January 1964-Mid to Late 1960s
Sawmill Hill was a
totally unique ski area...likely the only one ever built that utilized
steam power to drive the lifts! But before diving into its interesting
history, I must first thank Nan Williams. She contacted the former owner
and friend of hers, Charles Goodwin, asking for information about the area.
In return, he sent her some articles on the ski area, which she has sent
to NELSAP. These articles are invaluable and greatly appreciated!
Jeremy Clark from Berkshire
East also first allerted us to the area.
Sawmill Hill actually
may have begun as the Blunder Mountain Rope Tow for kids on Warfield Hill
in Charlemont, possibly in the early 60s. But the real history of the area
goes back to 1963, when Charles Goodwin and his stepfather Fred Carroll
decided to build the area. The two were partners in the Carroll Lumber
Company, operating of the last remaining steam powered mills in Massachusetts
|The area was built
totally from hand, including most of the lift. Goodwin assembled or built
every thing from the driving mechanism to the towers and cable. The only
parts that were not his own were the grips and hangars, which came from
the Mueller Lift Company (still several Mueller lifts in operation, one
being a Mueller Double at nearby Berkshire
The upper terminal (built
by Goodwin). Picture from the Greenfield Recorder Gazette, provided to
Nan Williams by Goodwin himself.
|The area opened in early January, 1964.
Here is the headlines of the paper right before it opened. Notice how the
sign is in a fashion similar to a saw.
|The area operated with a 1200' T-bar (shown
here), with a 800' slope and a 1600' trail. A 24 by 44 foot warming hut
with kitchen and bathrooms also was available, and was totally built by
Goodwin. This picture shows the T-bar, with Thunder Mtn (now Berkshire
East) in the background. Thunder wasn't competition to the area---Sawmill
prided itself as an affordable family area.
||Here's the building which housed the drive
mechanism for the lift. The area operated mainly weekends, and did offer
night skiing, with lights that used to be used at an airport!
|Lift tickets sold for $2.50/day and $1.75/half
day. This compared to typical prices of 5 to 7 dollars at that time. Although
I don't know the exact reason for it closed, a lack of snowmaking or perhaps
nearby competition made it close, likely around 1967-1970.
||But Goodwin wasn't finished yet. During
perhaps the operation of Sawmill Hill, Goodwin invented the Turf Ski. This
allowed skiers to enjoy the slopes in the summer, using rollers on the
bottom of skis. I believe this was put in eventually at Mt. Whittier before
they closed (but called T-ski then). An amazing invention for this small
back to Lost Massachusetts Ski Areas
|Today, the area has grown up considerably.
Here's where I believe the area exists (from Terraserver). It is located
on Warfield Hill essentially in the center of town. According to Charles
Goodwin, the base lodge is a home and the lift building is a storage shed,
and the area appears as a "Bavarian Forest."
back to the Main Page