, bought the
facility and paid off the mortgage and debt. The original 1984 expansion included snowmaking
and grooming equipment, chairlifts, lights, chalet and sports dorm. Since then, additional
development of golf courses, cross-country and alpine ski runs, and lodging facilities has
attracted private development and created a year-round recreation destination. 11

The Suburban Hennepin Regional Park District (then known as Hennepin County Park Reserve
District) was established in 1957 by the Minnesota State Legislature. The name was changed to
Three Rivers Park District in 2001.

In 1959 the Park District purchased the Mt. Normandale Ski Area in Bloomington MN, which
eventually became Hyland Hills Ski Area (later renamed Hyland Ski & Snowboard Area).
Information is not available about the Mt. Normandale facility prior to Park District acquisition of it.
The Hyland ski chalet was constructed in 1974, and in 1975, the Mt. Gilboa area was opened,
significantly increasing the size of the ski area. In 1982, major improvements included a rope
tow, second triple chairlift, additional lighting and underground water lines for snowmaking. In
1987, mechanical and electrical construction for a new snowmaking system was installed. In
1990, Hyland Hills became the first metro-area ski facility to allow snowboarding. In 1992, the
first snowboarding half-pipe was added. A terrain park was added in 1995-96.

Elm Creek Winter Recreation Area opened in 2004 with a lighted ski/snowboard hill with
snowmaking, along with a tubing hill. 2006 saw the grand opening of the ski and snowboard hill,
and winter chalet.

Since 1970, the Park District also
developed and maintains eleven
cross-country ski trails. 12

Afton Alps, Hastings MN, was first
opened in 1963, and has expanded to
40 ski and snowboard runs. 13

Mount Kato, Mankato MN, opened in
1977 with one or two lifts. It now has
expanded to 19 runs. 14

Spirit Mountain, Duluth MN, was
created by enabling legislation in
1973. It currently includes eight lifts
                                              Figure 3 View of the Shingobee ski runs, chalet is at
serving about 17 ski and snowboard
                                              far left. Date unknown.
runs, and five cross country ski loops
of varying lengths. 15

Ski Gull, on the western shore of Gull Lake, Nisswa MN, was established in 1987 and now
includes eleven runs for ski and snowboard. 16

Andes Tower Hills, Alexandria MN, was established in 1980 by the Anderson brothers. 17         18

                         Forest Service Ski Area Development
With the growing popularity of downhill skiing due to the development of new lift devices, the
Forest Service took advantage of the abundance of CCC Camp labor during the late 1930s to
develop ski areas on public lands. After development, the facilities were administered by private
individuals or ski organizations under Special Use Permit. As of January 1942, the Forest

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Service administered 254 “winter sports areas” across the nation spread over 51,000 acres. The
improvements on these areas included at least 123 shelters, 98 lifts or tows, 31 group camping
facilities, and 74 concessions. 19 Most of these were located in the western mountain or New
England Appalachian Mountain National Forests, where there was an abundance of both
mountains and snow. However, the lack of mountains did not prevent the Minnesota, Wisconsin,
and Michigan National Forests from joining in the winter fun.

Michigan’s Huron and Manistee National Forests developed the Caberfae, Newaygo, and Silver
Valley Winter Sports Areas (WSA). Newaygo and Silver Valley are defunct, but Caberfae was
transferred to private ownership in the late 1980s and is still operating. It was found not eligible to
the National Register but is listed on the Michigan State Register due to its significance to local
history and economy, and its regional significance in the development of Michigan’s winter
recreation industry. 20

                                                              Wisconsin’s Chequamegon and
                                                              Nicolet National Forests built the Mt.
                                                              Valhalla and Perkingstown WSAs.
                                                              Perkingstown operated under Forest
                                                              Service administration until the 1970s,
                                                              when it was conveyed to Taylor
                                                              County. Mt. Valhalla was developed
                                                              in the 1930s and included ski hills, ski
                                                              jumps and a bobsled run. The US Ski
                                                              Association had a Special Use Permit
                                                              from late 1950s to 1969 to use the site
                                                              as an alternate site to practice for the
                                                              Olympics. In the early 1970s, the
  Figure 4 Shingobee's toboggan slide, date unknown.          area was used a shelter for
                                                              snowmobilers. In January 1974, the
                                                              chalet was destroyed by fire and was
rebuilt that fall. Additional ski and snowmobile trail loops were added in the late 1970s. It has not
been evaluated for National Register eligibility, but the Forest’s Heritage Program Manager
offered the opinion that it will not meet the criteria.

The White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire developed the Mittersill and Evergreen
WSAs, which were finally closed in the 1970s. Mittersill has tower footings and a few trails are
still kept clear by local volunteers. Evergreen has revegetated and is almost unrecognizable. 22
The Forest has downhill ski area permits at Attitash/Bear Peak, Loon Mountain, Waterville Valley,
and Wildcat. There are also cross country permits at Bretton Woods, Great Glen Trails, Jackson
Ski touring Foundation, and Bear Notch Touring Center. 23

Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest has the Prosper Ski Hill that is reputed to be the first
lift-served skiing area in the US. Sugarbush, Mount Snow, and Bromley are still operational. 24

                               Shingobee Winter Playground
The idea for Shingobee WSA originated in 1937, probably with Max Von Dahlen, a CCC Foreman
who came from Garmischpartikirken, Germany, and who is said to have had some experience in
winter sports development. Paul Wahler, Forest Supervisor of the Upper Michigan Forest and
authority on winter sports in the Forest Service’s Northeast Region, visited the site and was
impressed with its possibilities. In June 1938, Julius Blegen, former Olympic skier and member of
the Bush Lake Ski Club of Minneapolis, inspected the area, pronounced it one of the best ski
terrains in the northwest, and expressed an interest in returning for some early winter skiing if the
hill was cleared enough. He also was certain that members of the Minneapolis Ski Club would be
interested in coming up to Walker for winter ski trips. 25

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Walker District Ranger Cliff Anderson announced that he approved of the development, which
included plans for a toboggan slide, a ski slide, and a “pan” slide. 26 By summer of 1938, Max
Von Dahlens’ Walker Co. 3709 CCC crews were busy making a topographical survey of the area
and were clearing some vegetation. According to Milton Uglem, the CCC boys would “come by
the truckload, round trip about 14 miles. They did the brushing of the slopes. The hillside was
fairly open even then, being it had a southern exposure, and seemed a pretty natural opening.
There was no evidence of logging as far as stumps go due to the topography and the natural
opening. There was lots of cedar though, and an occasional lone pine but nothing really to speak
of…” Cross-country trails were also planned. Uglem recalled, “I remember in the winter of 1938,
Jack …went out with me in -30 degrees F. on snowshoes and we laid and blazed out the first
trail…This was later called the Blue Trail. We later added other extensions to it and they were
called the Red Trail and the Gold Trail.” 27

Plans were submitted for approval from the FS Regional Office in Milwaukee in October 1938 for
construction of a toboggan slide and three ski slides of varying difficulty. 28 The toboggan slide
trough was cut into the hill and was designed with a gradual rise to a slight curve at the end. This
provided a thrilling ride but eventually proved to be a safety hazard. The toboggan slide was
1500 ft. in length with a drop in elevation of 96 ft. in 600 ft., letting the slider reach 46 mph in the
first 500 ft. 29 As CCC enrollee Harry Loger described it, “We didn’t have toboggans but we sure
had a lot of fun…riding down the slope on our snow shovels by grabbing the handle and sitting
down on the shovel, going down the hill. What a ride!” The toboggan slide was iced each
morning by the CCC boys. According to Loger, they filled spray buckets from a running creek
and hauled them up to the slide. 30 Other sources recall that a well was driven just below the hill
and the boys filled sprinkling cans and went up and down with them. 31

In 1946, the slide was improved by lengthening it and building a board chute of creosote ties,
which helped to provide a track that kept the toboggan more securely in the trench. 32 In 1949,
the Forest considered using surplus irrigation pipe from one of the tree nurseries with a pump to
ice the toboggan slide. 33 By 1954, the slide was no longer in use. 34

                                                            The winter of 1939-40 saw the
                                                            construction of the ski chalet, located
                                                            about halfway down the ski slopes. This
                                                            building was originally planned to be
                                                            designed following plans for the Mt.
                                                            Valhalla shelter on the Chequamegon
                                                            National Forest in Wisconsin. Final
                                                            approval cited FS Standard Plan U-84.
                                                            The chalet is a single story 24 x 50 foot
                                                            frame building oriented northeast-
                                                            southwest with vertical board and batten
                                                            siding and asphalt roof. The northeast
                                                            end has a large fireplace made of
  Figure 5 Chalet building, 2007                            matching split glacial stones with
                                                            wooden mantle. It is similar to the
                                                            fireplaces at the Supervisor’s Office and
Norway Beach log buildings, and may have been built by the same mason, Larry Johnson. The
interior is split into a kitchen on the southwest and an open dining room on the northeast. Two
sets of double doors on opposite sides provide exterior entrance to the dining area, and a small
single door to the kitchen. The rooms are separated with a wall that has a large opening for
concessionaire service from the kitchen. The chalet was built with CCC labor using salvaged
lumber from abandoned CCC Camp buildings.

Although the Regional Office recommended locating the shelter at the bottom of the hill, the
Forest insisted on building it halfway up the slope. This location proved to be less than

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satisfactory. According to Oliver Opheim, the building “was hard to get to by foot. One could ski
halfway down, but that could be dangerous…from the observation standpoint it was hard to see
the hill because the fireplace was in the wrong end and it blocked the view. Also, if there were
very many people inside the windows’d fog up and no one could see. At one time we did
seriously consider moving the chalet where there would be a northern exposure.” 36

By March of 1939, the Shingobee Winter Sports Club had been formed for the purpose of
promoting the Winter Playground. In early 1940, the Club applied for a Forest Service permit to
build a ski tow. The Club furnished the hoist assembly with power furnished by a rebuilt Ford
Model A motor, 37 tow rope, foundation cement, shingles, and hardware. The Forest apparently
                                                             provided lumber and CCC labor for
                                                             the shelter. 38 Skiers paid 10 cents
                                                             per tow or 25 cents per day. Oliver
                                                             Opheim recalled, “Sometimes there
                                                             would be over 200 people waiting to
                                                             use the tow. A full load was about 15
                                                             people and the rope tow tended to
                                                             chew up your mittens in about a
                                                             day…We had to reorder a new rope
                                                             from the hardware store, and they’d
                                                             get it from Stillwater State Prison’s
                                                             factory. It was carried on big wooden
                                                             hay pulleys, but it still dragged on the
                                                             ground unless it was held up
                                                             better…we eventually replaced those
                                                             with car wheels and axels…It was
                                                             quite a job every spring to lift up the
                                                             rope and hang it on poles so it
  Figure 6 Skiers being towed up the hill.                   wouldn’t rot on the ground. With
                                                             1600’ of rope you just couldn’t take it
                                                             off and carry it up. We tied it to the
telephone poles the pulleys were on. It lasted 3 or 4 years. Except when more than 15 kids got
on it at the same time it broke. Don Jacobson would get called out to splice it, and he came
pretty often as the kids were so enthusiastic and found it hard to wait.” A new tow building
apparently replaced the original in 1949. Later, a gas powered Allis Chalmers engine replaced
the Model A motor. 41

Also in 1939-40, the CCC boys under the direction of Max Von Dahlen, constructed new ski trails
and three bridges. One bridge was built across the Shingobee River near the toboggan slide,
others across smaller creeks. In the 1950s, these bridges were in need of repair and replacement
at considerable cost, so the Forest closed off part of the original trails and abandoned the
bridges. 42

A small lodge/shelter at the bottom of the hills was planned for construction in 1940-41, 43 but it
was never built.

From the beginning, the Shingobee Winter Sports Club and local businesses had recognized the
potential for making the ski area a profitable local attraction. Promotional activities were planned
to induce skiers to take the train from the Twin Cities to Walker to take advantage of the new ski
facilities. 44 The first weekend “snow train” came in January 1941, sponsored by the Great
Northern Railway and the Johnson-Gokey Sporting Goods Co. of St. Paul. The group of 100
skiers arrived in Walker on Saturday evening, staying at the Chase Lake Shore and College Inn
hotels. A dance was held that evening to which local folks were also invited. Sunday morning a
bus took the skiers to Shingobee for the day, and they returned to the Cities at 4 pm. 45

                         National Register Evaluation of Shingobee Winter Playground
                                                Page 9 Of 15
 “An Event A Week” was the slogan applied to a series of Sunday competitive snow sports
 contests at Shingobee. The first of the series was held January 19, 1941 and consisted of a
 Junior Downhill Meet open to all skiers between the ages of 5 and 16. All events were
 sponsored by the Shingobee Sportsman, a monthly promotional tabloid published by editor Milt
 Uglem. Packets of them were sent to ski dealers, ski clubs, chambers of commerce, newspapers
 and other interested parties. 46 These events proved to be a great success. About 1500
 participants and spectators reportedly participated from Brainerd, Bemidji, Park Rapids, Akeley,
 Detroit Lakes, and the Twin Cities in January 1941. 47

 The Shingobee Winter Sports Club
 adopted an official emblem in
 November 1939. Designed in red,
 orange and black, the emblem patch
 was intended to be worn on a jacket.
 One patch was provided to each
 dues paying member, and two to
 family memberships. Additional
 patches could also be purchased for
 50 cents each. 48

 The ski area apparently was little
 used and the Winter Sports Club
 had no officers during World War II.
 Electricity came to Shingobee in
 1949. The chalet, tow house, and
 shelter were wired and an REA
 engineer was invited to come and           Figure 7 Cross-country skiers crossing a small lake,
 advise the Club on how poles               1940.
 should be placed along the downhill
 runs. 49

Year      President          VP                              Secretary                 Treasurer
1939      Cloyde Morehead    Miss Stoner                     L. Fred Hart/Bob Oliver   Clifford Swenson
1940-41   Ed Lundrigan       Bill Robarge                    R A Oliver                Clifford Swenson
1941-42   Ed Lundrigan       Joe Steinhagen/RA Oliver        Stanton Oman              Clifford Swenson
1946-47   Ed Lundrigan
1947-48   Joe O'Connor       Don Jacobson                    Mrs. Jack Gleason         Mrs. Joe O'Connor
1954      Joe O'Connor       Don Jacobson                    Jack Gleason              Mrs. Joe O'Connor
1956-57   John S. Hanson     Frank Murray, Jr.               Erling M. Wallin          Oliver H. Opheim
1958?     Orville Kinder
1961-62   Ted Nichols                                                                  E. C. Ostlund
1962-63   Ted Nichols        Ted Pederson, Jr.
1963-64   Ted Nichols        Orville Kinder                  Erling Wallin             Erv Ostlund
1964-65   Ted Nichols                                                                  Orville Kinder
1965-66   Ted Nichols
1966-67   Frank Orton        Mrs. Stan Peterson              Lucia Petroske
1968-69   Frank Orton                                                                  C A Opheim
1969-70   Chris Opheim       Steve Bilben                    Jeanne Plattner           Margaret Trimble
1981-82   John Sumpion
                               Shingobee Winter Sports Club Officers

                         National Register Evaluation of Shingobee Winter Playground
                                                Page 10 Of 15
Post war development of larger commercial ski areas, high operation costs, and a lack of
snowmaking equipment apparently contributed to decline of the Winter Playground. Former
Walker Ranger Louis Tausch recalled, “One of the big problems was that… [the Ranger] had to
insist the club had an accident insurance policy in effect prior to opening of the season. The club
was reluctant to spend money on it before they knew for sure the snow would come…The cost of
the insurance was based by the company on other ski areas, and it was very high …what has
plagued the area for years, and that is the southern exposure and the tendency to have spring
thaws…It was nice for the town, but it came to the point when it was too expensive to operate for
the number of people using it, and sometimes the insurance was paid and then there was no
snow till later or it melted or something…it was just rough going.” 50 Also critical was the loss of
CCC labor for maintenance. The Club found it increasingly difficult to make enough profit to fund
fall mowing of the slopes, facility improvements, liability insurance, and other necessities. In
addition, the increasing popularity of snowmobiling drew potential skiers to other activities and
places. By 1970, Shingobee Winter Playground, Inc. Association of Walker was dissolved. 51

 In 1975, some students from Walker High School ski team led by young Hilton Baaker requested
help from the Forest to get a ski training trail open again at Shingobee. The area had pretty well
brushed up again and the trails needed clearing. With help from the Youth Conservation Corps,
the trails were restored and the chalet was painted and re-roofed. When the High School had its
home ski meet at Shingobee, it was considered the toughest course of the season. 52

                                                       For three years, during the summers of 1978-
                                                       80, Shingobee was used as a residential
                                                       Youth Conservation Corps tent camp.
                                                       Youngsters camped there, using it as a base
                                                       of operations for various project work on the
                                                       forest. Additional buildings were built in 1978
                                                       in support of the program. About halfway
                                                       downhill from the chalet was an office and
                                                       bath house, and an equipment storage
                                                       building at the bottom of the hill. The office
                                                       and bath house was removed about 10 years
                                                       later. The storage building remains but was
                                                       heavily damaged by porcupine chewing so the
                                                       walls were removed, leaving an open shelter
 Figure 8 Sledding at Shingobee, 2007.                 now used as a woodshed.

                                                     From 1975 to 1978, the chalet was open on
weekends. Mr. and Mrs. Joe Day and other volunteers would start a warming fire on Saturdays
and Sundays for skiers, sliders, and cross-country enthusiasts. Participants were asked to bring
their own food and had to walk back up the hills as the tow equipment was not operational. 53
Then in 1979, a Board of Directors for Shingobee Winter Playground, Inc. Association was
elected and the Articles of Incorporation of the former Shingobee Playground Corporation were
reinstated. Hilton Bakker was hired by the Board to coordinate the efforts to reopen the ski area.
A fund raising drive focused on raising the $10,000 necessary to cover initial expenses. 54
Shingobee was reopened for the 1979-80 season. 55 It operated two more winters, through the
1981-82 season, after which it finally closed.

The local community continued occasional use of the area for cross country skiing and sliding.
Concerned that sliders may be hurt on the remaining equipment, the District Ranger removed the
tow equipment and lift building few years later. 56 Currently, the only structures remaining are the
outhouse, open shelter at the bottom of the hill and the chalet building.

Until 2007, the ski chalet was opened by Forest Senior Service Employment Program (SCSEP)
employees on winter weekends, until the program ended and personnel were no longer available.

                        National Register Evaluation of Shingobee Winter Playground
                                               Page 11 Of 15
The boy scouts sometimes use the ski area for a tent camp during the summer. The Forest now
opens the chalet only occasionally.


Shingobee Winter Playground appears to be, perhaps the first, but certainly one of the earliest ski
area developments in northern Minnesota. A few other individual winter sports facilities did exist
before 1938, but apparently not a planned complex that accommodated more than one sport.
There was a ski jump located in Cass Lake as early as 1920. 57 The WPA built a toboggan slide
one mile east of Walker on Highway 371 in 1936. 58 Although Buena Vista had a cleared hill in
1936, it did not install a ski tow until 1949 and so presumably was not heavily used.

Shingobee is also interesting in that it was not developed as a private commercial enterprise. It
was a partnership between the Forest Service and an organization, the Shingobee Winter Sports
Club, made up of a consortium of local business people and ski enthusiasts. Although local
businesses profited by the increased tourism it generated, the Sports Club itself operated as a
nonprofit, returning what dollars were made into the facility. In this, it reflects the New Deal
philosophy of government stimulation of private business to contribute to the local economy.

                                                           Compared to modern ski areas, Shingobee
                                                           is a good example of an early ski
                                                           development, from an era before
                                                           snowmaking, snowboarding, or
                                                           snowmobiling, that was devoted to winter
                                                           use only. Most commercial ski areas today
                                                           operate year-round, and include golf
                                                           courses or other facilities for other seasonal
                                                           use. Although Shingobee’s cross-country
                                                           ski trails are now used for summer hiking,
                                                           there is no indication that their original
                                                           planning and development intended that

                                                       Shingobee Winter Playground has achieved
  Figure 9 Chalet interior with fireplace.             significance as an historic district under
                                                       Criterion A, “for association with events that
                                                       have made a significant contribution to
broad patterns of our history” in the area of Entertainment/Recreation. The Forest’s recreation
program played an important role in promoting tourism and recreation in the national forests, both
nationally and in Minnesota. Several overlapping national trends combined to set the scene for
Shingobee Winter Playground's construction in the late 1930s. Primary among these were the
recreation movement, increased recreational use of National Forests, and the utilization of rustic
architecture in park and forest settings -all embraced and popularized during the 1930s by New
Deal programs. Another trend was the development of alpine skiing that was encouraged by the
invention of ski lift tows and other equipment that made the sport more enjoyable and safer.
Shingobee Winter Playground embodies these trends.

The Shingobee Winter Playground also contains properties that embody the distinctive
characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction which qualify them for listing under
Criterion C. The chalet building is a well-preserved example of architecture of rustic character, a
building that would meet the requirements of visitors without detracting from the scenic qualities
that drew those visitors to National Forests and Parks.

                         National Register Evaluation of Shingobee Winter Playground
                                                Page 12 Of 15
Shingobee Winter Playground also falls under the statewide context established by the State
Historic Preservation Office, “Minnesota Tourism and Recreation in the Lake Regions, 1870-
1945,” and “Federal Relief Construction in Minnesota 1933-1941.”

The period of significance is the length of time when the property was associated with important
events, activities, or persons, or attained the characteristics which qualify it for National Register
listing. Under Criterion A, for properties associated with historic trends, the period of significance
is the span of time when the property contributed to the trend. Under Criterion C, for
architecturally significant properties, the period of significance is the date of construction and/or
dates of any significant additions and alterations. The period of significance for Shingobee Winter
Playground is 1938-1970.

The 1938 chalet building contributes to the National Register site, but the open shelter/woodshed
built in 1978 does not. There are also contributing elements of the historic designed landscape
that includes the topography, downhill ski runs, the cross-country trails, and remnants of the
circulation system.

An evaluation of integrity must consider the property’s current physical condition in light of its
historic evolution. The ski chalet building has been maintained in good condition and is unaltered
from its original design. It still contains original kitchen equipment, benches and tables, and other
furnishings. The downhill ski runs and cross-country trails are largely intact, although the area of
the toboggan run has revegetated. The tow and lift building have been removed, and the
outhouses were removed or replaced around 1970.

The contributing landscape elements and
chalet building in Shingobee Winter
Playground generally retain a high degree
of integrity, both as individual entities and
in their relationship to each other. The ski
runs and cross country trails are also
largely intact.

Shingobee Winter Playground has
integrity of
• location: “the place where the historic
    property was constructed or the place
    where the historic event occurred.” 59
    The ski runs, trails and chalet building
    remain in their original locations.
• design: “the combination of elements            Figure 10 Ski slope, 2007.
    that create the form, plan, space,
    structure, and style of a property. . . .
    Design includes such elements as organization of space, proportion, scale, technology,
    ornamentation, and materials.” For districts, “design concerns more than just the individual
    buildings or structures located within the boundaries. It also applies to the way in which the
    buildings, sites, or structures are related.” The ski runs and trails of the Shingobee Winter
    Playground and the chalet building generally retain their design characteristics. No design
    modifications have been made to the ski area or building, and modifications to the trails have
    been minimal. The ski area design is still in use for the purpose originally intended.
• setting: “the physical environment of a historic property. . . Setting refers to the character of
    the place in which the property played its historic role.” Forest Service guidelines have helped
    ensure that the ski area retains its historic setting with trees and cleared area retaining the

                         National Register Evaluation of Shingobee Winter Playground
                                                Page 13 Of 15
     appearance of the ski landscape. The ski area experience can still be enjoyed within an
     unaltered historic setting.
•    materials: “the physical elements that were combined during a particular period of time and in
     a particular pattern or configuration to form a historic property.” The chalet building retains its
     essential exterior materials of wood siding and historic windows and doors of wood and
•    workmanship, “the physical evidence of the crafts of a particular culture or people during any
     given period in history or prehistory.” The chalet retains evidence of the superior
     craftsmanship with which it was built.
•    feeling: “a property’s expression of the aesthetic or historic sense of a particular period of
     time.” The landscape evokes the historic and aesthetic character of an early ski area
•    association: “the direct link between an important historic event or person and a historic
     property.” This ski area was built in a National Forest by a New Deal program and used by a
     local organization that contributed significantly to the later development of commercial winter
     recreation areas and to the local economy.

Shingobee Winter Playground also includes the visual landscape within the topographic basin
formed by the hills bordering the Shingobee River. The historic property is bounded by Highway
34 on the northwest, the Shingobee River on the south, and Anoway Lake and unnamed creek on
the east. Dimensions of the area are about 1500 x 700 meters, and include about 260 acres.

Based on historical and architectural research and analysis, Shingobee Winter Playground
appears to meet National Register criteria and to maintain sufficient historic integrity. It is
therefore eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places as the Shingobee Winter
Playground site. The chalet building and landscape would be considered National Register
eligible properties under the Section 106 review process if a proposed project calls for removal or

  General background information is adapted from “Camp Ouachita Girl Scout Historic District, Lake Silvia, Perry County”
on the Arkansas SHPO webpage
  Lund, Morten. A Short History of Alpine Skiing. From Skiing Heritage, Winter 1996, Vol. 8 No. 1.
  1830s-1904 Skiing Arrived in America; Ski Clubs Founded in New England and the Upper Midwest,
  Timeline of Important Ski History Dates,
  The Aurora Ski Club, Red Wing, Minnesota 1886-1951,
  Email from info@ 1/23/2008
   Email from Jerry Wahlin, General Manager & owner, 1/23/2008
   Email from Shannon Kendall, Giants Ridge, 2/5/2008
   Email from Beth Nash, Public Affairs Coordinator, Three Rivers Park District 1/23/2008, and
   Email from Dee at 1/23/2008

                              National Register Evaluation of Shingobee Winter Playground
                                                     Page 14 Of 15
   This is not a complete comprehensive list of regional area ski facilities. Several other ski areas, including Wild
Mountain at Taylors Falls MN, Welch Village at Welch MN, Coffee Mill at Wabasha MN, could not be contacted or did not
respond to requests for information. And little or no information was found about early facilities that have since gone out
of business, such as Sugar Hill, Quadna, and Val Chitelle.
   Branstner, Mark C. 1987. Cultural Resource Inventory Survey of the Caberfae Winter Sports Area, Manistee National
Forest, Wexford County, Michigan. Great Lakes Research, Williamston MI.
   email from John Davis, Heritage Program Manager, Huron-Manistee National Forest 6/4/2007.
   Email from Mark Bruhy, Heritage Program Manager, Chequegamon-Nicolet National Forest 6/4/2007.
   Email from Beth LeClair, White Mountain National Forest 6/6/2007.
   Email from Beth LeClair, White Mountain National Forest 6/6/2007.
   Walker Telal, “Shingobee Hills Best Ski Terrain Northern States,” June 11, 1938; Walker Pilot, “Forest Service Begins
Survey of Shingobee Hills for Development of Region As a Winter Sports Area,” August 5, 1938
   Walker Pilot, “Forest Service Begins Survey of Shingobee Hills for Development of Region As a Winter Sports Area,”
August 5, 1938
   Helen Vollman interview with Milton Uglen, Jan. 4, 1978
   Letter from C.E Knutson to Regional Forester 10/19/1938
   Walker Pilot, “Forest Service Completes Ski Hills and Slide,” Nov. 18, 1938
   Remembering the Civilian Conservation Corps, North Country Marathon Booklet, Cass County Historical Society 2007
   Stan Johnson interview with Les Gardner, no date; Clifford G. Anderson letter to Forest Supervisor Nov. 28, 1938
   Smith, Marvin L. memorandum to file Nov. 1, 1946; Cass Lake Times, no title, January 9, 1947
   John E. McQueen memo to Forest Supervisor August 16, 1949
   Helen Vollman interview with Louis Tausch, Jan. 4, 1978
   Letters between Regional Office and Supervisor’s Office May 31, July 19, and August 1, 1939
   Helen Vollman interview with Oliver Opheim Jan. 5, 1978
   Walker Pilot, “Ski Tow Cost Kept Near the $300 Estimate,” April 19, 1940
   C.E. Knutson memorandum to Regional Forester, Feb. 8, 1940
   Helen Vollman interview with Oliver Opheim Jan. 5, 1978
   John E. McQueen memo to Forest Supervisor August 16, 1949
   Existing Ski Tow Power Unit drawing, September 1978
   Helen Vollman interview with Louis Tausch, January 4, 1978
   Walker Pilot, “New Lodge At Shingobee Area Near Completion,” March 29, 1940
   Walker Pilot, “Forest Service Completes Ski Hills and Slide,” Nov. 18, 1938
45                                                                                                th
   Walker Pilot, “First Weekend Snow Train To Arrive in Walker From Twin Cities Saturday 25 ,” Jan. 17, 1941
   Helen Vollman interview with Milton Uglem Jan. 4, 1978
   Walker Pilot, “Playground is Host to 1,500 Fans,” January 17, 1941
   Cass County Pioneer, “Shingobee Club Adopts Emblem,” Nov. 24, 1939
   John E. McQueen memo to Forest Supervisor August 16, 1949
   Helen Vollman interview with Louis Tausch, January 4, 1978
   Walker Pilot, “Shingobee Winter Playground Use Discontinued,” September 10, 1970
   Dave Orear interview with Dean Hickey, April 1995
   Cass County Independent, “Shingobee Chalet Open to the Public,” January 8, 1976; Walker Pilot-Independent,
“Shingobee Chalet Now Open for Winter Season,” December 8, 1977; Dave Orear interview with Dean Hickey, April 1995
   Walker Pilot-Independent “Shingobee Fund Drive Kick-off For Ski Area Set for Sept. 22,” September 20, 1979
   Walker Pilot-Independent “Shingobee Playground Completes First Year,” April 3, 1980
   Dave Orear interview with Dean Hickey, April 1995
   Photos in Minnesota Historical Society collection.
   Walker Telal, “Toboggan Slide East of Walker Now Completed’” October 30, 1936
   National Register Bulletin 15: How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. Washington, D.C.:
Government Printing Office, 1977, updated 1997.

                              National Register Evaluation of Shingobee Winter Playground
                                                     Page 15 Of 15
Chalet, uphill side
                                              Chalet kitchen exterior

Chalet downhill side and fireplace exterior   Chalet interior seating area and fireplace
Chalet interior – kitchen
                                            Chalet interior – kitchen cook stove

Chalet k interior – kitchen heating stove   Woodshed