Bogus Basin History
Boise was a small town of twenty-five thousand people during the great depression. But in the midst of the downturn volunteers helped get the dream of a community ski hill started. In the years that followed Bogus Basin would become one of the Treasure Valleys prime assets.
“That really is the story of Bogus Basin, a group of volunteers came together and they cleared the runs, the ski club..that later became the Bogus Basin Ski Club…they came up with the axes and hatchets and they literally cleared the ridge and the bowl and they brought in tractors and people just simply volunteered, to put up the rope tow and even the first poma lifts that they put up here. And Bogus Basin has always relied on volunteers to help keep this place going.”
Boise skiers and city fathers wanted a high mountain ski hill, and the recreation and economic development it would bring. In 1938, they sent a search team, including renowned ski jumper Alf Engen, all across the Boise Front. The group chose Bogus Basin, a location named for an 1866 mining camp where three scheming prospectors hatched a gold swindle. Engen felt Bogus Basin offered the area’s best snow quality and exposure. One of the biggest challenges now was creating a way to get there.
Within a couple years, with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps and a WPA Grant the road to Bogus was open. During those early years though, the road left much to be desired.
“Oh, the road was absolutely awful. It’s just amazing that people think it’s bad today. The road was a one way road and you drive up in the morning and about 3 o’clock they would reverse the one way direction back down. When you went up in the morning you didn’t plan on returning until they reversed the one-way direction of the road.”
Bill Everts has been called Bogus’s guiding light. He served as the resorts volunteer mountain manager for five years in the early 1950s, after it almost went bankrupt under the management of Kingcliffe Corporation.
“The first year I had the restaurant and I hired someone to run the restaurant and the second year I had the ski school and the restaurant and I hired someone to run the ski school and the third year I had the area. I ran the school buses, and the ski school and the racing …and I started that big ski sale that they had there.”
Everts was the last volunteer manager at Bogus. In 1958 the community’s board of directors decided it would be a paying professional position…an acknowledgement that the hill was ready for the big time. And it was a full-time job, keeping the finances healthy while making sure everyone who wants to ski got the opportunity. Mike Shirley is only the third mountain manager, after Bob Loughrey and Terry Lossvold. He’s been at the helm since 1991 and like those before him; he’s seen a lot of changes.
“There has been a vision in the past, before I got here; there were plans to make it a destination resort, a series of condos, that kind of thing. But it turns out it is more successful as a hometown ski area than it is anything else. You know, the metropolitan areas, we’ve been very lucky, it’s a big mountain, it’s a high quality mountain, especially the way the community has grown, and we’ve been able to accommodate that growth. We are the close affordable alternative”