Marthaler Park ski hill in 1971

1971: Marthaler Ski Hill Opens

Thanks to Southview Garden Center for their support.

On Monday, Jan. 4, 1971 at 4 p.m., the West St. Paul municipal ski hill at Marthaler Park opened for the first time. The lighted hill included a 500-foot tow rope and offered beginner and intermediate runs of 900 to 1,000 feet with an 85-foot vertical drop.

The city hired Jeff Peterson of Richfield, a member of the National Ski Patrol, to serve as ski area supervisor and also organized a local ski patrol to monitor safety conditions. The city also offered ski lessons.

Tickets for the two rope initially cost 50 cents for kids and $1 for adults on weekdays, and 75 cents for kids and $1.25 for adults on weekends. In the first season, the hill brought in $681.76 in lift passes and 141 people took ski lessons.

The project included a new road off Livingston to the base of the hill, as well as a garage donated to the city that served as the “chalet.” Five poles were installed along the run with lights and a motor to run the tow rope.

The tow rope and ski hill were removed in 1980 due to increasing costs—an anticipated net loss of $10,000—and specifically a jump in the cost of liability insurance. A petition signed by 40 residents encouraged the City Council to keep the ski hill open, without success.

Since then the Marthaler hill has been used for sledding, though the idea of bringing back the tow rope has come up, most recently at a November 2020 City Council meeting during discussion about potential park improvements. Today there are still cement blocks at the top of the hill, remnants of the tow rope.

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(1971 photos courtesy of the City of West St. Paul. Note: West St. Paul Reader is not endorsed, affiliated with, or sponsored by the City of West St. Paul.)

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