Beef Trail proves Al Gore is not lying

If you don’t believe in global warming, just look at the old Beef Trail ski area southwest of town.

While it felt like we were really getting hammered with snow in December and the first part of January, bare spots on the ski runs are still clearly visible from town.

You can’t argue with the fact that Butte used to get way more snowfall each winter because from the 1930s through 1986 Beef Trail had enough of the white stuff to accommodate a fully-functioning ski hill.

Montana’s first major ski area was also the best deal you could find. For kids, a 1986 lift ticket cost $8 for your first day of the season. Of that, $2 went toward a membership in the Butte Ski Club.

Lift tickets were just $6 each day the rest of the winter.

That great deal, however, ended when the 1986-87 winter didn’t bring enough snow. Neither did the next. Or the next. And Beef Trail has been dormant for the past three decades.

Yet the mountain still sits there in the distance, exposing bare spots each winter as a reminder of better times and heavier snowfall.

When I look at those bare spots on Beef Trail, I thank goodness there was no such thing as Facebook back in those heavy snowfall days. Could you imagine the social media whining we would have to endure if we got enough snow to support a ski area again?

Back before front-wheel-drive cars were the norm, if you lived on the Butte Hill you were never guaranteed to make it home on those wintry days.

On many occasions my family would have to abandon the old two-wheel-drive boat at the Federal Building and hike the half a mile or so up Main Street to our house.

Those hikes were usually at least partially blamed on missing the light on Broadway Street, which didn’t allow us to get a good running start at the steep part of the hill.

Still, if we had Facebook back then, it would be hard to picture my parents heading to the computer to tag Chief Executive Don Peoples Sr. on Facebook as they typed a diatribe about the ice streets.

It’s hard to picture any parents from that generation, for that matter, calling the chief executive nasty names and levying a series of allegations of corruption, cronyism and some other big words they didn’t completely understand because they had a hard time in the snow.

Even if Al Gore would have invented the internet a few decades earlier, it is hard to imagine the parents of 1985 acting online like some of them do today.

Yes, the chief executives of the 21st century definitely have it harder than they did back in the day.

Today’s leaders have to put up with way more whining. And thanks to social media, everyone with a Facebook account feels like he or she is mightier than the sword.

Back in the 20th Century, people seemed to understand that the chief executive of a Montana city did not have authority over the weather. They realized that the county heads had no magical tools to catch the snow before it hit the pavement.

Today people don’t seem to get that. When they have a less-than-perfect experience on their way home from Wal-Mart, people rush to Facebook and tag the chief executive as if they are a tattling kindergarten brat.

They think he is the principal, not the mayor.

The worst of these Facebook complaints came about a week before Christmas when Butte was hit by a pretty heavy snowstorm. That’s when someone claiming to live in the Butte Country Club area tagged Matt Vincent and immediately demanded that he send a crew down to her neighborhood to plow the side streets.

This person flat out said that the people who live in those nice houses by the Country Club pay more in taxes than the rest of us scrubs and, therefore, deserve better treatment from our county employees.

She demanded that the county workforce drop everything and plow her street. This came as county crews, called out of their homes to work overtime, were busy trying to clear the primary snow routes around town.

The Country Club complaints have continued because the county hasn’t plowed the side streets and cul-de-sacs of those rich people. Apparently, in that area, cars have been getting stuck left and right — and on level ground.

Of course, there are three things that can fix the problem of getting stuck on the flats of Butte.1, Get an automobile made for the climate in which you live. We can assume those in the upper tax bracket can afford that. 2, Get some snow tires. 3, Learn how to drive.

Not being able to make it up a hill on the snow and ice is one thing. Getting stuck on flat ground, well that might be something that can be avoided by improved driving skills.

In 14 years living at my house, I have not once found myself stuck on the level ground. In that time, though, I have helped push at least 20 cars on the block that got stuck because of a lack of winter driving ability, ill-advised vehicle choice or poor parking selection.

Not one of those cars got stuck because of something the chief executive did. All of them came after the snowfall in Butte dropped off drastically.

Maybe you don’t believe in global warming, or climate change as it is referred to more nowadays. Maybe you think that evangelical politicians knows more about the issue than scientists.

Maybe you’re going to vote for that billionaire reality television star in the presidential election because he also thinks global warming was invented by Al Gore.

Whatever the case, I’m just glad that we don’t get as much snow as we did back in 1985. I’m pretty sure I’d lose my mind if I had to listen to all that whining on Facebook.

As hard as it was to see it go, the loss of Beef Trail just might have turned out to be a worthwhile sacrifice.

— Bill Foley, who knew Al Gore was lying the whole time, writes a column that appears on on Tuesdays. Email him at Follow him at 3 comments

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  • Rob O'Neill
    February 2, 2016, 12:24 pm

    You’re a fine writer Bill; always have been. You should be working for Fox….

  • Jim Pederson
    February 7, 2016, 1:39 am

    Thanks for writing such a great article. I don’t know if Global Warming is real (I defer to the crack staff of scientists at Facebook to let me know either way 🙂 I do know we had actual winters in the 80’s though…

    -Anyhoo, great writing- great humor.



  • Jim Murphy
    February 27, 2016, 10:34 pm

    As a hill dweller in my driving days this brought back a lot of memories – timing and faith were required many times to make it home by the midnight curfew. When I couldn’t it never occurred to me to blame the mayor- not sure the old man would have bought that. Thanks for calling the whiners out Mr. Foley. With a little patience, charity and some planning they would be a happier crowd.


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