By Ariana Burns & Dusty Fleener, Palouse Anthropology
In the early 1970s and again in the 1980s, the Associated Students of the University of Idaho’s Senate was presented an opportunity to become the owner of a ski area.
The Tamarack Ski Area had opened in 1966 on Moscow Mountain’s eastern side, with the lodge at about four thousand feet. Malcolm Furniss remembered it as a great place for intermediate and beginner skiers. In addition to the lodge, there was a ski-shop, lunch counter, and ski school (Latah Legacy 2002:25). A bus met skiers at Marketime Drug to take them up to the lodge (Argonaut, January 6, 1967).
The Ski Area faced many difficulties that it ultimately could not be overcome - miles of road to be plowed; power supplied only by a generator; and the biggest challenge was lack of snow (Latah Legacy 2002:27).
By the ‘70s, the corporation running the ski area was failing, and it approached the ASUI to see if there was interest in buying them out. There was an initial flurry of possibilities. More ski runs could be created, and another lift added. Tamarack also offered the potential of being a year-round recreation site. ASUI formed a committee to look in to the offer (Argonaut, December 8, 1970, Argonaut, January 15, 1971).
The committee recommended hiring a professional feasibility study, but the ASUI Senate didn’t want to expend the funds. It was suggested UI professors could do the study, but they would also want to be paid. One senator questioned if professors could produce an unbiased report as the recreation area was owned by faculty members (Argonaut, February 5, 1971).
“Does a university student of today need a recreation area of this type?” Dean Vettrus, general manager of the ASUI Student Union Building—now the Bruce Pitman Center—asked (Argonaut, February 15, 1971.) The issue went no further than that and the Tamarack Ski Area changed private hands several times before finally closing.
Over a decade would pass before a student approached the ASUI about reopening the ski area. Arne Elisa had researched the idea for a class project and thought it was possible to run the ski area and at least break even. His solution was a snow maker. He argued that it would keep the area open from November to March if temperatures stayed low enough to prevent snowpack melt (Argonaut, January 13, 1984). The idea got some play in the Argonaut before the paper fell silent on the matter and the ASUI Senate failed to take any action.
So the two opportunities for the ASUI to own a recreation area faded away. The lodge is now gone as well, leaving behind only its parking lot which is still used by visitors to Moscow Mountain.
Tamarack Ski Area, LCHS Photos 30-10-193 and 30-10-195
“Recollections of Tamarack Ski Area On Moscow Mountain” by Malcolm Furniss, Latah Legacy Vol.31, No. 1
“Tamarack Bus Scheduled Saturday” Argonaut, 1/6/67
“ASUI senate considers buying Tamarack Ski-Recreation Area” by Carolyn Cron, Argonaut, 12/8/70
“Delayed decision –Tamarack: dead or alive?” Op Ed. Argonaut, 2/5/71
“Tamarack issue dead after Senate refuses study” Argonaut, 2/5/71
“Average snow levels listed for Tamarack” Argonaut, 2/5/71
“Tamarack is good area for student recreation” Argonaut,1/12/71
“Senate debates feasibility of ski area purchase study” Argonaut, 1/15/71. $3500 to pay consultant to study the purchase was debated. They’d rather have the faculty do it for cheaper.
“ASUI considers opening ski area” Argonaut, 1/13/84