Flat Mountain Ski Area
New Ipswich, NH
A ski area once operated on Kidder Mountain in the Southern New Hampshire town of New Ipswich. The area had 2 rope tows, and 5 trails, and operated from 1962 to 1967. It was your typical small, family area.
John Maynard wrote the following on the mountain, which describes it best:
John Maynard: KIDDER MOUNTAIN, NEW IPSWICH, NH
Kidder Mountain was a small local ski area with two rope tows. It operated in the early/mid 60’s and probably a few years after and I think more than a few years prior to that. I skied it a couple times in 64-65 and almost every weekend (that there was snow) for three winters 65-66, 66-67 and 67-68. Even though I grew up in Temple which had it’s own ski area, Temple MT, I favored Kidder. At that time Temple had mostly steep, narrow trails and prior to the installation of snow making and aggressive grooming, Temple was often icy, which for solid wood skis (often with no steel edges), bear-trap bindings and stiff leather lace-up boots brought down from the attic, well, little Kidder Mountain was a better choice, plus many of my high school friends went there.
Kidder was located off Route 123, Turnpike Road near the center of New Ipswich. The ski area was just off Appleton Road which heads north off of Route 123 about half way up Town Hill. The ski area faced east in a hillside cow pasture belonging to the Koivula family. Parking was in an adjacent field at the bottom. The ski area had two rope tows, both with only about 60 or at best 80 feet of vertical (est. Elev. 1120 to 1200 feet, based upon review of USGS quad sheet of area). I estimate the tows were only a few hundred feet long, say one at 400 to 500 and the other 600 feet or so. There were two “slopes” one for each of the tows. The slopes were maybe 100 feet in width with a narrow band of trees between. There were also two trails, one on each outer side of the slopes. The hillside faces almost due east or maybe slightly north of east. The northern of the two slopes had the shorter lift, with the warming hut immediately to the north with one trail leading down to it from the top. The second lift, while longer had only about 5 more feet of vertical, but had an almost flat run-out of a couple hundred feet at the bottom. The trail to the south of the south slope had a “hump” on it that usually had to be walked up, and then you were confronted by the lone “black diamond” on the entire hill, this thing seemed positively terrifying at the time. It was moderately steep and plunged downward, maybe 20 feet vertically, giving you the feeling akin to skiing off the barn roof.
The ski area was operated by the three Koivula Brothers. One would sell tickets first thing in the morning, another would sit all day in one of the unheated shacks at the top of the lifts with the lift motor roaring away all day and the third would often get the warming hut/snack bar opened and enlist one of the older or more capable skiing teenage boys to wear the red fanny pack with the white cross on it, making them the de facto (and only) Ski Patrol member for the day, which meant they got to ski for free and on a very rare occasion would have to get the toboggan and use ace bandages to put the cardboard splint around someone’s leg. For the privilege of skiing free they also had to do a little shoveling and maintenance on the lift line knocking down ridges and filling in ruts. The snack bar sold candy, burgers, hot dogs and such, operated by some one’s mother, or sister, or (on a rare occasion) one of the Koivula Brothers. I think from time to time they may have had something resembling ski rentals in the basement (but they wouldn’t have had more than a handful of skis), or maybe it was just a place we went to do some hasty equipment repairs, I’m not sure.
On a really busy weekend, they might actually operate both lifts, meaning that one of the other two brothers (usually the one that sold tickets) would have to man the second lift house. The lift house on the south slope had a second level or crows-nest where the operator sat so he had a better view down the hill, a mirror mounted on a tree gave him a very limited glimpse of a blind spot near the bottom. The safety gate was an old rope stretched across the lift’s path which pulled a plug (looking for all the world like an old extension cord) sticking out of an outlet and killing the motor.
I think they had some sort of small snow cat with a corrugated metal drum behind it that in the ‘60’s qualified as trail maintenance equipment. A snow mobile for hauling gas cans and the lift operator up in the morning completed the list of equipment. I think tickets were $3.00 or $3.50. The ticket consisted of a narrow (say 3/4 inch by 8-1/2) strip of paper with something simple like “Kidder Mountain” printed on it. The paper was stapled to the hem of your parka, or if it promised to be a warm spring day and you were likely to shed your coat it would be stapled to your hat or leather mittens. Mittens, yes, those black suede ones, white fleece inside and extra layer of leather in the palms. You’d were out two or three pair over the course of the winter, and one side of your parka would get pretty well roughed up from the drag of the rope as your tired hands clung to it on the ride up.I doubt if you could find a brochure or much else on the ski area. Advertising and printed material just don’t seem like they would have much in common with this ski area operated by three grown men/farmers who undoubtedly were doing little more than keeping themselves busier than there dairy farm already did.
Ralph Kangas: There was a twin rope tow in New Ipswich, NH during from 1962-1967.. It was on Appleton Road and was operated by the Koivula brothers. I skied there for at least 5 years and paid $1.50 to ski all day. Their demise was Mt. Watatic in Ashby, MA, because it opened with a chair lift. The trail count was about 5 with no grooming which was all done by skiers. It was also fairly steep for a small mountain. In new ipswich new hamp. there was a rope tow called kidder mountain. It had 2 lifts and 5 trails. It was open between 1962 and 1967.
Dave Hopper: The ski area is just of 123/124 across the road from Windblown Touring center. It is on the approach to Kidder Mountain, which I skied this past Saturday. Due to some heavy snow and an electric horse fence, I came out a slightly different route, and there on what appears to have been the base hut was the sign, "Flat Mountain Ski Area" Anyone ever hear of it?e si
Jenny Williams: Being 53 years old and having grown up in Peterborough, NH, Whit's was where we spent our childhood. Our family has lots of pictures, news clippings, etc. However, there is another lost area in New Ipswich where I now live, that I didn't see on your list. It was called Kidder Mt and was owned by my neighbors, the Koivulas. I remember skiing there in the 60s when Peterborough High School raced against Appleton (New Ipswich) and Conant (Jaffrey). I will ask my neighbors, who are now quite elderly, the exact details about the area. The warming hut is still there as well as the little building at the top of the tow. More later... Jenny Williams
Bourgault: I believe the name of the ski area was KIDDER MOUNTAIN.
As I recall, it had a rope tow, and a warming hut near the bottom. It had
a wide open main trail, and a couple of narrower tree trails on the right side
of the hill (facing down).
It definitely was the early
to mid 60s. The last time I skied, until I took it up again at 40, was
when I was 18 (in the winter of 1966). I was going straight down KIDDER,
following the icy tracks made by my friends. I had absolutely no turning
skills back then: no idea what an edge was: and was stupid. I went over
the top hump. There were a few seconds where you couldn't see the person
in front of you until they emerged towards the bottom. I fell half way
down: broke both skiis, and was lucky to have no injuries, except my pride. I
don't think the ski area survived into the 70s.
Like most things in New
Ipswich, the hill was frequented by the local Finns: many of whom were pretty
good skiers: especially when you take into account the primative skis, boots,
Do you have further information on this lost area? If so, please let us know!
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