All in the Family: Beaver Mountain Celebrates 75th Anniversary

16th February 2015 | Becky Lomax

News Regions: Utah

Resorts in this article: Beaver Mountain

Beaver Mtn - ©Beaver Mountain

Groomed corduroy snow beckons skiers at Beaver Mountain for its 75th anniversary season.

Copyright: Beaver Mountain

In an era that's seen increasing multi-resort-season-passes, Beaver Mountain chugs along as a multi-generational family-owned business. This winter, the ski area near Logan, Utah celebrates a milestone­—its 75th anniversary.

Beaver Mountain is all in the Seeholzer family. Generations of them. The third generation now oversees most of the ski biz, while the second and fourth generations assist. This ski area tucked up along Utah’s northern border within spitting distance of Idaho plans to continue as a small family-run mountain.

In a state where lift ticket prices top $100 at several resorts, two adults can ski all day at Beaver Mountain for less than that. In part, low prices are due to the lack of high-speed lifts, and Beaver Mountain isn’t craving one. “To be honest, we really don’t need it,” says Travis Seeholzer, third generation and manager of mountain operations. “A long lift line on a holiday might be 12 minutes, and most of the time lift lines are minimal. We’re a pretty decent sized hill for the number of lifts.”

The ski area’s four lifts—three triples and one double—plus one beginner carpet serve 828 acres of eastern-exposure inbounds and 2,000 acres of out-of-bounds west slope descents. Harry’s Dream triple climbs 1,600 vertical feet to the summit. “It’s an 8- or 9-minute ride. That gives you time to rest,” adds Travis about the resort’s longest lift named for his grandfather.

Harold Seeholzer drives the groomer machine at Beaver Mountain, which is still owned and operated by his family. - ©Beaver Mountain

Harold Seeholzer drives the groomer machine at Beaver Mountain, which is still owned and operated by his family.

Copyright: Beaver Mountain

Nine family members currently work winters at Beaver Mountain. Travis’s brother-in-law Jeff West serves as mountain manager, and one nephew oversees the terrain parks. Travis’s mother Marge still sells tickets, usually working 65-70 hours per week. “We had to cut her back last year to six days a week,” says Travis. “She’s very active and involved. She knows everyone.” As the second generation, Marge has watched families grow up skiing on the mountain. She knows the kids, parents, and grandparents.

Travis’ grandfather, Harold Seeholzer launched the ski area in 1939 at a location he handpicked while doing snow surveys. Early lifts consisted of a 1,000-foot rope tow and a 2,700-foot T-bar that hauled skiers up a 35-degree face. The first person to show up to work in the morning grabbed the ski patrol vest for the day. The warming lodge, the only building for years, now serves as Marge’s ticket office.

Harold Seeholzer operates the old T-bar in the early years at Beaver Mountain. - ©Beaver Mountain

Harold Seeholzer operates the old T-bar in the early years at Beaver Mountain.

Copyright: Beaver Mountain

Travis grew up on the ski hill, working his first winter job as a liftie. “I didn’t realize how different my life was from other kids. But other kids didn’t get to climb in snowcats to go get their Christmas tree,” recalls Travis. “When visiting another ski area at 12 years old or so, someone had to show me how to put on a pass since I’d never used one at home.”

Over its 75 years, Beaver Mountain has had its share of hurdles. Since no electricity reached the mountain even into the 1980s, the resort generated its own power. After a 1986 fire burned the generator, the family buried 13 miles of line through “very rocky ground” to bring electricity to the mountain. Likewise, with no phone service until the 1990s, all communications were via radio. “The radio was a fixture in our house,” remembers Travis. “Everything we did, calling suppliers to getting technical support, was relayed three times through the radio.”

Expansions over the decades added new terrain. In 1970, Marge and her husband Ted, the second generation of owners, pushed a chairlift to the summit of Beaver Mountain to fulfill the long-time dream of Travis’s grandfather. Later, the lift was upgraded to a triple. In 2003, under the leadership of the third generation, installing Marge’s Triple added new runs. Most recent improvements reconstructed the beginner area.

A skier sinks into powder at Beaver Mountain, which usually sees 400 inches of snowfall annually. - ©Beaver Mountain

A skier sinks into powder at Beaver Mountain, which usually sees 400 inches of snowfall annually.

Copyright: Beaver Mountain

Beaver Mountain now faces two major challenges. Despite sentimental attachments to the old ticket office where Marge would keep a pot of soup hot for Travis and his siblings when they were kids, plans are afoot to build a 12,000-square-foot day lodge to house rentals, retail, tickets and offices. “We are just bursting everywhere,” explains Travis.

The mountain also lacks snowmaking. With an annual average snowfall of 400 inches, the resort usually sees abundant white. But drier years like this one raise the snowmaking issue. “We currently have no water for snowmaking. We’ve drilled, but none of the wells worked,” observes Travis. It’s a dilemma the family wants to address.

In the meantime, Beaver Mountain celebrates what they have—perhaps the longest family-owned ski area in the country.

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