Paul Augustine, the man chiefly responsible for the development of Afton Alps, Mount Kato, and Titus Mountain, grew up on a farm just west of Hastings, Minn. Those not from farm country may wonder how a farmer became a success in the ski industry. Answer: a successful farmer doesn’t shy away from challenges and risks, takes pride in the long hours of hard, physical work, and has the foresight to realize opportunities to grow the business responsibly.
In Paul’s case, he enjoyed skiing as a young adult on the rare occasions he was away from work, decided he wanted to build and operate a ski area, and started acquiring land in the St. Croix River Valley located in close proximity to the Twin Cities. In the fall of 1963, he started building Afton Alps. On December 21, 1963, the area opened to a crowd of 37 paid customers. It had a Poma lift, a few rope tows, and a chalet. The first chairlift went up before the next season. There is no question that Paul is most well-known for the success of Afton Alps, which averages over 200,000 skier visits annually. Afton now has 48 runs, 18 chairlifts, 3 conveyor lifts, 5 chalets, 3 rental shops, one of the largest and best ski schools in the Midwest, and many summer activities. Some of its earliest snowmaking and grooming equipment was restored and donated to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame.
In 1970, Augustine bought Ski Haven in Mankato, MN & renamed it Mount Kato. He oversaw a substantial renovation & expansion of the area to 19 runs & 8 chairlifts.
In 1980, Paul purchased Moon Valley Ski Area in Malone, N.Y. Paul rebuilt the area, added several runs to the lower part of the mountain, and renamed it Titus Mountain. After a few years, he expanded to the upper mountain, adding a chalet along with more runs and lifts, to the point where Titus Mountain now has 27 runs, 8 chairlifts, and 2 chalets.
Each of Paul’s ski areas benefit from his focus on keeping prices for lift tickets, rentals and lessons affordable enough to grow new customers, and on maintaining a family-friendly environment that can be enjoyed by rural folks and wealthy urban dwellers alike.
In addition to growing his businesses, Paul gave freely of his time & energies to grow the sport of skiing. He helped found the Twin Cities Independent Ski Areas Association, served 3 years as President of the Midwest Ski Areas Association, and two terms with the National Ski Areas Association Board of Directors. The example he set through his honesty, hard work, and foresight won him respect throughout the ski industry and culminated with his receipt of the National Ski Areas Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
Paul Augustine faced many challenges and obstacles along the way, but he never quit. His dedication, along with generosity, faith, and of course stubbornness, made him successful, and has helped make the ski industry more successful as a whole.
Paul is survived by his loving wife of 45 years, Rose, three children, two sisters, one brother and three grandchildren. All of us at Titus Mountain send heartfelt condolences to them, as well as sincere gratitude for being part of the legacy that Paul created.
Website: Ski Titus Mountain