Could Another Maine Mountain Stage a Comeback?

The mostly defunct Big Squaw Mountain would transform into Moosehead Lake Resort under a new plan by a Maine developer and nonprofit partner. The $75 million project would include a new summit quad chairlift, snowmaking system, a day lodge, hotel and summer activities. “Moosehead Lake Ski Resort and the Greenville area represent one of the only true Four Season resort venues in all of New England,” notes Big Lake Development, LLC, which seeks to purchase the resort from current owner James Confalone. Confalone was ordered by a court judge to restore the mountain to operating condition last year. Maine developer Perry Williams is behind the rebirth plan along with Provident Resources Group of Louisiana. Provident specializes in “mission-based business activities” in the housing, education and health care sectors. “Combining a family friendly ski experience with a high quality, big lake experience will be a unique product in the New England resort industry,” notes the company.

Big Squaw Mountain first opened in 1963 and passed through numerous owners over the decades including the Scott Paper Company and State of Maine. In 2004, while under the ownership of Confalone, the mountain’s Stadeli double suffered an accident which injured four skiers. The lift never reopened, rendering the summit inaccessible. Currently a local nonprofit operates the mountain’s lower mountain triple on weekends when natural snow permits. With the rebuild, that lift would remain in addition to the new summit lift and a connector surface lift between the two base areas.

The vision in many ways mimics the story of Saddleback, which a Boston-based impact investing group began rebuilding last spring. At Moosehead, Big Lake Development would finance its project with bonds from the Finance Authority of Maine. If successful, the group could reopen skiing from the 3,196 foot summit of Big Moose Mountain in late 2022.

13 thoughts on “Could Another Maine Mountain Stage a Comeback?

  1. Calvin January 21, 2021 / 10:04 pm

    By their name and the phrasing of their statements, it seems they are a religious outfit. Is a religious retreat ski area what ME — or more importantly, Greenville — needs?

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  2. reaperskier January 22, 2021 / 6:23 am

    Very interesting. I wonder if the proposed summit quad is a fixed grip or detachable.

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  3. sullivanq January 22, 2021 / 6:45 am

    I really don’t see why ski areas keep getting resurrected in New England. The skier number is going down in New England, not up. Warming climate, expense, insurance, I don’t understand the urge to reopen these areas.

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    • Tom January 23, 2021 / 6:57 am

      Win smith alluded to it, and Chris diamond mentions it in his books that their is a renaissance in skiing and new people are discovering it and staying skiing, so I guess this is the result of it, time will tell.

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      • sullivanq January 28, 2021 / 3:17 pm

        Even if more people are discovering the sport, (which is something I had not heard) it doesn’t change the fact that the climate is warming, and that insurance and other expenses are weighing down on ski areas pocketbooks.

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    • skitheeast January 23, 2021 / 9:43 am

      Maine only had two mountains of a decent size until last year. Making this number four will probably be sustainable, especially because the new additions don’t seem to be sprawling with dozens of expensive lifts. If this was in New Hampshire, I would be more skeptical given the state’s numerous ski hills.

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      • sullivanq January 28, 2021 / 3:16 pm

        I see what you mean, but lets say im someone that lives in MA or CT and I want to go all the way up to Maine to go skiing. I would probably go to the loaf or Sunday River to live up to the phrase, “more bang for your buck.”

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        • skitheeast January 28, 2021 / 4:03 pm

          I doubt they are appealing to people in CT, possibly not even MA. They could take the approach of going to Mainers from Portland and Bangor and offering a ski experience without the Sunday River/Sugarloaf level crowds. That market is not big, but it could possibly support Saddleback and one other.

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  4. jfoldno7 January 23, 2021 / 6:55 am

    Until the 2020 Covid-shortened season I had read that skier visits were increasing year over year in New England. Where did you see skier numbers were going down?

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    • sullivanq January 28, 2021 / 3:14 pm

      I didn’t mean just recently, I meant overall through the past 30 years or so. Many ski areas throughout New England have shut down, one of the most recent ones being Blandford. The snow just doesn’t come like it used to. I remember even just 10 years ago, in the middle of the winter the trees would be covered and the ground was white all around, and nowadays you get 1 snowstorm a month and the snow melts 3 days later.

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      • skitheeast January 28, 2021 / 3:57 pm

        The biggest reason for the shutdowns is that costs are up. Snowmaking is now necessary for the reasons you mentioned, and the cost of installing pipe, snow guns/fans, using water/electricity, etc., is really high. Plus, lifts are also more expensive. A T-Bar was cheap to both purchase and operate, and double chairlifts only slightly more expensive. The increase in required features from regulators combined with higher expectations from skiers makes for extremely complex, pricey lifts today.

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