The History of Mt. Bachelor, OR

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bachelor photo old
Aerial photo of Mt. Bachelor in 1965. photo: mt. bachelor ski resort

Geologic History:

Mt. Bachelor is a stratovolcano in central Oregon that last erupted about 9,000 years ago.  It’s named Mt. Bachelor because it sits apart from the nearby “Three Sisters.”

mt. bachelor lodge old
The main lodge was used for overnight lodging from 1966 to 1971. It was later renamed West Village Lodge and has been remodeled several times over the years.

Ski Resort History

Mt. Bachelor averages 463″ of snowfall each year prompting humans to build a ski resort there in 1958.  Bill Healy was the man who started the ski resort they called Bachelor Butte at the time.  The initial ski resort consisted of one rope tow and one platter lift (poma) that pulled skiers 1,000-vertial feet up the mountain.  A lift ticket to Bachelor Butte in 1958 would have set you back $3.00.

construction chairlift
Founder Bill Healy oversees construction of the first chairlift at Mt. Bachelor :— Black chair, which was installed in 1961. Mt. Bachelor’s first chairlift would be struck by lightning in June 1974 and would later be replaced.

Ski Lift History:

After the initial rope tow and poma lift, the first chairlifts were the Black chair in 1961, Red chair in 1964, Yellow and Blue chairs in 1967 and 1970, and Green and Orange chairs in 1973.   Outback, Flycreek (Rainbow), and Sunrise chairs were added in 1975, 1981 and 1982, respectively. Of these original chairs, only the Red and Rainbow remain.

Initially, only the northeastern portion of the mountain had ski lifts.  The northwestern side was not developed until 1973.  The northwestern side was for the adventurous and it cost $1 extra to ski the “Outback Trail Tour.”  It was worth it, though as you skied fresh powder and a snow-cat brought you back to the ski resort.

In 1976, the Outback chair was installed and lift served skiing was possible on the northwestern part of the mountain.

In 1983, the first summit chairlift was installed and Mount Bachelor could be ridden from the top.  This summit chair was a high speed detachable chair and was the only the 2nd high speed detachable chairlift installed on Earth.

In 1996, the badass Northwest Express was put in that gave access to 2,365-vertical-feet of skiing and riding.  This chair added many acres and lowered the lowest lift served elevation to 5,700 feet.

Bill Healy celebrates with thousands of skiers who attended the opening of the Summit Express chairlift in 1983. The chair was the first high-speed detachable chair on top of a mountain in North America when it was built, according to Tom Healy, Bill Healy’s son.
Bill Healy celebrates with thousands of skiers who attended the opening of the Summit Express chairlift in 1983. This was only the 2nd high speed detachable chairlift on Earth.

Mt. Bachelor Statistics:

– Largest ski resort in Oregon by over 1,000 acres

– 2nd largest single-mountain ski resort in the USA behind Vail

– 6th largest ski resort in the USA

– 3,683 acres of terrain

– 9,065-foot summit, 5,700-foot base

– 3,300-vertical-feet

– 10 chairlifts with 7 of them being express quads

– 88 total trails with 15% novice, 25% intermediate, 35% Aavanced, 25% expert

– Longest run is 1.5 miles long



1958: Bachelor Butte ski area opens Oct. 18 with one lift and two rope tows for weekends and holidays only. The opening is marked with an official ceremony on Dec. 19.

1961: Black chair is installed.

1964: Red chair is installed.

1966: New overnight lodge, called the Main Lodge, opens. It would later become West Village Lodge.

1971: Overnight lodge closes; shuttle buses added.

1975: Outback chairlift installed.

1981: Flycreek lift (later Rainbow) is added.

1983: Summit chairlift is completed; ski area’s name officially becomes Mt. Bachelor.

1984: Nordic day lodge is built.

1986: Pine Marten super-express quad and guest services building at West Village Lodge open.

1988: Bill Healy steps down as president of Mt. Bachelor ski area and is replaced by David Marsh.

1989: Skyliner super-express quad chairlift is added.

1991: Century Drive highway is expanded from two to four lanes from the Sunriver junction to the ski area.

1993: Bill Healy dies on Oct. 26. Accelerator express quad and Carrousel, a fixed-grip triple chair, are added; Sunrise chair is converted to a high-speed quad.

1996: Northwest Express quad lift and 10 new runs open; Mt. Bachelor opens new transit center in Bend to transport skiers to the mountain.

1998: David Marsh resigns and is replaced by Randy Papé.

2001: Park City, Utah-based Powdr Corp. purchases Mt. Bachelor ski area for approximately $28 million. Marsh dies and is later replaced by Dan Rutherford, former vice president.

2006: Pine Marten Express is rebuilt.

2007: Dan Rutherford resigns as president. Matt Janney is hired as new president and general manager.

2008: Janney and three other managers are fired. Janney is replaced by Dave Rathbun, formerly of Killington Resort in Vermont.

2008: 50th anniversary of Mt. Bachelor ski area.

Sources: “Mt. Bachelor: Bill Healy’s Dream,” by Peggy Chessman Lucas; The Bulletin archives; Mt. Bachelor ski area

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2 thoughts on “The History of Mt. Bachelor, OR

  1. I am looking for a gentleman who was a ski instructor in 1979 at Mt bachelor, OR. I do not remember his name but his father helped build the Green River Dam in Wyoming. This gentleman used to camp along the green river while working for the summer in Kemmemer Wyoming. I met him at a filling station and we became friends. He was very kind to me. I would really like to touch base with him again. It has been 38 years since I have seen him. If a anyone knows of this guy please let him know I am interested in seeing him again. Thanks

    Jody Gilman

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