By Jamie Mathis
There’s a tired, old saying that goes something like, “It’s easier to beg for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission.” That was our mindset when building the Beehive skate ramp. Tiny wheels and huge pants nearly killed skateboarding in the early ‘90s, and there wasn’t much of a skate scene in Montana when it’s neon claws had a hold of the world in any of it’s incarnations.
Skateboarding in Big Sky in the ‘90s was difficult to say the least. In the wintertime we kept a rail slide bar in the tunnel between Rockstar parking and the Shoshone Lodge. It was loud, dusty and cold. The summer months were short, and the streets were littered with gravel—it wasn’t ideal. The solution was to build a ramp.
Now, anyone that has ever been a skateboarder knows how difficult it is to get anything done at the city level. Months and months go by proposing plans to park committees. If you own land you sure are welcome to put a ramp on your property. If you don’t, you resort to other means.
Skaters in Portland built a couple of features under a bridge in concrete in the mid ‘90s. They kept it clean and kept the addicts out. The city let them stay and it’s still there today; it’s called Burnside. We knew about it. Dave Goff, Tony Walsh, my brother Joey, James Case, Dave Marquez, Timmy Bowers, and a few others made the pilgrimage to the concrete mecca. That type of construction was out of the question for us. We had built wooden ramps though. We had all the wood from a ramp Kim Peterson had in her backyard in Missoula. The problem was we didn’t have a place to put it.
Before Beehive Basin was littered with million-dollar mansions, it was a good place to build a campfire, drink a few beers and hang out with your friends. There was a spot where we had parties, a short walk up the hill from where the muddy parking lot was. I can’t remember who first came up with the idea to put the ramp up there but it seemed like the perfect place for it. It was cleared of trees, flattish and nobody seemed to mind that we were up there.
It took a week or so to transport all the wood up there. Tony Walsh won $800 playing Keno at the Half Moon Saloon, so we could afford new Masonite and some coping. Brian Wheeler once showed up there with a surprised look on his face. “Keep it clean and don’t burn this place down,” he said. It took a few years, but the land sold, and someone built their dream home there. I still think how lucky we were to have lived in a place where we didn’t have to ask for permission or forgiveness to build that ramp in the woods.
Jamie Mathis moved to Big Sky in 1992 and works at Lone Peak Cinema. He enjoys snowboarding in the winter, and skateboards at the Big Sky Community Park when the skate park isn’t covered in snow.