According to an article published in the May 21, 2004 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the future of Pennsylvania’s Laurel Mountain Resort remains foggy. The Post-Gazette reports that the state of Pennsylvania has pulled the resort’s lease after an aborted sale last fall prevented the resort from re-opening for the 2003-2004 winter season.
Located in Ligonier, Laurel Mountain has a rich history. The resort was first operated by the Mellon family as a private resort in the mid-1930’s. The resort was opened to the public in 1958, and turned over to the state of Pennsylvania in 1962. Various concessionaires operated the resort until 1989, when the resort was forced to shut down due to mild winters and a constrained water supply, which restricted snowmaking.
In 1998, a group of investors formed the Laurel Mountain Ski Company and worked to restore the resort. In addition to adding and upgrading lifts, lighting, trails, and renovating the lodge, a 35-year lease with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was secured. The resort opened for the 1999-2000 winter season, receiving positive comments from visitors. However, the mild winter limited visits and revenue, and after a couple seasons, Laurel Mountain once again was forced to close.
Laurel Mountain was placed on the auction block during the Fall of 2003, and Virginia-based HomeSpan Financial Group planned to purchase the resort and re-open it for the 2003-2004 winter season. However, tragically, HomeSpan President John Edward Jones died of a brain aneurysm shortly after the plans were announced, and the deal was placed on hold.
Laurel Mountain did not open for the 2003-2004 winter season. The Post-Gazette now reports that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has terminated its lease with the Laurel Mountain Ski Company, citing the failure of Laurel Mountain to open last season and a failure to make more than $100,000 in rental payments.
State representatives are quoted in the article expressing their desire for the resort to once again re-open, perhaps under a new operator. Also in the article, Laurel Mountain Ski Co. President George Mowl expresses his hope that the lease might be reinstated.
M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer.