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Mohawk Mountain (2007)
Mohawk Mountain
Cornwall, Connecticut
Status: Open
First Season:1947-48
Vertical Drop:650 feet
Standing Lifts:5 triples, surface lifts
Past Lifts:4 doubles, surface lifts
Left: Mohawk Mountain (2007)
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SkiNewEngland.net Profile
Located in the northwestern part of the state, Mohawk Mountain has been the cornerstone of the Connecticut ski industry for over half a century.

Mohawk Ski Trail

According to the Bridgeport Post, the origins of the Mohawk State Forest date back to 1921, when Alain White donated 2,000 acres to the state for public forestry, animal sanctuary, and public recreation. A wooden lookout tower was constructed one year later, followed by CCC roads and picnic areas in the mid 1930s, and a steel fire tower in 1937.

Downhill skiing on Mohawk Mountain may date back to 1937 or 1939, when the Connecticut Winter Sports Association reportedly cut an alpine ski trail in cooperation with the State Forest Department. It is not known if the trail was maintained during World War II, but some press accounts suggest it may have been in a state of disuse by the middle of the 1940s.

Surface Lift Era

A 1947 rendering of Mohawk Mountain
A 1947 rendering of Mohawk Mountain

The lift served ski development at Mohawk Mountain dates back to February of 1947, when six-foot four-inch tall Marine veteran Walt Schoenknecht entered into a lease with the State of Connecticut for about one hundred acres on the northwest side of Mohawk Mountain on a peak known as the Pinnacle. Under the terms of the lease, Schoenknecht could sell lift tickets and food, but not alcoholic beverages. Schoenknecht, his wife, and father reportedly started constructing the ski area around the Mohawk ski trail later that winter. At the time, Schoenknecht was operating Brodie, where he was later quoted by ski writer Lee Leahy as having "lost my shirt" due to competition and unfavorable lease terms. Two of the Brodie rope tows were relocated to his new Mohawk development.

Five new trails and three slopes were cut for the 1947-48 season, served by six rope tows. Trails were designed to minimize exposure to wind and sun for maximum snow retention. Three of the rope tows were tiered to allow access for the full 600 vertical feet, equipped with downhill sloped starts for easier loading. Schoenknecht's New Haven Ski Club assisted with the smoothing and seeding of the new trails.

A "mighty fancy" lodge (now known as the Pine Lodge) was constructed with a large fireplace and a sun deck. Litchfield Hills Outing Club president Franklyn Ellis served as the first ski school director, while Walt's wife Peg, who served as a nurse during World War II, operated the first aid clinic and daycare.

The $45,000 area reportedly debuted the day after Christmas in 1947, operating on weekends, holidays, and the occasional midweek afternoon. The debut season had a strong start, with Schoenknecht stating, "A winter like this probably won't come again for years. We might as well be realistic about it."

The Timber Trail
The Timber Trail

For its sophomore season, Mohawk added the Boulder Bowl. Served by tandem tows, the complex was composed of intermediate and expert terrain. With big numbers of skiers visiting, the parking lot was doubled to hold 600 cars, while area lodging facilities announced winter operations.

Early Experiments in Snowmaking

While the ski area was initially successful, a snow drought in the winter of 1949-50 brought operations to a halt. Ever the creative thinker, Walt purchased 500 tons of ice from Economy Ice Company and used a massive chipper to create a snow surface, which allowed the area to open on one slope served by multiple rope tows. At the same time, he was also taking part in preliminary experiments of compressed air snowmaking.

Another experiment attempted around this time was skiing on pine needles. In early October 1950, nearly three dozen skiers attempted the activity. One year later, a slope was covered with 80 tons of hay for a fall ski gathering of the Connecticut Ski Council.

Despite the various other experiments, the main focus was placed on developing a compressed air system. Taking inspiration from Tey Manufacturing Corp., Larchmont Engineering equipment was installed on the mountain in the fall of 1950, while a similar installation was constructed at Big Boulder in Pennsylvania. By the time the 1950-51 season rolled around, Mohawk's new snowmaking system was advertised regionally. The area featured nine rope tows, adding a tenth by 1952 and an eleventh soon thereafter.

Mt. Snow and Chairlifts

The Mohawk Double circa the 1960s
The Mohawk Double circa the 1960s

Following the 1953-54 season, Schoenknecht announced the formation of the Mount Snow Development Corp, a company he controlled with a group of Connecticut investors. With a stated philosophy that "bigness is the secret of success," Mount Snow opened that winter and, like Mohawk before, was always experimenting with new technology.

Though Mount Snow was now Walt's primary focus, improvements continued at Mohawk, including a new trail in 1958 in preparation for the installation of a future chairlift. An extremely poor 1958-59 season may have slowed plans.

After years of tinkering with homegrown chain chairlifts at Mount Snow, Schoenknecht ordered multiple Carlevaro & Savio chairlifts for the 1960-61 season, including one for Mohawk Mountain. Channing Murdock was hired to manage the upgraded area, which also sported new mountain-top snowmaking ponds and an improved Pine Lodge. Connecticut's first chairlift likely debuted in January of 1961.

Following the 1961-62 season, Channing Murdock departed to start Butternut Basin. A few years later, he acquired the defunct Satan's Ridge ski area, reopening it as Ski Sundown.

Meanwhile, Schoenknecht focused on improving Mohawk's base facilities, as its lodge was cramped and still sported outdoor privies. He eventually acquired the 23-acre Bennett farm property and built the present day base area.

The base lodge circa the 1960s
The base lodge circa the 1960s

Circa 1963, Armand Marchand replaced Frank Ellis as ski school director.

On December 15, 1964, Mohawk Mountain Ski Area, Inc. was established. The Nutmeg Double was likely constructed for that season, serving a novice slope. Soon thereafter, Steve Hedden was named general manager. Eventually his father was operating a lift, his mother managing the lodge, and his wife managing the ski shop.

Rounding out the decade, uphill capacity was improved with the installation of the Arrow Head double and likely the Mohawk Poma in 1969.

Cross country skiing was emphasized for the 1972-73 season, with Mohawk adding nordic equipment to its ski shop and rental fleet.

After multiple bad seasons in the early 1970s, Mohawk invested its 1974-75 profits into doubling its snowmaking system, with Hedden commenting, "snowmaking five years ago was a hobby. Now it's do or die." The original chairlift was also reportedly rebuilt.

Walt's spirit lives on (2014)
Walt's spirit lives on (2014)

After losing ownership control of Mount Snow during the energy crisis, Walt's focus returned to Mohawk by the mid 1970s. Later that decade, Mohawk installed its first triple chairlift, the Boulder Triple.

After yet another disastrous winter in 1979-80, Mohawk continued to invest in snowmaking, achieving 90% coverage with by expanding the system to two more trails for the 1982-83 season.

Though Walt was still dreaming up new innovations (such as a new beginner lift design) and expansions at Mohawk (new trails, five more chairlifts, and night skiing), he was diagnosed with cancer. His daughter Carol Lugar returned to the area she grew up at and helped him manage it. Setting up the area for the future, Walt signed a new 30-year lease starting in January 1986, with Mohawk providing up to 1.85% of gross revenue to the state. The Deer Run double was likely constructed for the 1985-86 season, spreading out crowds, while the original chairlift was once again rebuilt for 1986-87. Walt passed away prior to the start of the 1987-88 season at the age of 68.

Tornado

Ruins from the tornado
Ruins from the tornado

As the clocks at the mountain struck 4:37 on the afternoon of July 10, 1989, an F4 tornado ripped through Mohawk, leaving $1.5 to $2 million in damage. Pieces of the ski area were later found scattered miles away. Buildings were destroyed and lifts were toppled. Initial industry analysis was that the ski area would not be able to open for at least a year, if ever. However, with the help of ski areas across the country, Mohawk was able to rebuild in time to open for the 1989-90 season. Nonetheless, the financial impact would affect Mohawk for years until it finally received full payment from its insurance company.

Night Skiing Starts

Carol Lugar and early 1990s snowmaking
Carol Lugar and early 1990s snowmaking

Despite being located near a large population base, Mohawk Mountain operated as a day-only ski area for decades, due to a prohibition of alcohol on state property and a concern about creating a party-like atmosphere. In the fall of 1991, the state agreed to allow night skiing a Mohawk Mountain, provided that a detailed, fifteen-point list of requirements was followed. Mohawk added night skiing that winter, in part to help pay off tornado related debt. Alcohol remained banned, as Lugar told Skiing magazine, "We don't feel that drinking mixes with skiing any more than it mixes with driving. My child has to ride these lifts." Within two years, night skiing was providing over 25% of the area's skier visits.

Peg Schoenknecht passed away on July 29, 2008 at the age of 90.

Modernization

The Deer Run Triple passing over the original Pine Lodge (2014)
The Deer Run Triple passing over the original Pine Lodge (2014)

A major lift infrastructure initiative took place starting in the 2000s, resulting in the installation of four triple chairlifts. Mohawk's last double chairlift, the Arrow Head Double, was replaced in 2013 with the Arrowhead Triple.

With growing demand for more base facilities, Mohawk constructed a major lodge expansion in 2015, which doubled seating capacity.

A new 30-year lease was started in January 2017, covering 244 acres.



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NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News
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Mohawk Mountain NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News Page

Image Gallery
February 22, 1977 Norwalk HourDecember 22, 1977 Norwalk HourMohawk Mountain Aerial Imagery, 1991 vs. 2012
View All Images in Mohawk Mountain Image Gallery
Lifts
Click on lift name for information and photos
Standing Lifts
Installed
The Arrowhead Triple installation in 2013
Arrowhead Triple
Doppelmayr
Chairlift - Triple - Fixed
2013-14
The Boulder Triple in 2007
Boulder Triple
Hall
Chairlift - Triple - Fixed
1978-79
Deer Run Triple installation in 2010
Deer Run Triple
Poma
Chairlift - Triple - Fixed
2010-11
The bottom terminal (2014)
Mohawk Triple
CTEC
Chairlift - Triple - Fixed
2008-09
The Nutmeg Triple installation in 2010
Nutmeg Triple
Partek
Chairlift - Triple - Fixed
2010-11

Past Lifts
Seasons
The Arrowhead Double in 2007
Arrow Head Double
Carlevaro & Savio
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1969-70
-
2012-13
Deer Run Double
Carlevaro & Savio-Borvig
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1985-86
-
2009-10
The Mohawk Double in 2007
Mohawk Double
Carlevaro & Savio-Borvig
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1960-61
-
2007-08
Mohawk Poma

Platter
1969-70
-
1980s
The Nutmeg Double in 2007
Nutmeg Double
Cosmos-Carlevaro & Savio-Borvig-Partek
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1964-65
-
2009-10

Maps
2020-21 Mohawk Mountain Trail Map
1947-48 Mohawk Mohawk Trail Map1960-61 Mohawk Mountain Trail Map1974-75 Mohawk Mountain Trail Map1978-79 Mohawk Mountain Trail Map1983-84 Mohawk Mountain Trail Map1987-88 Mohawk Mountain Trail Map
View All Mohawk Mountain Trail Maps

Year by Year History
Adult Weekend Full Day Lift Ticket; Adult Full Price Unlimited Season Pass
2020s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2020-21$67.002020-21 Ticket Price Graph$659.002020-21 Season Pass Price Graph9.8 daysDecember 12March 272020-21 Skier Visit Graph
2019-20$67.002019-20 Ticket Price Graph$659.002019-20 Season Pass Price Graph9.8 daysNovember 23March 122019-20 Skier Visit Graph
2010s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2018-19$65.002018-19 Ticket Price Graph$639.002018-19 Season Pass Price Graph9.8 daysNovember 23March 312018-19 Skier Visit Graph
2017-18$64.002017-18 Ticket Price Graph$639.002017-18 Season Pass Price Graph10.0 daysDecember 9April 12017-18 Skier Visit Graph
2016-17$62.002016-17 Ticket Price Graph$639.002016-17 Season Pass Price Graph10.3 daysDecember 17April 22016-17 Skier Visit Graph
2015-16$60.002015-16 Ticket Price Graph$639.002015-16 Season Pass Price Graph10.7 daysJanuary 2March 132015-16 Skier Visit Graph
2014-15$60.002014-15 Ticket Price Graph$639.002014-15 Season Pass Price Graph10.7 daysNovember 28March 292014-15 Skier Visit Graph
2013-14$58.002013-14 Ticket Price Graph$619.002013-14 Season Pass Price Graph10.7 daysNovember 29March 302013-14 Skier Visit Graph
2012-13$56.002012-13 Ticket Price Graph$619.002012-13 Season Pass Price Graph11.1 daysDecember 15March 302012-13 Skier Visit Graph
2011-12$54.002011-12 Ticket Price Graph$619.002011-12 Season Pass Price Graph11.5 daysDecember 17March 112011-12 Skier Visit Graph
2010-11$52.002010-11 Ticket Price Graph2010-11 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 11March 272010-11 Skier Visit Graph
2009-10$50.002009-10 Ticket Price Graph$599.002009-10 Season Pass Price Graph12.0 daysDecember 12March 282009-10 Skier Visit Graph
2000s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2008-09$50.002008-09 Ticket Price Graph$599.002008-09 Season Pass Price Graph12.0 days2008-09 Skier Visit Graph
2007-08$47.002007-08 Ticket Price Graph$599.002007-08 Season Pass Price Graph12.7 days2007-08 Skier Visit Graph
2006-07$45.002006-07 Ticket Price Graph$599.002006-07 Season Pass Price Graph13.3 days2006-07 Skier Visit Graph
2005-06$42.002005-06 Ticket Price Graph$599.002005-06 Season Pass Price Graph14.3 days2005-06 Skier Visit Graph
2004-05$42.002004-05 Ticket Price Graph$660.002004-05 Season Pass Price Graph15.7 days2004-05 Skier Visit Graph
2003-04$39.002003-04 Ticket Price Graph$690.002003-04 Season Pass Price Graph17.7 days2003-04 Skier Visit Graph
2002-03$37.002002-03 Ticket Price Graph$690.002002-03 Season Pass Price Graph18.6 daysNovember 292002-03 Skier Visit Graph
2001-02$35.002001-02 Ticket Price Graph2001-02 Season Pass Price Graph2001-02 Skier Visit Graph
2000-01$32.002000-01 Ticket Price Graph$650.002000-01 Season Pass Price Graph20.3 days2000-01 Skier Visit Graph
1999-00$30.001999-00 Ticket Price Graph$605.001999-00 Season Pass Price Graph20.2 days1999-00 Skier Visit Graph
1990s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1996-971996-97 Ticket Price Graph1996-97 Season Pass Price GraphNovember 301996-97 Skier Visit Graph
1995-96$25.001995-96 Ticket Price Graph1995-96 Season Pass Price Graph1995-96 Skier Visit Graph
1994-95$32.001994-95 Ticket Price Graph1994-95 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 31994-95 Skier Visit Graph
1993-941993-94 Ticket Price Graph1993-94 Season Pass Price GraphNovember 271993-94 Skier Visit Graph
1992-93$29.001992-93 Ticket Price Graph1992-93 Season Pass Price GraphApril 81992-93 Skier Visit Graph
1991-92$30.001991-92 Ticket Price Graph1991-92 Season Pass Price Graph1991-92 Skier Visit Graph
1989-90$28.001989-90 Ticket Price Graph1989-90 Season Pass Price GraphNovember 241989-90 Skier Visit Graph
1980s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1988-89$25.001988-89 Ticket Price Graph1988-89 Season Pass Price Graph1988-89 Skier Visit Graph
1987-88$24.001987-88 Ticket Price Graph1987-88 Season Pass Price GraphNovember 281987-88 Skier Visit Graph
1986-87$23.001986-87 Ticket Price Graph1986-87 Season Pass Price Graph1986-87 Skier Visit Graph
1984-85$18.501984-85 Ticket Price Graph1984-85 Season Pass Price Graph1984-85 Skier Visit Graph
1983-84$17.501983-84 Ticket Price Graph1983-84 Season Pass Price GraphMarch 251983-84 Skier Visit Graph
1982-83$17.001982-83 Ticket Price Graph1982-83 Season Pass Price Graph1982-83 Skier Visit Graph
1981-82$15.001981-82 Ticket Price Graph1981-82 Season Pass Price Graph1981-82 Skier Visit Graph
1980-81$13.501980-81 Ticket Price Graph1980-81 Season Pass Price Graph1980-81 Skier Visit Graph
1979-80$12.501979-80 Ticket Price Graph1979-80 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 221979-80 Skier Visit Graph
1970s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1978-79$11.501978-79 Ticket Price Graph1978-79 Season Pass Price Graph1978-79 Skier Visit Graph
1977-78$10.501977-78 Ticket Price Graph1977-78 Season Pass Price Graph1977-78 Skier Visit Graph
1976-77$10.001976-77 Ticket Price Graph1976-77 Season Pass Price Graph1976-77 Skier Visit Graph
1975-76$9.501975-76 Ticket Price Graph1975-76 Season Pass Price Graph1975-76 Skier Visit Graph
1974-75$8.501974-75 Ticket Price Graph1974-75 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 211974-75 Skier Visit Graph
1973-74$7.001973-74 Ticket Price Graph1973-74 Season Pass Price Graph1973-74 Skier Visit Graph
1972-73$7.001972-73 Ticket Price Graph1972-73 Season Pass Price Graph1972-73 Skier Visit Graph
1971-72$7.001971-72 Ticket Price Graph$80.001971-72 Season Pass Price Graph11.4 days1971-72 Skier Visit Graph
1970-711970-71 Ticket Price Graph1970-71 Season Pass Price GraphMarch 281970-71 Skier Visit Graph
1960s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1968-69$6.001968-69 Ticket Price Graph1968-69 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 201968-69 Skier Visit Graph
1967-68$5.501967-68 Ticket Price Graph1967-68 Season Pass Price Graph1967-68 Skier Visit Graph
1966-67$5.501966-67 Ticket Price Graph$35.001966-67 Season Pass Price Graph6.4 days1966-67 Skier Visit Graph
1964-65$5.501964-65 Ticket Price Graph1964-65 Season Pass Price Graph1964-65 Skier Visit Graph
1963-64$5.501963-64 Ticket Price Graph1963-64 Season Pass Price Graph1963-64 Skier Visit Graph
1961-62$5.501961-62 Ticket Price Graph1961-62 Season Pass Price Graph1961-62 Skier Visit Graph
1960-61$6.001960-61 Ticket Price Graph1960-61 Season Pass Price Graph1960-61 Skier Visit Graph
1959-60$2.501959-60 Ticket Price Graph1959-60 Season Pass Price Graph1959-60 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 21948-49 Skier Visit Graph
1947-48$2.001947-48 Ticket Price Graph1947-48 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 261947-48 Skier Visit Graph

Visitor Memories
"I found Mohawk around 10 years ago. It's a fantastic place. The people who work there are the friendliest in the industry. As for the mountain, the terrain is fun and the snow is always great. I've never had a bad day there, and can't wait to get back. "
Fred Burke, Nov. 30, 2018
"I was 17 and a member of the New Haven ski club and repeatedly skied Mohawk. In early 1954, at a club meeting, I remember Walt Schoenknecht saying "I have found a mountain in Vermont the gets a foot of snow when all the surrounding mountains don't get any and I am going to build a ski area there and call it 'Mt. Snow". He hired another member, Andy Andrews, to help him, and sure enough, they made Mt.Snow happen - much to my skeptical teenage mind at the time. I went south to college at Duke that year, and then, eventually out west and the Calif. sierras. I never skied Mohawk again or Mt.Snow, but I do remember reading about amazing growth of the resort and the dearth of snow in New England for so many winters. That was actual "climate change". "
curtis cobb, Jun. 28, 2017
"My second day of skiing was here in 1971. Age 8. I remember wood skis, leather boots and safety straps. I wore jeans over long johns and remember being soaked to the bone at the end of the day, the result of falling dozens of times on the beginner are"
Paul Friedman, Jun. 22, 2017
"I started working at Mohawk the first year it opened. I was 14 and madeSandwiches and helped in the kitchen. I worked there all through highSchool to get spending money. I loved it. "
Suzanne Hedden williams, May. 12, 2016
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External Links
  • Mohawk Mountain - official site
  • 1989 Tornado - Cornwall Historical Society
  • Last updated: January 28, 2021

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