NewEnglandSkiHistory.com
CT
|
Maine
|
Massachusetts
|
New Hampshire
|
RI
|
Vermont
SkiNewEngland.net
 
Butternut Basin in the late 1960s or early 1970s
Ski Butternut
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Status: Open
First Season:1936-37
Vertical Drop:1000 feet
Standing Lifts:3 quads, 1 triple, 1 double, surface lifts
Past Lifts:4 doubles, surface lifts
Left: Butternut Basin in the late 1960s or early 1970s
Recent NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News:
1/27/2015: Massachusetts Ski Areas Shut Down By Travel Ban
SkiNewEngland.net Profile
Located on 1,770 foot Warner Mountain in southwestern Massachusetts, Ski Butternut is a popular mid-sized ski area.

G-Bar-S Dude Ranch

G-Bar-S Ranch
G-Bar-S Ranch

Ski Butternut's rich skiing history dates back to the 1936-37 season, when two trails were cut by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Rope tow service was also in place at that time.

The trails emptied into a large development known as G-Bar-S Dude Ranch. Years earlier, petroleum distributor Henry J. "Pop" Cairns was told he couldn't fish on a pond near Warner Mountain. Described by some as 'stubborn,' Cairns purchased the pond and the land around it in 1929. In 1936, he opened the G-Bar-S Ranch there.
By the time the 1939-40 season started, two rope tows were in place, running a combined 3,000 feet up Warner Mountain. The facility was likely the second most popular in Berkshire County with 14,500 visitors that season.

Four rope tows were in place for the 1941-42 season. While some areas closed during World War II, G-Bar-S Ranch remained in operation. A fifth rope tow was in place by the time 1948-49 started. By this time, the ski area was marketed for beginners. Each trail was claimed to end in a different place, as to avoid potential bottlenecks.

Prior to the 1950-51 season, nearby Jug End Barn, Inc. purchased the G-Bar-S Ranch from the Cairns.

Following the 1953-54 season, Francis Maher's G Bar S Corp. purchased the facility for about $100,000. G Bar S Corp would operate the ski area for two seasons.

The End of G-Bar-S Ranch

In June of 1955, the main house of the G-Bar-S Ranch facility was lost in a fire. The ranch headquarters were then moved to the recreation hall, which was subsequently upgraded. In May of 1956, that building too burned to the ground.

In September of 1956, G-Bar-S Ranch was sold at auction to Robert Wheeler for about $25,000. In addition to being the head of Wheeler & Taylor, Inc. (one time employer of Pop Cairns' daughter Alida), Wheeler was also part owner of Jug End Barn. At the time of the sale, the facility spanned 98 acres and included the ski area, the pond, a swimming pool, 12 cabins, and a bunkhouse. The ski area would likely sit idle after the auction.

In April of 1960, the old ski area was sold to James and Margaret Joyce of Barrington School, Inc. The school, which opened nearby in the fall of 1960, was purchasing land for a potential campus. Barrington School would quickly run into financial problems.

The Murdock Family Arrives

The Clubhouse Lodge circa the mid to late 1960s
The Clubhouse Lodge circa the mid to late 1960s

In August of 1962, former Mohawk Mountain manager Channing Murdock and his wife Jane purchased the old ski area from the the Joyces and Barrington School. In April of 1963, Channing Murdock signed an agreement to purchase a new Carlevaro & Savio double chairlift for $83,585.

The Murdocks opened their new ski area on Christmas Eve of 1963. In addition to the new chairlift, up to 4 of the old G-Bar-S Ranch rope tows served 6 trails. Snowmaking was installed as well. Both in their mid to late 20s, the Murdocks were the youngest ski area owners around.

A busy 1963-64 resulted in the installation of a T-Bar for Butternut's sophomore season, serving the East Area.

New Lifts and a Sister Area

The Top Flight Quad (2016)
The Top Flight Quad (2016)

Starting in 1968, two significant investments took place. The first was at Butternut, as a new Carlevaro & Savio chairlift was installed, serving two new intermediate trails in the Highline Area. In addition, the base lodge was expanded by 2,500 feet.

The second big investment took place following the 1968-69 season, when Channing Murdock purchased defunct Satan's Ridge in nearby Connecticut. The area would reopen for 1969-70 as Ski Sundown and would remain under Murdock's ownership for a few seasons. Meanwhile, a beginner double chairlift was installed at Butternut.

The next big expansion took place at Butternut in 1975, when the Overbrook Area debuted. Serviced by Massachusetts' first triple chairlift, the new pod initially featured two intermediate trails. The Upper Lodge, designed by Butternut skier Lo-Yi Chan of Prentice, Chan & Ohlhausen, would open in 1979 near the new area.

In November of 1983, the Murdocks purchased 135 acres of land west of the ski area. While they had planned to build a new trail pod, the trails and lifts would not be constructed.

Celebrating their 30th season at Butternut, the Murdocks upgraded their original chairlift for 1993-94. A $750,000 project, the summit lift was converted into Massachusetts' second quad chairlift. While things appeared to be running smoothly, Butternut was about to suffer back to back tragedies.

Tragedies

In June of 1994, founder Channing Murdock was seriously injured in a biking crash. In addition to multiple broken bones, Murdock suffered permanent brain injuries that immediately ended his career.

The 1994-95 season was Butternut's worst in nearly a quarter of a century. In order to save money, new General Manager Jeff Murdock cancelled the area's property insurance. Two months later, in May of 1995, an F4 tornado hit Butternut, heavily damaging lifts, buildings, snowmaking equipment, and the countless trees that had been carefully planted and or saved over the years by Channing Murdock. Thanks to the help of ski areas all over the Northeast, as well as a $1.4 million Small Business Administration loan, Butternut was able to rebuild enough to reopen for 1995-96.

Recovery


Nearly a decade later, Butternut was able to start making sizable investments to its lift infrastructure again. Quad chairlifts were installed in consecutive seasons starting in 2004. As a result, Ski Butternut left the decade with 3 quads and a triple serving its core trails, giving it one of the largest uphill capacities in Southern New England.

NewEnglandSkiConditions.com Reports
Month Average Percent of Terrain Open
February90%    (1 report)90 Open
Recent Conditions Reports
Feb. 12, 2016 by rocket21
Loose Granular, Frozen Granular
Ski Butternut on NewEnglandSkiConditions.com

NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News
Recent Articles
Massachusetts Ski Areas Shut Down By Travel Ban - Jan. 27, 2015
Ski Butternut NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News Page

CCC Trails
Trail NameStatus
Forgotten BridgeOpen
TaconicOpen

Expansion History
Project
Season
West Area
Cancelled
1980s
Summit Area
Open
1963-64
East Area
Open
1964-65
Highline Area
Open
1968-69
Overbrook Area
Open
1975-76

Image Gallery
1950 Boston Globe1953-54 Eastern Ski Map1954-55 Eastern Ski Map1964-65 Eastern Ski Map1965-66 Eastern Ski Map1966-67 Eastern Ski Map
View All Images in Ski Butternut Image Gallery


Lifts
Click on lift name for information and photos
Standing Lifts
Installed
The bottom terminal (2015)
Cruiser Quad
Doppelmayr-CTEC
Chairlift - Quad - Fixed
2005-06
The bottom terminal (2015)
Highline Quad
Doppelmayr-CTEC
Chairlift - Quad - Fixed
2004-05
The Overlook Triple circa the 1980s
Overbrook Triple
Thiokol
Chairlift - Triple - Fixed
1975-76
The Paddy Wagon Double (background) in the early 1980s
Paddy Wagon
Carlevaro & Savio-Stadeli
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1969-70
The bottom terminal (2015)
Poma

Platter
The Top Flight Quad wreckage after the May 1995 tornado
Top Flight Quad
CTEC-Carlevaro & Savio
Chairlift - Quad - Fixed
1993-94

Past Lifts
Seasons
East T-Bar

T-Bar
1964-65
-
1980-81
Granny's Double in 2002
Granny's Double
Mueller
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1981-82
-
2004-05
The top counterweight remains (2016)
Highline Double
Carlevaro & Savio
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1968-69
-
2003-04
The Scooter Double (foreground) in the early 1980s
Scooter Double
Poma-Borvig
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1977-78
-
2009-10
The Sheave Train Double circa the mid to late 1960s
Sheave Train
Carlevaro & Savio
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1963-64
-
1992-93

Maps
1936 Warner Mountain Ski Area Map1940-41 East Mountain State Forest Trail Map1963-64 Butternut Basin Trail Map1964-65 Butternut Basin Trail Map1968-69 Butternut Trail Map1969-70 Butternut Basin trail map
View All Ski Butternut Trail Maps

Year by Year History
Adult Weekend Full Day Lift Ticket; Adult Full Price Unlimited Season Pass
2010s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2017-182017-18 Ticket Price Graph$490.002017-18 Season Pass Price Graph2017-18 Skier Visit Graph
2016-17$60.002016-17 Ticket Price Graph$455.002016-17 Season Pass Price Graph7.6 daysDecember 15April 22016-17 Skier Visit Graph
2015-16$60.002015-16 Ticket Price Graph$455.002015-16 Season Pass Price Graph7.6 daysJanuary 3March 132015-16 Skier Visit Graph
2014-15$55.002014-15 Ticket Price Graph$440.002014-15 Season Pass Price Graph8.0 daysDecember 5April 52014-15 Skier Visit Graph
2013-14$55.002013-14 Ticket Price Graph$440.002013-14 Season Pass Price Graph8.0 daysDecember 7April 62013-14 Skier Visit Graph
2012-13$55.002012-13 Ticket Price Graph$330.002012-13 Season Pass Price Graph6.0 daysDecember 15April 72012-13 Skier Visit Graph
2011-12$55.002011-12 Ticket Price Graph$330.002011-12 Season Pass Price Graph6.0 daysDecember 16March 182011-12 Skier Visit Graph
2010-11$55.002010-11 Ticket Price Graph$330.002010-11 Season Pass Price Graph6.0 daysDecember 10April 32010-11 Skier Visit Graph
2009-10$55.002009-10 Ticket Price Graph$279.002009-10 Season Pass Price Graph5.1 daysDecember 12March 282009-10 Skier Visit Graph
2000s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2008-09$55.002008-09 Ticket Price Graph$279.002008-09 Season Pass Price Graph5.1 days2008-09 Skier Visit Graph
2007-08$50.002007-08 Ticket Price Graph$279.002007-08 Season Pass Price Graph5.6 days2007-08 Skier Visit Graph
2006-07$49.002006-07 Ticket Price Graph$279.002006-07 Season Pass Price Graph5.7 daysApril 12006-07 Skier Visit Graph
2005-06$46.002005-06 Ticket Price Graph$199.002005-06 Season Pass Price Graph4.3 daysMarch 312005-06 Skier Visit Graph
2004-05$46.002004-05 Ticket Price Graph$299.002004-05 Season Pass Price Graph6.5 daysApril 102004-05 Skier Visit Graph
2003-04$45.002003-04 Ticket Price Graph$299.002003-04 Season Pass Price Graph6.6 daysApril 32003-04 Skier Visit Graph
2002-03$43.002002-03 Ticket Price Graph$299.002002-03 Season Pass Price Graph7.0 daysApril 62002-03 Skier Visit Graph
2001-02$41.002001-02 Ticket Price Graph2001-02 Season Pass Price Graph2001-02 Skier Visit Graph
2000-01$39.002000-01 Ticket Price Graph$495.002000-01 Season Pass Price Graph12.7 days2000-01 Skier Visit Graph
1999-00$39.001999-00 Ticket Price Graph1999-00 Season Pass Price Graph1999-00 Skier Visit Graph
1990s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1996-97$38.001996-97 Ticket Price Graph1996-97 Season Pass Price Graph1996-97 Skier Visit Graph
1992-93$35.001992-93 Ticket Price Graph1992-93 Season Pass Price Graph1992-93 Skier Visit Graph
1991-92$33.001991-92 Ticket Price Graph1991-92 Season Pass Price Graph1991-92 Skier Visit Graph
1990-91$33.001990-91 Ticket Price Graph1990-91 Season Pass Price Graph1990-91 Skier Visit Graph
1989-90$30.001989-90 Ticket Price Graph1989-90 Season Pass Price Graph1989-90 Skier Visit Graph
1980s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1988-89$30.001988-89 Ticket Price Graph1988-89 Season Pass Price Graph1988-89 Skier Visit Graph
1987-88$28.001987-88 Ticket Price Graph1987-88 Season Pass Price Graph1987-88 Skier Visit Graph
1986-87$25.001986-87 Ticket Price Graph1986-87 Season Pass Price Graph1986-87 Skier Visit Graph
1985-86$20.001985-86 Ticket Price Graph1985-86 Season Pass Price Graph1985-86 Skier Visit Graph
1984-85$20.001984-85 Ticket Price Graph1984-85 Season Pass Price Graph1984-85 Skier Visit Graph
1982-83$18.001982-83 Ticket Price Graph1982-83 Season Pass Price Graph1982-83 Skier Visit Graph
1981-82$17.001981-82 Ticket Price Graph1981-82 Season Pass Price Graph1981-82 Skier Visit Graph
1980-81$15.001980-81 Ticket Price Graph1980-81 Season Pass Price Graph100,0001980-81 Skier Visit Graph
1979-80$13.001979-80 Ticket Price Graph1979-80 Season Pass Price Graph1979-80 Skier Visit Graph
1970s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1978-79$12.001978-79 Ticket Price Graph1978-79 Season Pass Price Graph1978-79 Skier Visit Graph
1976-77$11.001976-77 Ticket Price Graph$160.001976-77 Season Pass Price Graph14.5 days1976-77 Skier Visit Graph
1975-76$10.001975-76 Ticket Price Graph1975-76 Season Pass Price Graph1975-76 Skier Visit Graph
1971-72$9.001971-72 Ticket Price Graph1971-72 Season Pass Price Graph1971-72 Skier Visit Graph
1970-71$8.001970-71 Ticket Price Graph1970-71 Season Pass Price Graph1970-71 Skier Visit Graph
1969-70$8.001969-70 Ticket Price Graph1969-70 Season Pass Price Graph1969-70 Skier Visit Graph
1960s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1967-68$6.501967-68 Ticket Price Graph1967-68 Season Pass Price Graph1967-68 Skier Visit Graph
1964-65$6.001964-65 Ticket Price Graph1964-65 Season Pass Price Graph1964-65 Skier Visit Graph
1963-64$6.001963-64 Ticket Price Graph1963-64 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 241963-64 Skier Visit Graph
1940s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1948-491948-49 Ticket Price Graph1948-49 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 261948-49 Skier Visit Graph
1939-401939-40 Ticket Price Graph1939-40 Season Pass Price Graph14,5001939-40 Skier Visit Graph

Visitor Memories
"Skied a good part of my younger days at Butternut.Was on the ski Patrol with Ken Noad, Ski school with Einar, Coached Racing and Freestyle, and jumped over the tourist's heads on Lucifer's Leap. Had some really great days at Butternut...will always remember Jane and Channing. Thanks! BUTTERNUT."
Vic Radzevich, Jul. 9, 2014
Add a memory of Ski Butternut
First Name:
Last Name:
E-Mail Address:
Comments:



External Links
  • Ski Butternut - official site
  • Ski Butternut - Wikipedia
  • G-Bar-S Ranch - New England Lost Ski Areas Project
  • Last updated: August 16, 2016

    Also on NewEnglandSkiHistory.com...
    The Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain?
    The Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain?
    The only high speed quad area in New England to close
    The only high speed quad area in New England to close
    A classic trail cut by the Civilian Conservation Corps
    A classic trail cut by the Civilian Conservation Corps
    Before the resort, there was the Nose Dive
    Before the resort, there was the Nose Dive
    Beer man and owner of one of the largest ski area chains in history
    Beer man and owner of one of the largest ski area chains in history
    The Puzzle of Evergreen Valley
    The Puzzle of Evergreen Valley
       CCC Trails    Cancelled Ski Areas    Expansions    Lifts    Management    Maps    News    Then and Now    Timelines    Topics    In The Press    Links    Site Map    What's New    Feedback

    Copyright 2002-2017, All Rights Reserved.