Ohlson Mountain Air Force Rope Tow

1950's to 1960's

Name of Ski Area: Ohlson Mountain Air Force Station Rope Tow
Location: On Ohlson Mountain, 9 miles north of Homer.  At the site of an Alaska Air Command NORAD (North American Radar Defense) surveillance site.
Type of Area: Ski Hill
Dates of Operation: 1950's to 1960's ? (still researching)
Who Built It?: US Air Force, Alaska Air Command
Base/Top/ Vertical Drop:

Base: ~1000' / Top: ~1500' / Vert: ~500'

Lifts: 1 Rope Tow
Facilities: Manned air defense radar station
History: The public as well as the military used this ski tow.  The Kachemak Ski Club held many races at this site.  Races were held on slopes to the north and to the west of the radar station.  This radar station was built in February 1958 and closed on May 15, 1963.
Sources of Information:

Dave Schroer; The Online Air-Defense Radar Museum; Jake McLay

Photos: Does anyone have pictures of skiing at the Ohlson Mountain (or current pictures of the vicinity) that they would like to contribute to ALSAP ?


Jake McLay Ski Racing Photos from the 1960's

[Photo credits: John "Jake" McLay]

The photos above are of a ski race, presumably a giant slalom race, on the north side of Ohlson Mountain.  Bert McLay is the skier in the left picture, Jake McLay is in the right picture.
The pictures above show skiers racing a slalom course on the west side of Ohlson Mountain.  Jesse Templeton is the skier on the left.  The skier in the right picture is unidentified.

An image of an 1950's Kachemak Ski Club patch. 

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Patch courtesy of David Scott

KachemakPatch.jpg (130190 bytes)

Ohlson Mountain Air Force Station Photos

Photos courtesy of The Online Air-Defense Radar Museum, www.radomes.org/museum/

These pictures from the early 1960's show the Ohlson Mountain Long Range Radar Station AFS in operation. OhlsonMountainAFSAK.jpg (15198 bytes) OhlsonMountainAFSAK-1.jpg (11180 bytes)
OhlsonMountainAFSAK-2.jpg (16371 bytes) OhlsonMountainAFSAK-3.jpg (27212 bytes) OhlsonMountainAFSAK-4.jpg (18452 bytes)


This 1986 topo map shows the location of the Ohlson Mountain Airforce Rope Tow in relation to Homer.

(click on this aerial view to expand it)

topo_ohlson.jpg (260457 bytes)

A 1996 aerial view shows Ohlson Mountain relative to the town of Homer.

(click on view to expand it)

terra_ohlson.jpg (118155 bytes)

A zoomed in aerial view shows the location of Air Force rope tow going north off the north tip of the summit of Mount Ohlson.

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terra_zoom_ohlson.jpg (109348 bytes)

Research Correspondence 
[Web search - http://www.radomes.org/museum/alaska.html excerpt] 

"Murphy Dome and Fire Island became operational in September 1951 as control center sites. They were followed by King Salmon (control center), November 1951; Tatalina and Campion (ground control and intercept), April 1952; Cape Lisburne, February 1953; Cape Romanzof, Tin City, and Northeast Cape (all surveillance sites), April 1953; Indian Mountain, November 1953; Sparrevohn, March 1954; and Cape Newenham (surveillance), April 1954. Additional surveillance sites were later added. Kotzebue and Ohlson Mountain (near Homer) became operational in February 1958, Middleton Island in May 1958, Unalakleet in April 1958 and Bethel in July 1958. Fort Yukon became operational as a ground control intercept site in April 1958. ...

"... The surveillance sites at Bethel, Middleton Island, and Ohlson Mountain were closed on 15 May 1963, leaving a void in the radar coverage to the south. Headquarters Alaskan Air Command, and, to some extent the Alaskan Command, provided command and control until the reactivation of an AC&W control group in 1977.



Links to Homer Lost Ski Areas:

Fred Anderson Rope Tow

Homer Elementary School Practice Hill

Homer First Rope Tow

Homer Second Rope Tow

Ohlson Mountain Air Force Rope Tow

Svedland - McLay Hill


Kachemak Ski Club History, 1958-1996 by R.H. Moss

"Jake" John H. McLay Skiing Recollections



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