Thursday, January 17, 2008

What to do this weekend

(January 1954 poster)

from Speed's Ski Passion and Early Ski History of the Area
by Walt Spidahl and Nancy A. Carter published 2007

Chapter 8
HALLAWAY HILL Pelican Rapids

Phil Monson would come and see me whenever he had a chance. His office was nearby and he would walk over and see Speed. We'd have nice talks about skiing. One day when he came over I showed him some copy I had, some literature about the New Sweden Ski Tow, a little portable ski tow that you could take to any ski hill. It was on a toboggan, just a small motor and not too heavy a rope about 350 feet long.

When I showed this to Phil, he got excited. The next thing I knew Phil and I ordered a New Sweden Ski Tow. It was quite interesting. It was on an aluminum toboggan and you could pull it to the top of a hill, fasten it up there, go to the bottom and anchor it on a pulley for the rope, which had to be spliced so you'd have one continuous rope. We first set it up at Roosevelt Park. Phil said, "Oh, we could get so much more skiing in if we set it up in the park." We put it up there, but we decided we wanted to branch out.

I hadn't forgotten about Hallaway Hill from my interest in it when I thought I would be living in Pelican Rapids. Phil and I went up to Pelican Rapids, went east to Stony Bar between Lake Lida and South Lake Lida, and took a right to the Hallaway brothers. Horace and Mike Hallaway lived there and they were a couple of nice old fellows. We talked to them about skiing. We wanted to ski on their hill, Hallaway Hill. It was just lying there, covered with new snow and looked beautiful! In the summer it was a cow pasture.

Phil got busy and made out papers and I signed a lease and leased that hill from the Hallaway brothers for skiing. It was a continuous lease for a dollar a year for the pay, but I could give more if I wanted to. They went along with it and Phil assured them if they signed the lease, we would be responsible if there were any accidents. We represented the Fergus Ski Club.

The first thing we did that winter was organize a nice ski club. We met every week to start with at the Fergus Falls City Hall. After the meetings I felt like the Pied Piper: we'd go to the ski shop and finish up there in an unbelievable manner.

Once we had the lease on Hallaway Hill we decided it was the time to put a tow up there to try it out, and we did. On the south side we put up our porta-tow and it fit very nicely. We fastened it up, and were skiing on the hill. We side-stepped it. I remember Kent Van Meter and David Jensen, Dennis Wilson, Dennis Moe, Stan Leabo, and about this time Marion Wright had started skiing, and the Lund girls were skiing.

On the south side of the hill the Hallaway brothers had a little old building, a chicken coop. We needed a place to warm up, so we cleaned it out and we had a little warming house on Hallaway. It was a Saturday and Sunday project-for the weekends. The building was located on the lake shore line next to the hill and not in the way of the skiers coming down hill.

This was our first tow and the start of skiing at Hallaway Hill. We were moving kind of fast. We had been down at Dalton. They had a good ski hill, and we kind of left them high and dry by moving to Fergus Falls and promoting skiing there and left somebody else high and dry by moving to Hallaway Hill. I'm reminded of a statement Mr. Lund made to me several years later. He tried to get me to stop the concession business and the ski shop and go with him selling skis full time: "Valter, maybe you're scattering the shot too much." In other words, he meant I was going off in too many directions. But we apparently did the right thing because everything we did met with excitement and praise.

The second or third week out at Hallaway Hill Floyd McDunn and a couple of his friends including Clyde Thorstenson came trudging in their overshoes up the hill and wanted to talk to me. They were really excited and wanted to know if we should do more than having the little tow. We decided to have a meeting with the Fergus Ski Club. Oscar Alstad, Charlie Sachs, Fenwick Fetvedt, Chick Bopp, Dr. Lund-Vie all got together and met with the men interested at Pelican. It was decided we should form a corporation and put up a permanent ski tow on the north side of Hallaway, and that the west facing slope would be the beginners' area. We had been skiing all of the hill with friends who were good skiers by now. We used all different places and decided where we could put the tows, and we actually ended up having three tows. One was on the west facing the west, a big tow going to the south, and a south tow to replace the porta tow. We had three tows up there and it looked like quite an operation. About the same time we decided the north side could have a jump on it, alongside the rope where we could make a jumping hill, which we did. We engaged Bennet Sorum and his bulldozer the following year, and by fall we had a full-fledged ski hill.

February 1, 1952 Fergus Falls Daily Journal

By Clarence


If you don't think Hallaway Hill, where the daredevils of the skiing world risk their necks, is very high just try trekking up its side in about three feet of snow lugging a SpeedGraphic camera and pockets jammed with film holders.

That's the trip we took last Sunday to get pictures of the skiers in action. It was the first tournament of its kind in that area and was successful in more ways than one.

Skiers from North Dakota and the Twin Cities proclaimed it to become one of the best skiing hills in the state because of its many natural slopes and gullies that make it ideal for slalom and downhill skiing.

We overheard one North Dakota skier make the remark that he would be spending most of his Sundays skiing from Hallaway Hill. We later learned he was Dr. Korbis from Fargo and a mighty fine skier. He joined Walt Spidahl, president of the Fergus Ski Club, in making the first runs down the difficult slalom course.

If you think slalom skiing is something for sissies, just try twisting a pair of long skies through the gates set up in the form of flagpoles as you go down the steep incline of Hallaway Hill--it's no snap and requires skill, perfect balance and nerve to twist in and out of the many tree hazards down the hill.

We also learned on our climb up the little mountain why the ski club has a tow on the south slope. To the skiers it is worth its weight in gold.

One Sunday out there we climbed to the top along the tow and took particular note of one skier who passed us six times going up the tow. This proves its importance to the skier and one reason why some of the younger kids are such good skiers--they get so much more practice.

They surely get more practice than we did when we had to lug the old barrel staves up the hill, go bouncing down an unpacked slope, have a strap break, then finish the rest of the slide on our neck. We'd look way up the hill, shake the snow out of our clothes, the start of the long hard climb back for another uncertain run. But we thought it was fun.

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