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All you need's a hill, a tow rope and a warming hut. Liability Schmiability!
January 20, 2008 3:47 PM   Subscribe

New England's Lost Ski Areas. The Northeast used to be littered with mom-and-pop-size ski areas, many of which have been consolidated into huge resorts, while others fell to development or just passed out of existence. This site serves as a repository for information, images, and reminiscinces. Links to other region's lost ski area sites, too.

Wish they'd do something about that design, and maybe work with Google Maps/Earth, but the idea's a nice one. I didn't even grow up skiing, but you can't understand New England's 20th-century history without looking at this important tourist industry and local pastime.
posted by Miko (26 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Looks like Powder Ridge didn't reopen. A moment of silence for the site of Connecticut's answer to Altamont, the Powder Ridge Rock Festival.
posted by Kinbote at 4:04 PM on January 20, 2008


I learned about this website on a recent replay of a 2001 "Chronicle classic" on WCVB/Boston.

Jeremy Davis, founder of the New England Lost Ski Areas Project, is also a director of the New England Ski Museum. Here's an interview he did with Susan Stamberg on NPR.
posted by ericb at 4:06 PM on January 20, 2008


Very nice (although yeah, the site design is pitiful—to save others time scratching their heads like I did, to get to the actual ski-area info you click on the map at the left). I knew nothing about this stuff until I moved to Mass. with my wife, who used to work at a ski area in the Berkshires. Now I've taken up skiing myself... only cross-country, though, no downhill for these aging bones!
posted by languagehat at 4:08 PM on January 20, 2008


My eyes! The (ski) goggles do nothing.

Can we get a Comic Sans warning for that first link?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:12 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


A lot of the CT ones look like old non-commercial, town-run stuff. Just find a hill, cut down a few hundred trees, and hook a rope tow up to someone's old tractor. Guess that doesn't fly nowadays.
posted by smackfu at 5:23 PM on January 20, 2008


I grew up in Connecticut and the sixties and seventies yet I had forgotten how ubiquitous those little ski runs were. Just as Smackfu says they were run by the town or by some enthusiast and you never knew if they would reopen from one season to the next. And eventually they did not. I knew the ones in my town were gone, but it seems as if they are all gone!
posted by LarryC at 5:46 PM on January 20, 2008


Here's my grandfather at one of these lost ski areas - Diamond Hill (RI) in the late 30's. Related: him skiing with the 10th Mountain Division in WWII only a couple years later.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:01 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Kinbote: "Looks like Powder Ridge didn't reopen. A moment of silence for the site of Connecticut's answer to Altamont, the Powder Ridge Rock Festival [wp]."

Oy, Powder Ridge. The home of my second-worst ski accident ever (the worst was at Mohawk -- it's always the little places...)

Anyway, here's the latest. The place is in Chapter 11, with bids due on the property Feb 18. The locals would prefer a ski area there to condos/other development, and the Town of Middlefield and the owner of Ski Sundown, working together, have already made a $3.45 million bid. If they win, the place could be running again next season.

So don't lose hope yet.
posted by Opposite George at 6:32 PM on January 20, 2008


I grew up just a few feet from this one, and used to hide on the top of the hill when I played hooky from school ca. 1989-1991. I trained my dog Katie to ride front-row in a flexible flyer, and though neither of us were injured, we witnessed a significant number of leg-breakings and arm-sprainings.
posted by mr. remy at 6:32 PM on January 20, 2008


Oh, and forgot to mention that there are lots of other sites with a similar bent, covering New England and beyond. Here are just a few:

Teachski.com -- LaurieP is a contributor to NELSAP and active on snowjournal.com. She's put together a collection of "photos, trail maps, brochures, booklets and other memorabilia." If you want an idea of what Killington looked like in 1961, or would like to glance at the 1938-1939 American Ski Annual, this is your place.

Joshua Segal's archive of a lost website: Russ LaChappelle's Skiing History in New York. Warning: it's a bit tricky to navigate and hard to read but stick with it because the payoff is huge: page after page of topos and short blurbs on forgotten NY ski areas (did you know NY once had more ski areas than any other state?)

Russ's real gem is the story of the Princeton Ski Bowl at Bearpen Mountain. In short: a college kid with a love of skiing finds an untouched snow magnet in the Catskills with 1900' of vertical. He organizes a ski area there and actually makes a go of it, at least for a while, until local politics get in the way. Watch for an appearance by the young Ralph Nader.

Ski Dutchess, (New Jersey) Snow Bowl and Great Gorge history, all hosted on skiernet.com

And for lift junkies: Surface lifts at savethet-bar.com and aerial lifts at chairlift.org

And some of these might be a little hard on the eyes but go easy on the site designs, guys -- these are all labors of love by non-techie amateurs, done with no expectation of any reward apart from sharing their discoveries.
posted by Opposite George at 7:08 PM on January 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Is there such a similar such archive of amusement parks?
posted by mr. remy at 7:15 PM on January 20, 2008


I love stories about defunct recreational places. When I lived in Colorado, the Broadmoor Hotel outside of Colorado Springs had its own ski run. I never skied there (or anywhere for that matter), but we used to drive by and watch the skiers. It closed in 1991.
posted by amyms at 7:32 PM on January 20, 2008


mr. remy asked: Is there such a similar such archive of amusement parks?

I found this from The Institute For Theme Park Studies.
posted by amyms at 7:34 PM on January 20, 2008


And yet another really good one -- Colorado Ski History.
posted by Opposite George at 7:47 PM on January 20, 2008


I remember these. Back when New England had snow.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:47 PM on January 20, 2008


I (and probably most kids in a thirty-mile radius) grew up taking ski lessons at Pat's Peak. (It's not the smallest area, but it shows up in the "images" link.) Our elementary school organized it: on Fridays, if you were signed up, you got out of school early and were bussed over to the ski area, where you rented skis and got an hour lesson, and could then ski all over the mountain until the buses took you home again. I started in second grade and took lessons for years; many of the ski instructors were high-school or college kids who'd started out there. It's still open, and they've apparently been upgrading it, though I haven't been back for years.

And reading through the list of "lost ski areas", I just discovered that my town had one, possibly two old small areas. I had no idea. Thank you for this post.
posted by Upton O'Good at 7:54 PM on January 20, 2008


Here's one that I think is unfortunately a likely candidate to join these ski areas of the past - Yawgoo Valley. I haven't done the research, but it MUST be one of smallest new england ski areas. I learned to ski there with my jr high ski club (ten minutes from school) and I'm shocked that its still in operation. Now I'm tempted to spend the $20.00 for a half day ticket (27 full day!) the next time I'm up in RI...
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:35 PM on January 20, 2008


I was born back East and now live in the PNW, but I've always preferred the small family-run ski hills over the big developments. That was the case in the Laurentians and in the Eastern Townships (loved La Reserve, Mt Orford, Jay Peak) and now I prefer Manning Park or Mt Seymour over Whistler any day. OK, well maybe I'll go to Whistler a couple of times in a ski season, but I wouldn't want to go there every weekend. Just too busy for my tastes.

There's beauty and serenity in the smaller, quieter hills which feature slower chairlifts and steeper drops than the more Disney-esque resorts. One of these days I'll be visiting Hemlock and once again delight in the smaller out of the way little hill where the people are few and the powder is fresher.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:36 PM on January 20, 2008


Back when New England had snow.

Snowiest December ever on record right here, and January's been no slouch either.
posted by Miko at 10:04 PM on January 20, 2008


Upton, I rememeber Pat's Peak. Good times close to home. When I lived in the area (Dublin/Nelso) there where a few tow ropes hidden here and there. There's one on Old Rt. 9 that doesn't seem to be listed. Nice post, Miko.
posted by johnj at 10:18 PM on January 20, 2008


Is there such a similar such archive of amusement parks?

Yes. Yes, there is.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:58 AM on January 21, 2008


Where I live (near Collingwood, Ontario), some of these Mom and Pop operations turned into private ski clubs with a dozen or so runs and two or three lifts each. I think they're the only truly private clubs in North America. I'm a member at Alpine, and there's Georgian Peaks, Craigleith and Osler Bluff. The Toronto Ski Club and Collingwood Ski Club were also originally private but leased out their land to Blue Mountain, which is now an Intrawest resort. The clubs still exist but you have to ski with the Hoi Polloi. Great skiing/boarding. I was at Blue this morning and Alpine both days at the weekend.
posted by unSane at 6:46 PM on January 21, 2008


i was contacted a few years ago by these people regarding a ski area located on campus of my old school. looking at it now, i see that some of my classmates have made comments. kinda cool that it touched me in that way.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 9:37 AM on January 22, 2008


awesome.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:07 PM on January 22, 2008


And the NYT seems to have picked this up.
posted by rtha at 10:19 AM on January 25, 2008


I skied lots as a kid (dreamt of being in the Olympic downhills), but not much at all as an adult. Looking on the "Lost areas" list, at the end, there are these "lost" areas that are still open! I found a ski place on that site that I can afford to take my son to! Places nearby like Nashoba and Wachusett are in the $60-70 range for lift and rental, which angers m'blood, and it's a great excuse for me to take a road trip and pay for gas and enjoy the VT scenery, instead of what I would've paid extra in a ticket/rental closeby with time spent in lines. Thanks so much for this post, Miko: you have just clued me in to one more fun thing to do this winter.
posted by not_on_display at 5:21 PM on January 25, 2008


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