Posts Tagged ‘Abandoned Ski Area’

The Abstruse

The Abandoned Westledge Ski Slope

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

It’s an unusual word, isn’t it? Abstruse. I had never even heard of it before. I asked Lassie if she had either, but she had the same answer. “Is that even a real word?” Yes. Yes it is. You can look it up. Originally I had titled this article “The Obscure.” With the global pandemic still ravaging our homeland, we’ve had to get a little bit creative with the places that we visit. We don’t like to go too far, since we can’t really stop anywhere to grab a bite to eat or anything. We don’t like to leave the state, as we both still have jobs to do. And we both still believe in following the physical distancing guidelines. Plus we have covered pretty much every major abandoned place here in Connecticut. So…that kind of narrows down where we can and cannot visit right now. So as you can see if you’ve been following our blog for the last few months, our investigations have been kind of unconventional. A lot of them have been in the middle of the woods. They’ve also been ones that nobody in our community really pays attention to.

Allow me to introduce our latest subject: The abandoned Westledge Ski Slope. It all began in summer of 1969. If that song is now stuck in your head, you have my sympathies. Anyhow, the ski slope was built along the edges of Westledge Mountain to service the aptly named Westledge School. You see, skiing was becoming kind of the fad up here in New England during this time period. We have covered several other ski slopes in the past that followed very similar paths and suffered the same fates as Westledge. It was a big hit at first, servicing as a simple single-towing ski system used mostly by the students of the Westledge School. Their system was unique, as it was one of the first electrically operated towing lines. This had it’s advantages and disadvantages, for being efficient/quiet but also very slow. Unfortunately, Westledge School came under new ownership in 1978. The land that the ski slope operated on was divided up between the new school and the local land trust. And thus, the Westledge Ski Slope was no more.

Like I said earlier, we were a bit vexed on what to cover for our July piece. Due to the ever growing heat, we also wanted a place that didn’t involve too much hiking. I had stumbled on Westledge Ski Slope during the early days of the outbreak, and had kept it aside on my list of potential places. Since it was kind of obscure and fit all of our criteria, we decided to pay a visit. In the middle of July, we made our trek out to the area. Not wanting a repeat of our earlier adventure in Rhode Island, we were sure to bring lots of water and map out our route exactly. It had been a long time since I had been out to North Western Connecticut. And I had honestly forgotten how beautiful it was. We arrived at our destination, only to find that the parking area had been mysteriously closed. Luckily, we had mapped out our route better this time. We found a different one a short drive away. It made our hike a bit longer, but the forest out here truly is captivating. It was about a mile in before we came upon the abandoned ski slope.

The first thing to greet you here is the main attraction: the abandoned rope tow shed. It is a small but sturdy building, and honestly is quite funny looking in it’s own way. With a triangular roof and decorated with some bizarre oddities, the building is rather interesting. Inside is plenty of old machinery, but be wary as the floor is quite unstable. There are still several old utility poles standing around the shed, but they blend in quite well with the trees surrounding them. A few of these trees have random articles of clothing tied around them, such as ties, jackets, and shirts. I found that to be kind of strange. The slope itself is steep as bloody Hell. But we had to walk all the way down it. Along the way, the old post used as part of the rope tow system still stand. Unlike all of the other slopes we’ve seen in the past, they aren’t traditional posts per se. The wheel system was actually attached to the trees themselves. Over the years, the old metal wheels are slowly being devoured by the trees growing around them.

Eventually we made it to the bottom of the slope. Here, we found the wrecks of several old cars. But they were so overgrown, we couldn’t get the best pictures of them. Then came the hard part; getting back up the slope. I see now why this hill was used as a ski slope. But using the old wheel systems as breakpoints, we eventually made it to the top and began our hike back to the car. So is the abandoned Westledge Ski Slope worth a visit? Depends on your taste. You see, the word “abstruse” means obscure or mysterious. And that’s what places like this are. And usually for good reason. Aside from the rope tow shed, which is really cool, there isn’t much to see here. But if you’re looking for a good hike and something different, check it out. Places like this one usually don’t get enough attention these days. They end up getting lost to the pages of history. They are, as you would say, obscure. But like the word “abstruse,” just because you’d never heard of it before doesn’t make it any less interesting.

Bizarro World

The Abandoned Mount Tom Ski Area

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Every abandoned place is a little bit bizarre. I think that kind of just comes with the territory. Some of them are just better at hiding it than others (if you got the reference, pat yourself on the back). Each one is so very similar, yet completely unique in their own special ways. Derelict liter coats the ground. Colorful graffiti is plastered all over the walls. Distant echoes of days long since passed still linger in the air. But this one was different. Very different. The only other place that I got a similar vibe from was the infamous Sunrise Resort many years ago. And that was the first abandoned place that we had ever explored. Walking through the grounds was just very, for lack of a better word, bizarre. It was surreal. We’re talking a whole new world living just outside the spectrum of our own. And so few of us even know of its existence. It honestly gave me a profound feeling of, “Holy shit. This place is real.” It is a rare feeling, but a cool one none the less.

This is the Mount Tom Ski Area in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Her story began 1962. Following a similar trend of many of the now abandoned ski areas we’ve covered in the past, it opened during the boom period of skiing. During this period, smaller ski slopes began to pop up all over the Western Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut areas. Their notable amenities included ski school, night skiing (who the Hell does that?), and a state of the art chair lift system. She thrived here for many years. But, regrettably, that trend of seasonal fun slowly began to wane in the New England area. Larger snow resort empires, particularly in Vermont, gradually began to consolidate their power over the industry. Her story ended in 1998 when she finally went out of business. Or was it just the next chapter? Though there have been several attempts at a revival, the Mount Tom Ski Area has sat here abandoned ever since. And over the years, she has become plagued with an ever increasing vandal and arson problem.

Our trip to the Mount Tom Ski Area was a weird one. We did extensive research on this place before making our visit in mid-summer of 2018. Full disclosure: we had done an interview with The Boston Globe a few weeks before. They had contacted us wanting to do a piece on urban exploration, and were going to come with us on our investigation. This, however, fell through due to legal issues. No hard feelings, though. Luckily, it was only a short drive for us. It was a brief, yet heavily sunbathed, hike to the old ski area. It lies deep in the heart of the Mount Tom reservation. Right off the bat, things got weird. As we approached the old facility, we heard music. Loud music. Followed by lots of voices. As we rounded the corner, we realized it was a party. About a dozen people, a long with a baby, were partying in the park’s old wave-pool. Unusual, but okay. We continued on. Usually we’re alone for our investigations. But there was actually a lot of people here.

We seemed to be the only one’s really interested in exploring the buildings, though. Which we did. All of them. This seems to happen a lot at abandoned places during the summer. People care less about the place, and more about having a good time. One building was completely gutted by a maliciously started fire a few years ago, and now remains fenced off. The rest of the buildings, including the main lodge, are now treasure troves of graffiti and destruction. Some old equipment was clearly left behind, but has since been destroyed. Everything here is in a serious state of decay. It was honestly some of the best examples of true urban exploration that we have ever found. Yet, strangely enough, we weren’t able to get as many good pictures as we wanted because of how many people were hanging out at the old facility. We were cautious of them at first, but eventually came to the realization that nobody really gave a shit. Its a problem we never really faced before. Still, though, I think the images we did get speak for themselves.

Mount Tom Ski Area is more than worth a look. I think the summer time setting definitely helped bring it more to life, too. The urban decay here is just really striking and raw. The color graffiti shines vibrantly in the summer sunshine. There is a lot left to see. But truly, this was a bizarre place indeed. Much like the old Sunrise Resort, I walked through this place with just an odd feeling. Everything was just so different and weird. We’re used to having to sneak around places were exploring. But not here. There was a group of young adults having a party in an empty wave pool. Some old guy was giving his family of five a guided tour of the grounds. Another young couple walked around in silence looking just as confused as us. A lone minstrel perused the abandoned buildings singing songs to himself. Yet none of these groups interacted with each other, almost like everyone was invisible to everyone else. It was all quite odd. But then again, much like abandoned places, each of one of us is just a little bit…bizarre.

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise what it is, it wouldn’t be, and what it wouldn’t be it would, you see?” –Alice in Wonderland

Up Horsebarn Hill

The Abandoned UCONN Ski Slope

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

We’ve taken a walk up Horsebarn Hill several times in the past. It’s beautiful out there. It is a much needed touch of farm life a mere stone’s throw away from a hustling and bustling city. Going to school close by, and having many friends up on the campus, the University of Connecticut is a place that I am all too familiar with. But what’s special about this campus is no matter how much you think you know about it, it can still surprise you. We have covered the abandoned corners of UCONN in the past, such as the Depot Campus. And we had heard rumors about the old ski slope for a long time. But now, after all this waiting, we finally went looking for it.

Opening in the 1960’s, the UCONN Ski Slope was at first a booming attraction. Open to both the public and the student body, it was one of many smaller skiing areas to pop up in the area as the sport began to reach its popularity. Sadly, though, most of these smaller ski areas did not survive for long. It was a single slope attraction, featuring a rope tow system to the top of the hill and a few smaller buildings to boot. The UCONN Ski Slope eventually faced its closure a mere ten years later due to budgetary restrictions and a changing climate. It is now a piece of history lost to the wilderness, and something that the campus seems to want to forget.

It was a beautiful Saturday in the waning days of Spring 2017 . We made the trek through the woods and onto Horsebarn Hill, but found only the skeletal remains of the UCONN Ski Slope. Any and all buildings have been lost to the heavy hands of time. The ghostly rope tow system still leads straight to the top of the hill, though her path is now only used by the local deer and coyotes (which we encountered both of on our trip). A few old rusted pieces of metal lie amongst the underbrush. And the main hub of the rope system still stands at the bottom of the hill…barely. Still, it is a very nice hike through what may be the quietest corner of the UCONN campus.

If you’re up for an adventure, take a walk up Horsebarn Hill sometime. You never know what you’ll come across.

Black Diamond – The Abandoned Hogback Mountain Ski Area

Posted: December 21, 2016 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, abandoned home, Abandoned House, abandoned new england, Abandoned Resort, Abandoned Ski Area, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Bird Watching, Birds, Broken, Cabin, Closed, commercial, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Hogback Mountain, House, Information, left behind, lost, Marlborough, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Vermont, writing
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Black Diamond

The Abandoned Hogback Mountain Ski Area

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I have lived in New England my entire life. I was born here, and I will probably die here too. But I’ve never been a skier. I tried snowboarding when I was a kid. But after splitting my face open a few too many times I eventually outgrew it. Up here in New England, skiing is one of our biggest draws and most memorable past times. Most of you reading this probably know a skier, or even are one yourself. My next door neighbors were all skiers when I was growing up. They even had their own personal lodge up in the mountains. Ski Club was also the largest club at my high school. And the big place where it’s most common? Vermont. This was my first time back here in many years. It was a place I used to visit annually back in the Scouts. Believe it or not this was our first investigation up in the Green Mountain State. And it did not disappoint.

Bordering New York State and the Canadian border, Vermont is one of the most picturesque places in all of New England. It has rolling hills, quiet forests, and an old school mountain culture. Tourism is a big thing here, and the jewel in that crown is skiing. It has been a large part of Vermont’s heritage throughout the years. Many ski areas, such as Mount Snow and Smuggler’s Notch, have become local juggernauts in the business. But many have not been as successful. In southern Vermont is the heavily trafficked Hogback Mountain Conservation Area. But little do most tourists seem to know is that this was once the Hogback Mountain ski area. Opening in the years following World War II, the ski area found moderate success but was eventually forced to fold in the 1980’s due to declining attendance. The land was then sold off to the local community and rechristened.

Right along the busy Route 9 in Marlboro, Vermont, is the Hogback Mountain Tourist Area. You really can’t miss it. You round a corner, and boom. People are everywhere. Cars from all over the world are pulled over at the makeshift parking lot to get a glimpse of the gorgeous mountain view and pick up some campy souvenirs at the gift shop. Their cheese is actually pretty good though. But sitting just off to the side of this tourist attraction are the ghosts of what once was. A short walk to the right from the tourist area is what remains of the ski slope. A small wooden shed still stands, and bears the name of “Hogback Mountain Ski Area.” A large number of old tools and skis have been left behind inside. Though they are now coated with dust, it appears they were simply throw to the floor and forgotten about. Luckily, we found very little signs of vandalism.

The star attraction of the ski area though has got to be the remains of the old chair lift. A large turbine still stands glistened in the sunlight, though she is now rusted to all Hell. The two large wheels which once brought skiers to the top of the slope are now nothing more than tattered ruins. We tried to follow the old slope up the mountain, but the vegetation was too thick. There may be more up there, but we could not find a way up. Walking back to the left of the ski area are what we believe to be the remains of the lodge. A large white building, she now sits precariously close the edge of the mountain. She looks so structurally unsound, its remarkable she’s still standing at all. A few pieces of old furniture still wait inside for someone to return to them. Peeking in through the window was almost like taking a peek back in time.

For our first investigation in the great state of Vermont, this was certainly an interesting visit. I personally found it fascinating to see so many people flocking to the tourist area, and yet experiencing total solitude mere yards away at the ruins of the ski area. It has become a ghost to the rest of the community, haunting the mountain with the memories of its former glory. It is indeed curious why these old relics where not demolished when the land was sold off. While other ski areas flourish and thrive, this one was forced to close up shop. It is good that the land has found another use, and that so many people from so many places can now enjoy it. But it is still sad to see a place like this in a state such as that. For life, as we all know, is a lot like a ski slope. Some are able to navigate it all the way to the bottom and enjoy the ride. Most of us, however, just end up falling on our asses.