The History of Beaver Mountain
Claim to Fame: Family always comes first at Utah’s beloved Beaver Mountain. Today Beaver Mountain continues to be owned and operated by the same family that helped to fire up the first surface tow decades ago, the Seeholzers. Beaver Mountain is simply a special place where family and fun come first. It is the longest continuously operated family-owned ski area in the USA.
Unique Character: Beaver is the place you go to get away from it all. Time slows down, the food is delicious, the faces are friendly and the tickets are affordable. The essence of what makes skiing and snowboarding worth chasing can be rediscovered at Beaver. You won’t find a $35 hamburger nor a swanky spa, but that’s not what Beaver is about. Remember what it’s like to unplug and enjoy the very best that friendship, skiing and snowboarding has to offer. There’s nothing quite like "Skiing the Beav.”
Tucked amid the Bear River Range lie ski runs fringed by aspen, fir and pines. Thanks to its favored location, Beaver Mountain is seldom hammered or affected by wind. Its sheltered slopes harbor perfect powder, true fall-line pitches and wonderful rolling terrain. Though a smaller resort by the numbers, Beaver skis big, and every inch of this ski area can be enjoyed. From perfectly gladed aspen groves, backcountry powder stashes, meticulously maintained terrain parks and steep rolling groomers to perfectly gentle beginner terrain, the Beav is a blessed little corner of the universe. Cold temperatures keep the snow great days after a storm, and the lack of huge crowds fosters a friendly neighborhood feel.
What’s in a Name: Beaver Mountain
If you find a local, chances are they’ll be calling the mountain ‘The Beav,’ but Beaver Mountain derives its name from the once plentiful rodents that populated this region. The area was formerly a hotbed for fur trapping and commerce in the era of the mountain man. Beavers are critical to riparian (river habitat) health, and if you keep your keen eyes trained to the river bottom where willows are plentiful, you will certainly spy a few dams when driving up Logan Canyon.
Before The Beav
Indigenous tribes inhabited the nearby Bear Lake Valley for at least 12,000 years or more. Shoshone, Ute and Bannock people hunted, fished and camped along the lakeshore. A robust trade between tribes, mountain men and fur trappers emerged in the late 1800s. The punishing cold and deep snow in the Peter Sinks area adjacent to Beaver Mountain made winter habitation impossible. Though these frigid temps contribute to excellent powder snow conditions for contemporary snow lovers.
In The Club
Skiers first flocked to Logan Canyon way back in 1937, skiing at the forestry camp and hosting university races. A local ski enthusiast and fur trapper, Harold Seeholzer, had previously joined the Mt. Logan Ski Club which was working hard to open the treacherous road in Logan Canyon during the winter months. In 1939, the club installed a city-owned municipal ski tow to provide winter recreation opportunities to the residents of nearby Cache Valley. They fired up a DeSoto car motor with a steel cable, which required someone to hike to the top of the cable each morning to start the tow. It required immense dedication and effort to be a skier back then!
At the time, there was no road to the location where the tow had been constructed, so skiers were forced to walk about a mile in the snow from the highway to the municipal rope tow. Only the most determined skiers were game. After a year, folks were tired of walking up the mountain, and the tow was moved near the Logan Canyon Summit in The Sinks of Summit Valley, a more accessible area roughly a mile and a half away along the highway.
Beaver Moves Back
The tow stuttered along until 1945 when the Mt. Logan Ski Club began to accept proposals to hand over ownership and operation of the municipal ski hill. Harold and his wife Luella were keen to share their love of skiing and winter recreation with local families and submitted an application.
The Seeholzer’s application was eventually accepted, and they boldly decided to move operations back to the original base of Beaver Mountain. With help from the Cache County Commission, funding was secured for the construction of a parking lot and a road to the present-day base of Beaver Mountain. At this point, Harold and his family fully committed to creating a retreat for local residents, but it would take a Herculean amount of work to do so. Because the resort didn’t bring in tons of funds, the family members held full or part-time jobs elsewhere. The work was tiresome and even involved side-slipping or bootpacking the runs before guests arrived, as machine groomers weren’t commonplace at the time.
On the Up & Up
With financial assistance from the Mt. Logan Ski Club, the USFS, and the Cache Chamber of Commerce, Harold and Luella devoted their personal finances to building a 1,000-foot rope tow in 1949. The following season, Harold and Luella ordered a 2,700-foot long T-bar, and they began involving their offspring in daily mountain operations. By 1950, Beaver Mountain was a far more accessible destination for local skiers.
After 14 years of heading up operations, Harold decided to formalize the business into a family affair. In 1961, he and Luella pulled the family together to form a corporation that included sons Loyal and Ted and daughters Nancy and Dixie. All of them worked to install the Beaver Face Lift, using a local sheepherders horse to carry the heavy shiv wheels up the mountain. In 1963, the family commenced construction on the Little Beaver double chair, along with the iconic A-frame lodge that guests enjoy at the base area today. A few years later in 1967, a Poma lift that traveled at double the speed of the double chair extended skiing to five new trails.
A Few New Chapters
In 1968, Harold Seeholzer, the champion of Beaver Mountain, tragically lost a fight with cancer. He’d always envisioned installing a double-chair lift from the base of the A-frame to the top of the mountain. In 1970, thanks to the tireless work of the family, Harry’s Dream whisked its first guests up 4,600 feet on double chairs. Luella continued to work at the mountain, and her son Ted and his wife Marge stepped in to manage operations and sell tickets.
"We like it, but it’s a lot of work. We get a lot of satisfaction out of it. We’ll never get rich running a ski area this size, but we make a living." -Ted
Loyal and his wife chipped in with bookkeeping and running the ski shop, and sisters Nancy and Dixie helped throughout the 70s and 80s. Up until 1986, Beaver Mountain had been run on generators, but after a fire destroyed the generator building, Beaver Mountain was finally electrified, though phone lines didn’t arrive until the mid-90s.
Running a ski resort is an expensive and exhausting proposition indeed. In the late 90s, Ted bought out his siblings, making he and his wife Marge the sole owners of Beaver Mountain. They hoped to bring their daughter Annette, her husband Jeff and their son Travis and his wife Kristy onto the management team. The family worked tirelessly to make improvements, adding two new lifts, a large maintenance building and a major lodge expansion.
In 2003, the Seeholzer’s added Marge’s Triple Lift in the Long Hollow area to open new terrain and prevent lift lines. These days, the terrain park carefully crafted in this hollow is hugely popular and offers many features and creative lines. In 2006, Harry’s Dream was upgraded to a triple, which greatly increased the uphill capacity. Interestingly, this lift is actually Alta’s old Germania lift. In 2011, the Little Beaver lift was upgraded to a triple chair with night skiing lights.
At 81 years, Ted Seeholzer passed away in 2013, leaving behind an enormous legacy of memories, fun, and vast improvements to the infrastructure and guest experience at Beaver Mountain. Much like the rest of the Seeholzer clan, he was game for any and every job around the mountain. No task was too big or small. These days, you’ll still find his wife Marge smiling in the ticket office, acting as president of the resort six days a week. Ask anyone, and they’ll say Marge is the ‘real boss’ of the mountain.
You’ll spy Seeholzers all around the resort banging on lift towers, selling tickets, working the ski shop and sharing their deep love of winter sport with anyone that visits Beaver. Travis is the Mountains Operations Manager, and his wife Kristy pulls shifts in the Logan office and in the ticket office with Marge. Daughter Annette works weekends in the ticket office, and her husband Jeff is the Mountain Manager. The family is thrilled to have recently expanded access to their beginner terrain with an additional magic carpet that was dubbed 'Big Eezy' with a community naming contest. After all, it's the Seeholzer's passion for sharing skiing and snowboarding that keeps them waking up in the wee hours each winter's day.
The moment you step on the mountain, you can feel the difference. Beaver is family.
QUICK FACTS & ZANY LEGENDS
Photos: Generously provided by Beaver Mountain
Anderson, C. (Host). (2019, Dec 18). Beaver Mountain history - Highlander Podcast . In Highlander Podcast. Aggie Radio. https://highlandermag.usu.edu/beaver-mountain-history-highlander-podcast/
Beaver Mountain. (no date). Mountain History. Retrieved from https://www.skithebeav.com/about-us/mountain-history/
Boyles, G. (2008). “History of the Beav,” The Utah Statesman, Dec 3, 2008. Retrieved from http://usustatesman.com/history-of-the-beav/
Grass, R. (2005). “Ski resort of the week: Beaver Mountain,” Deseret News, Mar 17, 2005. Retrieved from https://www.deseret.com/2005/3/17/19983678/ski-resort-of-the-week-beaver-mountain#a-snowboarder-rides-the-rail-in-the-terrain-park-at-beaver-mountain-ski-resort-in-logan-canyon
Kelly, T. (Host). (2021, Feb 9) The Seeholzers: Family Story of Beaver Mountain (Season 2: Episode 10) . In Last Chair Podcast. Ski Utah. https://www.skiutah.com/blog/authors/tom-kelly/the-seeholzers-family-story-of
Stokes Nature Center for Utah Humanities. (2012). “Harry’s Dream: Beaver Mountain Ski Resort,” via www.utahhumanities.org. Retrieved from https://www.utahhumanities.org/stories/items/show/248