Topsfield Ski Club
1950's - 1970s
History ~ Recent Photos
This could be the re-located Locust Lawn Ski Area which was originally located in Danvers, MA and relocated to Topsfield when the Interstate 95 was built.
In any event, this rope tow area on an approximately 150 foot vertical slope operated from the 1950's in the 1970's on Witch Hill in Topsfield. It had one rope tow, one wide slope, and a narrow woods trail. Here's the topo map of the area. Notice how the slope cuts down the north side of Witch Hill. There were two entrances to the area, which I'll get to in a bit.
||The area closed in the late
1970's, likely due to liability reasons. Here's an overhead view of the
area today. Notice the slope is still open and clear, and if you use
your imagination, you can see the trail in the woods.
Now for the entrance to the area. The original entrance, a dirt road at the summit of Witch Hill on Garden Street, was blocked off by the owner. Then, the only way to get to the area was an old woods trail/road off of Rowley Hill Street, near the intersection of Cross Street. The location is marked here on the map.
|The location of the entrance is a bit difficult to find, but if you drive slow on Rowley Hill Street you should be able to find it. Here's the road, notice a power pole in the woods. I had found the area with my parents on October 13, 2003. All following pictures are from that day.||
Memories of the ski area
"I believe that
the Locust Lawn Ski Area referred to on the site was in fact located on the
opposite side of the hill from the later slope. The Locust Lawn Slope was
located on the South West side of the hill, where as the later slope was located
on the North East side. I grew up in Topsfield and as a boy in 1955 I learned to
ski there. I vaguely remember skiing on the old Locust Hill Slope for perhaps
one or two seasons, before the slope was moved to the North East side. I and my
family were all members of the Topsfield Ski Club. We spent many wonderful days
skiing there. Back then it was a very active club with many ski
enthusiasts. The club maintained everything. Each fall there were one or two
major outings where everyone got together for work weekends when we would mow
and trim the hill, tune-up the old engine that ran the tow, inspect and if
necessary repair the old rope. These outings were a lot of fun complete with
food and drink.
had annual dues and also raised operating costs from bake sales and Ham and Bean
suppers etc. I believe it cost a dollar each time you skied too. The hill was
leased from the old Wheatland Farm in Topsfield. There were two points of
access, one from the top of the hill via an old farm road, until that section of
land was sold to a private owner who closed the road, and the other that Chris
mentions from the bottom of the hill. It was a good sized hill, perhaps 800 ft.
supported by a rope tow with two trails. The main trail was a nice wide trail
with a pretty good incline. The other trail was a narrow woods trail and as
Chris mentions was on the left as viewed from the bottom. Originally the rope
tow was powered by an old Chevy or Ford Ambulance type vehicle located at the top
of the hill. It was jacked up in the rear and the rope was driven by one of the
wheels. It had a throttle cable arrangement that allowed the engine to run at
ample RPM's to operate the rope at a pretty good clip. There was an
"A" frame arrangement at the bottom with a wheel mounted on it that
the rope ran around. The "A" frame was mounted on a skid which was
adjustable by come-along to increase or decrease rope tension. There was a
safety gate at the top which was wired to the ignition switch of the old
Ambulance. The gate was located ample distance from the vehicle so that if
tripped the engine would shut down thus causing the tow to stop. It was a neat
old rig and the heat was always left on "high" so that when you got
cold you could climb in to warm up.
think the hill was started in the 1940's as my mother mentioned his helping
there during WW II or
The comments about the trails thru the trees to the left, looking up are
accurate. If I remember correctly the trees were mostly red cedars.
Once we built a jump made just of snow. I was impressed with being able to
jump about 30 feet from it.
The ski club had races on the hill in the 1950's. I got a trophy once,
Jeep Mann won the boy's trophy.
Jeep Mann won the boy's trophy.
Warren: "I remember skiing at the rope tow in Topsfield
Chris also visited the site of the former tow in the Fall of 2002
and has this to report:
Chris Carney: I don't have many details but there was a ski hill served by a rope tow with an electric motor in Topsfield, MA. The hill was located south of Garden street, west of Rte 1, east of Hill street. Run as a private club. I remember fall work weekend clearing the slope and driving stakes to attach Christmas trees as wind blocks. I skied there in the late 1960's or early 1970's. My recollection is that it closed in the 1970's due to liability insurance concerns.
Does anybody else have any more information? Please let us know!
Brian Armand visited the area in February of 2017 and noted that the slope is still clear. Click on each of the image for a larger version
|Rope tow tower.||Hiking up slope.||Electrical box|
Last updated: Mar 1, 2017
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