“The Only Island Ski Resort in the World” – Mt. Humbard

Down Slope Mt. Humbard

Mt. Humbard offered a fantastic view of the Straits of Mackinac.

When you hear of skiing on Mackinac Island you probably think of the cross-country trails of the state park. However, in the early 1970s you could downhill ski on the island.

Rev. Rex Humbard was a televangelist of Akron, Ohio. His nationally-syndicated weekly television show ran from 1952 until 1983 and at its peak was broadcast on more than 600 stations in the U.S. and Canada. In 1971 Humbard purchased former Moral-Re Armament holdings on Mackinac Island. This included the conference and Mackinac College facilities that are now Mission Point Resort and Stonecliffe Cottage. Humbard intended to develop the properties into a Christian family resort, named the “Rex Humbard Christian Development Center,” and reopen Mackinac College as a nonsectarian Bible college.

Exiting Chair Lift Mt. HumbardHumbard transformed the 165-acre Stonecliffe property into a winter sports center named “Mt. Humbard.” Construction began in September 1971 and was completed by late December. It featured two jumps and two ski runs, of 150 feet and 650 feet, and a 28-chair lift. There was also a toboggan run, skating pond, and cross-country trails. The original cottage guest house (today Grand Hotel’s Woods Restaurant) was remodeled into the Bavarian-themed “Paradise Lodge.” All the features of the resort were given Biblical or religious names such as “Cain and Abel Ski Run” and “Hallelujah Trail.” The main house was not part of the center and guests stayed at the conference facility downtown and were transported to Stonecliffe by sleigh. The general manager of the center was ski instructor and Gospel singer Greg Loren, a former championship skier and Las Vegas nightclub performer. His brother, Olympic Nordic competitor Keith Wegeman, was also an instructor. Design of the center was by Sepp Benedikter, an Austrian Olympic ski jumper who had emigrated to the U.S. and become a prominent ski instructor, consultant, tour promoter and developer. The transformation of the property was not without criticism, particularly for the large amount of tree clearing and subsequent erosion. The organization admitted that errors were made and completed repairs the following summer.

On Chair Lift Mt. Humbard

The facility, “the only island ski resort in the world,” was marketed as a family-oriented “winter weekend with inspiration.” Humbard wished to “eliminate the usual secular activities associated with today’s swinging ski lodges.” It was also announced that the college would have its own ski team.

Mt. Humbard only operated for two winters, and became known as “Humbard’s Folly.” Lack of snow and the orientation of the slopes posed challenges. General Manager Loren noted that snow-making equipment would be brought in if needed, but this never happened. Transportation to the island was another problem, and although Humbard lobbied for an expansion of the airport, the Park Commission refused. The college ski team also never formed. Mackinac Collage had a difficult time recruiting students, let alone those interested in skiing. Hoping for an enrollment of 1,000, the first year saw barely 140, and the college closed in 1973. Humbard’s problems here paled in comparison to larger financial issues facing his organization in 1973. He was eventually forced to divest various properties, including those on Mackinac Island.

11 Responses to ““The Only Island Ski Resort in the World” – Mt. Humbard”

  1. laurie bowman

    What a wonderful story.Never knew that.Will try to see old spots of this when i visit this summer.

  2. Tom North

    Now where was that pic, when I was doing my “Images of America-Mackinac Island” book? I looked far and wide and couldn’t find a single decent pic of that ski hill

  3. Madelyn Le Page

    If you go back into the woods behind the Stonecliffe property, you can still see the cement bases for the ski lift. Wish there were more pictures of this ski resort. It’s a very interesting piece of Mackinac history.

  4. Steven Blair

    I think I remember it being very close to where the power lines now come out of the water from the lake, but it’s been a long time.

  5. Carolyn Matheson

    I worked on Mackinac Island during the Summer seasons of 1971 and 1972 and have been a frequent visitor since then. I love Mackinac Island. It is my “happy place.” I remember the Rex Humbard influence and attempted takeover of an important segment of Mackinac Island. It made me very uneasy. Rex Humbard left a huge scar on Mackinac Island. He did not belong there. Nature is doing its best to recover now.

  6. Michael

    Does anyone have more information or more pictures of the ski hill or lodging?

  7. Michael

    Does anyone know where the ski runs were? Does anyone have more pictures of the ski hill or the paradise lodge?

  8. Karin D. Everson Everett

    See Mackinac College (Humbard) in Wikipedia: The SLI double chairlift installed on Mackinac Island was eventually taken down (using horses and old mattresses), transported by horse to the docks, then shipped to the mainland via Arnold Line. The lift was installed at Berkshire East Ski Resort in Massachusetts as the Little Beaver double chairlift in the late 1970s.


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