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Own a piece of Washington's skiing past

Classic ski and snow memorabilia are available digitally from the Washington State History Museum

TACOMA, Wash. — Washington's been the place for winter pastimes as long as snow's been falling on Mount Rainier. And you can get your own digital copy of some snowy blasts from our state's past, thanks to Ed Nolan, head of collections at the Washington State Historical Society in Tacoma. They're part of an online exhibit called Washington's Winter Pastimes.  

“Most of this material I found at thrift shops or found it occasionally on eBay or we go to paper shows, I'm always watching," he said as he unpacked some classic 70's ski posters from the region. 

He specializes in 'ephemera' - paper from the past, designed to be disposable.

Like a ski tournament ad from the '40s that prominently features a man ogling a female skier's rear-end. 

Or a 1965 pamphlet from White Pass advertising lift tickets for $1.44.

Credit: Washington State History Museum
Proof that skiing used to be affordable

Another classic - a vintage Mission Ridge poster from the '70s featuring a crowd dressed in cowboy garb that probably hung on a high-schooler's bedroom wall.

“A poster that has corners missing tells me something about its use and it was part of somebody's life.”

Some of these winter pastimes are long gone - like this snow train that used to run to Hyak.

And the national ski jumping championships that took place at Mt. Rainier and were sponsored by the Northwest’s favorite beer, also Rainier.

There's also a fine poster of the fireworks show at Steven's Pass - let's bring that one back.

But all of these pieces of local ski history live on thanks to this collection, and with digital scanning, anyone can buy copies of these pieces from the Washington State History Museum website - a great way to gift your favorite Northwest skiier. 

There are also some artifacts in this collection – gigantic red snow pants made by Filson, a Northwest company, some snowshoes, and a 1912 sled made of packing boxes. None of the artifacts are for sale, but you can also check them out online.

All this made us curious - does Ed actually ski?

“No way,” he laughed.

Probably because of the classic ‘Ski Washington’ of a skier submerged in a puddle – also in the collection and available for digital purchase.  

But Ed will keep collecting pieces of PNW snow days. As long as we Washingtonians keep having fun playing in the snow.

“The whole thing is, history doesn't stop.”

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