Family Ski Tow
Ashburnham, MA

Thanks to Jason Ellis, we now know of this lost area in Ashburnham! Here's the story from him:

Family Ski Tow was opened in 1960 by Bob and Edna Lahtinen, who lived nearby. It was opened on a half decent slope on Willard Road. Something along the lines of Crotched's bunny hill, but a higher, longer, and wider slope.

(Right - A Terraserver image of the area, showing the short rope tow. The rope tow was approximately 400' long and had a vertical of only 60'!)

The area charged 50 cents per day to ski, and the main patrons were children (their parents would drop them off in the morning and pick them up at dusk), as well as the girls from Cushing Academy (don't ask me where the *boys* from Cushing skied, I have no idea, but Edna was very specific that it was just the girls that skied at Family Ski Tow).

There was an electric motor at the top of the hill and also a gas engine at the bottom. Edna initially told me that the electric motor at the top powered the rope, but then she said maybe it was the gas engine. She wasn't really sure why there were two engines - maybe someone here can shed some light on that.

There was an engine/operator shed at the top of the hill (see pictures of the footings to the shed below), and the rope tow pole at the top of the hill is still standing (see pictures below).

The Family Ski Tow closed in 1964, and the rope tow and other equipment was moved to Watatic (Bob and Edna were minority owners of Watatic as well).

One bit of trivia: the Cushing girls had a habit of fooling around and would often cause the rope to slide out of it's wheel. When that happened all the girls had to get together to wrench it back into place.

I took several pictures of the area from the top which area below. Unfortunately the bottom of the area is now a house and the owners weren't home so I couldn't get permission to search around.

The pole at the top of the rope tow.
This pole was the top of the rope tow. Notice how none of the rope tow apparatus is still attached? That's because the rope, engine, and wheels were moved to Watatic in 1964.
Looking up the pole
Not really anything earth-shattering, I just liked the shot looking up the pole from the ground.

The Counterweight Tree
I know the image is blurry, but this was one of the coolest things about the area so I had to use it. They used this tree as a counterweight/anchor for the rope tow. The wire you see on the tree is anchored into the tree with a huge spike, and is attached to the top of the rope tow pole. Really cool.
First Shed Footing
I found 6 wooden footings that were the foundation of the rope tow's engine shed. I took pictures of some of them (they're all basically the same). This is one of them.

Second Engine Shed Footing
The second footing for the engine shed.
The third engine shed footing.

A view down the slope from the top.
This is a view down the slope from the top of the rope tow (taken from where the engine shed was located). It's hard to see through the trees, but it's actually not a bad hill for an area this small.
Second downhill shot.
This picture is looking downhill from about 30 feet downhill of the top of the rope tow. It's a little easier to see the slope and hill from here. Not a bad little hill.

If you have more information on this area just let us know.

Last updated: September 28, 2007

Head back to Lost Massachusetts Ski Areas

Head back to the Main Page