Diamond Hill
Diamond Hill, RI

1939-1981

Diamond Hill Reservation was located on quite a large hill in Diamond Hill, RI.  This had a significant vertical drop of 350 feet, and had some fairly steep terrain.  Mark McCaughey suggests that one trail, the Big Hill, was a steep mogul field similar to Outer Limits at Killington.  Diamond Hill shared the same hill as Ski Valley.  Guidebooks sometimes confuse the two areas so the lift history won't be discussed here.  The area closed, possibly due to poor management and terrain too steep for most skiers.

Update: I visited this area during the latter half of February, 1999, and it answered many of the questions I had about this area.  This was one very bizarre ski area!  It apparently had several phases to its existence.  It opened around 1939 as a hike up and ski down area, with night skiing and a toboggan run.  By the mid 1960's it had two double chairs, up one super steep slope on the right and halfway up the hill on a lower slope on the left.  I have a feeling the area closed, sold the chairs, then reopened with a few rope tows in the late 1970's.  This is because the double chairs have been removed while the rope tow still remains. The Colorado Skier has researched this as well.

The slope on the right, dubbed "The Big Hill" by locals, was unbelievably steep, the steepest slope I have ever seen for an area this size!  The double originally went up the side of the slope, then over a rock ledge/outcropping.  When the rope tow was installed, it had to be blasted into this rock.  The slope was also covered in small rocks and boulders--must have been tricky skiing.

From this slope, you could ski to the right as you face down the slope.  From there, a narrow intermediate trail went down the ridge and then to the top of the other double.  Like the the first double, this one went over quite a cliff.  Another slope had been blasted to the far right as you look down.  That slope had at least one rope tow, I found the tractor.

Like I said before, this area was non-traditional for RI and southern New England.  The area is loaded with rock outcroppings and rough terrain, it was difficult to hike up it.  Thankfully, the area is a town park, so you can hike up it without worrying about No Trespassing signs.

Pictures follow at the end.

Diamond Hill by the year:
1939
(Skier's Guide to New England)
Here's the description of Diamond Hill---some of these could have been located on the Ski Valley side of the hill.

Diamond Hill Reservation--Length 1/5 mile, 25 degree slope, vertical drop 116 feet, novice and intermediate.
New Diamond Hill Trail--Length .25 miles, width 20 feet, 40 degree slope, vertical drop 460 feet. NW exposure, needs 6" of snow to ski, intermediate trail.
Diamond Hill Slope--Length 1/5 mile, 32 feet wide, 42 degree slope, vertical drop 140 feet.  North exposure (likely on Diamond Hill side), intermediate, needs 6 inches of snow to ski, night skiing, 1000 foot toboggan chute.

1940
(The Complete Ski Guide)
During this year, Diamond Hill had one trail. There were no lifts, so it was a "hike it on your own" type of place.

1966
(America's Ski Book)
Diamond Hill was fairly small...vertical drop of 180 feet as compared with a later drop of 350. Lifts included the T-bar and rope tows. Snowmaking had been installed (certainly necessary given Rhode Island's fickle weather).  Update: I believe this was for Ski Valley, because I don't think the area had any T-bars.

1970
(Eastern Ski Map)
2 chairlifts, 2 tows, 5 trails, novice through expert, packer, night skiing, 350 foot drop.

1971-1972
(Brochure provided by New England Ski Museum)
Click here to view the brochure. The area had two double chairs and NASTAR racing.

Some additional information provided by NELSAP readers:

This appeared in the Colorado Skier newsletter:

DIAMOND HILL (Cumberland), [closed], Located 1 mile north of Cumberland on RI 114 in Diamond Hill State Park. We sense a death and rebirth here. Early on (1968 to 1976) there were 2 chairs. Then the area closed and seemed to reopen with just 3 rope tows in 1977. By 1981 there was only one rope tow listed and the ski area was operated by the "Rhode Island Division of Parks and Recreation". Not listed since 1982. Vertical Drop: 290 ft Top: 500 Base: 209 Lifts: 2 chairlifts, 3 rope tows Night skiing

And thanks to Garry Waldeck who supplied this information Diamond Hill:

"I live in RI and there is a closed ski area called Diamond hill. The vertical is ~300 and the pitch is good the whole way. This is one reason it closed, no good for beginners. We climb this after it snows. It is in the snow belt of course. One bad thing is that there is a long (10 minute) flat walk to get to the incline from the car (from that statement you can tell that I am a native RIer). The area is on Diamond hill road and is easy to spot on any map. And you can't miss the entrance because there is a big sign that says "no skiing, snowboarding, sledding, sliding, etc allowed", however I have talked to the police and they says as long as you are not drinking, smoking, or causing trouble, or there after dark there is no problem."

"I called the DEM (where I work) to find the answer to your question and they said it (Diamond Hill park) is managed by the town of Cumberland. I called Cumberland and left a message with parks and rec. Hopefully she gets back to me. I have recently heard that the town is looking for a buyer for this site."

"Did Diamond Hill used to be called Ski Valley? Yes, I believe it was called Ski Valley USA. There was a wall with this painted on it, in the still existing lodge."

Mark McCaughey:

I GREW UP IN CUMBERLAND RI DURING THE 60'S AND 70'S. I HAD SEASON PASSES AT BOTH DIAMOND HILL AND SKI VALLEY AT DIFFERENT TIMES. I ALSO SKIED AT YAWGOO VALLEY AND PINE TOP (THE MISSING PIECE). MY MEMORY OF PINE TOP IS VERY VAGUE.

DIAMOND HILL AND SKI VALLEY SHARED THE SAME HILL( A LITTLE LIKE STOWE AND SMUGGLERS). THE DIAMOND HILL PROPERTY WAS OWNED BY THE STATE OF RI AND THE SKI AREA WAS OPERATED AT DIFFERENT TIMES BY THE STATE AND/OR
PRIVATE CONCERNS THAT LEASED THE FACILITIES. ORIGINALLY, DIAMOND HILL WAS EQUIPPED WITH TWO ROPE TOWS IT LATER HAD TWO CHAIRLIFTS. AS MENTIONED IN YOUR WRITE UP.

THE PITCH OF WHAT THE LOCALS CALLED "THE BIG HILL" WAS QUITE CHALLENGING.  BELIEVE IT OR NOT A SHORT VERSION OF OUTER LIMITS AT KILLINGTON ESPECIALLY AFTER SNOW MAKING -GREAT WHALEBACKS! . I HOPE SOMEONE ELSE CONFIRMS THIS. YOU CAN IMAGINE THE CHALLENGE OF A ROPE TOW ON THIS KIND OF HILL. IF YOU COULD MAKE IT TO THE TOP YOU COULD PROBABLY MAKE IT DOWN.

Beth Pinkham:

I learned to ski at Diamond Hill in RI back in the late 60's early 70's. The site brought back memories of my first attempt at the "Big Hill"-I thought i had really arrived when I'd done that. My first ski equipment was bought at the Fritz Benz ski shop that was part of the lodge-trudges in there many a time with a quarter to replace a piece of edge I'd lost of my ski. I still live in the area and vote in the lodge and you can still smell the leather gloves from the ski shop! If I'm right I believe it was the only area to bring in Austrian ski instructors as part of a Hannes Schneider ski school. Their accents were so strong it wasn't easy to pick up on what they wanted you to learn. 

The manager at the time was Lee Stacy-a nice guy who was a hands on operator. One of my family's favorite stories is how he got to know all the Season's Pass holders by name. This could be embarrassing when you'd be discreetly trying to pick yourself up of the snow after a fall, and you'd hear him from out of nowhere-are you alright, Beth! The whole area immediately knew you fell! There was also a trail that went around the back of the hill that you could actually see the Boston skyline from in good weather.

Rudy Jaworski:           I grew up in Pawtucket, RI and learned to ski at Diamond Hill in the early 60's. We first went to Diamond Hill to rent toboggans. They had toboggan chutes. This was after Squaw Valley Olympics but before the Innsbruck Olympics. There was the "Big Hill" and the "Little Hill"; they only had rope tows. The little hill was all we little kids could handle. To take the Big Hill to the top you had to be heavy enough and strong enough to take it to the top. The rope, without skiers, would be perhaps 10-15 feet above the ground at the point where the slope went up "the steep part"; so kids would sit on the rope to stay in contact with the snow. Once you were going up "the steep part", you were holding on for dear life as the rope was now trying to drag you up "the steep part" while the rope twisted in your hands. Toward the top if you were still holding on you now had to fight the rope as it tried to pull you down to the level of the snow. It was a real triumph to ride the tow to the top. I recall a rope tow ticket costing $1.25 for night skiing.

Charles Stobbs: I used to ski at Diamond Hill in the late fifties. I only remember a rope tow at that time. The engine was at the top and the operator might ask you to carry up a 5 gallon can of gasoline (while holding on to the rope with the other hand). 

1992

Diamond Hill and parts of Ski Valley, Cumberland Rhode Island in 1992 (Microsoft Terraserver). You can see the main slope and several smaller slopes.

 

1999
(Personal Trip)
Here are the many pictures from this area.


This is the base of the mountain, looking up towards "The Big Hill".  The rope tow line is on the left while double had cut across the center of the slope.

 

This was the old base station for the double.

As you move up the Big Hill, you can see one of the rope tow towers.  The rope is gone.
One of the rope tow towers, with sockets for the lights for night skiing.

The trail that connects the top of the double to "The Big Hill"
Looking down the Big Hill, down the rope tow line.  Look at all the loose rock and how steep the slope was!

The old cement for the double, at the summit.
Once you got off the double, you would ski down this ramp.

Here's the old terminus for the double.
After skiing down to the other, less difficult slopes, you would pass near the other double.  Here's the top of it.

From there you could ski down to this slope, which used to be served by a rope tow.
The old ballast at the top of that rope tow.

The tractor that used to power that rope tow.  The rope would go through the groove in the tires.
The sign at the bottom prohibiting sledding.  Imagine, 5 days in jail for sledding?!

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