Located near Moosehead Lake in northern Maine, Big Squaw Mountain towers above the southwestern shore at 3,196 feet in elevation.
A Surface Lift Area
In December of 1963, Squaw Mountain opened on the northern face of the mountain. Initially a small area, Squaw sported 4 trails, served by a half mile long, 600 vertical foot T-Bar.
For its sophomore season, Squaw added a novice, 243 vertical foot T-Bar, serving an additional new trail.
The State's Second Largest Area
After flying under the radar for a few years, the ski area was dramatically expanded in 1967 with the installation of a double chairlift on the upper mountain. The new lift increased Squaw's vertical drop by about 1,100 feet to 1,700 feet, instantly making it the second largest ski area in the state by some metrics. Five miles of new trail was constructed, making for 41 acres of new terrain.
The new complex also resulted in a new upper base area, centered around a new two story lodge.
A hotel was developed adjacent to the new base lodge in 1969. Opened in 1970, the Squaw Mountain Lodge featured nearly five dozen rooms as well as an indoor pool.
Scott Paper Company Takes Over
The Scott Paper Company purchased the ski area in 1970 with the intention of developing it into a wilderness resort. Duane Lander, who had helped build the hotel in 1969, was hired in August of 1970 and quickly promoted to General Manager of the ski area.
Scott's first investment in the ski area took place starting that same off-season with the installation of top to bottom snowmaking on the Penobscot Trail and lower T-Bar area. At the time, it was billed as the largest snowmaking installation in the east in terms of vertical feet covered.
Big Squaw Mountain's base area in the 1970s
Big Squaw Given Away
After losing $250,000 in 1973-74, Scott Paper Company decided to get out of the ski business. Not finding a suitable buyer, the Scott moved to paid off $1.1 million Maine Guarantee Authority debt and unload the ski area. In the fall of 1974, the Scott Paper Company gave the 2,300 acre Squaw Mountain ski resort to the State of Maine. At the time of the transfer, the resort was valued at $3.5 million. General Manager Duane Lander then leased the area from the state, eventually signing a 10 year agreement in 1976.
Aside from the installation of a small beginner slope and lift, subsequent years did not see much in way of changes to the alpine ski area, as the lack of ability to develop real estate infringed upon revenue generation possibilities. Cross country skiing, however did see additional focus, as the trail network was doubled in size for the 1977-78 season.
Maine Unloads Squaw
Circa 1980, the Maine Bureau of Parks and Recreation decided Squaw Mountain should be sold. Five years later, Maine accepted bids, choosing two finalists. Lander was one of those finalists, proposing to invest $5 million over the next decade. The other finalist, Lutz Wallem, was chosen by the state.
Wallem's bid was contingent upon selling a business in Massachusetts, which did not occur in time, thus ending the deal. The state put Squaw back up for bid the following year.
In the fall of 1986, the State of Maine sold the ski area to The Big Squaw Mountain Corp. for $300,000. Led by Lander, The Big Squaw Corporation agreed to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into the ski area that fall, including installing a $440,000 new Borvig triple chairlift on the lower mountain.
Management Musical Chairs
The Big Squaw Mountain Corp. went bankrupt in the spring of 1990, leading to a bankruptcy auction that summer.
The area was sold to a group led by Big Squaw Mountain Corp. President James Clair Sr. at the bankruptcy auction in August of 1990. Big Squaw was subsequently renamed Moosehead Resort and Ski Area. In March of 1991, Pam and Terry Kimball were named Co-General Mangers.
Prior to the 1991-92 season, the Kimballs were awarded a long term lease of the ski area. One of their first moves was to rename the area to "Moosehead Resort on Big Squaw Mountain."
Rodney Folsom, Mark Gilbert, David Amrein, Burdell LaCasce, Wallace Raubenheimer, and Chris Raubenheimer leased the area for the 1992-93 season, likely operating only the lower mountain as Ski Squaw on Big Squaw Mountain.
Carolyn and Tom Hendrickson took over operations for the 1993-94 season, likely reopening the upper mountain.
In January of 1995, James Confalone purchased a lease of the ski area. He later purchased the ski area in August of 1995.
The Thompson Double Chairlift
Despite government pressure in 2000, Confalone refused to rename Big Squaw Mountain ski area during a time in which Maine government controlled names with "squaw" were generally changed to "moose."
On March 7, 2004, a chair grip on the upper mountain double chairlift failed, resulting in four injuries. As a result, the upper mountain area would remain closed in subsequent seasons.
In August of 2010, Confalone offered Piscataquis County a $1 per year, 30 year lease on the ski area. The county did not accept the offer. The ski area did not operate in 2010-11, or 2011-12.
The ski area made headlines again in 2012, when the Maine Land Use Planning Commission claimed Confalone had illegally harvested timber. Confalone claimed the timber harvest in question was pursuant with the land agreement, which allowed for clearing of ski trails.
Back in Business?
Starting in 2012, a group named The Friends of Squaw Mountain worked to reopen the ski area with many donations and volunteer labor. After sitting idle for two seasons, Big Squaw reopened with its triple chairlift on February 10, 2013.
I hiked up there in the summer of 2012 bc a local suggested it saying it was a scenic hike. Scenic though it may have been as soon as I saw the utterly abandoned and destroyed hotel I turned around and left. Nice view but very creepy. It looked like it could have been a really nice place at one point!
Chris Flaherty 2013-03-03
Squaw Mt. known for its scenic view of Moose Head Lake is Most scenic in New England.The runs have some of the better vertical in the state of Maine.The mt. itself has different powder and snow conditions for any boarder or skier.The recent re opening of Squaw is a start of skiing in upper Maine. If you want good skiing at low key area go to Squaw.It is conveniently located near Greenville for shops ,food and activities.
bruce walbridge 2013-02-20
In 1977 my wife(7 mo pregnant)and friends went to squaw mt. Had the best time! my wife made only one run but enjoyed the moment.
Jean Fucillo 2013-02-03
Grandchildren just starting to ski. Started a conversation with my children about the wonderful winter vacations we had at Squaw when they were learning to ski. What a deal it was!! What great memories.....
David Hillman 2013-01-26
When growing up in the 70's, Squaw was like a second home to me. I remember in 1976, as part of the USA bicentenial celebrations, I bought a season's pass for $76. I think I still may have the pass. I also enjoyed snowmobiling from my family's camp on Indian Pond over to the lodge on weekends for some nice times in the lounge listening to music and dancing late into the evenings. I miss it !