The Village Area of Bartlett Page 4
"Heading East out of the Village"
Big Bear: The ski area that never was
January 1963: The Bartlett Recreation Development Corporation gets SEC approval to sell 75000 shares at $4.00 each. The developers planned to be open for the 1964 season. At the time, the concept of selling vacation house lots adjacent to ski areas was a new idea. Pinkham Realty was named the selling agent for 45 lots on 32 acres in what would be known as Alpine Village. The lots sold for $1000 to $2000 each and 17 were sold immediately. To summarize the relationship between Big Bear and Attitash, in the early 1960s, two major ski area proposals surfaced for the Rogers Crossing area just east of downtown Bartlett. Big Bear was proposed for a peak known as Rogers Mountain, while a separate ski area was proposed for Little Attitash Mountain. The privately property based Big Bear reportedly faced issues acquiring funds, whilst Attitash reportedly faced issues in obtaining agreements to use National Forest land on its upper elevations. Earle Chandler led development of Big Bear, while Phil Robertson (formerly of Cranmore) managed Attitash. While trails for both areas were cut, Big Bear never saw the light of day. Some associated with the stalled Big Bear development reportedly moved over to Attitash. Work on the area continued into the winter of 1964-65, including the installation of new chairlift towers after Christmas. It would take another 25 years and different ownership for the Big Bear idea to become reality in the form of Bear Peak, constructed under the direction of Les Otten’s LBO Enterprises.
1963 conceptual drawing for Big Bear Ski Area, Currently is Bear Peak at Attitash.
This 1947 photo was taken from about where the North Colony Motel is today
The red roofed building was the Ford house now owned by Gene Chandler. The cottages at Sky Valley can be seen to the right of the barn. The barn may have still been a part of the Stilling's families many properties. at this time.
Rogers Crossing might be considered the entrance to The Upper Village area. Back in those days Harry Rogers (pictured below in 1946) use to graze milking cows in the fields from this point up to about where Sky Valley is today.
Attitash opened in January 1965, calling itself "the red carpet ski area" for its customer service focused on limiting lift lines by limiting ticket sales. That idea was quietly dropped by the end of the decade.
Phil Robertson, perhaps recalling the success Cranmore had in developing an entirely new form of ski lift with its Skimobile, became an advocate for a cog monorail ski lift at Attitash. In early 1967, a full-size model was installed at the base, and the line of the track was eventually cut to the summit.
"Reality set in" when construction planning started, recalled Thad Thorne, and the uncertain prospects of obtaining financing and Forest Service permission for the expensive, unproven experiment caused its quiet abandonment.
In those early days before the Mountain was taken over by huge Corporate businesses it was operated like a family business and all the employees were considered part of the family. It was a close knit group and it wasn't unusual to find the general manager grooming the slopes or selling tickets. Some ski instructors worked nights grooming. The major stockholders were skiing families and they considered it their ski area...which I suppose it was.
Growth at Attitash continued with the summer Alpine Slide and Craft Village in the mid-1970s, the installation of snowmaking after several snowless winters in the early 1980s, and the expansion to Bear Peak in the 1990s.
Thad Thorne was the General Manager replacing Phil Robertson upon his retirement. Lewis Mead was the long-time buildings and grounds manager and Everett Ward kept all the equipment running. Ruth Leslie, of Cranmore Eating House fame was the food and beverage manager. (sorry, no picture of her)
This 1967 photo was sent to us by Ted Houghton. It shows the Attiash Mono Rail cars sitting on their track. This was about as far as this project got.
Check out the Eastern Slope Signal of 1966 for details. Link is in the right column....
Last stop before we head towards the Glen area is the Sauna Health Spa. It was located about a quarter mile east of Attitash and was the refurbished barn at the Bellhurst Inn property. Apparently it wasn't ready for primetime and only operated for about a year. This building later served as home to the Scarecrow Restaurant for a couple of years before they moved to Intervale, where they operated for another 50 years, till about 2018.