According to a Ski Maine Promotion, and the book First Tracks, Bell Slope operated from the late 1960's and into the early 1970's with a 460 foot rope tow.
We recently heard from Jan Warren who has much more information:
1970 was our school's first year to have a girl's ski team. We were all freshman with one sophomore and one senior. Our first ski meet was my most memorable ski meet, not only for being my first, but also for being at Bell's.
We were told it was called Bell's Ski Farm, but I don't remember seeing any sign.
I don't even remember how to get there (maybe my husband remembers, he lived closer) and we were excited about being together and on our way to the ski meet. All I remember is that it looked like someone's hayfield with a bump in it. Oh, and with a rope tow and a parking lot! There was a rope tow alright...and it started on flat ground. But then most of the skiing area seemed pretty flat! As well as I can remember, Bell's was about 20-30 feet higher at the top than the bottom with a long slope, maybe 30-40 feet across.
Our ski teams were the only ones at Bell's, there wasn't room for anyone else there. They may have just opened for us, because no one else showed up to ski that day. There was only room for one set of flags. The slalom may have had 20 gates, if that many. The last 4-5 gates we had to skate through because we couldn't get enough speed on the hill to make it to the finish gate!
I remember that on the gate before the finish, our senior teammate fell and broke her leg. She'd skated into a flag and lost her balance. That was the one and only time she raced with us.
It would have been a wonderful place for a bunch of kids or beginners to hang out and have a really wonderful time in the Maine winter. It would have been a lot of fun for families with young kids to play together. In this world of sophisticated pleasures, Bell's would be too simple and too small for most folks now with their expensive ski equipment.
But back then, it would have been some kid's paradise! As hot shot teenagers looking for an adventure, it was way too tame, like playing in the kiddie pool when you're 15-18 years old. Needless to say we didn't appreciate Bell's a the time. We thought our coaches had taken us there accidentally! There just aren't places like Bell's anymore!
John Charest has more info: I was born in 1961 in Lewiston, Maine, and moved to the childhood home I most remember about a quarter mile from Bell Farms Ski area in 1965. The ski area was located toward the end of Ferry Road just before it takes a right along the Androscoggin River and becomes the River Road. Bell Farms, was and still is a large commercial operation growing potatoes, corn and occasionally beans. Mr. Bell (Arthur??) had a love of skiing which was shared by his five children. He had a moderately steep, but very short hill (about 200 ft.) on his property on which he cleared and built a rope tow. Being a resourceful New Englander, he used telephone poles with car wheel rims powered by an old tractor at the top. Like all tow ropes it easily shredded gloves and parkas in a season.
My sister and I learned to ski there. It was wonderful to have a place so close to home. In fact, I lived uphill from the farm and used to ski down the side of the road to the ski area. I donít remember how much it cost for a day pass, but I think it was something like $10 for a kidís season pass! We still have 8mm home movies of my sister, neighbors and I bombing down the hill all smiles ear to ear and waving to the camera.
There was a very small but cozy warming hut (lodge) with a fireplace, a few tables and a snack bar. They used a ski-doo pulling a mat of chainmail to groom the slope. There werenít any trails per se, just open slopes on either side of the tow rope with one big pine tree in the middle of the slope to the left. His kids built a wooden jump halfway down right side. They were all very good skiers, in fact one of the boys David, skied professionally for a while until a repeatedly fractured leg ended his career. The oldest brother Raymond who now runs the farm, was one of my Lewiston High ski team coaches. Under his training and guidance, we won the state class B championships in both 1976 and 1977. The ski teams (boys and girls) used to practice for downhill events there up until 1974 when Mr. Bell closed the ski area. I suppose it was for liability reasons. We did however, continue to practice and race cross country at the farm for several more years.
The hill itself is still there but the tow rope equipment is long gone. In the early 80ís, the very top of the hill was leveled off and Raymondís house now stands there.
If anybody has more information, just let us know.
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