By Patrick Winderl
A handful of curious riders got their first taste of the Screamin' Beaver on Thursday when they turned out for the inner tube run's opening.
Located 29 miles south of Havre, just east of the Bear Paw Ski Bowl, the Screamin' Beaver Tube Run takes inner tubing to the next level.
Built by the Chippewa Cree Tribe, the run will create tribal jobs and generate money, said Jason Belcourt, coordinator of the tribe's Parks and Recreation Department.
The run is built into an S-shaped basin with trees on both sides. The base of the run is guarded by hay bale bumpers that prevent errant tubers from crashing into a ditch or being wrapped around a tree.
A rope tow pulls riders up the east side of the run, a vantage point that offers a clear view of other tubers flying down the hill. People can choose to disembark halfway up or take the rope tow all the way to the top.
The run, several hundred feet in length, hosts a vertical drop of more than 100 feet. Tubes generate so much speed moving down the hill that it was necessary to equip them with shells to slow the tubes' descent. The shells are made from textured plastic plates that are attached to the bottom of the tubes.
"Without a shell, I would be scared to go from the top," said William Lodgepole, one of the first people to test the Screamin' Beaver. "You really need one because the tubes pick up speed pretty quick."
The ride down the Screamin' Beaver takes only seven seconds to reach the bottom of the hill.
The Screamin' Beaver is part of a recreational area planned by the Chippewa Cree Tribe to bolster the local economy and create jobs. The tribe's Natural Resources Department has been responsible for planning the construction of tourist-friendly additions to the recreation area.
"We would like to see this become a multipurpose recreation area," said Belcourt, who supervises the Screamin' Beaver. "Our goal is to compete for tourism dollars and create as many jobs as possible."
The tube run created three full-time seasonal jobs for tribal members.
Four log cabins that have been under construction since October will be finished this spring, Belcourt said. The cabins are located between the ski bowl and the southern edge of Beaver Creek Park.
The cabins consist of a single room with two bunk beds and an electric baseboard heater. Three gazebos have been built near the cabins. The tribe has begun to accept advance reservations from the public for the cabins, Belcourt said.
"The idea was to have something that could be used during the winter as well as the summer," he said. "Eventually we would like to see family reunions and company picnics use the facilities."
The tribe is also planning to rebuild the lodge at the ski bowl that was destroyed by a fire. Located directly across from the chairlift, the new lodge will have a restaurant and a ski rental, Belcourt said.
The Natural Resources Department is searching for funding for the project, which will cost $250,000. It is not clear when the lodge will be finished, Belcourt said.