Once Chicago had an actual ski resort within the city limits. Its name was Thunder Mountain.
By the 1960s the Carey Brick Works had been in business for decades at 2600 North Narragansett Avenue. In the process of digging out clay for bricks, a massive pit had been formed in the ground. Then, in January 1967, Chicago was hit by a record blizzard. What could you do in a city that was paralyzed by snow?
The Carey family had done some skiing at their brickyard already. During the summer of 1967 work began on converting the property into a public ski resort. Thunder Mountain opened on January 5, 1968.
Because of the man-made hill and the pit at its bottom, Thunder Mountain claimed the highest vertical drop within hundreds of miles–285 feet. The 55 skiable acres included three runs. Two certified ski instructors were on the premises.
Thunder Mountain’s original operating schedule listed hours from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week. Lift charges were $3.50 during the week, $4.00 on Saturday and Sunday. Parking cost $1.00.
There were grand plans for developing a full-scale resort. A onetime brick kiln was already being renovated into an A-shaped chalet. Management talked about putting in a toboggan run and a 125-unit motel on Diversey Avenue. Negotiations were underway to purchase a gondola ride from the recently-closed Riverview amusement park.
None of these ambitious projects became reality. Thunder Mountain ran into a couple of warm winters and public indifference, and closed after two seasons. A shopping plaza called The Brickyard was eventually built on the site.