Monday, May 28, 2012

A Salute to The Ski Chalet

In observation of Memorial Day today, I wonder how many of our brave soldiers from years gone by may have been skiers, and whether any of them may have spent time in a ski house even during trying times of war.  And that led me to a surprising discovery - a military ski chalet.  The Ski House of the Day has a history that is tied to the US military in a big way!  On Kodiak Island, Alaska, The Ski Chalet was built by the US Army in 1941, then was operated by the American Red Cross, was transferred to the US Navy in 1944, and later was run by the US Coast Guard:

In 1941, the same year that the U.S. entered WWII, army soldiers stationed at Fort Greeley, Alaska started construction of the Anton Pass Ski Chalet :

...and they completed it in 1943, during the middle of the war.

They built a sprawling 11,900 sq. ft. ski chalet, complete with a large stone fireplace:

in a very large great room:
In addition to being a ski lodge, this spacious open lodge room served as the place for Saturday night movies and dances...
...and it looks like the snack-bar area was popular as well...(and check out those gigantic snow-shoes hanging on the wall):

The ski area that they created (with one rope tow) was called Anton Larsen Pass Ski Area, which they shared with the locals.   Later known as Pyramid Mountain, the ski area was closed down in the 1990's.

Wow - check out The Ski Chalet "snowed-in" the 40's:

According to, the original ski chalet went downhill (and not in a skiing sort of way) during the 50's, and eventually burned down.  Apparently a newer version was built;  but I think a newer version just can't offer the same kind significance as the original ski chalet.   

By the way......check out what skiing in the area of the Anton Larsen Pass --and snowboarding there--is like nowadays; and here's a look at the Coast Guard landing on skis there now. 

To me that original Ski Chalet, existing only in old photos and in the memories of a dwindling few, serves as a kind of memorial that we can ponder to honor the soldiers that served here during WWII (...who probably welcomed the small distraction that this project provided at a time when WWII was escalating...a distraction that they, and the rest of the world surely needed). 

So, today, on Memorial Day...I'll reflect on those US Army soldiers who built this ski house...I'll wonder how many, if any, of them ever returned to The Ski Chalet after the war was over.   And, as with the rest of our troops, I'll wonder how many of them never got the chance to return home from the war at all.

No comments:

Post a Comment