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Resorts that didn’t quite make it

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Not all of Utah's ski resorts grew up to be Deer Valleys, Snowbirds or Park Citys.

Looking back at history, there were those resorts that never made it past the idea stage and then there were those that opened . . . and closed.

On the list of resort alumni are:

Heritage Mountain in Provo

No resort has received more attention, then went nowhere, than the planned Four Seasons resort, which then became Heritage Mountain, then Seven Peaks and eventually nothing more than a plan on paper.

There are a couple hundred stories on file in the Deseret Morning News archives chronicling the story of Heritage Mountain, the name identified most in the news stories.

In 1966, plans were announced for Four Seasons resort with an 80-passenger tramway and three double lifts.

In 1976, expanded Four Seasons plans called for a funicular railway or gondola that delivered skiers from a base area east of the Brigham Young University campus, and took them to lodges and lifts high on the mountain — 15 lifts in all.

A story in Mountainwest magazine in 1979 said: "The Heritage Mountain Resort, Utah's mammoth vacation spot, is soon to become a reality in the eastern foothills of Provo and in the mountains beyond."

In 1981, city officials were still waiting for revised plans. In 1987, it was announced that plans were in the works to reorganize Heritage Resort.

In 1988, it was announced Heritage Mountain ski resort, with new owners, would feature a transportation system capable of moving 4,000 people per hour to an altitude of 7,700 feet. The resort's six planned chairlifts would provide skiers access to 4,900 vertical feet of skiing on 500 acres. Plans were to have it up and running by the 1989-90 ski season.

In 1989, the Uinta National Forest Service completed a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Seven Peaks Resort to build a 3,010-acre, multiuse resort in the Provo Peak basin area. Construction was to begin in the fall, with hopes of opening the site for skiing in 1991. Cost of building the skiing facilities was estimated at $26.5 million.

In 1994, the Seven Peaks Water Park and Golf Course were purchased through bankruptcy court, and since then all talk of a ski resort has faded.

Blue Mountain near Monticello

The resort was located in the Blue Mountains about five miles west of Monticello.

The resort had a single poma lift, or surface tow, that serviced two runs.

Two runs, skiers used to say, always gave them a variety.

The ski resort was the pride of the town. Residents skied there in the winter, occasionally even skipping a run or two to help with the daily operations, and worked summers grooming and clearing ski runs of debris. Folks from as far away as Bluff, Blanding and Moab, and even some from Colorado, came to Monticello to ski.

The resort opened in the 1950s and closed in the 1980s during a particularly dry series of winters. All that remains today is a parking lot and remnants of the old lift and lodge.

Crystal Mountain east of Cedar City

In 1984, plans were announced for the building of the $400 million Crystal Mountain Resort.

It was to have a lodge, hotel, motel, condominiums, conference center and was to have ski lifts that interconnected with the existing Brian Head resort.

Plans were to offer ski-in, ski-out resort facilities. A spokesman said, "You can golf and ski on the same day.

"Crystal Mountain runs will be wide and offer tremendous views. Skiing here won't be just an experience of movement, but a scenic thrill as well."

Between Crystal Mountain and Brian Head there were to be 16 lifts.

An announced lawsuit filed two years later was the last mention of the resort.

Engen Mountain Ski Resort near Cedar City

In 1981, officials of Cedar City were asked to lend their support to the proposed Engen Mountain Resort, which was to be named after legendary skiing great Alf Engen.

The $20 million project, 12 miles east of the city on the north slopes of Black Mountain, was to have lifts, ski runs, day lodge and a midway station at first, followed by overnight lodging, private homes and shopping facilities.

Two years later there was a report that things were moving forward, but then all mention of the resort project vanished.

Grizzly Ridge near Vernal

The Grizzly Ridge ski resort, started by a Scandinavian family from Vernal, opened during the Christmas Holidays in 1960.

Skiers were hauled up the mountain by rope tow. An early story said the beauty of the area and the good food told of a "great future (that) lies ahead."

To build the resort, the founder, LaRell Anderson, had to cut trees and build a one-mile road to the area. He then built a lodge.

He later built a T-bar tow that was 2,000 feet long.

It was constructed, he reported, using war-surplus items, such as bomb carrier wheels, a meat rail from a storehouse and towers from an old oil derrick.

The resort closed in 1968.

"No Name" Resort in Park City

In 1981, the same year Deer Valley opened, Boyer Co. announced plans to build a fourth ski area in Park City, which was to be located between two existing resorts — Park City Mountain Resort and The Canyons, which at the time was ParkWest.

The ski area was to cover about 3,500 acres of privately owned land, which would have been accessed through White Pine Canyon.

The announcement said the company was a couple years away from final plans. That was 24 years ago.

While there was talk of a resort, it was never named.

Oquirrh Mountain resort east of Tooele

In 1987, city officials from Tooele went looking for a developer to build a $50 million to $80 million ski resort in Middle Canyon, which, it was said, was skied often by Alf Engen in the 1950s and was said to have great promise.

It was proposed that the resort would have lifts, a gondola, 3,400 vertical feet of skiing and that 66 percent of the available terrain would be for expert skiers.

And, while the steep bowls in the canyon were ideal for experts, there was still enough intermediate and expert terrain available to attract a full range of skiers.

It was suggested that a gondola or some other type of transportation would be needed to get skiers to the base area, which was at 7,000 feet. From there they would take chairlifts to higher elevations.

It was reported that a California company "looks real good," and that seven other groups had requested information.

One advantage listed was its close proximity to the Salt Lake International Airport.

Again, that was the last mention made of the plan.

Little Mountain in Emigration Canyon

The tiny resort was a hit with skiers in the 1950s and 1960s. It was located nine miles up Emigration Canyon, but could also be accessed via Parleys Canyon and the East Canyon exit.

It was little more than a bump on top of a mountain and was serviced by two rope tows, each 500 feet long. It was also a popular sledding/tubing area.

The owner, Cal McPhie, would eventually buy a 52-chair lift from Alta and would move to land in Parleys, across from Jeremy Ranch, and call the ski area Gorgoza.

Gorgoza Ski Resort in Parleys Canyon

The life of the Gorgoza Ski Resort was short, catering to skiers from 1968 to 1971.

There were two double chairlifts and a double T-bar that took skiers, tobogganers, sledders and tubers to the top of the gentle runs, which rose 350 feet and were 1,100 feet long. Along with the ski runs there were several toboggan chutes on the slopes.

In 1978, Parleys Summit Resort was opened and lasted until the early 1980s.

In January 2000 the area was turned into a lift-served tubing hill.

Snowland in Fairview Canyon

Jerry Nelson loved winter sports, and in 1967 he got a permit from the U.S. Forest Service to build a resort. The first year he put in a "mighty-mite" ground tow. The next year he built a small lodge and added a second tow.

It was, he said, a family operation — he and his sons operated the ski area and his wife and daughters ran the lodge, selling chili, hot dogs and hamburgers.

He ran the resort until the 1979-80 season. Insurance and permit requirements dictated that he close.

Even today, without the lodge and lifts, people still visit the area to hike and snowboard and ski on the gentle hill.

Elk Meadows east of Beaver

Located 18 miles east of Beaver, the area is probably Utah's least known ski area. It started out as Mount Holly, then became Elk Meadows/Mount Holly and eventually Elk Meadows.

It opened in 1971 as a local ski hill. When it closed at the end of the 2002 season, it had three lifts, a poma lift and the state's only T-bar.

The area offered 450 acres of skiable terrain, with a 1,400-vertical drop. Nearby, however is the 12,000-foot Mount Holly in the Tushar mountain range, which receives an average of more than 400 inches of snowfall a year. There was always talk of expanding to the taller mountain.

Last year, a group of Utah investors repossessed Elk Meadows with hopes of seeing it reopen "under the right management."

If this list of resort alumni shows anything, it shows that there are few places within the boundaries of Utah where people can't find snow and seize the opportunity to ski.

E-mail: grass@desnews.com