After much uncertainty, Pennsylvania’s Laurel Mountain Resort will re-open this winter season, thanks to a creative partnership between Seven Springs, the Somerset Trust Company, and the state of Pennsylvania.
Laurel Mountain Resort is like a phoenix that keeps rising again and again. The resort originally opened in 1958, closing down in 1989 due to mild winters and a restricted water supply. A group of investors formed the Laurel Mountain Ski Company in the late 1990’s, re-opening the resort for the 1999-2000 season. However, the re-opening was short-lived, due to additional mild winters that stressed the resort financially.
Laurel Mountain was placed on the auction block during the Fall of 2003, and found a buyer in Virginia-based HomeSpan Financial Group. Tragically, the architect of the purchase, HomeSpan President John Edward Jones, died unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm shortly before the sale was completed. As a result, Laurel Mountain remained closed for the 2003-2004 winter season.
Throughout 2004, the future of Laurel Mountain looked bleak. In May, 2004, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 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. The resort was once again placed on the auction block, but did not find any immediate buyers.
The saga took its latest turn in early October, 2004.
On October 14, 2004, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, the Somerset Trust Company, and Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) reached an agreement that will allow Seven Springs to operate the former Laurel Mountain Ski Area for the 2004-2005 winter season. The Somerset Trust Company currently owns the resort, and plans to evaluate possible long-term strategies to keep the ski area operating once the 2004-2005 winter season concludes.
Seven Springs Resort is a popular ski resort in southern Pennsylvania, amd is located approximately 35 minutes away from Laurel Mountain, which is located in Ligonier.
“We at DCNR are most grateful to Seven Springs Mountain Resort and Somerset Trust Company for their involvement in this agreement, which can only be a winning combination for all parties involved,” said DCNR Secretary Michael DeBerardinis. “We want to see the ski area at Laurel Mountain achieve its full potential, and one can think of no better partner than Seven Springs - a name that is synonymous with wholesome family fun, skiing and other wide-ranging winter activities,” he added.
Lee Murdy, the Bank Vice President of the Somerset Trust Company, explained the rationale behind the partnership.
“With the ski season fast approaching, we did not want the resort to be idle until a potential buyer appears. A property for sale of this size requires significant time to perform due diligence by a buyer to make an informed decision.”
Murdy notes that the Somerset Trust Company approached two regional ski resort operators to determine their interest in running Laurel Mountain for the upcoming season. Seven Springs was chosen due to its equipment and facilities.
For the upcoming season, Laurel Mountain will be named The Springs at Laurel Mountain. Seven Springs will offer skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing along with food and beverage service, a full-service equipment rental shop, and a ski and snowboard school at Laurel Mountain.
Tentative plans are to have the resort open five days a week, from Thursday through Monday, beginning in late December. Seven Springs is also developing a joint season pass program.
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.