Anyone skiing? Inside the History of New Jersey’s Long Lost Ski Resorts
At the foot of a hill in Monmouth County’s Big Brook Park sits a relic of New Jersey’s bygone days – a cabin that contained the old tractor engine that powered a tow rope for skiers.
It was called Arrowhead Ski Area. It opened in 1958 and closed in 1986. It was one of many now-defunct ski areas dotted around the Garden State. Only names and a few rusty relics keep memories alive.
There’s an author from New Jersey who says there are more dead ski areas in New Jersey than many people realize.
“A lot of them were very small. But again, I think I’m at 62…all at different times,” says author Liz Holste.
No one knows more about these ancient ski areas than Holste, New Jersey’s de facto skiing historian and author of “Skiing in New Jersey?” The book contains colorful photos and stories from around 30 closed ski areas.
There was Belle Mountain in Hopewell Township, which was open from 1960 to 1998. There was even a chair lift. Camp Midvale in Ringwood is a ski area built in the 1920s by a group called Nature Friends of America. The towline was powered by an engine from an old Model A Ford. There was also Craigmeur in Morris County, a Mecca where thousands of people learned to ski in the 60 years it had been open.
Most ski areas have closed due to weather and economy.
“The smaller ones were mostly because they were small and couldn’t compete with the bigger ski areas anymore,” says Holste.
A series of snowless winters in the 1970s took their toll. There was also the issue of liability insurance. The lawsuits made them much more expensive to run a ski area.
Holste’s book was published in 2005.
“I found so much more after writing this book,” she says.
And since then, Holste says she’s discovered that New Jersey’s skiing history runs much deeper than even she knew. A lifelong avid skier, Holste has found so many other missing ski areas and stories about the people who have traveled there that she is now finishing a second book.
Holste says there have also been a few Olympians who have skied New Jersey’s Lost Ski Areas.