J-Bar – Black Mountain, NH

Bottom station with drive shaft.
Looking up the line.
Old-school sheaves.
Another view of the drive.

14 thoughts on “J-Bar – Black Mountain, NH

  1. Teddy's Lift World February 20, 2019 / 5:43 am

    I think this lift may be standing but not operating. It hasn’t operated this year at all. It’s a very cool lift that I hope stays around. In these pictures it looks like the Js are removed from the line.


    • sullivanq October 9, 2020 / 6:55 am

      I would mostly agree. This lift was one of the first here in the 1930s, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s at the end of its useful life. They would need to decide whether its more viable to purchase a new beginner surface lift/chairlift, or refurbish this old Jbar.


      • Cam ciechon November 23, 2022 / 7:52 pm

        They have recently refurbished it, and was running last year.


  2. Teddy's Lift World March 7, 2019 / 5:12 am

    Significant effort is being put into this lift in order to run it this weekend.


  3. Robert December 29, 2019 / 5:30 am

    Can customers request black mountain opens this lift? I was told that they only open it for special occasions and I’m staying at Whitney’s inn with kids new to skiing. It would be fantastic for them


    • Teddy's Lift World December 29, 2019 / 6:55 am

      I wrote a long email to them telling them that I was interested and they ran it for about 15 minutes for me, but I don’t know if they’ll always do that for people. I heard that they did it for a group of guys about a week before. It wouldn’t hurt to try I guess.

      I got a video of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24ar7TiQkoE


      • ski man January 31, 2022 / 3:58 pm

        There is a big Comment of the lift here it is.

        Oldest Ski Lift In The US: Black Mountain: J-Bar

        The title of the oldest overhead cable lift in the country is debatable but it most likely goes to the J-Bar at Black Moutain. It was not always a J-Bar. When it was installed in 1935 it was a rope tow built by Moody’s Inn to service a small ski hill. Around 1937 shovel handles purchased from Sears were installed on the rope tow to make it easier to ride, although the shovel handles were very small and could only fit one hand. In 1954 the shovel handles were replaced with simple J bars without any modern equipment like springboxes. Without springboxes it can be a little difficult if you’ve never ridden a surface lift before. During that same time, the towers were replaced with metal I beams. The counterweight was also moved from the bottom vault drive to a new top return. As Black Mountain expanded the J-Bar was left in its own area becoming a lift with little purpose. In the 1970s and 80s, it was used to drag snow tubes up for a tubing hill. As of 2019 it rarely runs and is only kept for historical purposes.

        The J-Bar uses very primitive technology that is actually very effective. The drive is inside a wooden building. It is driven by a small electric motor that is very quiet. Instead of having a slow button there is a shovel handle attached to a cord that lowers a piece of an old railroad track to act as a clutch to slow it down. There is a tall tower on top of the drive building that an operator can climb into. From there they can view the top and slow the lift down with another shovel handle clutch if needed. It is a very cool old lift.


  4. ski man November 11, 2021 / 8:24 pm

    isn’t this supposed to be the first lift in the USA


    • ne_skier November 21, 2021 / 6:50 pm

      Not the first lift, but the oldest lift still standing.


  5. owen November 21, 2021 / 5:40 pm

    yes it is the oldest


  6. Ken Holmes March 4, 2022 / 3:21 pm

    The owners of Black report that they will be spinning this lift on March 5th, 2022, for the first (and probably only) time this season.


  7. Chris October 30, 2022 / 9:24 pm

    Looks like Black Mountain is serious about regular operation of the J-Bar this season.

    From a Sept 25 Facebook post:
    “Kick it old school this winter, like vintage 1935 old school and ski alongside history. The J-Bar on Whitney’s Hill will be back in action. Did you know that our J-Bar is the FIRST overhead cable lift in the USA? Seriously!!!! So, purchase your season passes TODAY”

    This afternoon they held a community service day to paint and restore the lift and it’s building in anticipation of the season.

    Hopefully it runs regularly, I’ll have to go up and get a ride on it.


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