A ‘flyer’ takes to the air

Cooper Bush Lake

Minnesota was once North America’s capital of ski jumping. Beginning in Red Wing in the 1880s, ski jumps were built around the state and in several locations in the Twin Cities. The “ski slides” in Minneapolis’ Wirth Park gave thousands of kids the chance to learn to ski jump on smaller ramps.

Bloomington’s Bush Lake ski jump held its inaugural meet in February 1935. It was a major sporting event. Public interest was justified when a 205-foot jump broke the state record by 65 feet. Bush Lake soon attracted national and international ski jumping championships. Sometimes, special trains would be chartered from Minneapolis to Bloomington so the crowds could watch the “flyers.”

The competition shown here was probably at the original Bush Lake ski jump. It was destroyed by high winds in the summer of 1938 and promptly rebuilt. Today’s Bush Lake jump dates from 2000. In the 1930s, a young man named Martin Hense craved a job as a photojournalist and left us a series of pictures of summertime motorcycle hill climbs and ski events at Bush Lake. Taken as the skier leaves the ramp, this photo memorializes the surprisingly empty farm fields of Edina, Bloomington and Richfield 

Karen Cooper is a researcher at the Hennepin History Museum. Our archives include Martin Hense’s ski jump pictures and thousands of other fascinating images. Learn more about the museum and its offerings at hennepinhistory.org or 870-1329.