Holy Hill....Heiliger Huegel History
was during the winter of 1935 that Heiliger Huegel Ski Club was born.
An early "big snow" spurred several enthusiastic local skiers to meet at
the home of Robert Esser for the purpose of exploring the possibility
of skiing in the area.
As a result of this first meeting, sixty-five young Milwaukee skiing
enthusiasts received an invitation to a meeting at the old Town Club on
February 21, 1936. This meeting marked the birth of Heiliger Huegel Ski
Club resulting in a charter membership of fifty. Officers presiding
that first year were: Fred Pabst, President; Arthur Holbrook, Vice
President; Ann Dahlman, Secretary; Elizabeth Hitz, Treasurer; and the
Board of Directors: Hermann Nunnemacher, Robert Esser and Paul Stone.
It was the love of skiing in those early years that prompted Arthur
Holbrook, John Hitz and Edward Purtell to meet with farmer Walter
Hembel, the owner of the present hill, to negotiate the first lease.
The meeting was held in Hembel's barn while he was milking and ended
with a three year lease for the grand total of $20.00 per year. The
first lease also allowed members to cut trees, remove rocks and
generally improve the hill for skiing.
In 1936, skiers would herringbone up the hill in order to ski down.
There were no ski tows in the State of Wisconsin at that time.
The new ski club was halfway through its first season when a meeting
was held at Fred Pabst’s apartment in the Cudahy Tower to choose a name
for the club. Even after some drinks and discussion, there wasn’t much
inspiration. Calling it “Holy Hill Ski Club” seemed bland and too
obvious. Bob Esser asked native German member Paul Goerz Langfeld how
“Holy Hill” would translate into German. Langfeld’s reply was “HEILIGER
HÜGEL”. It was just that simple, and the name stuck immediately. For
ease of typewriter use, the umlaut was removed from “HÜGEL” and the
letter ‘e’ was inserted to spell “Heiliger Huegel”.
From November 29, 1936, when the original constitution was adopted, the
Club has been a leader on the ski scene. In the fall of 1937, Heiliger
Huegel was voted into the Central United States Ski Association.
Heiliger Huegel was the first downhill and slalom ski club in the
Midwest and the first club to join CUSSA.
In 1938, Hermann Nunnemacher installed the first rope tow (second in
the State) which was powered by a tractor. Farmer Hembel was paid
$10.00 a day for use of his tractor.
Heiliger Huegel became incorporated in 1939 and during the World War II
years (1941-1945), skiing activities were held at Slinger because of
its available passenger rail service, gasoline being rationed.
Thirty years later, skiing was revolutionized at Heiliger Huegel with
the installation of snowmaking equipment to supplement natural snow.
In 1972, another milestone was reached at Heiliger Huegel when the
members elected to install a double chair lift, replacing the old rope
tow. Today, even those who had preferred other means of uphill
transportation are enjoying Heiliger Huegel's modern lift. The lift
increases the skiing area and provided more variety and less crowded
In 1980 an increase in the snowmaking capacity at the hill was achieved
in part through the creation of a "cooling pond", and was completed
during the 1982-1983 season with the addition of greatly improved snow
guns and better pumping equipment. In 1984 the grooming equipment was
updated to include a new snow cat and power tiller. The 1984-1985
season also brought about the garage addition for the maintenance and
storage of the new grooming equipment.
In 1990 a permanent snowmaking station was added northeast of the
Chalet. In the same year the Chalet was enlarged and the infamous pit
toilets were replaced with "indoor plumbing" and running water.
In the late 1990’s there were a number of improvements made including
new snow making guns, the addition of “Snowmax”, the expansion of the
north slope, the addition of a north snowmaking line, and a new
Bombardier snow grooming cat.
In 2002 an outdoor fireplace was added west of the chalet and the deck to the south was replaced and expanded.
In 2008, after decades of renting from the Hembel Family with the
understanding that the Club would buy the property if the Hembels ever
wanted to sell, negotiations began in earnest for the Club to purchase
the Hill. Just before ski season in November of 2009, the Club closed
on the purchase of 80 acres which includes the Hill. The purchase would
not have been possible without the seller financing provided by the
Hembel Family. The Club is working to retire that debt as quickly as
possible. The last ski season, in 2010-11, the Club celebrated its 75th
anniversary. Like the 50th anniversary 25 years earlier, the 75th
anniversary was commemorated with efforts to gather Club history and
memorabilia, press coverage, anniversary souvenirs and Club events
including a gala with nearly 300 in attendance.
This season, we will again be expanding the activities we can offer our
club members by installing a skating rink. The expected location is at
the bottom of the bunny hill, but that is subject to change.
The Club has an active racing program and each year Heiliger Huegel is
well represented at trophy presentations locally, regionally and
nationally. Participants range in age from pre-teen through
intercollegiate to seniors.
It is the many hundreds of hours contributed by members in the spirit
of camaraderie and cooperation that has made Heiliger Huegel what is
today -- a truly unique ski area. That spirit and our hill and
facilities are why Heiliger Huegel provides the best skiing environment
near any metropolitan area between New York and Colorado.