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"Building Bogus Basin" Preview

View "Bogus Roots", a special segment reported by Allyson Outen, KTVB TV NewsChannel 7 (.wmv)

Hauling Skiers in a Hearse

Dick Chastain stands in front of the 1928 Cadillac hearse. photo: Richard Chastain

(Excerpt from Chapter 2)

Brothers Dick and Ross Chastain, along with Charley Christensen, Fred Griffin, Dick Nelson, Stan Tomlinson, and Wally Walker invested in a 1928 SS Cadillac hearse to haul their friends to the mountain. They paid $250 for the "notorious" hearse, removed the casket rollers in the back, and parked it behind the Griffin's home. It was outfitted with two benches along the inside, which provided seating for 12 kids.

Cold skiers huddled under wool GI blankets in the back of the hearse. Leather interior and classic crystal wall vases still adorned the inside.The rig had a big 12-cylinder nickel-plated engine that gave them the power to make it to Bogus even in the worst winter weather conditions. Chastain said, "Everybody, including me, had to put in a dollar to cover gasoline … I don't think we had a dime's worth of insurance on that machine."

Each carload of skiers had to pay 75¢ for parking and for a brief time the road was a toll road charging 25¢ a car. photo: Richard Chastain

"The hearse was a symbol of hope," Chastain said. "I was the designated driver, and the hearse would bust trail." They often had to stop and dig people out of snow banks on the way up to Bogus. Once at the ski area, Chastain remembers hauling gas and water to fuel the rope tow. They used a hand crank to start the rope tow, and Chastain helped Harry Purcell splice rope for the tow. "It was hard work … in the early days," said Chastain, but "on a sunny day, with cheating snow, it was just good for the soul."


Patrolling Bogus Basin Road

Even school buses got into trouble on the slick road photo: Idaho Statesman, Boise State University Library

Excerpt from sidebar, Chapter 9

For the 1969-70 ski season Boise County hired Bill Jones, nicknamed "Jonesy," to patrol the road to Bogus. A member of the ski patrol and the Boise College ski team coach, he was familiar with the area. "I was a deputy sheriff," said Jones. "They furnished me a patrol car. I worked on-call whenever somebody needed anyth ing on the Bogus Basin Road. Most of the calls were about accidents. I have an accident report on every 100 feet of the entire Bogus Basin Road. … I think everybody that has ever worked up here has run off the road, including the managers, ski instructors, everybody."

"Most of the accidents were fender benders or 'wet-your-pants' type accidents," states Jones. "I've written an accid ent repo rt on all kinds of people: drunk people, sober people, funny people, old people, and young people. I've had people park alongside of the road who were putting their chains on [when] somebody came along and hit them and knocked them off the road into the creek."

Reprint: Idaho Statesman

The most dangerous sections of the road, according to Jones, are a little past Milepost 9 (Windy Ridge), at Milepost 11, and at Milepost 15 (Postman’s Corner). The corner at lower Windy Ridge, a quarter of a mile north of the Ada County line, was where two snowplows and a garbage truck rolled off the road. Jones saw a plane crash into power lines at Windy Ridge on Saturday, February 5, 1972. Ron Piercy piloted the plane that flew into the wires, then struck the top of a tree, stripped the limbs off one side of a tree, and fell to the ground. The plane had a soft landing, falling upside down in the snow, about 200 yards from the road.

Just past Milepost 11 is a transition zone, where the road intermittently thaws out and freezes over. Drivers tend to pick up speed on the flat section of Windy Ridge before rounding the corner at Milepost 11 and hitting black ice. Jones’ patrol car was hit four times at Milepost 11.

A wrecker is called after a truck slides
off the road.
photo: Idaho Statesman, Boise State University Library

Postman's Corner is named after the Boise Postmaster who ran off the road at Milepost 15, a sharp hairpin corner. He was climbing back up the road when two more cars came along and ran over him. The deep snow prevented him from being crushed by the cars. Jones remembers, "They pushed him down in the snow and he crawled out. They're all climbing back up the hill to get out, and here comes two more cars, ka-chunk. So we had seven cars stacked up end to end, just like they were parked… . Well, we finally got a wrecker up there to start pulling cars out. We had to hook the wrecker to one of the sanding trucks, because the wrecker kept sliding down the hill. We were there for about three hours doing that."

Loughrey was often at odds with the Sheriff's office over the road's management. "God, he'd get mad at me when I'd close the road," said Jones. On one occasion, a deputy sheriff closed the road to Bogus and made drivers put on chains even though there was no snow on the road for several miles. Loughrey had that roadblock removed within an hour. He had been given a deputy sheriff's badge from Boise County, but had it revoked after a confrontation with Deputy Sheriff Bob Jackson when the road was closed without informing the ski area management. Loughrey and Lofsvold met with the Boise County Sheriff and his officers and reached an agreement that the Bogus Basin management would handle traffic control on the road, and the Sheriff's department would be responsible for accident investigations and traffic violations.

Jones blames the flat corners for many of the crashes. He said, "The problem is the road was designed off of aerial photos. The Forest Service came up and flew it and then they designed it. Their engineers made it flat instead of banking the corners like they should have."

Accidents occurred in every month of the year. photo: Idaho Statesman, Boise State University Library

A number of fatal accidents occurred because drivers were drinking. Jones was responsible for preventing many alcohol-related accidents by enforcing a policy of no driving after drinking. "I was really good to drunken drivers," Jones said. "In my 32 years up there, I [only] arrested three people. I chewed a lot of butt. I made them park, had somebody from Boise come up and get them, or I said, 'Get your butt in my police car, cause I'm taking you to Boise.' I drove them down and I'd have some of their friends meet them at the Pac-Out. I might call their wife and say, 'Your husband's drunk, meet me at the Pac-Out or I'm taking him to jail, and I live in Idaho City.' They'd say, 'Oh, I'll be right there.' "