Nolan's Notch
West Warren, MA
Years of operation unknown

We first heard about this ski area from B. Rice:
"The remnants of a rope tow still exist in West Warren, Ma.  Just off Rt 67 across the Quaboag River behind the sewage treatment facility. As far as I know, it hasn't been used in at least 30 years, but the towers are still there."

This tipped off a NELSAPPER that lives in Central Mass and she decided to check it out!

Laurie P. went out to explore and research Nolan's Notch Ski Area upon hearing of it. Here is what she had to say:

Nolan's Notch was owned and operated by John and Ann Nolan. It was a little ski area located on Gilbert Street in West Warren. It is just off of Route 67 just past Como's Auto Sales on the left as you head toward Palmer. There is a green steel bridge that crosses the Quabog River. Take that left and follow it about 1/4 mile under the railroad bridge and Nolan's Notch is right there. The Rope tow area is on the left hand side of the road. An abandoned house and Barn are on the right side of the road. There is a sign above the door on the barn that says "Nolan's Notch".

After finding the area, I decided to talk to some of the local people while waiting for the day to brighten so I could return to take pictures. I returned to the center of this small town and entered the Breakfast Nook. It was a friendly little place and all of the people there were willing to talk and tell me what they knew about the place.

I first spoke with Jim Allard who was a life long town resident. He informed me that not only did they have the ski hill there, but they also had a miniature golf course. He said that the area was very popular in it's time. They were always busy. He added that in the early to mid 70's the ski area closed, but the mini golf ran for about another 10 years or so. According to Jim, the area closed due to bad snow years and the lack of snowmaking. The barn on the property was used as the Ski lodge. Jim and another gentleman in the Breakfast Nook told me of a man named Cliff Fountain who used to do all of the maintenance there. They gave me his phone number and even loaned me a cellular phone to call him. Unfortunately, Cliff was ill and was unable to talk to me at the time. He took my number and will call me when he is better.

According to Jim, the Nolan's owned the entire "mountain" as locals referred to the large hill it is on. This meant that there was plenty of room for expansion, but none was ever done. If they had expanded they may have doubled or tripled the length of the slope and increased the vertical. He said that he believed that Ann Nolan was still living and was in a nursing home. He didn't believe that the couple had any children. According to him, the property had been sold and a deposit taken, but then the seller got a better offer and took their deposit as well. It is currently in litigation.

Here's the terraserver image of the area.

Nothing is know about it's hours of operation, or the cost of skiing there. Because there were lights attached to the top of the Rope tow towers, it is fair to say that this area probably had night skiing. The hill looked to be about 400 ft long or so and consisted of two still recognizable, but grown up slopes. It's vertical was about 100 ft. though I was told that it was between 150 and 200 ft. There was a rope tow, all of the towers still standing, that serviced the area. Each of the 7 towers had the wheel and lighting equipment still attached. At the top was a motor house. The motor house stood about 6 feet off the ground and had a metal or iron ladder leading up into it. From the back of the motor house, I was able to take pictures of the motor, which is still intact and in relatively good condition considering the area was said to have closed 30 years earlier.

The road that serviced the area was only about 15 feet from the bottom of the rope tow and there was little run out area. It continued up and around the edge of the area between the slope and the barn (lodge). Along the Right hand side of the hill as you skied down was a railroad track (This track is still used today, as a train came through during my visit. I believe it is a Conrail track.).

The barn, which served as the lodge, was across the street and to the left of the hill as you skied down it . It appeared as if cars would have parked in a field near the barn and between the house and the miniature golf area. I looked in the Barn windows and through a hole in the front door, but there really was little evidence of it being used as a lodge The barn was cluttered with old machinery, a car and several mowers were in the barn. There were several wooden benches in the barn which may have been used for skiers to sit on.

I quickly explored what was to have been the mini golf area as well. There was a little building with pieces of the golf course inside and around to one side of it. Several of the putting greens were still in the place they had been during it's last year of operation, but weeds and moss had grown up around and through them. Several rotten picnic tables were found as well.

The house on the property was in disrepair. Windows were broken out and one section was boarded up and looked as though there may have been a small fire at one time. From the road I could see furniture, curtains and light fixtures still in the place when the previous owner had left them. Though the house is now deteriorating and in need of much work, it looked as though it may have once been a nice house. Unfortunately, I ran out of disk space on my camera and didn't get a picture of the house.

Vital Statistics of area:

Vertical drop: 100-200 feet
Lifts: 1 Rope Tow
Trails and Slopes:2 that are obvious

Laurie's Photo Album, with pictures taken in February of 2002. Click on each picture for the larger version.

Motor for the rope tow that is housed in the top building (no larger pic available)

Underneath the Motor Room, ladder leading into the motor room.

Tower with wheel and light still attached.

Looking down the slope.

Sign on the barn.

Another tower through the trees, 
notice the light still on it.

The barn that was used as a lodge.

Close-up of Motor house, notice the observation window that looks over the hill..

A shot of the hill from the barn. Notice the road between the hill and the barn.

Bottom of the Rope Tow. There is a switch on the left side and the light at the top.

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