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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Sundown Mountain has brought visitors from throughout the Midwest.

SUNDOWN MOUNTAIN. In 2015, Sundown was the only Midwest resort granted the National Ski Area Association Award of Excellence. This popular Midwestern ski site was located five miles west of Dubuque in an area popularly known as the "Mississippi Mountains."

Established in the early 1970s by Dubuque investors, Sundown's site selection was begun in 1972 by Bill McEllhiney and Gene Gordon. Developed as a seventy-acre complex, Sundown's chairlifts and tow-ropes made it possible to move an estimated 7,200 skiers each hour.

The recreation area included fifty acres of cleared slopes offering sixteen interconnecting trails lighted for nighttime skiing. The challenging trail known as "Gunbarrel" offered a slope 38 percent of vertical. The Sundown Ski School gave private and group lessons to skiers and instruction, free-of charge, to amputees and un-sighted people.

Numerous weekend competitions have been held at Sundown. Participants from throughout the Midwest have attended the Midwest Collegiate Ski Association competition held annually in February. In 1981 skiers at Sundown had their first opportunity to participate in the NASTAR (National Standard Race) competition to earn national handicaps and medals. Sundown also played an important role in the IOWA SPECIAL OLYMPICS WINTER GAMES.

In 2014 Mark Gordon, the son of Gene, returned to Dubuque to manage the business. (1)

(Photo Courtesy: Sundown Mountain)

Humorous pin




1. Montgomery, Jeff. "New Dawn at Sundown," Telegraph Herald, December 27, 2014, p. 1A

Sundown Mountain. You Tube user: tq4-x8pakuc