A great source of skiing history is Ski the Great Potato* by Margaret Fuller, Doug Fuller, and Jerry Painter. They cover 21 existing ski areas in the state and give a hat-tip to 72 areas that have since, let’s say, melted away.
Have you seen the big M on the side of the hill overlooking the town of Montpelier? That was a local skiing site in the 60s and 70s. The city ran a rope tow for skiers there. Many sledders used the hill, but they had to trudge up without benefit of a tow.
Getting up a hill was always the challenge. Rope tows were a popular method. They used an old Ford engine on the rope tow at Pine Street Hill outside of Sandpoint in the 1940s. Later they used a Sweden Speed Tow. The portability of those units, which had engines mounted on toboggans, made them popular for little ski hills all over the state. They cost less than $350.
Downhill skiing wasn’t enough of a thrill for some. In 1924 the City of McCall built a ski jump on land owned by Clem Blackwell a couple of miles out of town. Blackwell’s Jump, as it was called, was the main feature of the first Winter Carnival. In the early years McCall didn’t have the lodging options it does today. Carnival participants would come up from Boise on a train, then ride in logging sleds pulled by horses out to where the jump was. After spending the day enjoying the flying skiers, they rode back into town and slept on the train.
Ski jumping wasn’t the only event at the Winter Carnival. They had cross-country skiing and snowshoe races, dogsled racing, and ski-joring. Spectators could become participants in at least one recreational pursuit, if they wished. Snowplanes, basically airplane engines—props spinning—were bolted to skis or toboggans. The brave could catch a thrilling ride. One could theoretically ride to the top of a hill and ski down, but that didn’t catch on.