around 1940-early 1970s
History ~ Memories ~ Historical Photos
Ladder Hill was a classic, small family ski area that once operated in East Templeton, MA. Several NELSAP readers tipped us off about this small rope tow area located in Templeton. Thanks to research done by Laurie P. we first heard about this area.
"The lost area in Templeton was Ladder Hill, my cousin just got back to me. He doesn't have any info other than it closed when Route 2 was expanded and went through what was the ski area. Heading away from Gardner, it was about 200 yards or so from the Wilson Bus Company."
(Right - a view of the slopes, courtesy Bart McLean). Click on this, and all images for a larger version.)
Laurie also spoke with Dick Kendall who had this information to share about Ladder Hill.
"Ladder Hill was a rope tow area built on a farm field in East Templeton, MA. It operated from around 1940 to the early 70's when the new route 2 was constructed. It was about 300-400 feet long. It was located on the northern side of route 2A (the former route 2). If you look at the hill now there it a radio tower and a water tank on the top. The ski area started about 50 feet from the top of the hill and ran across what would now be the east bound lanes of Route 2."
Left - a view of the ski area and rope tow. Courtesy Bart McLean.
Bart McLean shares more information along with historical photos:
My name is Bart McLean and I grew up in E. Templeton Mass. I remember Ladder Hill very well. I learned how to ski there starting in 1959 and skied there until 1966. It cost $1.00 for a lift ticket and $10.00 for a season pass. I remember mowing lawns and shoveling snow to get money to pay for a season pass. I remember walking up to the top of Partridgehill Rd., the street I lived on in E. Templeton, and looking N.E. each night to see if the lights were on. Then going home and bugging my parent to hurry up because it was open and I didn't want to miss any skiing. On the weekends we just showed up at noon and waited for opening.
The owner/operator was George Smith and his wife Lou ran the snack shack at the bottom of the hill. I remember if George had 10 people show up to ski, he would open, rain, snow or shine. There was a wood stove to keep you warm and a pump operated Coleman lantern for light. Lou had coffee, hot chocolate, and candy for sale.
The tow was run by an old electric motor with a tractor 4 speed transmission. George and Gene, the tow operator, would never run the tow in any gear but first, any other gear and it would run toO fast. I remember all of us kids would beg George to run the tow in second gear, but he never did.
I remember the local cobbler made extra money sewing leather pads on our leather gloves when they wore out. It was cheaper than purchasing new gloves.
My dad, Ray McLEan, started skiing at the age of 35, and because he was the oldest person on the hill, George made him head of his ski patrol. Mostly he kept us kids in line. My dad had no first aid training. If someone got hurt he would send for George and George would run up the hill dragging a toboggan. If they were badly hurt George would take them to the bottom and call for help. The hill was only 800 feet long so George didn't have to run very far.
Above - a skier near the top - great packed powder conditions. Courtesy of Bart McLean.
dad was a boatswains mate in the Navy during WWII. In the late fall George
would call my dad and he would help hang the rope on the pulleys. He would
put a long splice in the rope. George use to hire some guy to sew the rope
together, before my dad, and the sewn splice would always break. My dad's
splice would never break. This made George very happy. My dad never
charged him to do that, and George had to pay the other guy $100.00 each
time the sewn splice broke.
Ladder Hill was an open slope. It also had one trail that ran on the opposite side of the rope tow. It had no lights, but we skied there in the dark anyway.
Donald Scerra also remembers this area: I used to ski Ladder Hill, I remember looking out of the window on my parents porch to see if it was open for night skiing. This is where I learned to ski as many locals did. It cost a dollar to ski there and I believe before it closed it cost 2 dollars. A season ticket was I believe $10 ( all us kids had one ). One of the lasting memories is the rope tow and how it eat gloves and your poles if you weren't paying attention. My sister who now lives in Florida were talking and chuckling about it in November. What was even funnier was the expression on the faces of friends who skied and never saw or experienced a rope tow. Either the brother or uncle of friend of mine used to run and operate Ladder Hill. His name was Smith ( Go figure ).
Martha (Starkey) Flagg: I have wonderful memories of skiing at Ladder Hill in the 60s. We lived across what was then Route 2 (and is now 2A) on Ladder Hill Terrace. Yes, a season's pass was $10.00 and it included weeknights and weekends. We used to just sling our skis over our shoulders and walk over on starry cold evenings. The rope tow was famous for knocking you flat on your butt time after time until you learned the technique of letting it gradually slide through your gloves (as it destroyed them.) I think this was because it was hooked directly up to an old tractor motor with no way of slowing down the speed. There was also a very crude little hut to warm up in, with a barrel fire and occasionally hot chocolate. We thought we were in ski heaven.
Thanks to Bart McLean who sent in these excellent photos of the ski area, showing skiers on the slopes, the rope tow, and equipment.
|Slope.||Race course.||Slope and tow.||Top of ski area.|
|Heading down the slope.||Youth with a lot of ski tickets.||Long skis!||Rope tow operators.|
Does anybody else remember Ladder Hill?
Last updated: April 22, 2013
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