Mount Tom Ski Area

Holyoke, Massachusetts
The abandoned Mount Tom Ski Area in Holyoke, Massachusetts is a fasinating location explore. The resort has been decaying since 1998.
Location Added By:

Table of Contents

About This Location

The abandoned Mount Tom Ski Area in Holyoke, Massachusetts, holds a rich history that spans from the late 19th century to its closure in 1998. Nestled in the Mount Tom Range, about 10 miles north of Springfield, this ski resort was not only a winter playground but also a significant part of the local community.

Historical Background:

Early Years and Development:

The story of Mount Tom began with the efforts of the Holyoke Street Railway Company in the late 19th century. The company sought to make the previously isolated Mount Tom accessible by constructing a trolley line to the summit. By June 1895, a rail line to Mountain Park at the base of Mt. Tom was opened, attracting thousands of visitors on its first day.

In 1897, an electric trolley line, considered the fastest mountain railway in the country, was completed, offering a quick ascent to the summit. The area became a popular destination, with even President William McKinley and future President Calvin Coolidge visiting.

The summit house faced unfortunate incidents, burning down in 1900 and later replaced in 1901. However, by 1937, the Holyoke Street Railway Company ceased operating the trolley to the summit, likely removing the remains in 1938.

Emergence of Skiing:

In the middle of the 20th century, various ski trails and rope tows operated on parts of the mountain ridge, laying the groundwork for the ski area’s development.

The pivotal moment came in the early 1960s when Daniel O’Connell, owner of O’Connell and Sons Construction Co., envisioned turning Mt. Tom into a ski facility to keep local youth engaged during the winter. With consultation from skiing experts, O’Connell initiated the development in 1960, creating the first trails and installing a T-Bar and rope tow.

The inaugural season in 1960-61 saw success, with enthusiastic crowds and notable visitors like Penny Pitou, an Olympic silver medalist.

Expansion and Peak Years:

The ski area continued to thrive, adding a double chairlift in the 1961-62 season and becoming one of the first Massachusetts ski areas with chairlifts. The 1962-63 season brought top-to-bottom snowmaking, new trails, and glades, solidifying Mt. Tom as a skiing destination.

In the following years, the ski area expanded with additional slopes, chairlifts, and night skiing, reaching its peak popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Notable figures like John Glenn, Governor Francis Sargent, John F. Kennedy Jr., and Senator Ted Kennedy graced the slopes during this heyday.

In 1977, an alpine slide was added, diversifying the recreational offerings at Mt. Tom.

Challenges and Closure:

The ski area faced challenges in the late 1970s and early 1980s due to variable winter conditions. However, strategic investments in snowmaking and facilities helped sustain operations through the 1981-82 season.

As the 1990s approached, the ski industry faced rising insurance costs, impacting both Mt. Tom and nearby Mountain Park.

In 1998, after the close of the ski season, the owners decided to shift their focus to the adjacent quarry. The ski area closed, and over the following years, the infrastructure, including chairlifts, snowmaking equipment, and night skiing lights, was removed and sold.

Operational Highlights:

Ski School:

Mt. Tom Ski School, staffed primarily by Austrians imported from Innsbruck, played a crucial role in teaching skiing in the U.S. The school’s success led to its expansion, offering lessons to students from local colleges and schools.

Snowmaking:

Mt. Tom was a leader in snowmaking, employing handcrafted snow machines from its early days. By 1969, the entire 28 acres of the ski area featured snowmaking, showcasing the commitment to providing consistent skiing conditions.

Night Skiing:

From the 1967-68 season onward, Mt. Tom embraced night skiing, offering well-lit trails that contributed significantly to the ski area’s revenue.

Race League:

The ski area hosted a local high school race league, attracting schools like Holyoke High, Holyoke Catholic, and South Hadley High. It also accommodated Williston Northampton School’s ski team races.

Water Park:

In the 1980s, Mt. Tom diversified its offerings by opening a water park during the summer months, featuring a wave pool and water slide. However, it faced competition from Six Flags New England.

Post-Closure and Present:

Abandonment and Fires:

Since its closure, Mount Tom Ski Area has faced abandonment and destruction. Several fires, including those in 2018 and 2020, have destroyed key buildings, leaving only remnants of the ski area.

Preservation Efforts:

Despite the removal of major infrastructure, remnants of the ski area remain. In 2017, a proposal to reopen the ski area was presented, but as of 2023, no successful proposals have materialized.

Exploration:

Today, the abandoned Mount Tom Ski Area attracts explorers interested in its ruins. Visitors can park at the end of Mount Park Road and trek about a mile along an old access road to reach the remnants, including pools, cabins, and unique structures.

The story of Mount Tom Ski Area encapsulates the rise and fall of a once-thriving winter destination, now existing as a haunting reminder of its bygone era in the woods of Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Location

Address: Mount Park Road, Holyoke, Massachusetts
Place GPS Coordinates: 42.250083, -72.632583
Parking GPS Coordinates: 42.250083, -72.632583
Parking Notes: Ample parking is available at the end of Mount Park Road, located right at the trailhead to the old ski area. The trail is actually an old road. Parking is free.

Place Location:

Parking Location:

Reviews

There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to write one.