Bethel Ski Hill
Mansfield Township, NJ
This area is on Private Property - Please do not trespass, thanks.
History ~ Current Photos
Thanks to Eric Perrault, we now know of this lost area in Mansfield Township. It was a family run rope tow ski area that operated for less than a decade, from the mid 1960's to the early 1970's. Eric's writeup is below and tells the story of the area:
|Originally built I believe
1965-1966, and ran until the early 1970's when one of the owners had
health problems and the warm winters of the early 1970's hampered ski
hills across the east coast.
The entrance to the parking lot was located on Valley Road. Now a private residence, the driveway passed two water retention ponds with a natural spring. At one of the ponds stands a small A-frame that once housed pumping equipment for snowmaking.
(Right - a topographic map of the area. The vertical was only about 160 feet.)
||The Base lodge has since
been incorporated into the house of the resident on the property. It was
until the early 1980's still abandoned, and was a simple pavilion with a
large stone fire ring and smoke hood. This fire ring and parts of the
lodge make up elements of the current owner's house.
Past the lodge lay the actual hill. From my count there were four trails that can still be made out today. One main wide trail in the center, with two longer and narrower trails, one to each side. A fourth made up what believe was the "bunny hill". When I was a teenager I once went sledding down the main slope, and it is surprisingly steep.
The hill was serviced by three surface lifts. A double rope tow (side by side) ran from base to summit. This lift was a well-executed homemade rig, using a series of about 8-10 rope return poles (blue plastic-coated steel) with car wheels on both sides. each rope was run around the wheel of a car chassis housed in a large A-frame at the summit. The A-frame is still standing for storage, and the car chassis have been junked outside. One was a Packard flathead straight-8. The other is a 6 cylinder, I believe. Most of the rope return poles have rusted and fallen over, although I believe a few are still standing in the woods. The nylon rope is still present as well. The A-frame is located just beside Mount Bethel Road, and at one point had the hills name on it.
Another lift was a single rope tow, perhaps the original due to its simplicity. This tow serviced the "Bunny Hill" as I see it, only running halfway up the hill to an amphitheater dug out in the woods for the return. The return was a simple rig with a large pulley so whatever made the lift run must have been at the bottom of the hill (Unknown powersource). Rope returns were very simple, just steel car wheels bolted to trees. They can still be seen, although the trees are growing around them now.
There is still at least one snow gun and stand on the hill, and some hoses. I was surprised to see that a hill of this small size actually had snowmaking.
An old woman who recently passed away in her 90's and ran a country store down the street from the hill once showed me pictures of the hill under construction, and with people actually skiing on it. There is also a picture of her standing in front of the main A-frame that housed the car chassis for the double tow. She actually gave lessons there for a short time.
Eric Perreault: I was able to take some photos from the top of this ski area in November, 2007. They really show the area well. Click on each image for the larger version.
|The A-frame rope tow engine house at the top of the hill, aside Mount Bethel Road.||The A-frame still doing what it does best...shedding snow. At some point in the 1980's it was turned into a storage garage.||Back of the A-frame. This is what a skier would have seen coming up the mountain. Note the two plywood covers like shutters near the top. These were holes where the rope would come out and return down the mountain. As a child, I remember there was a tall pole with rope return wheels in front of those holes. The pole is now lying on the ground.||The fallen rope return.|
|The two car chassis that were once inside the A-frame powering the rope tows.||Note the abundance of guide wheels to pass the rope where it needed to go. You have to love the creative work of the people who thought up these small ski hills.||The Packard Thunderbolt Straight-8 Flathead powerplant on the one chassis.|
|Straight-8s are hard to photograph in one shot!||A large concrete block with threaded studs along the liftline...must have had some apparatus for the tows.||Two more blocks side by side. I have no idea what could have been on them.|
|One of the few remaining rope return poles along the liftline.||The bunny hill rope tow. Talk about simple, just car wheels bolted to trees.||This wheel still has the rope hanging from it. This area was probably the first section of the hill to open, being so primative, with the longer trails and more modern double-tow being added later.||Looking down the rope tow liftline. Hard to imagine people skiing here 40 years ago.|
|The main trail going down the center of the hill. Sadly very overgrown.||The trail starting at the right of the rope tows.||The trail starting to the left of the rope tows.|
If you have more information on this area just let us know.
Last updated: November 26, 2007
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