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Highland Ski Area
Huntersville, Pennsylvania

Kevin Whipple describes what he has learned about Highland Ski Area, a lost ski area in Pennsylvania:

    Highland Ski Area in Huntersville, PA is just north of Picture Rocks in Lycoming County. I first heard of this area from Dottie Alford (administrator of Crystal Lake Ski Center), to whom I owe the following info:

    Highland Ski Area operated from sometime in the 1950’s to the early 1970’s. It had two wide slopes and two long trails on a little over 100’ of vertical. It had a poma lift and two rope tows. The poma lift was imported from France and was said to be the first in Pennsylvania. It was later removed and installed at the Crystal Lake Ski Center not far from there, where it saw service to 1996 (probably 40 years and maybe some time in France). There was a 1000’ rope tow run by a tractor, and a beginners rope tow run by a gas motor.

    Dottie Alford skied there between 1964-1971 and managed the area while in bankruptcy between 1969-1971. She made an effort by bringing in two Swiss ski instructors but lost a lot of sales to the new Oregon Hill Ski Area (later Sawmill) that opened on the other side of Williamsport in Morris, PA.

    I visited the ski area but the majority of it sits on private property now. It appears that the old ski slopes and buildings are now a small horse farm. I would have never found the place if I didn’t spot a pecular lawn ornament next to the road. Sure enough, it looked like the components of a rope tow (see photo below). The area was an upside-down design with the lodge and everything on the top with trails decending. The pitch was moderately steep and the view from the top was really nice. Not wanting to trespass, my photos are limited for this area. I tromped around the base of the hill which is essentially a swamp, but found some worthwhile stuff. The slopes look like they have grown in a lot, but the upper reaches are used for horses now. Hiking up through the woods I stumbled upon one of the long trails that descends around the main slopes and lifts. This trail had not grown in much at all. I couldn’t find any sign of snowmaking for this trail. It slices across a fairly steep section of hill.

Ezra Burgess provided the following information in March, 2009:

    “The old ‘Highland Ski Area’ that was located in Huntersville, Pa. (which is only about 4 miles from my home) was built by Lycoming County Judge Thomas Wood and a small group of investors. Judge Wood had been retired for many years and lived in Muncy, Pa. until he passed away on Sept. 25, 2007. You may find some old photos or post cards by contacting his remaining family, some of whom I believe still live in Muncy. If you can’t find his family by contacting the Muncy Historical Society or borough office, you might try the Lycoming County Bar Association. They have photo profiles of all attorneys as well as current and past Judges from the county on their website. They had a memorial gathering for him at the courthouse on Dec. 12, 2007 and I am sure the addresses of his family would be in their mailing list. You can access his memorial site by clicking on the following link: http://www.lycolaw.org/news.asp?id=57. This link will take you to their memorial site. Just click on Judge Wood (2nd listed) and go to the bottom of that page and you will see 3 links to his obituary, profiles and memorial proclamation pages. Although there is no mention of his involvement with Highland Ski Area, I am reasonably certain he was its founder. I noticed in his obituary, they list his surviving relatives and locations where they live. One or more of them might have further information on the ski area.”

Bob Garison, a former employee at Highland Ski Area, contacted DCSki in August, 2009 and provided the following clarification and details:

    Correction: The only buildings at Highland were located at the base of the hill. Any buildings shown today were built after the ski area closed and was sold. Currently there is a house located at the top of the hill to the right of the poma line. Below that is another building and down from that a storage barn. These are located on the “BIG HILL” which is described below.

    Lifts: Highland had four ski lifts: Pomalift, J-Bar, Rope Tow, and beginner / ski school Rope Tow.

    Looking at Kevin’s map, the one where he has LODGE circled, the location of the lifts was as follows from LEFT to RIGHT:

    • 1st RED line is the J-BAR
    • 2nd RED line is the POMALIFT
    • 1st YELLOW line is nothing
    • 2nd YELLOW line is the ROPE TOW

    The beginner / ski school rope tow was located at the base of the hill somewhat between the J-BAR and POMALIFT in a snowfenced off area. Probably about 50 or so feet wide and about 100 feet long.

    Slopes: TWO wide slopes. The one between the J-BAR and POMALIFT was the main hill, the one between the POMALIFT and the ROPE TOW was the “BIG HILL.” This was seldom used due to manpower and equipment shortages to keep it packed groomed.

    Trails: Highland had, I believe, four trails. Standing on the top of the hill, one looped from the top of the J-BAR to the base of the J-BAR. There were two vertical drop trails just to the right of the Rope Tow, one of which was called NUNS RUN, named after HERB NUN, an older man who lived at the ski area and took care of it during the summer months. He also owned and ran the tractor used to power the rope tow. I also believe there was a wrap around trail just to the left of the afore mentioned vertical trails. All these came down to the base of the rope tow.

    Snowmaking: We had 6 to 8 air/water outlets up the hill on the POMA line. Air was supplied by two compressors mounted on wheels down by the pond. A pump in the pond supplied the water we needed to make snow. Sorry, do not know the pump GPM. Our guns were very primitive compared to today’s guns. They were between 5 and 6 feet long and weighed a ton. Took 2 people to move them around. But they got thejob done and we were able to cover all the main hill with them.

    Lodges: We had two lodges, a two story base lodge located at the bottom of the hill, and an A-Frame also located at the bottom of the hill next to the base lodge. The A-Frame was at the top of the hilluntil the mid 1960’s when it was moved to the bottom to utilize it better. The lower level of the base lodge housed the rental shop, lift ticket office and repair shops. The upper level housed a snack bar, round fire place with benches around it, tables and chairs and I believe big glass windows in the front to watch the action on the slope. We had babysitting facilities in the A-Frame but I can’t remember what else we used it for.

    As a follow up to your web site, yes the area was founded, owned, and managed by Judge Thomas Wood.

In March, 2010, Sue H. provided these comments:

    “Thought you’d might be interested to know that Tom Wood had the “ski bug” much earlier than his Highland Ski Area period. He ran two earlier ski areas in the Williamsport PA area-both of them free.

    For years, when snow permitted, he ran a ski area just outside Muncy on the weekends. The “lodge” was an old chicken coop with a wood-burning stove. The ski lift was a rope tow powered by running the ropes around model T Ford wheel rims. Many Muncy and Williamsport families learned to ski on this small slope.

    He also had a portable rope tow on a metal sled. He’d load this into the back of the family station wagon on the weekends when we didn’t have snow in Muncy. He’d take this rope tow to Eagles Mere and set it up on the lawn of a closed summer resort hotel.”

Kevin provides the following photos.

A topographic map of the area with red lines indicating the known lift layout. “There was also a small beginner tow but I have no idea where it might have been,” writes Kevin. “The line closest to where it says ‘ski lifts’ on the map was the poma, and I assume the other was a rope tow.” Image provided by Kevin Whipple.

This photo shows a lift footer. “This is the only remains of ski lifts I was able to find at the base of the hill,” Kevin writes. Photo provided by Kevin Whipple.

Tow remnants, which now serves as a lawn ornament. “It was the only way I knew the area was there,” says Kevin. “I really cannot believe that this was its original location, so it was likely moved there for decoration.” Photo provided by Kevin Whipple.

Evidence of snowmaking, which Kevin suggests was probably primitive. Photo provided by Kevin Whipple.

One of the side trails that wrapped around the area. “It was graded into the hillside in places and has seen very little regrowth, but it might see horse traffic and some maintenance,” Kevin writes. “I didn’t see any evidence of snowmaking on this trail.” Photo provided by Kevin Whipple.

Kevin Whipple provided the following images in September, 2008.

A 3-d view from Google Earth showing the lift layout and facilities. The yellow lines indicate possible towlines while the red lines indicate the known lifts. Image provided by Kevin Whipple.

An aerial image from Google Earth showing the lift layout and facilities. Image provided by Kevin Whipple.

An updated topographic map of the area. Image provided by Kevin Whipple.

In August, 2009, Bob Garison provided the following photos to DCSki:

Intersection of US 220 North and Rabbit Town Road. You turn left here to go to the ski area. A billboard advertising the ski area used to stand where the bush is in front of the telephone pole. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Approaching the road to the ski area. Road is the second right. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Rope tow drive unit. This unit was run by a tractor with a PTO. It is located at the top of the hill but this is not the original location of the unit. It was placed here as a marker to show the location of the ski area. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Pond at the base of the Poma line. This was our water source for making snow. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Path leading back to base of rope tow. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Another view of the path leading back to the base of the rope tow. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Bob Garison writes: “The following series of pictures are of the rope tow. I spent about six hours digging up the rope and hanging it on trees to preserve it. Of the 2,000 or so feet that made up the tow, about 90 percent of it is still in tact but I still have a few more areas to uncover.”

Standing near the top looking up the tow line. The drive unit was located either on top of the bank or up where the white fence is. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Looking down the tow line from the same location. The piece of wood standing up is part of one of the downhill “towers”. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Some of the rope I uncovered. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Looking down the tow line. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

One of the “towers” still standing with the wheel rim and rope running over it. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Looking down the tow line. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Looking down the tow line. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Another one of the “towers” although time has taken its toll of this one. The pully attached to the rope is what the uphill rope was stored on when not in use. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Looking down the tow line. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Another “tower” still standing with the rope going over the wheel. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

More of the tow line. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Looking down the tow line, the rope is barely visible through the trees. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Another “tower”. The downhill wheel has fallen off and is on the ground at the base of the pole, the rope is resting on the uphill storage pully. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

More of the tow line. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

More of the tow line. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

More of the tow line. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

The black wire in the center of the picture is the buzzer wire that ran from the base up to the top. This was use to notify the Herb to stop the tow if someone got in trouble. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Another view of the buzzer wire. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Tow line, still have to uncover the rope here. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Tow line near the bottom, the clearing in the background is where the base wheel is located. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

What I thought was the end of the rope, until … Photo provided by Bob Garison.

… I found this section of rope, which I suspect, when uncovered, will lead down to the base wheel. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Rope tow base wheel. Still standing in the same place it did 38 years ago. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Buzzer control box I found at the base of the pole where it was once mounted. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Another view of the buzzer control box. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Old snow fence. We used this to control lift lines, block off areas of the hill, cordon off the beginners area / ski school area at the base of the hill, etc. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

All that remains of the base lodge. The lower level housed the rental shop, lift ticket desk and repair shops. The upper level housed the snack bar, a round fireplace with benches around it, tables, and chairs. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Same as above. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Same as above. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

What we believe are the remains of Herb Nuns’s trailer. He lived at the ski area and took care of the area during the summer. He also had the tractor we used to run the rope tow. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

The following pictures are of the Pomalift Line. You will notice markers to the left of the lift line, these mark where the snow making connections are located. See the pictures of the lift taken at Crystal Lake for reference.

Base area, front view Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Base area, back view Photo provided by Bob Garison.
Base unit support cable anchor point Photo provided by Bob Garison.

The square just visible in the center of the picture is the concrete pad where the snow making water pump was mounted Photo provided by Bob Garison.
Air and water inlets that were connected to the water pump and air compressors, water is the one with the valve Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Concret pad where the base unit was mounted Photo provided by Bob Garison.
Concrete pad where the base unit support arm was mounted Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Standing at the load point looking up the lift line Photo provided by Bob Garison.
Connection 1, about 75 feet from the load point Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Connection 2 Photo provided by Bob Garison.
Connection 3 Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Connection 4 and Tower 1 Footer at the half way point. This is where our beginners and Ski School students unloaded Photo provided by Bob Garison.
Looking down the slope from the half way point Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Looking up the slope from the half way point Photo provided by Bob Garison.
Lift line near connection 5 Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Connection 5 Photo provided by Bob Garison.
Lift line near connection 6 Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Connection 6 Photo provided by Bob Garison.
Connection 7 and Tower 2 Footer, about 3/4 of the way up the hill Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Looking up the slope from the 3/4 point Photo provided by Bob Garison.
Connection 8 Photo provided by Bob Garison.

About 50 yards from the top Photo provided by Bob Garison.
Almost to the top, Tower 3 Footer is in background Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Tower 3 Footer Photo provided by Bob Garison.
Almost to the unload point, bullwheel area is in background Photo provided by Bob Garison.

View of the bullwheel area at the unload point Photo provided by Bob Garison.
Bullwheel area, counterweight arm footer is in foreground, left support cable anchor point is at left in background Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Left support cable anchor point is in background, in foreground to left you can see remains of either a support cable or the bar retaining cable and part of the rubber bumper leaning up against the tree Photo provided by Bob Garison.
Right support cable anchor point, just visible next to tree in center of picture Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Counterweight arm footer Photo provided by Bob Garison.
Right support cable anchor point Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Left support cable anchor point Photo provided by Bob Garison.

One of the power poles that ran along the Poma line. These carried power from the base to the top of the lift and also had flood lights mounted to them for night skiing. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

One of the six snowmaking outlets we found. This is the first one just beyond the lift tower footer. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Second snowmaking outlet. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Switch on one of the power poles that operated the flood lights for night skiing. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Third snowmaking outlet. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Fourth snowmaking outlet. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Fifth snowmaking outlet. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Sixth snowmaking outlet. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

Flood light and fixture used for night skiing. We are not sure if it was moved from the pole or not. Photo provided by Bob Garison.

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Anna Alford
9 years ago
My mother is Dottie Alford, mentioned above. I was in grade school while my parents managed Highland. I spent every winter weekend parked in the ski school where I perfected my snowplow. When I was in 6th grade I had my first paying job working in the snack bar.
Dan Hurwitz
8 years ago
My Uncle Mel was a member of the Ski patrol at Highland, where he taught my older brother and I to ski as kids. That main slope was so intimidating! The really advanced skiers, like my uncle, used a clincher device attached to a belt around their waist to grap onto the tow rope, but most of us just grapped a hold. On the poma, I once got hit in the back of the head by a poma disk, forever jaundicing my view of poma lifts. When Oregon Hill opened, that was pretty much it for Highland.
kevin
7 years ago
awesome pics and updated information - thanks bob garison
Bob Garison
7 years ago
Thanks Kevin, least I could do. The picture you took of the trail - was that at the top of the hill or the one that cut off to the left about 50 or so yards down the hill? If you don’t want to post the answer or have any questions you can contact me via email at bgarison@comcast.net.
Marlin Bollinger
6 years ago
I have very fond memories of Highland. I learned to ski there as a youngster. In those days, there were very few areas in PA close to home (Bloomsburg). I remember buying all our equipment at a sporting goods store in williamsport. It wasn’t much of a himm, but it was a great place to learn.
Ed Noyes III
6 years ago
I learned to ski at Highland in the late sixies to early seventies. One rememberable time was with some friends, about 7 of us, on a weekend and skiing from midday to about 10pm at closing, I recall. We ended up being the last ones for for a few hours before they closed. We pretty much new what to do and we had the run of the lifts and hill. I liked the song Cherish by the Association and whomever was in charge of the music and PA didn’t mind at all to play it over and over as I skied my 12 year old self down the hill time and time again that night. Fond memories of this place. Thanks Bob, for the pics and the walk down memory (Highland ski hill) lane!
J Faust
6 years ago
This is the FIRST ski area that skied at. Although it was a one-and-done event as I high-sided a hockey stop in the grass and snow hitting my head on the top of my ski pole and getting a hairline fracture and concussion. Anyway I can still remember the area pretty good because it influenced me profoundly. That was 1970, I was 12 and I have been skiing (and snowboarding) ever since!

I can also remember that portable ski lift at Eagles Mere after a day of tobogganing with my family. I was in the back of the family station wagon with the seats facing backwards looking out the back window and thinking I had to do this. I learned how ski from watching Jean-Claude Killy in the 1968 Olympics and then practicing in my back yard.

Once healed I moved onto Oregon Hill where I became a ski instructor for a few years and I (and my wife and kids) have been enjoying the winter weekends out on the slopes ever since. Highland is ingrained in my mind and I will never forget it.

Thank you for this!
C Rini
5 years ago
I learned to ski at Highland., we went a few times a week. Us kids loved the night skiing on the trails. It was awesome. And when the poma lift broke, we could start herring bone up the main hill. Nothing stopped us. I remember how nice the staff was. I was a scrawny 3rd grader when one of the staff brought me over to the poma lift and showed me how to use it. I was so small that they had to make sure bigger people were in front of me or else I would be raised high in the air as it took off. Once I got used to it, I purposely made sure there was a gap so I could get airborne. It’s too bad it wasn’t able to survive. It was a fantasic place.
DTF
5 years ago
Trying to collent some pics of Highland Ski area. I would love to connect with anyone who skied it way back then. Please feel free to reach out to me: relosme@gmail.com.
DTF
5 years ago
Trying to collent some pics of Highland Ski area. I would love to connect with anyone who skied it way back then. Please feel free to reach out to me: relosme@gmail.com.
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