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The History of Wisp Resort with Karen Myers

Wisp Resort is a ski resort located in McHenry, Maryland, in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. The resort features more than 35 trails for skiing and snowboarding, as well as a variety of other winter activities such as ice skating, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Wisp Resort also offers a range of accommodations, including vacation rentals, hotel rooms, and condominiums. In addition to its winter offerings, the resort also has a number of activities and amenities available during the summer months, including mountain biking, golfing, and ziplining.

Team Taylor-Made is blessed to have Karen Myers in our fold. She is an accomplished Real Estate Broker, developer, and a pillar in our community. She has been involved in Wisp Resort for many year, including as an owner of the property. We sat down with her to get some background and history of our favorite ski area in the Mid-Atlantic!

Q: What can you tell us about the founders of Wisp Resort?

A: The original owner of Wisp was Helmuth Heise. He actually had a couple of partners back in the very beginning, but he and his wife, Evelyn, owned a motel along Route 219 that’s now known as Will O’ the Wisp. In those days, it was just a little motel, little cabins. And he told me that the impetus behind his desire to create the ski area was in February of one year, and this would’ve been in the early ’50s, his total receipts from the motel and cabins were something like $12 or $20 maybe, not very much. And he said, “This is not working. We gotta figure something out.”

Q: That is incredible! Wisp Resort wasn’t a life long dream, but a solution to problem. That’s very Appalachian! So how did they get started?

A: Helmuth was a creative kind of guy, and they managed to lease some land, where Wisp is now located, from the Brenneman family. He brought a rope tow from New Hampshire. He went to a ski area in New Hampshire, bought a rope tow, and within a year or so, they had a little bit of an area to ski on. They reminisced that their early snowmaking was kind of like having water hoses spray water in the air. It wasn’t at all, you know, what it is now. But he kept working at it, and then as they expanded in the area that’s now called Squirrel Cage, there was a Poma lift.

Q: Wait, what’s a Poma lift?

A: It is this little disc that you put between your legs and it pulls you by the seat of your pants up the hill. I skied with the Poma lift a lot. I learned to ski here in the mid ’60s.

Q: I have never seen this. It sounds terrifying! I’m glad they have made advancements… Okay, back to it. Tell us more!

A: Helmuth kept expanding! The snowmaking, he kept studying. He had a great guy working with him, Bob Yaste, who was really interested in that. And local fellas from Beitzel Corporation also worked with him and they ended up having a patent on a couple of different types of valves and things that’s used for snowmaking.

Q: I had no idea that so much was created locally! Snowmaking is an important part of success at Wisp. What was it like when you owned the resort?

A: Over the years, Wisp has developed snowmaking to a fine art. And during the time that I was involved with ownership and operations at Wisp, we added a lot more automated equipment and so forth, and the result of that was that people were visiting here from all over the world. I mean, they were coming from China, from Russia, from wherever they’ve had Olympics. When they were learning about snowmaking, they were coming here to see what Wisp was doing because they really have a phenomenal snowmaking system here. And it’s impossible to have a ski area if you don’t have white on the ground!

Karen Myers

Karen Myers brings a wealth of Garrett County real estate knowledge and experience to assist buyers and sellers regarding their options. She has taught the real estate pre-licensing course or trained nearly 40% of Garrett County Realtors, developed or assisted in the development of 50 subdivision communities, guided a Planned Residential Development and dealt with governmental regulations at all levels, including local, state and federal. She has also developed specific marketing plans for subdivision communities and for individual properties. While you are evaluating your decision to buy or sell, bring Karen’s experience to work for you.

Check out the full interview below. Like + subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great Deep Creek Lake content!

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