The Pass

Skiers dressed more casually in the late 1940s. A line forms for the rope-tow to the top of the Snoqualmie Pass ski hill in the background.

Wilderness skiing at Snoqualmie Pass began in the 1920s, and as it gained in popularity, the Seattle Parks Department sought a permit to open a designated ski hill at the summit. Tourists took the Milwaukee Road trains to the summit for picnics and hiking in the summertime, and the railroad provided transportation to the ski slopes in the winter. The convenience of automobile access to the summit led to a decline in reliance on the train for transportation. A private enterprise applied with the Forest Service to construct a rope-tow, and by 1937 the Snoqualmie Summit Ski Resort was in operation.

Walls of snow line the shoulders of the highway at the summit of Snoqualmie Pass. The state rest area and the ski areas were constructed in the 1930s.

The pass got a lot more snow in those days. Plowing the highway created canyons of icy snow. Intrepid skiers lined up shoulder to shoulder as they waited for the rope-tow to the top of the slopes. They dressed as warmly as they could, but there were none of the outdoor fashions skiers use today. Many of the skiers of those days looked like they might have just stepped off a Seattle street.

Skiers waiting for the rope-tow, dressed in their warm everyday winter clothes.

Inevitably, accidents happened. Some ski trips had a painful conclusion. Even so, this was a recreation that has been eagerly anticipated every winter since the opening of the ski slopes at Snoqualmie Pass.

After skiing, a group of friends and relatives of the Danielsons poses in front of one of the massive walls lining the summit highway.

And even if you weren’t a skier you might enjoy socializing in the lodge at the foot of the slopes. Or you might get a quick lesson outside, just enough to convince you that you could safely return from a trip on the rope-tow.

Ear muffs, head scarves, sailor’s caps and fedoras are some of the headgear worn by skiers outside the lodge at Snoqualmie Summit.

I am not sure who took these photographs, and I haven’t identified any of the people in them. I don’t even know precisely when they were taken, but the first chair lift was installed at Snoqualmie Summit in 1949, so presumably these date from just after World War II. Please submit your comments identifying individuals or the automobile vintages to help us date these photographs.

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