- Olympic Zone
Mt. Bachelor: History on the slopes
BEND, Ore. - The history of Mt. Bachelor is hidden between granola bars and toothpaste.
"One of the reasons my dad loved skiing so much, he loved going up to Sun Valley (Idaho)," Tom Healy recalls while sitting in the Expressway convenience store in southeast Bend, looking through old photos. "If you look at the original Mt. Bachelor logo, it was real similar to Sun Valley's logo."
Tom's father, Bill Healy, made Mt. Bachelor into a ski resort in 1958.
It all started when Bill served during World War II as part of the famous 10th Mountain Division.
When America entered into the war, there was a need for an elite alpine fighting force. Expert skiers from around the country signed up, including Bill Healy.
When Bill and his friends from the 10th returned home, they brought with them their love for skiing.
Bend was still a very small community of just 12,000 people, but they helped support the Mt. Bachelor project.
"To get Mt. Bachelor started took a lot of work," Tom Healy said. "But people could see the vision for Mt. Bachelor, and where it could take Central Oregon."
Bill moved his furniture business from Portland to Bend and became involved in the Skyliners. He quickly made the resort into a family business.
"You worked up there as a kid -- it was not a question, you just did," Tom recalls.
Embedded video_content_type: The unique history of Mt. Bachelor
In 1962, the first chairlift was installed, appropriately named "Chair No. 1."
Skier visits went up from 32,000 in 1960 to 127,000 just five years later.
With all those visitors came the Olympic athletes.
"It was just four years after Mount Bachelor opened Bob Beattie brought the U.S. Ski Team to train up at Mt. Bachelor," Tom Healy said. "And it went on for 35 years after that."
In 1988. Bill Healy stepped down as president of Mt. Bachelor. But the mountain and what it stood for was forever engrained in the Healy family, including the business logo of the grandson's new company, Growler Shack (growlers being the big craze container for Bend's other big love ... craft beer.)
As for Bill Healy, he stayed true to his love for the mountain until his final days.
"He'd been stricken with PLS," or Primary Lateral Sclerosis, a rare neuromuscular disease, Tom Healy said. "So he was able to move around some, but he could not ski anymore. He was having trouble talking. But he loved get up on the mountain. So he would actually take a snowcat up. And the blade of the snowcat went trhough somebody's van -- and it went right through the whole side of the van, took out the seats and everything. He thought it was funny and said, 'Okay, take care of it' - and drove off."