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A Little History of a Big Mountain

Old-school values but passionate about powder

Skiing has been part of the Whitefish area for more than 50 years. In 1937, the Whitefish Lake Ski Club obtained a special permit from the U.S. Forest Service enabling them to build cabins and trails in the Hell Roaring Creek region. Great Falls businessmen Ed Schenck and George Prentice quickly recognized the area’s potential and shortly after World War II, began efforts to develop a full-fledged ski resort on the mountain.

Courtesy Whitefish Mountain Resort

Winter Sports, Inc. (WSI) was founded on March 31, 1947 and it was a community enterprise from the start with local people selling shares of stock to meet payrolls, donating labor, preparing the slopes, even giving up free time to help push through an all-weather mountain road. On the morning of December 14, 1947, Schenck, Prentice and a thousand townsfolk stood on the slopes of the newly christened Big Mountain resort to watch the brand new T-Bar lift bring their community vision to life. The resort hosted the U.S. Alpine Championships in March 1949 and erected a Chalet in December of that same year.

Much has changed over the years -- including renaming Big Mountain Resort to Whitefish Mountain resort in 2007 -- to drive awareness, taking its namesake from the historic railroad town where the resort was founded in 1947.

Today Whitefish offers 3,000 acres of glades, groomers, bowls, and steeps, covered in more than 300-inches of Rocky Mountain powder snow. A laid back vibe, short lift lines, and one of the most affordable lift tickets in the nation put Whitefish in a class by itself.

It is the hardworking men and women who still make up the backbone of Whitefish. But when the snow falls deep overnight, locals feel no angst about putting out the “gone skiing” sign to spend a few hours whooping it up, making tracks in the powder overlooking town. This is what makes the soul of the town. Whitefish is actually not a “ski town,” it’s a town of skiers.