Crystal Notch Ski Area
Millers Falls, MA


Jimm O'Donnell's family used to run this ski area in Millers Falls. He wrote the following article about the history of this classic family operation. The rope tow still operates in a different location by the family.

Crystal Notch Ski Area was operated by Henry and Betty Waidlich on their property in Millers Falls MA. The area was open for some 12 or so years over a period spanning two decades, between 1945 and 1965. “We opened in 1945, I think,” says Betty, “and ran it for about eight years; then we closed for a few years and opened again for another four years.” The Waidlichs charged a dollar a day for the use of their three rope tows, “but kids would say that their parents had forgotten to give them money, and of course we’d let them ski anyway,” they remember. The final closing of the area was, as one might guess, due to the rising cost of insurance. 

The family operated a lodge with a small foodservice concession- “a burger was twenty-five cents,” Henry recalls. Three tows operated: a 400 footer to one side was for beginners; a 600 footer ran up “the big hill,” and a shorter tow ran at the top of this area to carry experts up another 200 foot length. The overall vertical rise of the area was about 400 feet, and ten or twelve distinct runs were available to skiers. 

At some point in the early 1970’s, son Jon Waidlich moved the 400 foot tow across the road and a half-mile down, and positioned it on a hill in his own backyard. Every now and then, Jon fires it up for family and friends, grooming the snow with a section of chain-link fence which he drags behind his tractor. He manages to contrive three distinct ways down the hill, in addition to a tree-run or two off to the side, along snowmobile trails. The tow currently boasts a new, polypropylene rope; but “the real expense came about eight years ago when I had to buy a new eight-horse motor… but the other one gave us fifty years of service before it crapped out, so I can’t complain!”

To read about the current operation of the ski area, click here:

Steve Kijak has directions: To find this area, first drive to Millers Falls. From their take West Main St. west to Millers Falls Rd west (toward Turners Falls and airport). Take a right onto East Mineral Rd. Look for a radio tower on a hill to the left. The trails started at the tower location (this is West Mineral Hill). You will see a log home on the left. This is where the lodge was located.

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