The 1952 Jan Johnson Illustrated map of Lowell, available at the Museum, shows “Schussaway Ski Tow” on the east side of town, yet few today know that Lowell was once home to a Ski Slope that was advertised throughout the State.
Shushaway, or Schussaway, the newspaper spells it both ways, opened in 1948 and continued until at least 1955. The skiers would park on the north side of M-21, at the east gates, with the Riverview Tavern/Inn conveniently located for dinner. The ski slope was in a back pasture of the Highland Hill Dairy, the long walk from the parking area to the slopes lined with “Burma Shave” style signs. The land was owned by Arie Leeman, and Schussaway was owned and operated by Paul and Carl Kerekes.
The advertisements began in 1949 and shouted “something new for skiers! You can ride up hill as well as down!” The skiers enjoyed the ‘ride’ up the slopes assisted by the ski tows. The schedule shows Shushaway open from Thursday – Sunday. The most expensive times to ski were Friday and Saturday evenings.
The Kerekes brothers were successful in seeing Schussaway listed in the ski reports throughout the state of Michigan. Powder reports were seen in Detroit, Battle Creek, Traverse City, and many other newspapers. The West Michigan Tourist and Resort Association published a 24 page booklet of detailed information on skiing, including Schussaway.
The expert instruction of the Kerekes Brothers was a huge asset for Schussaway. The Board of Trade and other groups would sponsor time periods of free instruction for school children by the Kerekes brothers.
The Kerekes name had long been known in Lowell after Bella Kerekes, Great Grandfather to Paul and Carl, came to Lowell with his new bride. They first lived in a log cabin, on M-21 on the east edge of town. Brothers Paul, Carl and Lloyd received expert ski instruction as part of their military training. They served in the U.S. Ski Troops, Company B, 85th Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army in World War II. They trained at Camp Hale in Colorado, one instructor being world famous ski jumper Torger Tokel. Paul was discovered to have medical issues at the end of training and was given a medical discharge. Carl and Lloyd were off to the mountains of Italy. Only Carl returned home, Lloyd being killed by sniper fire on April 8, 1945.
Even after Schussaway ended, skiing would always be an important part of the lives of the Kerekes brothers. Carl competed throughout his life, and as recent as 2005, one year before his death, Carl was ranked 1st in the 2005 National Championships for Males 80–84 years old.
Today the hills have been leveled somewhat, making room for the present occupants - the Highland Hills Home development.
The images show Schussaway and a detail of the Jan Johnson map.
"Thanks for sharing this map. Jan Johnson original I think. My Mom, Dad, Brother, the dog and me were tobogganing there 1958 or so. My Mom broke her back on a mogul and wore a body cast for months while she was healing. Have looked for a Jan and Phil Johnson original city map for years and would love to have a copy of the full city map."
"Great to see the part of the "map" showing Schuss-Away ski tow that the Kerekes Brothers, Carl and Paul started...so much fun to see the tow all lit up at night from m-21. Little did I know back then that those two guys would end up becoming my in-laws!"
"Remember taking our toboggan there and riding down the big hill, the old tow rope posts were still in place! On our “last” run down the hill, my Mom suffered a compression fracture of a disc, Dr Kaiser and his son were skiing there and help get Mom out to M-21! Mom went to hospital for treatment! True story!"
Gene & Krys Boyce
"Never knew about the sking, but my friends and I spent many of winter days sledding out in those hills and many more just walking the trails during the spring, summer and fall."
Electa Hodge McCurdy
"My sister and I went sledding there as kids. Had a lot of fun until we got cold and tired. We lived a block and a half from there. Good old days!"
Mary Ann Hoover Sawka