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Nathan Bowe, Forum News Service, Published December 05 2013

Chateau under construction, ski slopes being shaped as Detroit Mountain project moves forward

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – The Detroit Mountain Recreation Area is starting to take shape.

A new chateau is rising near the site of the original lodge, and it will have a roomy central area dominated by twin pillars made of white pine trees, corrugated tin features, rugged-looking “stone mountain” rock along the foundation line, and rough-hewn lumber to complete the alpine chateau look.

Work is ongoing at the lodge, which will be enclosed so that interior work can continue during the winter. Tomlinson and Sons of Detroit Lakes is the contractor.

The chateau is now surrounded by a sea of dirt work: The parking area was lowered by 12 feet, and the 65,000 cubic feet of dirt that was removed has been used to reshape the mountain.

A new bunny hill now faces the lodge, so parents can watch beginning skiers strut their stuff. It will have two sections: a steeper hill with a tow rope and a gently sloping hill with a “magic carpet” conveyor lift that will be simple for little kids to use.

“We want to make it as easy to learn the sport as possible,” said Mark Fritz, who heads fundraising for the “Bring Back the Mountain” campaign.

More than 20 feet has been added to the top of Detroit Mountain to enhance multiple ski runs, and most of the runs themselves have been reshaped and improved by adding or removing dirt.

Feldt’s Plumbing of Detroit Lakes has handled the dirt work.

The terrain park for snowboarders and trick skiers will have a long “quarter-pipe” berm and big permanent mounds made of dirt, not snow like many other ski areas use. That should allow it to open earlier in the season.

“This way we’ll be months ahead of everybody else,” Fritz said.

The big hills in the jump line look imposing but are designed with safety in mind, by discouraging excess speed and providing downhill landing sites, said Jeff Staley, who sits on the campaign board.

Geoff Bostwick of Terrain Park Consulting was in Detroit Lakes this fall to help design and shape the terrain park.

Cross-country ski trails and a tubing area with a lift and a warming hut will also be part of the winter mix.

Infrastructure work is also coming along.

“We’ll need to bring in clay to line the snowmaking pond,” Staley said. The pond will hold 3 million gallons of water that will feed a network of buried water pipes and above-ground hydrants.

Snowmaking equipment will be moved around and hooked up to hydrants to serve areas as needed.

Two sets of triple chair lifts will serve the big ski runs, and other lifts will serve different parts of the facility.

The gravel road to the site has already been slightly widened and improved but not over-engineered, in order to preserve the beauty and majesty of the area, Fritz said.

“A year from now, we’ll be open,” Fritz said.

The mountain bike trails have not been forgotten.

Woody Woodruff of Progressive Trail Design – which is based in the Ozark Mountains – was recently on site, scoping out the landscape and marking trail routes.

Plans call for 10 to 12 miles of trails for three skill levels, to include mountain bike trails, gravity flow trails, cross-country flow trails and a skills park.

Trail construction will begin next year for a 2015 opening.

The organization is $250,000 short of its $6 million fundraising goal.

Fritz said he is confident the community will step up to meet the challenge.