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Mt Holly goes back to 1955, albeit that was an abbreviated season. It has been open ever since and is still operating as of 2023. It is very well maintained and gets very good reviews.
From MLive Nov 2007 - Julie Morrison
NEW PORT RICHEY, FLA. -- When James "Grant" Hanks Sr. was offered the chance to become a business partner in a growing sport, his version of the American dream took off on snowy Michigan slopes.
"He absolutely loved the ski business," said his son James Hanks Jr. "He went from being a poor guy from Kentucky that never dreamed of skiing to owning a ski area."
Hanks, a long-time Holly resident and former co-owner of Mt. Holly Ski Area, died Nov. 6 in New Port Richey, Fla. after battling heart problems and bladder cancer. He was 86 .Hanks was born in Lexington, Ky. and moved to East Detroit -- where he worked as a rough carpenter and co-owned Lexington Supply Co. -- after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II.
In the 1950s, Bloomfield Hills building contractor Morton Graddis suggested creating a ski area in northern Oakland County. The pair opened Mt. Holly in 1956 to earn some extra cash.
But when their building business began to struggle a few years later, maintaining Mt. Holly became Hank's full-time job and his passion.
"He was a 24/7 type of guy," James Hanks Jr., 60, of Holly said. "To say my dad loved the business is an understatement."
He helped build the small ski resort up from just four small slopes with tow ropes to 18 runs with chair-lift access -- one of which is named "Grant's Trail" for him, he said.
Mt. Holly also was one of the first ski areas in the Midwest to start making snow, he said.
"It just changed the face of skiing," he said. "They used to pack this place during the week."
Hanks also helped start an inexpensive learn-to-ski program at Mt. Holly that made the sport accessible to more people.
When the hills weren't covered with snow Hanks helped maintain Mt. Holly's own little "ghost town" complete with a mock saloon, general store and stage coach rides.
He spent nearly every day at the ski area, but his children weren't far away and quickly became experts on the slopes, James Hanks Jr. said.
Bonnie Gillespie, a friend and former Mt. Holly employee, said Hanks loved talking to the skiers that frequented the slopes.
"He liked people, so consequently they liked him," Gillespie, 80, of Waterford Township said. "He put so much time and effort into Mt. Holly. He's the one that made it go."
Memorial services for Hanks have not been planned but family members hope to hold one at Mt. Holly this summer, James Hanks Jr. said.
Mt. Holly, 50 years of skiing By David Fleet on December 6, 2006
Groveland Twp.- In 1956, the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 500 for the first time, ‘My Fair Lady? opened on Broadway and Elvis Presley entered the music charts with his hit, ‘Heartbreak Hotel.
That same year a small township resort between Detroit and Flint first opened a few small hills along Dixie Highway near Tripp Road to skiers.
Over the past 50 years, Mt. Holly Ski Resort has evolved into a multifaceted wintertime attraction to thousands. The small hills have been excavated and enhanced to more than 2,000 feet, including 18 slopes with seven chair lifts, five rope tows and two Wonder Carpets. A slope with a vertical drop of 350 feet and high speed detachable quad lifts deliver skiers to the top of the hills. The ski area also includes about 70 snow making machines, and grooming equipment. The resort also include lounges and restaurants.
For the past 15 years Deb Walker has helped open the ski resort for the winter. ‘The first day we’re open everyone shows up, they want to show off and try out their new equipment, said Walker, Mt. Holly ticket office manager. ‘In 2005 we opened Nov. 18, this year it was Dec. 4. It’s a seasonal business, and was cold enough a little later in the season this year. We all watch the weather here.
‘Often when the economy is slow, like it is now, people come here rather than going up to northern Michigan to ski. We’re a lot closer. Due to more than 70 snow making machines, even if the winter weather does not cooperate, there’s plenty of snow, said Walker. ‘People think that just because there’s no snow at home or in the area we can’t open. It’s just not the case.
‘Michigan residents are used to skiing on manmade snow, so when there’s powder out there, then it’s more of a challenge. It’s tougher to ski in powder.
Other ski resorts in the group include Bittersweet Snow Ski Area Otsego, Mich., Mt. Holly Snow Ski Area Holly, MI Pine Knob Snow Ski Resort Clarkston, Mi. 48348 and Alpine Valley near Milwaukee, Wis.