I first met Mary Austin Crofts in the fall of 1992. I knew of Mary, of course, and the incredible work she had achieved as executive director of the Blaine County Recreation District to create the Wood River Trail bike/pedestrian pathway. So, when I was approached by Andy Munter to join Bob Rosso, Will Van Ert, Steve Wolper and Bill Vanderbilt to go down to the BCRD office to meet Mary in October 1992, I was curious to meet her. Our mission was to see if there was a chance that the BCRD would consider grooming the Boulder Mountain Tour trail—now the Harriman Trail—all winter long for the 1992-93 ski season. (It had historically only been groomed once for the Boulder Tour.) Remember, the BCRD had never been involved in the game of grooming at this time. It didn’t even own a Pisten Bully.
After much discussion, Mary was supportive. She said she would only consider taking our request to the BCRD board if we raised the proposed cost of $40,000 by Thanksgiving—the timeline required to begin grooming at Christmas. I remember so well Mary saying, “Show me the money!” She insisted that no taxpayer money would be used on this project. It gave us three weeks to raise the funding. Of course, there were skeptics who said it could not be done—this was a lot of money in 1992 to raise in such a short time. Regardless, I agreed to spearhead it. Flyers were produced, thermometers placed around town to show how much had been raised and I was given a spot on local radio each morning to give updates on how much time we had left and how much money we had received. It was exciting to see the community coming together in force to achieve this and, on Nov. 29, 1992, I presented Mary a check for $40,000.
Utilizing one of Galena Lodge’s grooming machines, we groomed the trail all season long. It was a huge hit, and an inspiration of what could be achieved if the community could possibly purchase Galena Lodge. Once again we could open up the popular ski trails surrounding it. It was not penciling out financially for Steve Haims, the private operator of the Lodge, who found it necessary to close its doors in April 1992. It was a big loss for the community. Even worse, there was the risk that a building on Forest Service land could potentially be torn down if it stood unoccupied for a certain length of time. But if we could raise $40,000 in three weeks, perhaps the community could raise the $350,000 to purchase the lodge. Mary was 100% behind us and worked hard to bring the “Help Save Galena” campaign to success, which it was. Funding was raised in three months, due again to unbelievable community support to see this accomplished. Mary also initiated the “Power Galena” campaign a few years later to bring electricity to the Lodge replacing the old dirty, noisy generator.
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