Mt Bethel Ski Hill
I'm posting this in hopes that some of the long time residents of the area might have some information or pictures of Mount Bethel Ski Hill, located on Mount Bethel Road in Mansfield TWP. It was a small operation that ran (I think) from about 1966 until sometime in the 1970's. I grew up right down the street. I know there were a few rope tows and snowmaking equipment, and a friend of mine found some skis there in the woods back in the 90's. I'd love to hear any stories of people having skied there or see photos from the hill. I'm interested in contributing the information to the New England Lost Ski Areas Project (includes NJ).
That is where I learned how to ski !! No fancy hat, no gloves, no goggles, and usually wet clothes!!!! I think they had a J bar and/or maybe a T bar ? What fun - years later on to Vail !!!!!
I knew one of the owners....the engine house for the tow rope is still standing right along Mt Bethel rd
old man - is that the little A-frame type structure right on the side of the road? It actually looks like a tiny a-frame garage?
Looks like they have a good bit of info already:
My wife skied there a lot in her youth. Not many people live this close to a ski slope! We live on Mt. Bethel Rd., which was Barkers Mill Rd back then before they switched the street names all around.
I learned how to ski on Mt Bethel ski slope, I think it was the winter of 67/68. This is where I broke in my new ski's. Great memories were made there with my younger sister and my oldest brother and his wife. I ruined many a pair of gloves on the rope tow. God Bless my mom for driving myself and my sister to the slope on dark and sometimes snowy roads.
Not that I skied there, but rope tows... aaah; duct taping the gloves was the way to go!
The building is still standing on Mt Bethel Road.
I remember it well. Although as clumsy as I am my parents would not allow me to try! LOL!
Wow, great link Blocal.
I always wondered what the a-frame was built for. I assumed it was a house for a little troll or something. Learn something new every day.
Although it was closed at the time we use to sled ride there in the mid 70s - It was GREAT!
The A frame shed at the Top of the hill, tow cable & Ski Lodge were fully intact.
I remember it being abandoned but still had plenty of inventory still in it. There was also a camping trailer on site.
Actually, that write up on NELSAP.org was done by me, and the photos as well. I am just seeing if anyone can tell me anything more about the place (how many trails, etc...) than I can guess at. Pictures of people skiing there would be amazing. If you have any, post them here for sure or use the NELSAP link and send them to the organization. I grew up on Valley Road, which was where the driveway entrance to the hill was. Currently a residence, their drive used to be my bus stop as a kid.
Any info you myt need on Mt.bethel ski area? Ask away..I was preatty much raised there. Me and my parents were involved in it w/George Meigs and John Conahan. in the late 60s early 70s..The tow system was a masterpiece of rigging..and it always worked 99%. We lived accross the street from thwe old Mt bethel church at the end of Snyder Rd. my dad was the Forest Fire Warden. ok got to go for now my email is firstname.lastname@example.org and im Dave and my dad was Kenny cell is 903 462 3112 any time!
there were 2 dedicated hills and 2 trials, 1 on either side of the hiils.the main slope and 1/2 of the "bunny" hill had snow making eqipment the trails and the the upper section of hill 2 were up to mother nature.both hills were lighted.The trails were srictly BONZI AT night. The tow engine on hill 2 was a corvair transaxle bolted to large concrete blocks. the main hills tow ropes were powered by a packard straight 8 flathead and a dodge straight 6..both were attatched to 3 speed manual trannys. the operaters sat upstairs and could use the clutch as needed to stop and start the rope.They could also cotrol throttle and ignition as needed. the pump moter (for snow making) was also an industrial dodge straight 6 the exhaust glowed orange for 2-4 days at a time pumpin water. the compressors were HUGE ingersol rands (we used 2) they were powered by V-12 supercharged DETROIT DIESELS (2 strokes) they could be heard for miles around when they were cranked up to wide open throttle. what an AWESOME sound that was. I could go on and on but ill let u absorb this first. ask away if u have any questions. Thanks Dave
Pics will be posted shortly my sis is bigging the slides out as we speak..wow wwhat a blast from the past!
Dave, I'm looking forward to them! It was cool talking with you...interesting to speak to someone who grew up in the same neighborhood but a couple decades apart. I was really blown away with the info you gave. Thanks again!
Wow. Brings back memories, wish we could bring this back to life. Growing up for a time in snow country, we had a similar rope tow set up at our state park. It was for free! Boy, the poor Mom who got roped into car pooling during school vacation days. The lodge was at a State Park level and not very plush at all :>(
Here we learned how to play ski-buck-buck, twist-the-hat, dodge skiing, rope wars and all sorts of fun ski things that kids with too much energy and not enough hill and ski patrol will do. Think we spent as much time in time-out as on the hill...:>)
Then we put on the ritz and joined a family ski club where a bunch of families pooled together to fund a "resort" with 2, count em, 2 t-bars, 3 hills and some trails. The clubhouse was more of a changing area and eating area where everyone brought picnic baskets, left em on the tables, and "communed" for lunch n snacks. Nice part was a gauranteed maximum line and a much nicer place for the Mom's to hang out. And you really knew the hills n trails and really could do your own thing like off-trail skiing and building jumps. But couldn't mess around as much, everyone knew you and your Dad :>( Membership does have its priviledges and responsibilities!!!
The "club" was such a cool idea since everyone bought a "share" which funded the equipment, then "dues" to handle the operation budget. The line length was determined by the funds needed. And when you left, you sold your "share" at the prevaliing rates which generally meant a bit of a profit. Cool idea.
The next year before we moved I has joining the jump club who had both a practice jump (little one on the ground in the woods if you call clearing 60 feeet or so small) and the main jump (the real thing). Think I am glad that we moved before I became a oster child for Wild World of Sports mishaps :>)
I will get the pics to u as soon as I can. Wish I had more but... Spoke to my mom this morning but she doesn't really remember much. Have to say one of my favorite memories was being allowed to sled the hill after they closed for the night. They would run the tow ropes for us so that we could get back up the hill easier :)
My father and his partner George owned Mt Bethel...I had no idea people were still interested. we had great fun up there for 8 years..too bad it had to end. I have som pics, most of them family stuff at the hill. My dad is still going strong...as strong as you can for 87! He skied until he was 80. Some of us "kids" are still skiing. Fun times!!
I wrote a book "Skiing In New Jersey?" that has some info about the Mount Bethel Ski Area. My book is available on amazon.com
If anyone has come up with pictures or more information about the Mt. Bethel Ski Area - I would love to see them too. I am always looking to add information to my growing New Jersey ski history collection.
My email address is: email@example.com
Here's an old Mt. Bethel advertisement. If anyone else has pictures - I would love to see them.
A rope tow pole at Mt. Bethel. I would love to see what the lodge looked like. Does anyone know if the owners will let you see that side of the property?
Would have been great last year!
As kids, we belonged to our own ski club with a hill similar to this. Each family put like $1,000 in and paid yearly upkeep dues. If you left, the next person put their $1,000 in and you got yours back. Started with ropes but got a t-bar finally.
Everyone pitched in to maintain and run the place.
Clubhouse was really more for bringing your food basket in, might have been a coke machine, but that was about it.
It was great.
I would love to see pictures of the ski hill. We use to go sled riding there as kids. (I am 42). The ski hill was already closed and my neighbor would ride his snowmobile there and pull us up the hill. It was awesome. Also we had girl scout camp there at the lodge and it was just a cinder block building with no windows.
I was very good friends with Pat Conaghan, John's son and knew both families very well! The times I spent at Mt Bethel will always remain fondly in my memories!! Ever since I moved back to NJ, I've been trying to find this place again!! I too, learned to ski there. I also worked there to earn my keep!! I will always love those families and that ski hill!! I'm sorry it's on private property or I would take a drive up! I would love to see Pat, Kathy, and Linda again!
I use to live on Valley Road as well, I was raised there in the 60's and 70's. I use to go fishing in those 2 ponds all the time with my neighbor Lenny Harvey. I probably know some of you or went to school with you at one point. My name is Lance Davis and I lived in the long brick ranch style house 2 doors down from the Ski HIll, I could go through the woods behind my house and get to the SKi Hill faster. During the winter we could see people skiing down the hill through our back windows!
On a tangent, the best (former) NJ ski area many never heard of:
If people have more pics of the Mount Bethel ski area I would love to see them. I am also looking for a Mount Bethel ski area patch to add to my New Jersey ski history files.
I can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The www.gondyline.com/skibabe blog is mine. :) :) :) I am glad to see that people are reading it.
I have information on all of the old ski areas that were in New Jersey and I published a book "Skiing In New Jersey?"
If anyone has a Mount Bethel Ski Area patch - I would love to have one for my New Jersey Ski Area History Collection.
My name is Diane Meigs, my father, George R. Meigs and John Conaghan were the owners/operators of the Mt. Bethel ski area. There was a small lodge with a concession stand, a lodge for rentals and an A-Frame used to monitor the rope tow, just in case anyone fell, the operator would turn it off until they got up or moved out of the way.
Our families, mothers & fathers, gave us the best childhood any child could ask for. So many fond memories spending every weekend up at the "ski hill". Most of the pics that I have are of family members skiing. We had a lot of parties up there with our friends and they still, all these years later, talk about going to the ski hill as a huge part of their childhood as well. We were blessed.
Very interesting to see you on here...Can you confirm a definitive timeline for the operation of the ski hill, including when it shut down? I have some photocopies of pictures of the newly built A-frame at the top of the hill around 1965 or 66, taken by Dot Liechtenstein who ran the old store on the corner of Mt. Bethel and Jane's Chapel roads, and that was what established the build date but I cannot find any info on the closing.
Although my brother was friends with the daughter of the current owner of the property, I don't think she is at all interested in allowing me or anyone else to do a full exploration and documentation of the remains of the ski hill. *sigh*
The old Mt Bethel Ski Hill was across the street and down a bit from where I grew up. I remember hearing the loud motors blowing snow/running the lifts. By the time I started skiing, it was with a 6th grade Mansfield trip to Shawnee Mt. in 84 since Mt Bethel was long closed then. I remember Mike Kizun living across the street from the A frame. Some of the big kids used to hang out in the A frame. Eric - was so cool to read your detailed write up from 07. I actually walked around up top around 9 years ago. Everything is overgrown. Hard to envision too much of what it was. According to my mom, she thinks it closed when I was 2 or 3 - which would have been '74 or '75. Back then, cars were rear wheel drive. The long gradual road from down around Lichtenstein's Gen Store up to the Ski hill on the Mt Bethel side was extremely tricky to navigate when we had real snow storms up there through the 70s and 80s. Def would like to pic of the A frame from Dot Lichtenstein. I searched for info just recently since I was talking to my own kids about why our local ski resort (Bear Creek which is old Doe Mountain) was closed for several days while they try to build the base back up. I really liked that ad which advertised blowing own snow at Mount Bethel. Liz, if you have anything higher res in that file, please email.
iJay, I remember skiing at Snowbowl in 1969-1971. Lots of time spent in the Bunny slope, learning to ski.
I grew up in Brookside NJ and the neighbor at the beginning of the street, Mel and Shirley Blaufuss owned the old ski tow past Chester, on rt206. That was a small place with a nice hill to ski down. Fun to hold into the rope tow.
I didn't know that the Mount Bethel Ski place existed. Great to know.
Hi....I am the daughter of John Conaghan .....the hill was open from 65 to 72....my dad could no longer keep it going even with making snow....every time he made snow it would rain....the winters were just getting warmer...he finally gave up...it was too difficult to do alone as he had lost his partner George Meigs due to a heart attack. A tragic event that just took the wind out of our sails.....it was a wonderful place for our families and hopefully other families in the area. I cannot tell you the memories are so great! The place was sold to someone who never made good or even completed the process....so there it sits...overgrown and a mess....where once there was a lot of happiness and activity and fun. I can say that I hope any of ou that are out there and remember Mt Bethel, remember it with fond and happy moemories as do all of us in the two families!
I lived on Mt Bethel Rd. from 1969-1977. I remember the ski hill well!! I never learned to ski there, but I remember my parents taking me to watch. I am planning a trip to the area in summer of 2020. I finally did learn to ski when I lived in New Mexico...I wish Mt. Bethel Ski Hill was still there. It was good to read many of the letters in this forum!!
What's interesting is that road is down right dead now, but when the ski area was operating for a few months every Winter it was bustling in relation. Going down that road today you would have no insight into it once being there.
The demise was a common one among small ski areas -- warmer winters, higher insurance, and lower attendance due to bigger ski areas up North.
Agree with ijay. Warmer is number 1, but insurance risks really changed it for smaller slopes.
Learned on a rope tow slope like this, all the kids did. Grew up on a t-bar club slope camelback-like vertical but 3 runs and a trail only. Everyone pooled money via deposit, paid yearly maintenance dues, got deposit back by selling membership when leaving. Loved the little places but mostly gone.
What are they doing to it now? They seem to be working on it and the sign says something such as Stewardship Forest i think.
Some scam like farmland preservation
I love that this thread still pops up every once in a while. I always enjoy reading people's stories about their time on the slopes.
I'll say it again: if anyone who sees this has any pictures or information or memorabilia from Mt. Bethel, please share it here!
Bug3 I had Googled it already. What I am wondering is what exactly they are doing there? Hopefully they leave the A-frame building. We live on Mt. Bethel Rd (used to be Barkers Mill Rd before they confused everyone and flipped the road names, which was sometime after it stopped being called RD #2) and my wife used to ski there with her family. They have been living here since the 1950s.
You get money and keep the land...the taxpayers get scammed
No. You don’t get any money. In fact it costs money and time & work to be in farmland program. You pay the same rate as everyone else for your house and 1 acre around it. The rest of the property gets a reduced rate. The taxpayer actually gets helped because the land doesn’t get developed and the 2 kids / home don’t have to have schools built for them.
If you are in the farmland program you pay taxes on farmland,much much cheaper than residential The state buys development rights at millions of dollars in some cases..yet they don't own the land.....so yes farmers make out like bandits...tax payers get screwed...It woul much easier to just zone and protect the land as farmland without giving a huge payday at tax payers expense
Since this thread is completely off topic, I recommend folks learn the fact about the program.
Back to skiing.....
When we were young, in a galaxy far away, our State Park had a free rope tow and a bit of a lodge, like hot chocolate, hot dogs, burgers, etc. We got our ski's at ski sales (like flea markets), yard sales, never new. The rope was like a gym rope, big, tough, and mean....You packed special gloves because good chance they would never be used again. The rope as so heavy that if you attempted as a long rider, a little ways in, you would be bent over with the rope dragging on the ground.
With a bunch of kids on the rope, the deal was, first zip the entire rope to the left, then zag it back to the track on the right seeing how many kids you could knock off. Then you got good, went under the rope, so you could really zag to the right with gusto. Of course, when caught, it was a timeout in the "lodge,"
The best though was to carefully creep arm over arm up the rope to the stocking capped person in front of you and ever so carefully to wrap the hat around the rope. Now that was a fun departure to watch. Until some kid tied one on that had a chin strap. Game over after that one.
Same antics on the slope. Bunch of kids would form a train, each hugging the person in front, boots almost touching boots. Then marauders would attempt to buck the train with direct shots from the side. Still better than going alone because they really could get picked on by folks crossing then, letting them run over the back of their moving sideways ski's for instant destruction.
After step-in bindings were invented, whole new path of fun by creeping up on the toe and releasing the binding. Worked well in the lift line too...…
Ah.....memories.....can't imagine with insurance pulling these stunts off today, but it was just kid stuff back then, in a galaxy far, far, away. Really miss the small slopes This one is not only gone, it is forgotten. Golf courses and cross country now. .
Rope tows were character building. Mittens wrapped with duct tape, grab until you move, hold on, and then let go at the end. Ski (quick) and repeat...
Every see the "rope grabber," a thing that actually clamped on the rope so you didn't need to hold on? Never could make that one work :>)
stranger sounds like we were on the same hill , what memories I was laughing thinking back.
How bout this one. I’m a little kid, skiing at the club, it’s a t bar. No one there, so I grab a t. It’s very cold. As we hit a steeper part, the cold won’t let the spring stretch, so I get lifted off the ground. No biggie, I just sit on the bar. Then ever so slowly I start turning around. Then back to Earth, backwards, and fall right off. Had to ski the bottom until a big guy could literally give me a lift.
How many kids have been battered by a T-Bar? They didn't stop that thing for any reason, I guess because it was going so slow...
At the club, there was no one to stop the thing..... no lift attendants in those days, you rolled your own :>) They just turned it on and went skiing themselves.
OK, got another one. At a major mountain, going up the lift, and looking back at the view from VT to CAN, I turned sideways to see better and took my skis off the chair. Of course we were near the top, that's where the best view is. One ski caught the emergency netting below the departure deck. Suddenly my ski stuck, I was dragged forward, and ended up waist on the deck, legs hanging over the deck, ski caught in the webbing. They dragged me in.
But in all that, the chair jerked backwards as I was dragged off, my buddy was looking back at my disaster now behind him as the chair bar crashed down. Now he's basically trying to lift the chair bar but he has instinctively put his feet on it and panic sets in. He moves forward off the deck into open space ten feet above the ground as they stop the chair.
I figured he would have to complete the circle and get off at the bottom. Didn't know they could back those things up :>) Now the real issue. After that, on any lift we went on, the lift attendants would point n snicker, darned communication devices.....Had to change clothes to avoid the shame. Thank goodness we were staying at the base.
But wait, there's more.... yeah, I have fallen/erred/messed up in almost every way you can imagine, and some like this, unimaginable possibilities with skis. Did I mention coming out of the mountaintop bar, a few under, and skiing down a flight of stairs? Didn't fall on that one, it was pretty cool. Yard sales skis do have advantages. Or how about being strapped to a car roof, on skis, to gain experience of higher speeds...…it works.
OK, one more, a cute one. Imagine pristine powder, much less on the East Coast. I am first up the hill on what's to be a busy day, the line is already building. Towards the bottom, lift line in view, I am really looking good, I mean really good, picture taking stuff, carving well, and making quite a picture on the virgin snow. I mean I know I look good, I know the lift line is watching. Suddenly I catch a inner edge, ski flies out, my legs spread and I go down, face first, spread legs behind me and sliding full speed into the lift line which, like the Red Sea, parts magically and I slide right though. And yeah, I can hear the collective line thought: "a-hole...." Pride cometh before the fall. heh, heh.
I leave the one about my buddy hitting the snow gun hose for another time......
Highly recommend Jay Peak, greatest snowfall in the East. The view from/at Sugarloaf in Maine is more majestic though...
I was on Madonna Mountain, now Smugglers. Jay is 40 miles to the North, and I think facing South.....at least some of it. Canada about 10-15 miles after that.
Some more silly ski stories...…
We used to ski the woods going off-trail and roughing it; something I would not recommend for safety reasons but.....we were young. Main reason you shouldn't do this is most paralysis accidents come from hitting the immovable object like a tree or rock under the snow. And you have to keep a pretty good head of steam going unless you like walking in powder. Fire roads, walking paths, or just full woods, we loved it. One thing about the woods, no matter how deep the snow, you will always make the turn or stop before you hit that tree. At least that's what happened for us. Learned how to jump out of the deep sluff, turn in the air, plant em and stop --- was not pretty at all, but sure beat the alternative tree hugging of the painful kind. Doing Killington, there's something called Juggernaut running the ridge on the left side. There's always a ridge runner as a long distance beginner's trail and perfect for off-trailing it. But if you are ridge running to the left, if you go right you go over the ridge away from the slopes. Cool unless you go to far over and can't ski back. The idea is to parallel the trail looking for a spot to turn left and get back on. Buddy took a hard right and ended up on the road at the base, skis and ski boots, about 10-15 miles away from the slopes...… Imagine answering that door bell :>) "uh, can you call me a cab.....?"
OK, one more....ah, the memories. So, shooting through some smaller pines, I found myself on a tree-lined straightaway flanked on both sides by a row of bushy pines. No way out, had to keep going straight until something else turned up Suddenly, dead center in my path was a crotch-level pine. It was either that full stop I mentioned which, given how tight the path was, would hurt a lot or...…..go for it......the tree might be short enough, looks short enough, I think I can clear it...…..spread legs to straddle and.......whack......nope....perfect shot,.thank goodness for all the padding and a soft white pine top..... Must have been pretty funny looking.
Jay has a NE exposure, perfect for keeping the snow, bur cold.
Best experiences in the NE of simple yet awesome skiing of days gone past would be skiing at Mad River Glen -- Ski It If You Can!
Hmmm, you sure there isn’t one face looking towards Smugglers? Well, some ski place,,,,
Mad River, Tuckerman's, on my list but sadly, probably no. Did Expo at Mt Tremblant for a couple of weeks, twice a day. Like skiing a yuge flight of huge stairs. 6 foot and higher moguls for, I think, largest single face vertical drop in the East. Not pretty. Mogul/turn three times and fall. Repeat. Hit my highest jump ever at the bottom in what I call “the lame duck” position completely frozen in an odd cartoonish shape as I approached the chairlift in the air. Was probably 50 feet away but....in my mind.... When I landed it, I looked grand. Lived through the jump, was at Expos bottom, and adrenaline was pumping hard! I swear I hit that thing at a crawl. It was a biggee.
Well SD, the main exposure is NE but certain trails can view other directions, just not over the main peak. I have skied there in early May with every trail open due to heavy snow and its NE exposure to keep the snow. Bolton Valley is the only ski area in VT that I know of that has a Southern exposure. Tremblant in Canada has a Southern backside for those frigid January/February days BTW although my one trip there was in March one year that was brown (no snow) until half way up from Montreal. But even with Bolton's 2500 foot base it never skies beyond early April.
Never made it to Tuckerman unfortunately too. But have bitterly skied every area from NJ North over with 40+ years of Skiing. Killington was my family's main ski area since we had a little ski house off of the access road.
I never had a chairlift experience, worst accident was a sprained ankle goofing around at the side of a trail on the snow berm, but many close calls.
Stowe, the legend too. The Front Four. Been on the National after a 3 foot dump and all the snow from the top section was pushed below due to the steepness and ice.
In wouldn't be surprised if we were at the same ski area over the years...
Used to sell my Smugglers day pass for more than my discounted price, hop a free trial run ride up Sterling, ski across the pond (always good for a scare); ski Stowe, buy a half day pass, at the end, reverse the process except no pond, there is a trail, ski down Sterling, maybe buy a single ride, and have money left for the bar!
Then they started issuing week long passes, those bummers....Not sure trial run rides or single passes are even allowed anymore.
I too skied the East, shunned the West. I say if you can’t see sparks, you’re not really skiing :-). But it was really about the money. Can’t make your claim, they kept opening new places so I gave up. Went broke, spent all my cash on this even doing it on the cheep as we did. Missed many a xmas, new years, and even Easter. Prime days with short lines!
And yeah, I was that guy who blew right by you...... ;-)
Occasionally we could overhear skiers from the "West." No matter the day, they always complained about the poor conditions. Ice builds skill. Sure the trails are steeper and longer being steam out West but add ice and a shorter less steep trail out East is a tougher challenge.
Hi, my name is Kathe Conaghan, my dad, John Conaghan, built Mt Bethel ski area. George Meigs was his partner. We started it in 1965 clearing the land with my brothers, Mike and Pat and sister Maureen. We then built the A frame at the top of the hill which housed the motors for the rope tow. The motors were from car parts which ran the rope tow. We opened after the A frame was built and the rope rope tow was in before the lodge, at the bottom of the hill , was built. It was nice and busy from 1965 till about 1972. My dad made snow but it just got too warm to last. It was great while it lasted...
I started on a rope tow at a State Park hill and it was glorious! On days off from school, designated Moms (letting the other Mom's stay home), would drive car loads of kids up, spend the day in the park lodge by the fire reading, and we would have the time of our lives! Sadly it was done in by the budget and the price of insurance.
Yep, expanded litigation raised insurance costs substantially and warming temperatures doomed the small ski areas across the East. Things picked up after WW2. The 50s and 60s were cold (so they say). I started in the 70s and it had cold and warm years. The 80s and 90s too warm. When ski areas had +- 100 days of operation dwindle to a couple dozen or less in bad years it was the end.
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