Rappahannock /skyline ski area-washington,va
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grfdead
April 28, 2002
Member since 04/28/2002
2 posts
a few weeks ago there was a posting about a few defunct ski areas in the d.c. area.yes folks there was a small ski area about two miles nw of the village of washington ,va.This ski area was called "big double" "skyline" and /or "Rappahannock skiarea".It operated in the sixties to the early seventies at the latest.Camelback mtn in Pennslyvania owned this mountain inthe early seventies and pulled the plug on it after one of those monsoon like winters in the early seventies.All of the ski area equipment was completely removed shortly thereafterr and possibly went to Camelback.

I was seriously looking at purchasing that mountain in the summer of 1984, with the idea of reviving the ski area.It was listed for sale at that time, through a local real estate agency in nearby front royal,va. The asking price was $650,000 (it fluctuated on a weekly basis),and included several acres of land,from 5 parcels, and all of the buildings. Any ski area equipment such as lifts, snowmaking,guns, snowcats,etc. was long gone.The parcell of land that would have allowed access/development to the upper half of the mountain was NOT included in the offering.Due dilligence revealed that the listing agent did not know much about this parcell,nor cared too much about finding info on this rather critical piece of the puzzle.Being nonskiers,the real estate agents could not comprehend why anybody would want to by land on top of a mountain.The old bullwheel unload terminal of the chairlift that only went about halfway up is just a few yards from the property line.although the deal did not fly, this mountain had plenty of potential, and several plusses such as.............
Washington,D.C. being only55 miles away via a good limited access highway.
...A decent sized lodge in acceptable condition.you could see bottles of ketchup and napkins still siting on the tables.It looked like the previous owners left in a hurry.
...A few other building were included an in ok shape such as garages and a lift terminal skeleton.
...a pond/resevoir on site for snowmaking.
...adequate parking..
...The mountain had a minimum of ledges / rocks which would have made clearing slopes,snowmaking etc. less difficult.
...Most of the trails and work roads were in adequate shape and needed only a modest amount of work to bring them back to life.
...Classic northeast exposure and decent base elavation for being close to D.C.
...Washington,D.C. was still only 55 miles away. Schweeet demographics.
Now for the down side.....................
...No lifts at all on site.would have had to start from scratch.No snowmaking pipes, hydrants etc. on site.
....When the pond ran dry there was not enough stream flow to refill it quickly enough.snowmaking/economic survival depends on making massive amounts of snow with a consistant, uninterupted water supply.
...Not enough room on site for summer activities such as golf ,tennis, pool,etc.
...the county was in no hurry to issue a liquor license if at all.
...The locals didnot have much of a problem with a small ski area, but in order for a ski area to provide a return on investment over a 3 month season it would have to be made larger.Crucial night skiing was not welcomed with open arms.Other infrastructure such as a bar and restuarant also were not popular.
...Local populance did not want skiers driving through the village, even though with signage,all of the skier access could have utilized an existing road around the back side of Jenkins mountain, with even better access to the highway.
...The killer was not having access to the top of the mountain within a foreseable time frame.a 500'drop would not be competitive,but avertical drop of 850' plus would given the mountain a fighting chance.The real estate people did not comprehend how critical this parcel of land was. the asking price changed constantly during tedious negotiations, and the "terms of sale" changed with every counter offer etc.
Yes , I will admit that i may have needed my head examined,but it was an interesting experience. What was i thinking???????
well folks,thats my bit of history on defunct local ski areas.Let's share our knowledge of other defunct ski areas.alas, there are more of them.
J. Chandler
Annapolis,Md and Portland,Me.

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
April 29, 2002
Member since 07/18/2001
1,916 posts
Very interesting! A mountain with 850 vertical so close to DC and even closer to the burgeoning VA suburbs might have done well despite the monsoon winters. The success of Whitetail confirms this. My only concern would be water. Water is life for any Mid-Atlantic ski area.

From what I gather, the only proposed ski resort in the area that may have some life is Tory Mountain in Harmon, WV. I recently talked to several locals about it and rumor has it that work will commence on the mountain this summer. I'll have to see it to believe it. I drove by Tory this weekend and must say I was impressed. The 1100+ foot vertical mountain has some great natural bowls and a steep headwall at the top (a classic convex peak). Given all the cold weather in Harmon, Tory could easily become one of the top resorts in the area--especially if it is developed with high-speed lifts. Furthermore, the Baker to Moorfield section of Corridor H is scheduled to open later this year (it looked finished to me) and additional sections of the new 4 lane will open in 2003. As each section opens, the drive to Timberline, Snowshoe, or Tory will be 5-7 minutes shorter. When (and if) Corridor H is finished, WV areas might finally become viable ski alternatives for day trippers.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
April 30, 2002
Member since 01/14/2004
2,669 posts
grfdead: thanks for the fascinating info on rappahannock ski area, contains too many details to be a fabrication. I suspect that unless your pockets are deeper than Bob Weir's, you made a wise decision not to invest. Maybe you would have had a chance with a ski area purchase in Maine, but I'm sure over the last 10 years the odds would have been long trying to make money anywhere using skiing as an investment vehicle.
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