Blue Knob update!
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Mountain Masher
May 30, 2006
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
Last week I was riding my mountain bike through the State Park side of Blue Knob (about 600 vertical feet below the summit) and I noticed that approximately a dozen historic cabins and lodges had been burnt down. These structures were built by US Government Civilian Conservation Corps workers in the late 30s. And, many years later, the land and structures were donated from the US Park Service to the Commonwealth of PA for recreation, preservation and conservation. These cabins and lodges were well built with rock foundations and porches, also they had magnificent rock fireplaces. Most of the cabins were still in good shape (just prior to being burnt), some even had electric and plumbing. I called Harrisburg (the capital of PA) and was lucky enough to get Roger Fickes, The Director of PA State Parks, on the phone. He told me that the structures were deliberately burnt down by PA Parks (during late Winter 2006) because they had become a hazard as they had been originally designed to last only about 5 years. I told him that I thought his statements were untrue and it was an outrage that all of these beautiful historic structures were destroyed by PA. I will be posting before and after pictures of some of these stuctures within a week or so. All that remains are the foundations, fireplaces and chimneys.

As far as BK ski area goes, it now looks like they have abandoned the mountain biking program as there's no longer a bike and rider truck-based shuttle service and the chairlifts don't operate on the weekends to transport bikers.

The new snowmaking pond at BK (located on State Park land) still isn't finished and has only a TINY amount of water in it. Plus, the THIN material that was used as a liner now has another rip in it. I will also be posting current pictures of this large area.

The golf course at BK is in what I would call marginal condition at best. The sand traps aren't really maintained, some of the ponds are nearly dry and many of the fairways are looking a bit rough.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
May 30, 2006
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,728 posts
MM, are you referring to the group of cabins and structures beside a little fire road that was just off to the downhill side of the Blue Knob access road about a mile down from the summit? I thought those belonged to or got used mostly by church or youth groups for summer camping?
Sorry to see the area continue to experience neglect and deterioration. Must be somewhat scary for local home owners and particularly discouraging in light of the expansion and vitality at places like Wisp, Wintergreen, Snowshoe, etc.

I'd like to see the ski area continue to operate no matter what because of the great natural terrain, but curious, at this point which do YOU prefer: take over by heavily funded group with top managerial skills or abandonment and dismantling of ski ops and return to a more natural wilderness state?
Mountain Masher
May 30, 2006
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
JimK, Yes the historic cabins and lodges were located in the place that you described. For many years these cabins were used by the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts as well as church and community groups. To replace the historic cabins and lodges that were burnt down, PA has brought in some unsightly little storage type sheds and placed them in an open field that's located near where the historic cabins stood. These "storage sheds" are now available for groups to rent. Fortunately, the main dining hall building, which is historic, was not burnt down.

As far as what should be done regarding the ski area. I would love to see a well-funded corp. or group come in and improve the ski area while fixing some of the environmental damage (or, shall I say, what I see as environmental damage). However, I don't think that such a scenario is likely to unfold. At this point, I believe that the cost to fix the infastructure and environment at BK would be far too great to interest potential buyers. The best that I can hope for would be for the Commonwealth of PA to clean things up on State Park land and then perhaps try to reclaim the land by planting some seedings. And, as far as there being ski ops at BK over the LONG-TERM, in my mind, that seems to be somewhat of a question mark.
Ullr
June 5, 2006
Member since 11/27/2004 🔗
531 posts
Thanks for asking the question Jim, I too was wondering what the best plan would be for BK. I also love the area, and it would be a shame to lose such great terrain. Clsoing the ski area for me is not a good option.
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Mountain Masher
June 5, 2006
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
It seems to me, the "hands-off" approach that PA State Parks executives and upper-management in Harrisburg have taken towards Blue Knob [combined with the "support BK nomatter what" approach that (until recently) the local media, politicians and business community have taken towards the BK State Park Superintendent and the Ski Area Concessionaire] hasn't worked-out as planned. I think that the original hope was, that by staying out of the way and allowing the Ski Area Concessionaire and State Park Superintendent lots of latitude in how the Park and Ski Area are developed, the Ski Area would grow into a first class resort within the Mid-Atlantic. Unfortunately, it seems that just the opposite has happened. One disastrous management decision after another combined with a lack of funding (which probably led to the massive timber harvest) and NO oversight by the PA authorities has (in my opinion) left BK in it's current state, which is marginal at best.

We can only hope that BK is eventually sold to a well funded, experienced ski area operator; however, I think that's a real long shot. I might add that, over the past 8 years or so, every effort was made (by a number of individuals and environmental groups) to inform PA Dept. of Parks in Harrisburg on how BK Ski Area and State Park were being managed (or mismanaged). Of course, these efforts were to no avail; the Commonwealth of PA still contends that they're very pleased with the manner in which BK is being managed and developed.
hockeydave
June 6, 2006
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
MM,

It's amazing to me that there is no oversight @ BK from the state given the stranglehold they have put on development at LM.

Just wondering, who is the current ski operator of BK ?
Mountain Masher
June 6, 2006
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
The current operator of the ski area at Blue Knob is: Blue Knob Recreation, Inc. Last I knew, the officers of this corporation were from the DC area. I think that there has been plenty of PA State Park oversight concerning development on State Park land at BK as the Commonwealth of PA has approved EVERY project that has been attempted. It's just that most of the development at BK did NOT go through the normal red-tape, including: environmental impact assessments, cost estimates and making sure that the ski area operator had adequate funds in place, and looking into alternative plans involving development on private rather than public land.
jimmy
June 8, 2006
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
hockeydave, i suspect the stranglehold at LM has more to do with the mellon trust restrictions than the state.

I'm curious if any other PA ski areas are on public land?
jb714
June 8, 2006
Member since 03/4/2003 🔗
294 posts
I think Denton is also on State land, but I'm not certain of that.
Denis - DCSki Supporter
June 8, 2006
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,228 posts
I loved Blue Knob. Still do in fact but I've gotten into the Whitegrass scene and WV backcountry in recent years. However, Extrovert at BK is a unique experience in the mid Atlantic. You can ski it very efficiently by riding the double chair that has a mid station unload. There is very little wasted time or wasted vertical. I cannot go that hard any more but once almost 20 years ago I did 28 telemark runs on Extrovert on a spring day without ever skiing anything else except to get to it from the top station. Why should I? Extrovert was very important in my growth as a skier. It gave me the skills, confidence, and mental resolve to tackle stuff like Tuckerman Ravine and the steep bowls and chutes in the west. Its pitch doesn't compare with those runs but it is steep enough to give one the skills needed. It's better than anything at Killington in my opinion. I used to wear a BK baseball hat, at major destination resorts, in the spring before helmets, as a statement. One day at Squaw a liftie with a big grin shouted after me, "I LUUUV Blue Knob, Extrovert, Yeah!!!"
Mountain Masher
June 8, 2006
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
Yes, Ski Denton is on PA State land.
Mountain Masher
June 15, 2006
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
Here are some pictures of the cabins at Blue Knob that were deliberately burnt down by Pennsylvania Dept. of State Parks: http://community.webshots.com/album/551348184fdbGka These beautiful structures were originally donated to PA from the US Park Service and should have been cherished and protected by the Commonwealth of PA. In my opinion, Blue Knob State Park had no right to burn them down. They were a piece of our history. Now, they're gone forever!
David
June 15, 2006
Member since 06/28/2004 🔗
2,444 posts
Quote:

Here are some pictures of the cabins at Blue Knob that were deliberately burnt down by Pennsylvania Dept. of State Parks: http://community.webshots.com/album/551348184fdbGka
These beautiful structures were originally donated to PA from the US Park Service and should have been cherished and protected by the Commonwealth of PA. In my opinion, Blue Knob State Park had no right to burn them down. They were a piece of our history. Now, they're gone forever!




That's pretty crappy. I hate to see stuff like that destroyed. People don't appreciate anything but money these days.......
warren
June 16, 2006
Member since 07/31/2003 🔗
485 posts
MM,
Man, that really ticks me off as well!
And now, there's all of this burned junk lying around
Gee, THAT really was a good move (NOT!!). Like has been said, is there any, I mean ANY, concern, thought to preserving the history?!?

-Warren-
JimK - DCSki Columnist
June 16, 2006
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,728 posts
Denis, I too have some fun recollections of people recognizing a Blue Knob pin or a patch I was wearing at some far off ski area. One time about six or seven years ago a skier at Sugarbush called me over to the side of a trail and had me show a patch on my jacket to his buddy while we briefly talked about BK.

MM, nice shots of the chimneys. From 1972-87 my folks owned a modest place about 3/4 mile down the access road from where those cabins stood. I used to jog or cross-country ski quite often on the fire road that passes nearby them. Never got inside one. Do they plan to replace them or establish some other facility for group campers in the area?
Mountain Masher
June 16, 2006
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
As a replacement for the cabins that they burnt down, Blue Knob State Park purchased some storage type sheds and placed them in an open field that's located not far from the structures that were burnt down. So, if you want to rent a cabin, you can stay in one of them; but they're not nearly as nice as those historic cabins and lodges.
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