Return to Pink Panther
This was my original Pink Panther page after a visit in 2006.
Now it is a section of my new Pink Panther Site, revised in 2012.
When I was a boy in the 1970s living in Green Bay, Wisconsin, there was a ski hill just out of town called "Pink Panther Ski Area". This was a tiny little hill with 3 runs. The "Bunny Hill" and the "Headwall" were served by rope tows, and the "T-bar Hill" was served (quite obviously) by a small t-bar. The 3 runs were arranged in a rough triangle, and the "Headwall" had some trails off to one side.
I had heard about this a lot in grade school. But by the time I learned to ski in 6th grade (1978 or so), the owners had evidently heard from the Pink Panther movie people and decided to change the name to "Snowburst". Of course we still called it "Pink Panther". Here's a movie clip (youtube) of my 12-year-old self enjoying the easiest run, known as the Bunny Hill.
I stopped skiing there sometime in high school, moving on to bigger and better hills in Upper Michigan. And I heard that "Snowburst" shut down at some point, probably when I was in college. My parents still live in Green Bay, and more than once when I've been in town, I thought about driving out to the old ski hill to see what it looks like.
On February 5, 2006, my family was all in town visiting my parents. After church, I took my 8-year-old, Jake, and we went on an adventure to find the Pink Panther. I had a rough idea of where it was, but I had never driven there. With some better instructions from my Dad, we got to the area and drove around until I finally recognized the site.
In order to get the lay of the land, refer to this overhead shot from maps.live.com. I pulled it down in early 2008, and I'd imagine it was taken a year or two before, somewhere around the time of our visit. I've outlined the three runs, the Bunny Hill, the T-Bar Hill and the Headwall, and you can see the buildings above the Bunny Hill. You may notice the ski area is bisected by a pond! Except for a small stream at the bottom of the headwall, I never noticed it while skiing. Perhaps it was always frozen over? The ski area would have had to depend on that.
As we drove up the driveway (past some "Krolls" trailers, because evidently the owners of that classic Green Bay restaurant own the land now), I recognized the buildings that used to house the chalet and the bar. They look pretty much the same except for different colors.
As we got out of the car and walked to the top of the Bunny Hill, there was a prominent telephone pole with one of the pulleys for the rope tow. This is exactly what I imagined I'd find if anything was left. You can also see the shed at the top of the headwall that housed the machinery for the t-bar.
As I turned and looked down the Bunny Hill, I was reminded of my first ski lesson. The Green Bay Press Gazette had a ski school out here every year and my Dad and I came out one year to learn to ski. It looked a lot steeper back then.
While the center of the run was still fairly clear, the side where the towrope used to be was quite overgrown. If you look closely in this picture you can see another pole with a pulley on it that gives you a rough idea of where the rope came up.
Jake and I were just wearing tennis shoes, but we decided to hike down anyway. Looking up over my shoulder, I could see the steep side we'd ski up to make the bunny hill more interesting. (I don't recall the satellite dish being there in my youth.)
When we got to the bottom, I was surprised to find a river between the bottom of the bunny hill and the t-bar hill. I knew there was a creek at the bottom of the headwall, and this is obviously part of it. Either it was lower back then or winters were cold enough that it just froze solid. Beyond the river you can see the skinny t-bar run cutting through the trees.
Here's the river looking back toward Old Martin Road. How could I have not noticed that it was a river?
Looking to the left we can see the Headwall. It looks so easy now, but I actually spent my first year of skiing avoiding it. It did have a fairly steep drop at the end, and you had to stop fast to avoid the creek, but it made for a fun towrope ride back up!
Here's another shot of the Headwall from the Bunny Hill. (At the time I didn't realize the Headwall name was such an overstatement!)
Back at the top of the Bunny Hill we found this piece of equipment next to the shed. I'd imagine it was the tractor they used to groom the runs?
Here's Jake checking out his Dad's old haunt. He wasn't as bored as he looks in this picture, and he told me he really would've liked to ski this hill.
A couple of better shots of the buildings. This was the lodge where you'd buy your ticket. It had a little grill, a gameroom and tables to eat your lunch. It's a strange little building, mostly basement with a roof. I wonder if it's been used for anything else since or if the fixtures are still the same?
When I saw this building again I recognized it, but couldn't remember what it was. I'm pretty sure I never went inside, so it occurred to me that this was probably the bar. I was only 14 or 15 when I stopped skiing here and I couldn't get into bars that young!
If anyone who stumbles across this page has pictures or old lift tickets from Pink Panther/Snowburst, I'd love to see them. You can scan them in and send them to elfner.web (at) gmail.com and I will add them to this site.
On the way home we ran across this building a mile or two west of the old ski hill. The Rockland Town Hall is all boarded up and has a plaque on the side declaring that it was built in 1922. It looks like a stout, old brick building that has been boarded up and fallen into disrepair. There is still rusted and bent playground equipment in front of it.
And so ends our tour of the old Pink Panther Ski Area. Hope you enjoyed it.
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Postscript - January 2008 - I submitted this page to a web project that documents lost ski areas in New England. (www.nelsap.org) In doing so, I added the satellite photo at the top of this page and shared my e-mail to them with some of my friends who remember Pink Panther. We are reasonably sure that the pond in the satellite photo was not there or was much smaller when Pink Panther/Snowburst was in operation. We remember a creek at the foot of the headwall, and then there are vague memories of a trickling creek that ran next to the T-bar Hill and maybe a small bridge you crossed to get on the T-bar. I'm wondering if the new owners of the land or the Equestrian Center behind this land didn't route some runoff that way to create a retention pond?
Updated: January 26, 2009 - Added the Green Bay Press Gazette Ski School patch from the late 70s. Both my Dad and I took the Press Gazette's ski lessons at Pink Panther. Thanks to another ski school alumnus Scott Crevier for providing the scan of the patch.
Updated: February 2012 - Redid the Pink Panther page to reflect what I've learned from Mark Cain (Owner's son) and others. Kept this page intact because I like how it reflects my memories only, right and wrong.