If you’ve ever wanted to bring a ski area back from the dead, here’s your chance.
The Norwood Group has listed arguably the most famous abandoned ski area in New Hampshire for sale. Priced at $3.2 million, the acquisition of the 797-acre property, which was known as Whittier, includes multiple lots. The cell tower is the only part of the land that’s not for sale.
The history of lift-serviced skiing on Nickerson Mountain (which was referred to as Whittier for marketing purposes) is complex. Multiple rope tow operations began on the mountain after World War 2. These slopes were situated on Nickerson Mountain, with the actual nearby Mt. Whittier not having lift-serviced skiing, but rather a ski trail built by the civilian conservation corps. Over the following years, more surface lifts and terrain were added to the ski area.
A major expansion came in the 1960s, with a gondola connecting Route 16 to the summit of the ski area. This gondola went over the road, had another mid-station for skiers who parked over at the actual base of the ski area, and then ascended to the top. The mountain became known for this unique setup, along with its steep terrain. In the summertime, having the revenue from the gondola allowed them to expand into different activities, like waterslides, rollerblade skiing, bumper boats, and disc golf.
Ultimately, having no snowmaking, lesser skilled skiers being intimidated by the steep terrain, the construction of the two interstates in New Hampshire (89 and 93) leading people elsewhere, and some warm winters led to its demise, ultimately closing around 1985.
A revival in the 2000s, called Mt. Madness Adventure Center, included year-round activities like motorsports, a summer camp, snow tubing, a terrain park, mountain biking, and backcountry skiing. This didn’t work out, as it closed down and was left abandoned.
It was purchased in 2017 by John Kenney, who tried to figure out if there was a way to bring it back. Issues like the inability to find investors, along with property insurance costs, made him decide to put it back on the market.
Today, most of the mountain has grown back. Lift towers of the gondola and t-bar remain, but are surrounded by trees. Over on Route 16 though, the lift towers still remain, and even cross the road. The old base terminal of the gondola is now a gift shop, and one of the lift towers is located right next to the Golden Arches of a McDonald’s. It should be noted that the gift shop and the McDonald’s are not part of the sale.
In terms of the challenge of bringing it back, Gina Marie, whose family is selling the property, cited the difficulties they’ve faced in reviving Whittier:
“We pay over $40k in insurance annually due to trespassers potentially hurting themselves. We tried raising capital to get skiing there again but would need several 10s of millions, maybe more, because the tram is trash and would need to be completely torn out and rebuilt. Nevermind the rest of the equipment. The lodge needs to be overhauled also. We couldn’t find any investors willing to take the risk. We considered other options for other business operations there and opened it up to the public for ideas but again, nothing. We’re hoping that whoever buys it can afford to maintain its natural environment or invest in a skiing operation there again someday.”
People are priming for more ski resorts to open, and this is a worthy candidate. I feel like the most viable option would be a smaller ski area with multiple off-season activities, similar to what the folks over at Ascutney Outdoors have done.
You can view the listing here. More photos of the property from the Norwood Group are below.
Price: $3.2 Million
Location: West Osipee, New Hampshire