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Aurora Lodge


Name of Ski Area: Aurora Lodge
Location: Salcha, on the Richardson Highway, 33 miles to the southeast of Fairbanks, just to the north of the Salcha River.  Lodge no longer exists.
Type of Area: Ski Hill
Dates of Operation: 1940s ??? (still researching start and end dates).  Lodge burned in late 1960's.
Who Built It?: unknown

None (hike up, ski down)



Facilities: Food and lodging at the Aurora Lodge, until it burned.
History: All that is presently known about skiing at Aurora Lodge is from a conversation Dave Brann had with Merritt Mitchell.  Merritt came to the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1947-48 as did his wife Liz.  They were both on the University Ski Team.

Merritt remembers skiing at Aurora Lodge, with two others, during Christmas of 1948.  The ski hill was on the ridge behind the lodge.  Merritt and Liz have an 8 mm film movie of skiing on this hill in 1948.

Sources of Information:

Merritt and Liz Mitchell; Tim Kelley; Pat Fitzgerald

~  PHOTOS  ~

This is a 1928 shot of the an Alaska Road Commision house, that was formerly a telegraph station, in Salcha.  A note on the VILDA web site refers to this as the Aurora Lodge.  So possibly this is, or is a predecessor of, the Aurora Lodge that eventually had a ski hill behind it.

(click on this image to expand it)

[Photo credit: Alaska State Library, George A. Parks]

ASL_AuroraLodge_1928_lodge.jpg (43436 bytes)

A shot from the late 1940's shows University of Alaska Fairbanks skiers Liz and Merritt Mitchell making music after skiing at the Aurora Lodge ski hill.

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[Photo credit: Liz and Merritt Mitchell]


October 2006 Site Pictures

[Photo credits: Tim Kelley]

The site where the Aurora Lodge once stood is believed to be just to the left of the RV in this picture.  The old ski slope was on the ridge in the background.

~  MAPS  ~

This topo view shows the location of the Aurora Lodge site, in Salcha 33 miles southeast of Fairbanks.

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topo_aurora.jpg (122902 bytes)

A zoomed in topo view shows the area around the Aurora Lodge site, and the good skiing terrain to the east.

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topo_zoom_aurora.jpg (85492 bytes)

Research Correspondence 
[Dave Brann - 05 Febrary 2005 conversation with Merritt and Liz Mitchell]

The ski hill at Salcha was behind the Aurora Lodge (since burned down) see pg 116 of the Alaska Atlas and Gazetteer. The hill was on the ridge right behind the lodge. They and two others skied there Christmas of 1948. They have 8mm movies of this but their son in Texas has the film with the idea of getting it put on video or a disc. They are going to ask him to send it back. They also have good pictures of the jump in Anchorage, (water tower) one with Merritt making a record jump.

He came to the University [of Alaska Fairbanks] in 1947-48 and so did Liz. Both were members of the Univ. Ski Team. They married in 1950.

[Pat Fitzgerald - 02 August 2008 email excerpt]

Great site. I can verify that the picture of where the Aurora Lodge stood is correct. There is still some blacktop that was across the front of the lodge. I don't, however, think the old picture is of the Lodge. I remember the lodge being lower and the entrance was on the long side i.e.that side faced the highway. It was a destination when I was a kid in the 50's and I seem to remember that the Davis Family took it over in the late 60's and they may have had it when it burned. This is the Davis Family of the Davis Family Band of which well-known Alaskan entertainer Monte Davis, of JoAnn & Monte, was a member.




Do you have further information, stories or pictures that you would like to contribute about this ski area?