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Sunday River
Newry, Maine
The South Ridge base area (2007)
The South Ridge base area (2007)
Sunday River Details
First Year of Operation:1959
Vertical Drop:2,340 feet
Lifts in Operation:1 chondola, 4 high speed quads, 5 quads, 3 triples, 1 double, surface lifts
Lifts Removed/Non Operational:2 triples, 3 doubles, surface lifts
Located just east of the northern White Mountains, Sunday River is one of New England's largest and most popular ski areas.

Local Beginnings
In the spring of 1958, the Bethel Area Development Corp., led by President Howard Cole, announced plans to develop a ski area on the northeast slope of Bald (Barker) Mountain. Soon thereafter, the Sunday River Skiway Corporation was formed and work was commenced.

Initial plans called for a 1958-59 opening with one lift and trails designed by Sel Hannah. The company likely ran into issues with funds and a lack of time, resulting in a one season postponement.

Activity began to accelerate in the summer of 1959, as funds were released to cut trails and install a T-Bar. A firm deadline was set for December.

Sunday River Skiway Opens
The $90,000 Sunday River Skiway opened on December 19, 1959 as a modest, surface lift served ski area. A 3,200 foot long T-Bar served two intermediate slopes, while a rope tow was constructed on a smaller novice slope.

For its third season, Sunday River expanded to the top of the ridge as it opened the Locke Mountain area. A 2,200 foot long T-Bar was added, serving an extended stretches of the Cascades and Sunday Punch trails. Overall, the ski area's vertical drop improved to 1,400 feet.

One of the T-Bars (early 1960s)
One of the T-Bars (early 1960s)
The novice rope tow was replaced with a new T-Bar for the 1963-64 season. Known as the Mixing Bowl, the expanded slope would be the site of Sunday River's first snowmaking installation in 1970-71.

Big Changes
Sunday River finally took the plunge into the world of chairlifts for the 1971-72 season, when it installed a 5,100 foot long Pullman-Berry double chairlift to its new Barker Mountain area. The following year, the ski area was taken over by Killington's parent company and, in 1973, Les Otten was named General Manager.

Under the new ownership, the ski area saw numerous under the hood changes, such as improved snowmaking and base facilities.

Otten Takes Over
Les Otten purchased the ski area in 1980 and quickly turned dreams into reality while growing skier visits exponentially.

For 1981-82, Otten pushed through an aggressive expansion program, including the addition of the South Ridge double chairlift, 20 more acres of snowmaking, and 4 new trails.

Sunday River's first triple chairlift, the Locke Triple, was installed for the 1984-85 season. Along with Pleasant Mountain's summit lift, the Locke chairlift was the first triple in Maine. Expansions had only just begun.

The Sunday River Express (2007)
The Sunday River Express (2007)
For the 1985-86 season, North Peak was added. For 1986-87, Spruce Peak. For 1987-88, the first phase of Whitecap. 1987-88 also saw the installation of the Sunday River Express, Maine's first high speed detachable quad chairlift. Sunday River had started the decade as a minor player in the industry and finished the decade as one of the largest in the East.

Even with all of the additions of the 1980s, investments did not halt in the new decade. For 1991-92, Aurora Peak was added, followed by the Jordan Bowl in 1994 and Oz in 1995.

Mergers and Aquisitions
Meanwhile, Les Otten formed LBO Resort Enterprises in 1994 and started to compete with former boss Pres Smith's S-K-I Ltd.. In rapid fashion, LBO purchased Attitash, NH and Sugarbush, VT that year, followed by Cranmore, NH in 1995.

The following year, LBO Resort Enterprises and S-K-I Ltd. merged to form American Skiing Company, bringing Sunday River and rival Sugarloaf under the same ownership.

For the following season, the Perfect Turn Express detachable quad was installed. With the American Skiing Company quickly sliding into, this would be the last new lift at Sunday River for over a decade.

On August 8, 2007, American Skiing Company sold Sunday River and Sugarloaf for $77 million to Boyne USA Resorts, which immediately sold the assets to CNL Properties Inc. while procuring a lease agreement to operate the areas.

For the 2008-09 season, the new ownership made quite a splash by installing New England's first chondola (a combined gondola and chair lift), while also adding night skiing. In addition, Sunday River has continued to see heavy investment in snowmaking, resulting in it having some of the earliest openings in New England in recent years.

Expansion History
Expansion History
Project NameSeasonStatus
Locke Mountain1961-62Open
Barker Mountain1971-72Open
North Peak1985-86Open
Spruce Peak1986-87Open
Aurora Peak1991-92Open
Jordan Bowl1994-95Open

Image Gallery
One of the Locke Mountain T-Bars in the early 1960sThe Locke Mountain area on the 1962 Sunday River trail map1962-63 Eastern Ski Map1962-63 Sunday River Skiway Trail Map
1964-65 Eastern Ski Map1964-65 Sunday River Skiway Trail Map1965-66 Eastern Ski Map1966-67 Eastern Ski Map
1967-68 Eastern Ski Map1967-68 Sunday River Skiway Trail MapLocke Mountain on the 1970 Sunday River trail map1970-71 Eastern Ski Map
View All Images in Sunday River Image Gallery

Click on lift name for information and photos
Name Type Brand Installed Removed After Details
Standing Lifts
Aurora Peak QuadChairlift - Quad - FixedYan  1991-92    Details
Barker Mountain ExpressChairlift - Quad - DetachableYan-Poma  1987-88    Details
ChondolaChondola - Sixpack - 8 PersonDoppelmayr-CTEC  2008-09    Details
Jordan Bowl ExpressChairlift - Quad - DetachableDoppelmayr  1994-95    Details
Jordan Mountain DoubleChairlift - Double - FixedGaraventa CTEC-Hall  1994-95    Details
Little White Cap QuadChairlift - Quad - FixedYan  1987-88    Details
Locke Mountain TripleChairlift - Triple - FixedBorvig  1984-85    Details
North Peak ExpressChairlift - Quad - DetachableDoppelmayr  1997-98    Details
Oz QuadChairlift - Quad - FixedDoppelmayr  1995-96    Details
Quantum Leap TripleChairlift - Triple - FixedHall-Borvig  1992-93    Details
South Ridge ExpressChairlift - Quad - DetachablePoma  1992-93    Details
Spruce Peak TripleChairlift - Triple - FixedBorvig  1986-87    Details
White Cap QuadChairlift - Quad - FixedYan  1988-89    Details
White Heat QuadChairlift - Quad - FixedYan  1988-89    Details
Past Lifts
Barker Mountain DoubleChairlift - Double - FixedPullman-Berry  1971-72  1986-87  Details
Cascades T-BarT-Bar  1959-60    Details
Fall Line DoubleChairlift - Double - FixedBorvig  1985-86  2007-08  Details
Locke Mountain T-BarT-Bar  1961-62  1983-84  Details
Mixing Bowl T-BarT-BarHall  1963-64    Details
North Peak TripleChairlift - Triple - FixedBorvig  1985-86  1996-97  Details
South Ridge DoubleChairlift - Double - FixedHall  1981-82  1991-92  Details
South Ridge TripleChairlift - Triple - FixedBorvig  1986-87  2007-08  Details
Sunday Punch PomaPlatter  1978-79  1980s  Details

Skier Visit History
Season Skier Visits Source
2005-06473,000GraphAmerican Skiing Company Form 10-K 2006  
2004-05525,000GraphAmerican Skiing Company Form 10-K 2005  
2003-04523,000GraphAmerican Skiing Company Form 10-K 2004  
2002-03501,000GraphAmerican Skiing Company Form 10-K 2003  
2001-02521,000GraphAmerican Skiing Company Form 10-K 2002  
2000-01547,000GraphAmerican Skiing Company Form 10-K 2001  
1999-00513,000GraphAmerican Skiing Company Form 10-K 2000  
1998-99526,000GraphAmerican Skiing Company Form 10-K 1999  
1997-98552,000GraphAmerican Skiing Company Form 10-K 1998  
1994-95546,000GraphBangor Daily News  
1993-94525,000GraphBangor Daily News  
1992-93525,000GraphLewiston Sun Journal  
1991-92502,507GraphLewiston Sun Journal  
1990-91439,000GraphLewiston Sun Journal  
1989-90396,000GraphLewiston Sun Journal  
1983-84110,000GraphLewiston Sun Journal  
1979-8040,000GraphSki America  

Ticket Price History
Weekend Full Day Lift Ticket
Season Price Source
1992-93$39.00GraphBoston Globe  
1990-91$36.00GraphBoston Globe  
1989-90$33.00GraphBoston Globe  
1988-89$30.00GraphNew York Times  
1987-88$27.00GraphBoston Globe  
1983-84$18.00GraphSki America  
1982-83$16.00GraphRand McNally Winter Recreation Map  
1981-82$15.00GraphSki America  
1980-81$13.00GraphSki America  
1977-78$9.25GraphBoston Globe  
1971-72$7.00GraphBoston Globe  
1970-71$6.00GraphBoston Globe  
1969-70$6.00GraphBoston Globe  
1967-68$4.50GraphEastern Ski Atlas  
1964-65$4.00GraphEastern Ski Atlas  
1963-64$4.00GraphBuxton's Eastern Ski Slopes  
1962-63$4.00GraphBuxton's Eastern Ski Slopes  

Visitor Memories
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External Links
  • Sunday River - official site
  • Sunday River - Wikipedia
  • Last updated: April 15, 2014

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