"lost" ski resort - history
March 27, 2004
I've looked for that before but I think nelsap is the closest one to us. I've never seen one for the mid-atlantic except for some posts we've done on this site before.
SeaRide: I don't know of any website dedicated to defunct mid-Atlantic ski areas. Don't believe there is quite as much nostalgia around here for that sort of thing, like there is in New England where there used to be a little ski area around every bend of the road. Did you see this old thread from DCSki that gets into this subject a bit: http://www.dcski.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=000199#000018
Here's a short list of some of the lost mid-Atlantic ski areas I've heard of and very approximate (some wild guesses) closing dates, maybe you should feed it into the New England website:
-Cabin Mt in Canaan Valley area of WV (1970?)
-Rappahannock Ski area near Washington, VA (aka Skyland-Skyline, Big Devil) (1972)
-Cherokee at Linden, VA (1992)
-Braddock Heights, MD near Whitetail (1985)
-Afton Mtn, VA near Wintergreen (1975?)
-Alpine Lake, WV near Winterplace? (1980?)
-"ski area in Shenandoah Valley near a caverns" VA (1970?)
Alpine Lake is about 20 minutes from Wisp in Preston County near a town called Terra-Alta. The place is a big housing/condo development with a large lake, cross country skiing, and a rec center with a pool and stuff. They used to have a few downhill slopes and you can still see the hookups for the snowmakers and the lift poles there. Its a neat area if you ever get a chance to drop by.
& braddock hts is in frederick,md.1st place i ever skied in the mid atl small beg area & 1 run of 2 to 300 vert that had a tow bar.I remember having fun but i had wished my dad would have taken us to the BIG mtn at liberty!
YOu might inquire with Scott to see if he would consider a "Lost Mid-Atlantic Ski Areas" section for DCSki based on the NELSAP model. It could start out minimal and grow as more people provide information. I could do some research in the WV libraries and archives for information on WV resorts if I have time over the dreaded warm months.
Hey folks... I'm trying to find the old Rappahannock Ski Resort on Terraserver-usa.com. Spoke to my Dad list night and he recalled it being about 10 minutes from Little Washington, VA and having a verticle approximately similar to Bryce (500 ft. or so). I've been looking around a few hours but not making much progress. Anybody have some more specific information on its location?
After browsing around the beloved terraserver-usa.com, I found the markings for the "ski lift" at Big Devil Virginia (that is, about two ridges across from the Little Devil hiking trail in the Shennandoah). What's interesting is that although the topo that the ski lift marking is on dates from 1996, the 1997 image that underlies it shows virtually no indication of a ski slope. I can't believe the vegetation would have overgrown the mountain this much in 26 years-- perhaps the image from the satellite doesn't give a good perspective on the size or type of the vegetation.
Per older conversations on this issue, it looks like the mountain had about five hundred feet of vertical but the summit elevation of the privately held mountain above it is close to 2060 feet, meaning they could have had a vertical of a thousand feet, give or take a few. Exposure is northeast, so even though it's further south than, say, Whitetail, they could probably be open just as long and just as easily.
Maybe now that the ski season is over... it's time to drive out and see some of these places! http://www.terraserver-usa.com/image.aspx?t=2&s=12&x=927&y=5363&z=17&w=1
photo of same location: http://www.terraserver-usa.com/image.aspx?t=1&s=12&x=927&y=5363&z=17&w=1
Nice work Roger Z! I emailed a guy who wrote an article about the Highland School ski program, which is now at Whitetail but used to be at "a defunct-resort in Rappahannock". Asked if he had any information about how to get there... but it seems your maps show the way pretty clearly.
Here's a picture of Cherokee Mountain: http://www.terraserver-usa.com/image.aspx?t=1&s=12&x=939&y=5386&z=17&w=2
, which is easy to find. It's near Linden just off of I-66... in fact you can see the slopes from the highway (esp. heading west).
Now we need to find Afton Mountain. I want to find all these babies, then hike 'em this summer and take some pictures... and of course then daydream about opening them someday.
Bendemeer thanks for finding that one-- I was searching around for it but too far west. Remember seeing it on very old Rand McNally road atlases years ago and now the mystery is solved!
Wouldn't that be great to find a local hill and just rev it up with an old double chair, maybe cut two or three runs, and charge like 10 or 20 bucks for people to ski it? Seems you could make a go of Cherokee or Rappahanock with something like that... just draw people out with the cheap rates, put a bar at the bottom to bring in the fat profit margins
, and pray for snow? Was scouting WV mountains out that you might be able to do that with (apart from the obvious Tory candidate) and found what looks like it could be the southern version of Mad River Glen, IF you could get the development permits and the cash to build it (plus it's on the west side of the Allegheny Divide). That's what we need down here-- a cheap ski hill that, if it's up in the WV mountains, could offer gnarly terrain and substitute real snow for snowmaking to keep costs down (a little).
Darn I wish I was rich...
You all wouldn't believe the potential for tiny ski resorts in this part of WV. I did some figuring the other week when driving to Timberline. Wardensville sits at an elevation of 970' with constant mountain rise from there all the way to Branch Mountain east of moorefield which is around 2000'. I am very sure if someone could purchase an old double lift or something of that nature , cut a few runs on land they bought up it would be very doable within minutes from VA/WV line.
Ok so last night I decided to turn the terraserver satellite a little further south to NC. I remember reading in Randy Johnson's "Southern Snow" (Probably out of print but an indispensable introduction to both the climate of the southern Appalachians and guidebook to wintertime activities in the deep south) that they were building a new resort outside of Banner Elk. It was supposed to have a 1700 foot vertical, and enough trails were cut that locals were hiking up the hill to sample it in the early/mid 1980s. So I was looking for a large mountain with a summit above 5000 feet with trails cut into it. I didn't find that, but I did find this little mystery mogul:http://www.terraserver-usa.com/image.aspx?t=1&s=11&x=1064&y=10002&z=17&w=2
If you pan around, you'll see it's on the ridge up from Hawksnest and due east of Sugar. Looks like the built the main run up to the saddle of the ridge, however, and not Blowing Rock Mountain or the peak to the west. Anyone from NC or frequenter of Banner Elk know what this hill might be? If I remember, Seven Devils and Hounds Ears would both be too small to be this mountain...
I'm not sure, but I think that that hill was supposed to be a ski resort, but the owner made it a golf resort instead. Check out the skinc.com forum for a topic called Phoenix Mtn. and a few pages in, it says the real story about it.
NCSkier mucho gracias... looks like that resort on the terraserver image is the old Diamond Peak/Ridge ski area that never got completed. Probably the same one as in Randy Johnson's book though the vertical is off.
Now what's all this about Phoenix Mtn? Andy for all the hyping you are doing on Almost Heaven why haven't you put in the good word for this new hill down there too???
The topo indicates a 4800 foot summit though-- pretty unspecatacular that far south for a major destination resort. Aren't there some 5000+ peaks to the west of Boone and Banner Elk? And, since we're talking about developing one of the highest (and most environmentally coveted) mountains of WV... was there ever talk of developing one of the 6000 foot peaks in NC, perhaps in the Black Mountains?
Ive posted this before,Every time i go thru boone on the way to mountain city, tenn.There is a mountain that begs to be dev.Its just to the east of 421 almost at the boarder with tenn.(snake mtn) There is another one right next to thats called elk knob,Both seem to get Some nice snows for the area.+ they have that big mtn look (frosy & cloudy up top)Don't mess with a 4800' mtn Wev'e been there & got the T-shirt(hawksnest)Now to really dream would be to dev roan mtn. I think that is the snowiest above 6000' mtn available.its on the western front where as the the big boys in the black mtns can pick up the big dumps when the big lows form,but lose out on the steady 1 to 6" clipper & frontal snows.Ps..Roan is just shy of 6300'
Ah yes... I had forgotten about Roan Mountain. Great X-C skiing over there, I've heard.
Hey fly like a bird on snow,That was me"handy andy sweet as candy" that posted the roan remarks! 211 steel reserve beer just came to the carolinas is it up in the dc area? That is a VERY STRONG beer.& cheap & good tasting.Beer is part of skiing ,right??Not a whimper out of all of you after canaan recieved 7 to 10",s up top 2 days ago...Shame on all of you!!!
Yes Rappahannock ski area could have had a chance. Well sort of.Great thread !! I was involved in looking into revitalizing rappahannock ski area in 1984. Alas, like most defunct ski araes there is sooo much old baggage left behind.. 75 acres of land were advertised for sale that included this site. there was a lodge in tired shape, an old lift building, but no chairlift ,cannabalized remains of rudimentary snowmaking "equipment" and not much else. the area was operated by Camelback in Pa for about two seasons in the eary 70's. It was operated by another entity for a few seasons prior, but I don't think it was open prior to 1965 ish.Two monsoon snow years, a gas shortage ,and a recession induced Camelback to cut their losses in 1974 ish. they took anything and everything with them except for the ketchup in the lodge and sold the site.Yes the mountain had a vertical drop of about 500', but the chair went only about 2/3 up the mountain. Even as of 1984 the "slopes" were quite overgrown. The unload bullwheel terminal (Borvig) was still standing. I remember driving up a dirt road from the lodge to bullwell terminal to take pictures. I don't think there were too many slopes to begin with even when the mountain was open.
The asking price was a vague $350,000.The big promblem was that the listing agent did not know
s=== about skiing and was not at all helpfull in assisting in securing leases, options , or the sale of the upper mountain. If a lift could have gone to the top of jenkins mtn. viola 900+ vertical. Not bad for being less than 60 miles from the beltway.This was the critical flaw that kept this from going any further. Water for snowmaking, was another concern. there was a good size pond on site, but being able to draw from the nearby rush "river" was a concern. without a s===load of water you are high and dry.Washington,Va is a sweet small little village, but with small towns come small minded political, zoning, licensing etc. boards. Nobody was thrilled about skiers driving around, but a full service bar and night skiing ?? One could have opened up a gay bar inside the Vatican with less paperwork.
This site could have had been a success due to fairly high elevation ,950' vertical drop, proximity to DC, a supper northeast exposure, pre Whitetail, and enough trails to offer variety.
Had the full vertical drop been available, less local food and beverage concerns,and s==loads of water for snowmaking been available the project could have easily gotten off the ground.Don't forget lots of investor capital, not bank debt, along with a three year expense reserve for a rainy day.
I have no idea who owns this site now.I drove by there once around 1988 and everything looked about the same.there was even a fair amount of snow on the ground.
If some body can bring this one back they will have their work cut out for the, but it will be rewarding. best of luck john chandler
grfdead: Thanks for the info on Rap... enjoyed it very much. Do you know anything about the defunct ski area near Mt. Jackson (Roger Z tells me it may have been called Mountain Run)?
Andy: Yes, we've got Steel Reserve in VA and DC... best ski beer there is... more punch per unit than just about any other beer.
hey ncskier youve prob seen a ton of my post over there in that forum. i post on that board all the time. most of the stuff on there is just to keep things interesting lots of it is just a bunch of bs, but that stuff about roan is prob true.
Ryan- isn't Oregon Ridge still in operation? I went up there once in high school to look at it and the lady working at the state park said they open it for skiing (and the pipeline for sledding) everytime there is more than four inches of snow on the ground, which if they're still open would have given them, what, about a week of skiing this year? It's not much, but it is state run and probably uber-cheap. Imagine working in Hunt Valley right there and being able to make a few turns on your lunch break!
They used to ski in Rock Creek Park in DC back in the early 50s near the Zoo. I always thought getting a single snow gun and blowing on that hill for a few weeks of skiing a year would be a fun urban diversion as well.
Roger- How long ago did they tell you that? I've heard that people still ski there after a major snowfall, but, even in my area, we average less than 20" a year! It doesn't cost anything to get into the park, so you could ski there for free, I guess, but like you said, it would probably be about a week per year. Just think, a few cheap snow guns and you have a ski resort. I would have to guess that Oregon Ridge would be the closest viable ski area to Baltimore and Washington. That is one really steep hill.
Speaking of working in Hunt Valley, I envy anyone that does! I used to work 10 minutes from home (in Towson), and to think in the time it takes me to get to Penn Station (to catch the train to DC), I could have already been at work
Ah the MARC, my commute of choice as well (from Odenton)! My commute used to be 18 minutes door-to-door in Annapolis. That company went under. Then I got a job in Bethesda and the financial instability of the new firm (lost it's credit rating three months after I got there... maybe it's me???) prevented me from moving anywhere. Oh how I hope to get into grad school... this commute is horrendous.
Maybe you can get a job making snow at Oregon Ridge.
Roger- I've tried every commuting method from Baltimore (and points in between). I've tried every way imaginible. I've had the same luck as you, worked for two companies over 2 years in the Baltimore area that had financial trouble, so there I am working in DC! If you want details on some of the alternative routes (most involving mass transit), send me a PM and I'll give you the details.
Here's one: Oregon Ridge in Hunt Valley, MD. From what I've heard from residents of my area, this was a ski operation in the 60s (not as big as Roundtop or Liberty), or more of a local ski hill with a two rope, which is still present on the side of the hill. No snowmaking was done there. Oregon Ridge is a state park, but I'm not sure who operated it when it was a ski slope. If anyone has any info. on the history of Oregon Ridge, I'd be interested in knowing it.
If you're heading down I-83 south from the PA line towards Baltimore, just before you get to Shawan Road, you can't miss the large, grassy hill on the right. That's it. It looks like a small ski area, too! Not overgrown at all, in fact, it's a great place for hiking, biking, etc.
Oregon Ridge is only about 650ft at the top of the hill, but the climate is no different that that of Roundtop area.
See this link on the Baltimore County Rec & Parks website, referring to the lodge as originally being built as a ski lodge: http://www.co.ba.md.us/Agencies/recreation/countyparks/oregonridgelodge/lodge.html
See picture at bottom of this page. That is the slope from about halfway up:http://www.co.ba.md.us/Agencies/recreation/countyparks/oregonridgelodge/index.html
Click on this Terra Server link. It's zoomed right in on the subject slope. Zoom out to get a better aerial view (never posted links on this message board, so I hope I'm doing it correctly):http://terraserver.microsoft.com/addressimage.aspx?t=1&s=11&lon=-76.6835528107136&lat=39.4903196588255&alon=-76.65952290&alat=39.49725935&w=1&ref=A%7c21030
I live about 5 minutes from Oregon Ridge, and interestingly, in terms of natural snow, while we still don't get much, just to the west of I-83, where I live, at about 600ft, it's very common to have 2 inches on a winter morning at my house, and as I'm driving down 83 into downtown Baltimore, there's less and less, and finally in downtown Baltimore, just 9 miles from where I live, there's not a trace! If they can make snow at Roundtop and Liberty, I'm sure they could make it at Oregon Ridge.
Zoom out to about the 16 meter resolution and you'll notice that the surounding areas are very developed (now even more so than when the picture was taken), but, Oregon Ridge really stands out. Even more so in person driving along Beaver Dam Rd (if you're familiar with the area) right in front of the slope. It really does look like a mountain (albeit a small one) in person)!