Our History

High in the Rattlesnake Mountains, seven and one-half miles from Missoula, Montana, lies the Marshall Bowl area, regarded by many Western Montana ski enthusiasts as potentially the best ski area in the Northwest, an area which the Missoula Ski Club in cooperation with the District One of the U.S. Forest Service hopes to develop for the winter season of 1941-42.

Actually people were back-country skiing in the bowl in the 1930’s and the land owner, Tollef Olsen, even put in a crude rope tow in 1937. It was constructed from motorcycle parts and powered by a one-cylinder motor. Marshall Moy and friends cleared the first run, later the beginner’s slope. In the late1930’s the Mountaineers Club and later the Missoula Ski Club were encouraged to look into developing the area and finally in the spring of 1941 the president of the ski club, Bob Severy, announced that the club and the Forest Service would take on the project.

Severy, who was the youngest ski club president in the country, was also the first president of the Missoula County High School ski club and captain of the racing team in the first interscholastic ski meet in the state. He pushed for skiing to be a minor sport in high school and while attending the university in Missoula got skiing included as a minor sport in the sports program.

The war stopped all development and not much happened at the area until Olsen sold the property to Glenn and Lillian Denny in 1950. They had a three-a-day-a-week skiing schedule with two rope tows and operated the area for six years.

In 1955 a skiing couple from Michigan visited Missoula and the Marshall and purchased the ski area from the Dennys the next year. Si and Velma Green moved from Pontiac, Michigan with their two children and started to fix up and expand the area. Si had been the president of the Pontiac Ski Club, which was the largest ski club in Michigan.

Marshall Ski Area would become a true family run and friendly area and in it’s nearly 50 years in business transformed thousands of Missoula residents into avid skiers. It was close to town and had an active after school and night skiing programs.
The Green’s added a third rope tow in 1959, when the Challenger Run was cut. The Champion Run was cut in 1960 and a fourth rope tow added in 1961. Electric power and telephone service was brought to the area in 1956 and the old rope tows, run by gas engines, we converted to electric. Installation of a Pomalift in 1965 was a major improvement which opened up the Challenger Run. The Redwing Run opened in 1968m with a new T-bar on the upper slopes installed in 1969. The Upper Aurora and the Upper Rewing runs were also cut. The area now had a 1,500’ vertical rise. The Karen & John Run named for the Greens’ son and daughter-in-law who were killed in an auto accident, was cut in 1970.

The next major on-hill improvement was the installation of the triple chairlift in place of the Pomalift in 1972. Velma was always proud that her area put in the first triple in the state of Montana. It was named for Grant Higgins, a well known local skier. The original log lodge, built in the 1940’s, became part of the Greens’ residence in 1959 when their own house at the area was destroyed by fire.

The main lodge was expanded three times, in 1962, 1964 and 1968, and a second lodge built in 1972, housing the bar and ski shop.

Night skiing was started in 1957, when the lower runs lit by kerosene flames; by 1958 gas-powered lights were used and a mercury vapor lighting system was installed in 1967. Snowmaking was installed in 1972 when two paddle-bladed snowmakers were purchased. A huge nozzle snowmaker was in place in 1981 that required six-inch pipes to pump water uphill into a large hose connected to the snowmakers.

Local ski instructors Jack Mitchell and Bill Erickson ran the ski school for years until the area took over its operation in 1967. The ski rental shop opened in 1964 in the basement of the Greens’ residence and moved to the rear of the main lodge in 1968 and finally to the lower level of the new lodge in 1972. The very popular after-school ski program was started in 1974 by Anna Sain in cooperation with the Missoula Snow Bowl and the Missoula Parts and Recreation Department.

Velma and Si sold Marshall to Bill and Mary Anne Barrier and partners in 1983. Velma died in 1984, and Si died in 1986. Bill had been the manager of Big Mountain and had coached Steve and Phil Mahre, American Olympic and World Cup ski racers. With Bill’s ski experience he worked hard to expand the area’s facilities and activities. The lower Challenger Run was resloped for easier skiing; more snowmaking equipment was purchased along with a grooming machine. The North Avenue Run was cut and other runs improved through the years.

Bill sold Marshall in 1987 to ben and Marjorie Lane of Florence, Montana. For the next few years the Lanes made additional improvements in snowmaking and grooming equipment and cutting new runs. The Lanes also bought the Snowbowl area north of Missoula in 1983 and ran it a year before selling it to a group of local doctors. The Lanes sold Marshall to Bruce and Kim Doering in 1993 and they have operated the area ever since.