Posts Tagged ‘Obscure’

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.