Richard Needham with a hand-powered Bradley Packer Grader.

(Courtesy Photo)

When you ski groomed snow that looks like corduroy, you can thank the late Steve Bradley. In 1951, he invented the Bradley-Packer Grader. These human-powered machines smoothed the slopes at Winter Park and were the precursors to today's giant machines. His daughter Kat Bennett, of Longmont, tells Colorado Matters about growing up with a dad who also directed Winter Park, and how the family played a role in developing the groomer.

An early snow packing machine at Winter Park.

(Courtesy Photo)

Bennett remembers it being a plow-like device in front that would grind up the snow. A big drum made from laminated slats of wood would beat up the snow and then a flat chain link “carpet” dragging behind would smooth the snow out. The first prototype fell apart, but she says Bradley went right back to the drawing board within the same winter, he had an operational model. He applied for a patent in 1951.