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Peters Creek Ski Area

Late 1930's to Early 1940's

Name of Ski Area: Peters Creek Ski Area
Location: Near the end of Ski Road in Peters Creek.  20 miles north of Anchorage.
Type of Area: Ski Hill
Dates of Operation: Late 1930's to Early 1940's
Who Built It?: CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), input given to the CCC by the Anchorage Ski Club
Base/Top/ Vertical Drop:

Base: ~550'/ Top: ~800' / Vertical: ~250'

Lifts: None.  No evidence of a ski tow has yet been found.  But in the original CCC design of the ski area, a "power escalator" was mentioned.  Perhaps that meant a rope tow was proposed.
Facilities: See below.
History:

Ski Road was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930's.  During that time and into the 1940's Ski Road was the only significant road leading off the narrow dirt road Glenn Highway between Eagle River and Eklutna.

The Peters Creek Ski Area was built at the end of Ski Road in 1939.  In the original CCC proposal for the ski, quite a bit of development was planned (see reference below):

1 mile of winter road to reach heart of the area.
Clear hillside 1000 ft long and 400 ft wide
Clear 2 1/2 miles of downhill ski trail, 20 ft wide, 40 ft on turns
Construct a 1 mile toboggan course
18' x 14' log shelter cabin at warm spring, 2 miles up ski trail
Clear 1 mile downhill novice course
Lodge, two ski jumps, judges stands, tent frames, power escalator (rope tow?)
Two pit toilets

It is not known how much of this ski area development was completed.  Likely the slope was cleared, the downhill trail was cut.  Beyond that there is not evidence of the other facilities being completed.

This ski area was apparently used for military training very early in the 1940s.  In the early 40's there is also record of the military training skiers at the City Ski Bowl near Ship Creek in Anchorage in the early 1940s.  And Arctic Valley would replace the City Ski Bowl as the military ski training site by the mid 1940s.  Possibly the creation of the City Ski Bowl and the Arctic Valley Ski Bowl lured skiers from the Peters Creek Ski Area and forced its demise.

Sources of Information:

"Between Two Rivers", a history of the Greater Eagle River area, by Marjorie Cochrane; Leonard Fancher; Linda Yarborough and Lesli Schick of the Chugach National Forest, Heritage Department

~  CCC MAP  ~
 

Civilian Conservation Corps Peters Creek Ski Hill Map, courtesy of the Chugach National Forest, Heritage Department

(Click on any image to expand it)

March, 1939

[Above] The ski area was in the east 1/2 of section 10.

[Left and right] Note from Tim Kelley: The original map had the ski area marked in red grease pencil on black.  So - the ski area outline did not come through via photocopier.  I drew in the ski area outline with a digital image editor to approximate the original at CNF.  I also added the downhill trail and toboggan course to these maps and tried to match the original.

~  CCC Documentation  ~
 

Civilian Conservation Corps Peters Creek Ski Hill Project Documentation, courtesy of the Chugach National Forest, Heritage Department

(Click on any page to expand it to readable size)

Office of Indian Affairs, permission to build ski area on Eklutna reserve. Allotment letter, defines scope of ski area project Anchorage Ski Club to CCC on how to built a ski trails Request for money to clear ski slope and 2 1/2 mile ski trail
Permission to start ski area work 100 dollars allocated for clearing the Peters Creek Ski Area Anchorage Ski Club proposes a ski lodge Plan for ASC ski lodge
 

 
 

Site photos - March 16, 1939

 

~  PHOTOS  ~
 
This Old Ski Area Lives on in Spirit via Ski Road in Peters Creek

[Photo credit: Tim Kelley, 2008]

~  MAPS  ~

This topo map shows the location of the ski area in relation to Peters Creek and Anchorage.

(click on this map to expand it)

A 1972 topo map shows the Ski Road.  The CCC built the road to the red mark on the map.  The current Ski Road ends where you can seen a house on a 90 degree corner.  The Peters Creek Ski Area was to the east of the end of Ski Road.

(click on this map to expand it)

A more recent topo map shows that much development has occurred in this area since 1972.  And that the site of the ski hill has grown in since then.

(click on this map to expand it)

Research Correspondence 

[Excerpt from Marjorie Cochrane's "Between Two Rivers"] 

"Roads and How They Got Their Names" - page 169.

SKI ROAD:  Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930's to a bowl used by the Army for ski training during World War II.  The land was released at the end of the war and Sterling (Bud) and Delores Whaley homesteaded a quarter section in April of 1948.  They later bought the Lazy S bar from Robert Steward and operated it as the Candlelight Inn until 1958.  WHALEY AVENUE is named for them.  MARK DRIVE and STEPHAN DRIVE are for their two sons.

Page 102-103: When the Tatros homesteaded at Mirror Lake, only one road branched off the highway between Eagle River and Eklutna, a mile long spur built in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps that lead east into a bowl used by the Army as a ski training site during World War II.  In 1948, California newlyweds "Bud" and Delores Whaley staked the quarter section that included the ski area.

[Leonard Fancher - 02 & 09 Sep 2005 emails] 
 

Tim,
My name is Leonard Fancher. I have lived in the Chugiak Peters Creek area since 1974. I think I might know where the Ski Road area might have been. I will ask around some and see if I can guess it out. I know the step son of a long time Peters Creek resident (Sonny Platsic) and she might know. They were neighbors with the Whaileys,(I was also their paperboy back in the mid 70's). The area I am thinking of is in a small depression/hollow up above Tulwar Road. I think I may be able to get in there to show you if there isn't to many new homes put in. Its the only place in that area anyone would want to ski at (even back then). Otherwise, they may have been heading up Peters Creek Valley. There is a bowl on the left that would be choice for skiing. You can see it from the Glenn. But I don't think so, because on Alsap it says the hill was within Whaileys property lines.
 
I talked to another long time resident today and he thinks they were training in Four Mile and on Eklutna Peak. There is a old road bed which leads up to the area around the Peters Creek trail head. If you are around the area give me a jingle and I can show you the road bed. I used to ride my Mt bike on it all the time! Also,did you know there were plans for a third rope tow in Ptarmigan Valley? I can show you those remains too. I should have more on the Ski Road thing a little later. I dig the web site. I have told a few die hard skier pals and they like it too. You gotta love it if you're a skier from Alaska. Good work! 
 
Leonard Fancher

 

 

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