Introduction ~ History ~ Historical Images ~ Memories ~ Recent Photos
In November of 2008, I had the pleasure of meeting with Ann Butler, who, along with her late husband Bill, owned and operated Harvey, later called Garnet Mountain. All of the historical imagery here is from her and her family, unless otherwise noted. Her help was invaluable and we thank her for her time.
Harvey Mountain, located on Barton Mines Road in North River, NY, was a classic family owned and operated ski area that lasted 15 years, from 1962 to 1977. While modest in size (400 feet of vertical and a single T-bar), the ski area taught many to ski, and allowed skiers to enjoy an uncrowded ski experience. Being located just 2.25 miles as the crow flies from the top of Gore, and just a few miles away from the North Creek Ski Bowl, competition was strong, but this area did fill a niche. Being a private ski area in the Adirondack Park, overbearing regulation regarding the area eventually resulted in Garnet Mountain closing. The land was sold to the state with the stipulation that the state would not run it as a ski area, and that it would return to forever wild status.
Today, Garnet Mountain has completely grown in, but lives on in the memories of those who enjoyed it.
(Right - a patch from Harvey Mountain, courtesy of Roxanne Day)
Bill Butler was a salesman for the McCormick Spice Company, selling vanilla and pepper, and was based in New York City. He often traveled up into New England and the Northeast. While on several business trips, he picked up the sport of skiing.
||On a fishing in the
Adirondacks in early 1962, he was out exploring, and went up Barton
Mines Road. He came across some property that was for sale, which
included a big stone house across the street. He had a dream of owning a
ski area. The land for sale was previously owned by the Barton Family
(which owns garnet mines up the road from the ski area), and
called one of the uncles of the Bartons (likely Alfred) who lived in FL,
to make an offer. Bill offered up $17,000 dollars to buy the property,
paid cash on it, and the area was sold quickly.
Shortly afterwards, Bill and Ann's daughter Polly was born in April 1962 while the couple was was living in NYC. Ann remained mostly at home while her husband began the process of building the ski area. He cut the trails quickly in the summer of 1962. A new Hall T-bar lift was installed that summer. Near the base of the t-bar was a horse stable that the mine had used to house their horses. He converted it into a warming hut for coffee, etc. Over the next few years it would be expanded to include light lunches, etc. The ski area, then called Harvey Mountain, opened in December, but crowds were light the first year as they were new. In time, they advertised in the Glens Falls paper, radio, etc, Lloyd Lambert, a ski reporter based in Albany, got in touch with Bill, and assisted with the promotion of Harvery in reports. Later, Lambert would hold some ski races among the kids/adults, and passed out his own trophies.
|During its operation,
Harvey and Garnet only were open weekends, holidays, and vacations, as
the Butlers lived in NYC. They opened the big stone house across the
street as a ski lodge, where skiers could rent bunks, and had a capacity
of 25 people, with breakfast and lunch served daily.
The ski school was taught by instructor Claude Kiehn. Since Harvey/Garnet was a family friendly place, children could learn to ski in an enjoyable environment.
(Right - a view of the stone house and ski lodge, circa mid 1960's)
||As running both a ski area and a lodge became more work, they hired a housekeeper, Mary, who had previoiusly worked at the Chatiemac Club. She did the cooking, buying supplies, laundry (which originally had to be brought back down to NYC each Sunday!). The lodge was still run until late 1960’s, when it was sold to a couple from New York City. They owned it for a year, then the owner went to Chicago. A man from Long Island then bought the stone house, but didn't maintain it properly. The first winter, he left the water on, which froze and burst the pipes. By the next winter, the house had burned down mysteriously, and that was the end of it. However, the garage is still there, and is used as a hunting camp.|
|There were numerous
challenges the Butlers faced while running Harvey and Garnet. There were
issues with residents in N. Creek. Some thought it was too much
competition from Gore, which Ann described as "ridiculous." There was
also some friction from Ski Bowl enthusiasts. Based on the large size of
Gore, it is hard to believe that Harvey was considered to be a major
competitor - but rather a modest alternative to a much larger resort.
The Adirondack Park Agency made a ruling and zoned the ski area with enough restrictions that the Butlers couldn’t do anything additional with their property – no homes, no more expansion, no modifications. They wished to install snowmaking by using water from the Balm of Gilead Stream - but the state wouldn't allow them to do so. They also were only allowed one sign in the entire park -though state areas could have as many as they wanted. A sign was not allowed at the bottom of Barton Mines Road as well. In order to compete somewhat, they paid someone to park a truck near Gore Mountain with a sign advertising Garnet Mountain each day!
To the right is a map from their Garnet Mountain brochure, explaining the sign situation.
||By now, you're probably
wondering about the name change. Harvey Mountain became Garnet Mountain
around 1965, to give a landmark in the name instead of Harvey. That way,
skiers could at least find the Garnet Mine road.
Bill Butler did not give up fighting the state to expand or have more signs, but eventually, realized that the state would never budge. Other ski areas were installing snowmaking systems in the 1970's, but Garnet could not. Insurance rates were climbing. Finally, at the end of the 1976-1977 ski season, Bill met with the state, and sold them the land, with several stipulations:
1. The state could not run a ski area
The state agreed, and the area was sold. The state dismantled the T-bar lift, and tore down the stable and the warming hut. Ann believes the ski area was sold to a Long Island Ski Area (possibly Bald Hill?).
After all man-made traces were removed from the area, nature took over - and today, the former ski area is now forest.
Although Garnet Mountain no longer exists, its legacy lives on in the Butler family and all of those who enjoyed it. And to show that small ski areas produce professional racers, one of Ann's nieces once who learned at Harvey skied on a women's pro circuit. Also, her daughter Polly now teaches ski lessons at Deer Valley, Utah.
From the Harvey Mountain Era
|The base of the Hall T-bar, sometime in the 1963-1965 time frame. Ann Butler remembers the crew from Hall as being very professional and great to work with.||
|Due to the area's high elevation (near 1850'), snow lingered longer than other areas. Spring skiing on corn snow was an enjoyable experience.|
|Here is a view of one of the main slopes along the ski patrol|
|The base lodge and T-bar. Date unknown, but before 1970, as the living quarters on the second floor had not been constructed yet. Click on the image for the larger view.|
|Here is a Harvey Mountain Brochure, circa 1963-1965. Please click on each image for the larger version.|
Garnet Mountain Era
|Here is a Garnet Mountain Brochure, circa 1963-1965. Please click on each image for the larger version.|
Polly Butler Jette's Photos
Polly is the Butlers' daughter and sent us some great photos of the ski area! Click on each photo for a larger version.
|A view of the base area from across the street.||T-bar to the right, base lodge to the left.||A lesson begins at the bottom of the T-bar.||View of the T-bar and liftline.|
|The main slope with the spruce tree visible in the middle.||Snack bar inside the lodge.||Fireplace and tables inside the lodge.||Inside the lodge.|
This is where I won my first ski
races as a kid. I remember the black lab was named Harvey that hung out at the
base lodge. My parents tell me we used to go there as a family of 4 and ski for
$10. Couldn't beat those prices.
Peter Bishop: I have skied there as a kid of about 12 in about 1960 when there was no other areas with consistent snow. I now ski at Gore and West Mt. after learning at the North Creek Ski Bowl as a kid. It's on the back side of Gore Mt. before the X/C area of .
Patrice Williamson: My husband and I used to ski at Garnet Hill in North Creek in the early 1070's. They had a small "warming hut" lodge at the bottom of the one tow they had. They had teh best hot dogs and hot chocolate and a huge fireplace! They only sold hot dogs, hamburgers and hot chocolate, coffee and soda. Not exactly like today's ski area "food courts" they have now!
A 1994 aerial view shows Garnet Mountain. Note that the trails are still slightly visible, but quite grown in.
Base Area - November 11, 2008
Note - for all of the following photos, you may click on the image for the larger version.
On November 11, 2008, Andy Dufresne and I explored what is left of Garnet Mountain. Despite being lost now for over 30 years, much remained. There was a light coating of snow at the base that was a bit more thick at the top. There were occasional flurries along with temperatures in the mid 30's, making it feel like winter. We started by exploring the base, hiked up the T-bar, and came down a few trails.
|A view of the base of the ski area from Barton Mine Road. If you didn't know exactly where the ski area was, you might just miss it.||Looking towards the former base area. This view is taken from a similar location to the above views which show the area in the 1960's.||A foundation - likely the maintenance building.||We found what appears to be a grooming drum near the foundation.|
|The lower foundation for the T-bar.||The T-bar liftline is remarkably clear, aside from some trees that have fallen down across it.||One of the tower foundations.||Near what appeared to a mid-unload station.|
|Another lift tower foundation.||The last pitch before the unload. Note the piles of wood on the right. These are the remains of a wooden ramp that would smooth out the grade, making unloading easier.||The last lift tower foundation, looking down the liftline.|
|The summit lift operator's hut has toppled over - and is the last remaining structure at the ski area.||Close up of the hut.||Counterweight for the T-bar.|
|We hiked down the narrower trail from the summit, just to the right of the upper portions of the T-bar (we hope to find out its name). It was mostly grown in, but was actually clear enough in a few spots that one could make a few quick turns on it.||More of the trail.||Continuing down the trail.|
|Looking up the trail.||We found the well for the ski area about halfway down - there was piping nearby. The water system must have been gravity fed.||I was very excited as we found the tree that served as a meeting spot on the wide open trail. It was clearly that same tree - much taller than other nearby ones. It was once all by itself in the center of a wide open trail.|
If you have more information on this area just let us know.
Last updated: Feb 20, 2011
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