SANDPOINT — Since Schweitzer Mountain Resort officially opened on Dec. 4, 1963, the Sandpoint ski resort has become a big part of the area and its history.
In an effort to showcase that history, the Bonner County History Museum took its newest exhibit to Schweitzer, where the early years of the mountain are on display at Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Lakeview Lodge.
"We are really excited about this," said Olivia Luther Morlen, museum director. "They are just such a significant part of our history, and to be able to work closely with them and create something that their patrons can enjoy and learn a little bit of the history of the mountain, we think it’s a win-win."
The museum has a large collection of historical Schweitzer promotional materials, vintage trail maps, original season passes, newspaper articles, photographs and more. The collection also includes original photos by Jim Parson documenting the building of the resort – from scouting the terrain to opening day, and curating an exhibit on the mountain gave the museum an opportunity to takes these photographs, and other objects, out of its archives and into the community, according to a statement by museum officials.
The exhibit on the mountain features a wide range of artifacts, including the incredibly long wooden skis that belonged to Sandpoint Department Store pioneer, Ole Jennestad. Luther Morlen said the skis are more than eight feet long, at which point it is hard to imagine how he was able to ski on them.
Luther Morlen said curating an exhibit on Schweitzer is an opportunity to take history beyond the museum walls and help educate and excite people about the history of Schweitzer directly on the mountain.
"This is our first partnership with going up and doing something at Schweitzer, and we’re always looking for other opportunities to get beyond our walls and in our community more," Luther Morlen said. "We wanted to start with this exhibit this year, and hopefully we can expand upon it in future years — change things up, add some things, maybe see if there is other spaces around the village we could utilize for just creating those great little vignettes and little tidbits of the story of the mountain."
The history of the resort began with a man named Jack Fowler, a Spokane native. According to the resort website at schweitzer.com, Fowler had the idea one winter day while traveling back to Spokane from a ski vacation in Whitefish, Mont. He looked up and was struck by the beauty of Schweitzer Mountain’s snowy basin mountaintop and realized the area could be developed into a premier ski resort. Fowler, Jim Brown and other key investors combined their resources, sold shares to local residents, and built Schweitzer’s first chairlift, opening the resort in 1963.
It has grown a lot since those humble beginnings with 2,900 acres of terrain and renowned tree skiing. Schweitzer is well known for its two massive bowls, breathtaking views and amazing gladed terrain.
While Luther Morlen said it is the first partnership in taking the museum to the mountain, its not the first time they have gone off site for an exhibit. For the past few years, Luther Morlen said, they have had exhibits located in the East Bonner County Library about 90 percent of the time. She said there is not one currently in the library, but plans to have one in around the end of February.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.