The first visitors to what is now Crystal Mountain came seeking their fortunes, not fresh snow or wild flowers. Traces of gold were found in them there hills (of the Cascades) in the late 1800s and prospectors flocked to the area, originally known as the Summit Mining District.
Shortly after World War I, mining activity in the area declined. The smaller claims were not profitable, and larger companies could not be persuaded to invest in the area once promoted as being “richer than the Klondike”.
It was not until 1949 that the recreational opportunities of the area were discovered. When attempts to put a chairlift at Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park failed, a group of dedicated Puget Sound area skiers got together and began looking for another place to develop a ski area in the Pacific Northwest.
After investigating other locations in the region, the group decided on Crystal Mountain for its reliable snowfall and variety of terrain. A proposal was presented to the Forest Service in 1955 and three years later the Crystal Mountain Winter Sports Area was created. Funding for initial development was raised by a sale of stock to approximately 200 people. Crystal Mountain opened for business in the winter of 1962.
Crystal Mountain first received national attention in 1965 when the fledgling ski area hosted the National Alpine Championships. The event drew legendary skiers from Europe and North America including Jimmie Heuga, Billy Kidd and Jean Claude Killy.
Over the next few decades, Crystal Mountain grew quietly. In 1988 the area was the first in Washington to install a high-speed, detachable quad chairlift, Rainier Express.
In the years that followed, development stalled. After experiencing a couple poor snow years in a row, Crystal Mountain found itself deeply in debt and unable to finance new capital improvements.
But in March of 1997, Boyne USA purchased Crystal Mountain. This family-owned corporation had been interested in the area for more than a decade, and made a commitment to invest significantly. Under the terms of the sale, Boyne USA has already spent over $25 million on capital improvements.
Under the ownership of John Kircher, a Seattle-based Boyne family member, Crystal Mountain has added two new high-speed six-passenger chairlifts, one high-speed quad, the Mt. Rainier Gondola and a 12,500 sq foot mid-mountain restaurant, expanded the rental shop, paved the parking lots, added five new grooming machines and upgraded many facilities.
The Master Development Plan called for the addition of six new chairlifts, a year round gondola from base to summit, new lodging, an on-mountain restaurant, and additional service and maintenance facilities. The implementation of the approved plan began the summer of 2007 with the addition of the Northway chairlift and is still going strong.
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