Flashback: New road leads to 'scenic wonderland' in Whitefish

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Whitefish Mountain Resort was founded in 1947. To celebrate our 75th ski season, we're taking a look through the archives with the help of Whitefish's Ski Heritage Center.

The Nov. 21, 1939, edition of the Whitefish Pilot marked the completion of the "Hell Roaring ski road," which was celebrated with a gathering of more than 200 people. The Kalispell Chamber of Commerce president at the time declared the new road "second to none in Montana, including Logan Pass," referring to the iconic stretch of Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

This was before the resort got its start. Whitefish was primarily a logging town, and the peak we now call Big Mountain was variously known as Hell Roaring Mountain and Haskill Mountain. The all-volunteer Hell-Roaring Ski Club, founded in 1937, was working to put it on the map.

The Pilot described the club's efforts this way:

Members of the ski club have done considerable work at the grounds this year. There is now room to park 75 cars at the cabins. Buildings have been improved and enlarged. New equipment has been purchased and installed. With the new road, which can be seen from Whitefish, the Hell Roaring ski run has the prospect of becoming one of the most popular places for winter sports in the Northwest.

And with the opening of the road, Northwest Montana adds another scenic wonderland to its many tourist attractions. Vacationists who visit Glacier National Park will make a mistake if they do not take time to see the view from Hell Roaring Mountain.

Now, of course, we know we've succeeded at becoming a popular skiing destination. A "scenic wonderland" can only stay a secret for so long, right?

For more Whitefish skiing history, check out our history page and pay a visit to the Ski Heritage Center at 725 Wisconsin Ave.