Skiing didn’t gain popularity in most of the country until after World War II, but people were already sliding down Casper Mountain by the 1930s, according to Bruce Lamberson, the owner of Mountain Sports in Casper.
“It was one of the earliest ski areas in the country,” he said.
Lamberson, who was speaking about the history of Casper Mountain at the Casper Rotary Club’s Monday meeting, explained that Casper has a “lot of heritage” when it comes to the wintertime sport.
And that heritage is still going strong today.
About 250 people attended the recent open house for Hogadon Basin Ski Area’s new city-owned lodge, said Lamberson.
“It was wonderful,” he recalled. “It was a huge event with mountain residents and outdoor enthusiasts and we had a blast.”
The Nov. 4 event included wine-tasting, hors d’oeuvres and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Skiers and snowboarders used to complain about a variety of issues at the old lodge: The building wasn’t handicapped-accessible, there weren’t enough bathrooms and purchasing ski passes and rental equipment involved going to separate locations.
But the new two-story facility features multiple bathrooms, a bar area with indoor and outdoor seating, a spacious dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows and an elevator that makes the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Due to the additional space, purchasing ski passes, lessons and paying for rentals can now be done at the same location.
City Manager Carter Napier was unable to attend the opening, but said he was impressed when he toured the facility a few days prior.
“I thought it looked wonderful,” he said. “To call it an improvement over the old facility is a huge understatement.”
Although the project’s $5.3 million price tag generated some controversy when it was approved in spring 2016, Mayor Kenyne Humphrey previously told the Star-Tribune that she thinks most residents have since embraced the idea.
The mayor added that a new facility was sorely needed.
“Hogadon really just kind of started falling apart over the last decade,” she said. “It actually reached a point where the building was structurally unsafe.”
City officials are hoping the new lodge will appeal to more than just skiers and snowboarders. Hikers and mountain bikers can use the facility in the warmer months, and the venue can be rented out for holiday parties, weddings or other events all throughout the year.