home updates map photos alsappers contact about  

Homer Heights Territorial School


Name of Ski Area: Homer Heights Territorial School
Location: Homer
Type of Area: Ski Trails
Dates of Operation: 1940's
Who Built It?: Natural Trails
Base/ Vertical Drop:


Lifts: None
Facilities: Homer Heights Territorial School
Miscellaneous:  In the Homer library is a book, self published by Elizabeth Richardson Childs entitled TEACHERS IN THE ALASKAN WILDERNESS, Margaret and Marion Richardson 1924-1954. Published in Corvallis, Oregon 1976. The following are excerpts from that book:

"At last the Homer Heights school was finished, and Margaret wrote on January 6, 1940, "Well, here I be, at last, up in the frozen interior, which is to be known as 'Homer Heights.' All about me are gently rolling hills, studded with patches of forest, and the whole wrapped in powdered sugar. There is a snow storm on right this minute, to give the school more of an Alaskan stage setting than ever, and there are about twenty people from the hill community and the beach holding a ski meet up here today. The new school makes a warm general meeting place for such things."

Then Margaret sketched some of the details of her new life at Homer Heights. "Today," she wrote, "one of the skiers brought me a fine moose tenderloin, and another skier had given me the heart from his moose."

"We have had a week of school by now. There are ten little pupils, one so tiny that I can't believe she is more than three years old. All come on skis down these precipitous slopes, across miles of wild country. No bear are out now, and the moose have done their mating, so Nature's dangers are at low ebb, aside from the terrific weather. It is quite a site [sic] to see the children arrive. Skiing is as graceful as skating. The front yard of the school is stuck full of skis and ski poles, like a garden of huge needles."

Margaret was faced with reality. "I'm having to learn to ski, myself, willy-nilly, or I can't even get out to the snow-covered pile of coal which was left about 280 feet from my door.

In 1942 she had this to write.
"Outside snow is falling softly, but oh so steadily," she wrote on March 24, 1942. "It is 8:15, and I am waiting for my duck eggs to simmer, so I can eat and be off to school. I've just brought my skis in to give them an extra coat of grease, as new-fallen snow has a tendency to pack under the ski. The snow is four feet deep by the house here. i am skiing over the tops of willows, alders, small canons.[sic] I don't mind a soft windless fall of snow, like today's, even if all of the landscape is hidden in the grayness. The homesteads with phones have called this morning to see if 'teacher is going to make it to school.' I am, so the children must be on their ways by now. I leave at 8:30."

Brant Edens, one of the boys in the picture says the following about skiing at the school.
"Recess often lasted for more than 30 minutes, since there were no fences and hard to define boundaries. Many a lecture occurred over our trifle extension of the rules. The gullies and ridges made excellent ski trails. Quick for getting away from school, but pleasingly slow coming back."
"Dad made our first skis out of spruce lumber. He steamed the tips and held them in a clamp over night. We used belting for binders. Those skis were our transportation for the next 4 months."
Sources of Information:

Dave Brann


Does anyone have information about skiing at the Homer Heights School (or pictures of the current area) that they would like to contribute to ALSAP ?

A 1940 picture of children on skis in front of the Homer Heights Territorial School.  The verso on the picture states: "Passing Ski-er's are us at the noon hour".  Dave Brann has a photocopy of a similar picture that has the names of the subjects.  According to Dave: "If you start on the left side with the tallest boy the kids are as follows: Ken Irving, Betty Tolbert, (tall with the fur ruff) Bill Melvill, Dick Edens, Brant Edens, (boy in front of teacher) Edward Jackson, (short
girl) Patsy Melvil, Rupert Schultz, Elinor Schultz, Jim Tolbert, Ron Davis. The teacher in the back is Margaret Richardson."

[Photo credit: Alaska State Library - Historical Collections]

A 1940 picture of Homer Heights Territorial School children on skis.  The verso on the picture states: "At the start of the steep descent to the school."

[Photo credit: Alaska State Library - Historical Collections]

~  MAPS  ~

This topo map shows the Homer Heights Territorial School site.

(click on this map to expand it)

Research Correspondence 



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