The Legacy of Mully’s Moguls
Look around Whitefish, and you’re bound to come across the name Muldown. There’s Muldown Elementary. Ed and Mully’s Bar & Restaurant on the mountain. Mully’s Moguls, Mully’s, Upper Mully’s — all runs at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Without even picking up a history book, one knows instantly that Lloyd “Mully” Muldown made an impact here.
Truth be told, Mully is often referred to the “Father of Skiing” for his involvement and enthusiasm in the early days of Whitefish Mountain Resort. To dig deeper into this legend, we turned to Mike Muldown—Mully’s son—to tell us a bit more about his father and the beginning of skiing here in Whitefish.
Tell me what you remember about the early days of The Big Mountain.
I have a lot of great memories from growing up in Whitefish and on the mountain. It was a real privilege to be surrounded by those pioneer ski folks; they were a unique group of characters. Just hanging out in the corner of the Toni Matt Ski Shop by the barrel stove and listening to Toni’s colorful banter was wonderful stuff for an 8-year-old, especially coming from “the man who schussed Tuckerman’s Ravine.”
Did your dad ever tell you stories about those early days?
My parents and the Hellroaring Ski Group had a lot of energy and passion for alpine skiing in its infancy. They were the people who created a ski environment on the mountain that evolved into Whitefish Mountain Resort. They got a permit from the Forest Service in 1935 to build the first ski cabin and the second cabin (for the girls) in 1936. Then they cajoled the Forest Service into building a road in 1939 for forest fire access, which begat a rope tow and then alpine racing.
My parents and the Hellroaring Ski Group had a lot of energy and passion for alpine skiing in its infancy. They were the people who created a ski environment on the mountain that evolved into Whitefish Mountain Resort.
Tell us more about your father, and where he came from.
Mully was born in Iowa and raised in southern Minnesota. His mother was feisty little Norwegian who taught him Nordic skiing in the early 1900s… single pole technique. He graduated from Hamline University in St. Paul in Chemistry and Philosophy. He came to Whitefish in 1928 at the behest of his college roommate, who had a teaching job at Whitefish High School. When my dad got off the train in East Glacier, and then Whitefish, he immediately fell in love with this part of the country and never left!
They call your dad the “Father of Skiing” in Whitefish. Why do you think that is?
He was a very passionate guy about skiing and education. He had a dream and vision for Whitefish early on and was instrumental in all aspects of the sport. He was one of the first in Whitefish to get into alpine downhill skiing and taught many-a-youngster (and adults!) in the discipline for almost 60 years.
After attending the Berlin Summer Olympics in 1936, he spent time in Switzerland and Austria and brought some of the new equipment and techniques back to Whitefish. Local blacksmith Fred Hotel made copies of some of the bindings and toe pieces for local consumption. Dad, and later my mother, spent a lot of time in Sun Valley and envisioned a similar future for Whitefish. His vision was shared by many skiers and local businessmen after the war, and courted like-minded visionaries like Ed Schenck and George Prentice who ultimately “bet their shirts” on the place.
And what was his role in the start of The Big Mountain?
Dad gave of his time and energy to the new Big Mountain project and was a lifelong friend and advisor to Schenck, especially during the struggles of the early days of the corporation. He was co-chairman of the 1949 and 1951 National Ski Championships which, along with the arrival of Toni Matt, brought credibility to the fledgling resort. He was first and foremost a teacher and whether it be education or skiing, he was always there to lend a hand. But he also was a leader of the movement to promote Whitefish and the skiing potential of the area.
The name Muldown is all over Whitefish, including a run named for him on the mountain. How do you believe that’s a testament to the man he was?
He was passionate for education and sports, and he helped a lot of kids. Eventually, he became the Superintendent of Schools. In regards to the mountain, he and Ed Schenck were both on the same page. Ed really appreciated my dad because he was so enthused – he was always there volunteering and instructing getting the school programs going… not by himself, by any means, but he was a conduit between the mountain and the schools.
After he retired from school, he was having a hard time adjusting so he went back to being a ski instructor and he was skiing for the last 30 years of his life, and teaching skiing well into his 80s. He would come home, eat dinner and fall asleep on the couch—that’s what happens when you’re 80 years old teaching skiing every day!
…that’s what happens when you’re 80 years old teaching skiing every day!
Thanks, Mike, for sharing a piece of your memories and your father’s legacy with us. We are all fortunate to have everything he and the Hellroaring Ski Club helped build!