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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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SNOMAD SKI CLUB. In 1967, before the development of SUNDOWN MOUNTAIN in 1973, Dubuque residents interested in alpine skiing had to travel to find suitable conditions or use the BUNKER HILL GOLF COURSE where a portable, yet unreliable, tow rope powered by a gasoline engine, was located near the present No. 11 hole.

In March, 1967 the first meeting of the Snomad Ski Club occurred at ALLISON-HENDERSON PARK. Those in attendance were Ed and Mickey Bernhard, Dave and Audrey Manson, Janet Reihle, Ernie Keller, John Frommelt, Jack Buechele, Larry McMahon, Bob Fuhrman, Roger Kutsch, Paul Uhlrich, Kathy Stecklein, Bob and Joan Blocker, Wayne Reicher, Ernie Mareske, Gene Parker, Pete Wilberding, Garrett Graham and Dick Weber. Their goals were to plan ski trips in the Upper Midwest with fellow club members and to construct a new ski area within the city limits of Dubuque. The ski area would include dependable tows, adequate lighting, off-street parking and a warming shelter. The main purpose was to provide low-cost skiing and a challenging hill for skiers. Audrey Manson designed the club's logo; Kathy Stecklein came up with the name.

Construction began in September in an area that became known as Snomad Basin off West 32nd Street. Trees were cleared, rocks removed and grass was seeded on the slope. JOHN DEERE DUBUQUE WORKS provided heavy equipment. Club member Wayne Reicher, a mechanical engineer, installed the rope-tow mechanism, which boasted four gears, for the large run. The recreation commission donated the lights and poles were were installed by club members. A water system already in place aided the snow-making equipment. A shelter sat at the top of the hill while a pre-cast, warming house building sat at the base of the hill. The area was approximately 70 percent complete when winter set in.

Beginning in 1967, on every other weekend, club members rode chartered buses for skiing trips in other areas. The first trip cost $39.95 per person and included transportation, lodging and ski-lift passes. The last trip occurred in 1996.

In 1968 the first Snomad Club newsletter was published and three weekend trips and one, one-day trip were organized. There were 148 members. The hill was described as having a "nice, vertical drop; a nice challenging hill. Definitely black, maybe dark blue. This description described the ski trail difficulty scale: black diamond, difficult; blue square, intermediate; and green circle, easiest. The first successful winter of skiing at the new Snomad Basin was completed.

In 1969 Snomad Club membership dues were $15 for families, $10 for singles and $5 for juniors.

Improvements were made. The lighting system and safety equipment at the basin were improved. A new trail was completed on the back side to accommodate intermediate skiers. In 1970 the beginner's "bunny" run was developed at the basin with its own electric tow and lights for night skiing. A trailer that served as an office and "chalet" was purchased in 1971 for $125 and extensively remodeled at the basin. When completed it represented a $1,200 investment. Additional basin hill grooming and improvements to the tows and parking area were completed the following year. The first formal ski races were held and the first snow maker was purchased.

In mid-December, 1973 snow was made for the first time at the Snomad Basin. This improvement required a water system installed and paid for by Dubuque's Recreation Department for $9,600. A large storage building was erected by the club for the snow-making equipment. A second snow-making machine at the basin was purchased in 1974 with money raised by collecting newspapers for recycling. The ski area was 100 percent independent from natural snowfall. The Snomad Club reached its peak membership with 693 members.

The ski hill was widened in 1975 to allow more skiing area for intermediate skiers. Seven weekend trips and seven one-day trips were planned for club members. The interior of the basin trailer was remodeled in 1976 and partitioned into an office and first aid room. Aging liquid petroleum gas heaters were replaced with new electric wall heaters.

In 1983 facing competition from Sundown and other alpine ski areas, the final ski run was held at the basin.

The 1989 Dubuque City Directory listed 1810 W. 32nd.

In 2011 an effort was announced to reactivate the club. People interested in reviving the Snomad Ski Club were asked to meet at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12, at DENNY'S LUX CLUB, 3050 Asbury Road, Dubuque. The club was scheduled to host a Snomad Ski Night at Sundown Mountain at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, and another at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 16, followed by another gathering at Chestnut Mountain, in rural Galena, Ill., at 9:00 a.m. Saturday, March 5.



Reber, Craig D. . "Our Own Ski Hill," Telegraph Herald, January 9, 2011