Satus Pass couldn't stand test of time, or snow
More than 35 years ago, a ski area in Central Washington closed for want of adequate snow.
GOLDENDALE, Klickitat County — It is hard to believe now, but once upon a time there was a ski area near Satus Pass on Highway 97.
A labor of love that has definitely not withstood the test of time, the Satus Pass Ski Area existed for nearly 25 years before a chronic shortage of snow caused its demise in 1976.
Located 12 miles north of Goldendale, the fledgling ski area opened in 1952 on 160 acres near Brooks Memorial State Park.
Developed by a coalition of skiing enthusiasts and area businessmen with help from the state Department of Parks and Recreation, the ski area originally consisted of three rope tows powered by flathead Ford V-8 engine.
In 1964, the Goldendale Jaycees began operating the ski area under a lease with Klickitat County. By then the ski area had a lodge with a fireplace, a ski shop and snack bar, heated bathrooms and parking.
Tow fees were $1.75. Ski rentals were $1.50, including boots and poles.
At a cost of $30,000, an early type of ski lift known as a T-bar was installed in time for the 1966-67 season.
The lodge was renovated, the two remaining rope tows were rebuilt, and night lights were added.
And yet, despite the interest and enthusiasm, the ski area struggled because of the weather. As freelance writer Lisa Freund recounted in her history of the place: "The skiers kept coming, but the snow didn't."
By 1975, the ski area was on its last legs. Operating privately as Miracle Mountain, it failed to open for the 1975-76 season amid claims of debt and unpaid bills.
On Jan. 12, 1976, the lodge burned down. The ski area never reopened.
Today, all that remains are the parking lot, the hole where the lodge stood, the towers for the T-bar and the now-overgrown ski slope.