Kevin Whipple writes about Split Rock Lodge, which used to offer downhill skiing:
Split Rock Lodge has a rich ski history, and operated until relatively recently (2004, I think). The Split Rock Lodge is still a fully operational resort with various condos, home sites, amenities, recreation, 27 holes of golf, and a huge hotel and conference center, even though skiing directly at Split Rock is no longer offered. It is located right off Interstate 80 in Carbon County, PA, very near to Blakeslee and routes 940 and 115, and situated right between Big Boulder and Jack Frost ski resorts. The resort now runs shuttles to both neighboring mountains for its guests. The skiing was said to have started here in 1946 (preceding Big Boulder Ski Area right next door).
I spoke with someone working for the resort who informed me that the area boasted 8 trails on 25 acres served by a double chair and a t-bar. There was no night skiing, but it did have full snowmaking and grooming capabilities. The base lodge, which still stands and is used by the resort, was modern and full of the usual amenities. The hill operated 6 days a week (every day but Tuesday). The person I spoke with said there was a real lack of midweek business and it was becoming harder and harder to meet expenses and payroll. I’m sure its location between two larger resorts didn’t help much either (both are within 5 or 6 miles).
I would guess the vertical to be around 150-200’, though I think they claimed more. The lifts were still standing when I visited with my camera, but the double chair has since been sold and moved to another resort. I’m not sure if the t-bar still stands. The base lodge still gets used for various things, and the slopes are still kept clear for hiking and a summer wine festival. I don’t know the maker of the t-bar, but the double chair was a Borvig/Partek. It utilized “double-double” towers, but only one side was used. At the summit of the double was a large rock formation with a gaping split down it (possibly the resort’s namesake). The t-bar slope appeared to offer the steepest skiing on the hill, but everything was beginner grade or lower intermediate at best.
Kevin provides the following photos.
In April, 2009, Kevin Whipple provided the following additional images and photos from Split Rock:
The double seems to be a 1980's Borvig, and the T-bar, I am guessing, probably 1960's by Poma.
In 1976-77 I took a college ( ECC Md. )sponsored field trip to Split Rock Lodge. We were really there to ski Jack Frost and Big Boulder but...Split Rock had its own slope lighted for night skiing and I took full advantage of it. At least I "think" I ski'd there at night. And...I only remember one slope. Ok; it was 30 years ago and memory fades. But..I remember how great I thought it was that we could ski for free there if you were staying there. Split Rock had cozy little chalet style two bedroom cabins in the woods, complete with a fire place. The main lodge was more of a restaurant/nite club as I remembered it. I remember sticking a cigarette in the mouth of the large moose head which hung over the fireplace and we all had pictures taken with it. But what I don't remember was all the rest of the slopes and lifts it apparently had...or had later. I do remember it snowed about 6" one night and we damn near got snowed in. Also; they had snowmobiling on the lake which the lodge overlooked. The lodge over by the ski lift was more of a small shed. I remember having apple spice wine or some similar beverage there after skiing. I feel like such a geezer for not remembering more and...the above pictures are really throwing me off, as I do not remember it being that elaborate.
There used to be a great bar/resturant around the corner from the resort, and was right on the lake. It was called, "Close Quarters". It has since changed hands and is now a very pricy, but still good steakhouse.
I attended Wilkes College (Now University) 1961 - 1965 where I was a founding member of the Ski Club. My memories of Split Rock & Big Boulder Ski Areas is as follows: During the winters while I was in college we would watch the weather every evening before dinner. If it looked like we were going to get a "Dump" overnight we would bug-out the next day and head for Split Rock. I have always enjoyed going to the areas that had their beginings in the 1940's & 1950'S.
G. Joseph Rogers
Smugglers' Notch Vermont
I worked at Split Rock back in the late 70's on the mountain crew making snow at night and worked the lifts during the day. There was night skiing on Fridays back then and there was always a large stone croc of Sangria in the hut at the base of the hill. We use to fill our wineskins with the warm Sangria, take the lift to the top, finish of the skins and tuck it under for the fast track to a refill. It was after one of those episodes that I fell asleep in the hut while the moveable snowmaker cranked out snow unmoved for six hours- one hell of a mound in the middle of the slope! Then I got a job at.............
Just a comment about the rope tow. I worked that in the 70's and I can tell you it was dangerous because of the poorly adjusted ski equipment back then. I would tell the skier to place one hand in front and one hand behind and grab the rope at the same time with both hands. Every once in a while we would have the bad combination of someone who didn't listen with badly adjusted releases grabbing both hands in front. I witnessed (heard quite clearly) more than one leg break on that contraption.
My family owned a cottage in the Split Rock Resort for many years.
In regards to the pool in the picture... it was installed in the early-mid 90's... It WAS used during the winter... not for swimming, but for ice skating. They'd put plastic edges on the pool and rent ice skates for a half hour session for 5 or 10 bucks.
As for the snow making pond, there were a couple years in the early 90s that they had bumper boats in the lake during the summer months. I think this lasted two years or so, (the one time I went there my family were their only customers... and it was a bright sunny day) they later removed the boats, but the abandoned bumper boat dock stayed on the sidelines of the pond for many years. My family sold our cottage there a year or two ago, but the last time i was there, it was still sitting there.
For many years, between the two main trails were large pieces of a water slide. It appeared the parts were delivered, unpacked, and then never installed. Ironically, the resort is in the process of building an indoor waterpark, though I doubt these old slide pieces were reused.
The chairlift was a double-double tower Borvic. It was taken to Partec lifts in Pine Island, NY. It was then put in at Mount Peter, NY. It runs to the top next to Ol Pete, the other summit double, a Hall. Newman. HiddenValley,NJ
Just came back from staying at Split Rock Lodge. Went up there to ski Jack Frost and Big Boulder mainly. Drove into the resort and spotted the old ski hill that I remembered skiing back in 1977-78. The T-bar towers are still there..but nothing much else. Curiously...there were two modern looking snow guns mounted on a 3 wheeled sled arrangement. Drum type fan unit. Not sure if they still blow snow for the sledders or not. They might. Hill was covered but...there has been alot of natural snowfall so...it was hard to tell really. Sidebar: I spoke with a Split Rock employee and he told me that way back in the 50's...Split Rock was one of the first..if not the first...to develop snowmaking. Named some doctor-inventor guy who developed it and then shared the technology with Big Boulder. No doubt being located between Jack Frost and Big Boulder killed that little ski area. To bad really. I remember having a blast on that slope. I took some pics of the snow covered hill and will post them asap.
The vertical drop was reported to be 450' which, based on my experience at other resorts, was accurate.
Do you have any information on another small ski area that used to be called "Ski Cove", it was near Hazleton, PA i believe.
this information is great, and very interesting to view and read, thank you. I have yet to find anything on Ski Cove.
Ski Cove was the orginal name for the ski area at Eagle Rock Resort which is semiprivate but the ski area is open to the public. I don't know when the name changed.
Another great bunch of information-digging by Kevin W. I visited Split Rock in early August 2010. The T-bar towers still stand, and fan guns remain at its base. Best views (at least when leaves are on the trees) are from the tops of the slopes, rather than from the deck on top of The Split Rock itself.
Circa early '70s I only remember to the T bar . To the right of T bar was a raised tobbagin run. The pool area used to be the parking lot.
Thge referenced restraunt on the lake also used to have hotel rooms upstairs. The family stayed there.
My family had a vacation house in Split Rock in the mid 1970s to early 1980s- we would go there for the summer with Mom and Dad would comp up on weekends. What great memories I have from those days! In the summer we would play tennis, ride mini motorcycles and golf carts around the streets, water-ski and sail. In the winter we would ski - not so much at Split Rock - even though our street (Mountain Ash at the end of Hazard Run Road) abutted the ski area we would go over to Big Boulder which was a much larger ski area. I would love to connect with some of the families who used to vacation there in that period. I visited Split Rock today on a nostalgia trip because I was passing through the area and it still looks OK, although the lodge is very very tired looking and the tennis courts look like they are no longer used, it is still an appealing resort. If you were a Split Rock vacationer send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
My grand pop had a cottage at 2 Chestnut Road. We used to ski @ Jack Frost and Big Boulder back in the 60s. I saw recently that Grandpop's cottage is for sale. Too bad I can't afford to buy it. Split Rock Lodge was a nice place to visit. It was very rustic before they had that big fire. Now it's all modern. I prefer rustic. Great memories. Glad I can share on this site.
I had fond memories of skiing there as a child in 1970, want to bring my son there and was sadden to see it closed. We went to a wine festival there in 2003.
Does anyone remember Leo Turley? He was the innkeeper in the 1960s.
I remember as a kid in the early seventies visiting the split rock formation. There was a local boy who would stand on one side of it, and he would call his dog who was on the other side. The dog would run and actually jump over the split, and his owner would give him a treat. I am trying to locate the picture I have of this. Will post when I find it. Anyone else out there remember this boy and his dog putting on this stunt? Great memories.
Here is a picture I took of the trailmap in 1997.
I wanted to share another of the tours and historical info I've gathered on our lost ski areas. Split Rock was particularly interesting owing to its age, and also how it was founded. It grew out of the Split Rock Lodge retreat which was founded in 1941 by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Co. as a vacation retreat for company executives and employees. That served as a kind of nucleus around which the vacation communities were built up around Lake Harmony over the early post war years. The ski area likely dates to the early 1940s. It precedes Big Boulder (originally called Hazard), which was founded in 1946 and was sold a couple years later to become the Pocono's first commercial ski operation (and where snowmaking was first pioneered in PA). At the time Split Rock was a simple rope tow operation with a main slope and maybe a couple short trails.
The Split Rock Lodge went through a string of owners starting with Treadway Inn in 1967, then Pocono Recreation Inc in 1971 and finally Vacation Charters Ltd in 1981. The rope tow was replaced with a Roebling T-bar in 1964, which was then replaced with a Poma t-bar in 1969 (which has a great floating bullwheel at the top) which is still standing on the area today. They also had a Roebling J-bar installed in 1963 but I'm not sure where this was situated or when it was removed. By the 80s Split Rock was seriously being out-developed by its neighbors Big Boulder and Jack Frost, so in 1983 a major expansion was undertaken increasing skiable terrain and vertical. They installed a single Borvig double chair on a double-double pylon arrangement which increased vertical drop to about 180ft, which was still much smaller than its neighbors.
Ultimately the ski area didn't make financial sense to continue to operate for the hotel operators as they'd been diversifying into other areas like an indoor water park and other amenities for guests, most of whom were just going to bigger local ski areas if they wanted to ski. The area closed in 2004, and the double chair was sold to Mt. Peter in NY. The trails are still cleared and it looks like maintained.
I have video here as well as some historic pictures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aa4fK8R_jDE&t=46s