Last updated: March 29, 2021
Located in Auburn, Lost Valley has been serving Lewiston area skiers for over half a century. Over the years, the ski area has been noted for being an early adopter in snowmaking and powdermaker grooming.|
Plans for a new lift served ski area in Auburn were formed starting in the 1950s by local businessmen Otto Wallingford, Dr. "Doc" Camille Gardner, and Willis A. Trafton Jr. Only a few years removed from being Maine's Speaker of the House and an unsuccessful run for Governor, Trafton had long been advocating for recreational facilities in the Lewiston-Auburn area. A passionate skier, Trafton helped with the planning of the enterprise and served as the company's clerk. Wallingford and Gardner had been friends since childhood and owned land in a "hidden valley" that had potential for ski development. Like Trafton, Wallingford and Gardner were also World War II era military veterans. Wallingford ran his family's B.H. Wallingford Orchards, while Gardner was a veterinarian.
Construction of Lost Valley in 1961
Construction likely started in 1961, when an access road was built, the Lapham Brook rerouted, and numerous trails and slopes cleared. Lost Valley opened for the 1961-62 season as a rope tow served ski area. Starting in February of 1962, Wallingford, noted for his technological advancements related to his family's apple farm, reportedly began experimenting with snowmaking at Lost Valley.
For its sophomore season, Lost Valley added three new trails and a T-Bar. Soon, it was hosting regional ski races.
A 25 meter ski jump was added for the 1963-64 season, while plans for a cross country ski course were developed.
Otto Wallingford adjusting a snowgun in the mid 1960s
Thanks to the ever-improving snowmaking system, Lost Valley saw a record number of skier visits despite poor weather during the winter of 1964-65. Future Maine Ski Hall of Famer Richard Kendall served as ski school director.
Chairlift Era Begins
Auburn native and nordic skiing Olympian John Bower took over as manager of the ski area for the 1965-66 season, while a double chairlift was added (only the fifth to be installed in Maine), the base lodge expanded (more than doubling the floor space), and a new access road constructed (along with more parking). Nordic trails were also available by this point.
An early snowstorm ushered in a great 1965-66 holiday season, resulting in 8,000 skiers in just one week. With the improved facilities, Lost Valley was a hotbed of ski lessons and racing. Each Monday, hundreds of Lewiston-Auburn students received free ski lessons. Meanwhile, hundreds of students took part in high school racing programs, while nearby Central Maine Vocational Technical Institute (later known as Central Maine Community College) and Bates College also made Lost Valley their ski destination.
Snowmaking capabilities were tripled on the alpine ski area for the 1966-67 season. Meanwhile, the nordic ski facility hosted the New England Schoolboy Ski Championships. Constantly tinkering, Otto Wallingford installed a photo-surveillance machine to targeting ski theft. By having taking photos of the ski racks and access road, Wallingford credited the system with eliminating ski theft that winter.
In December 1967, Auburn native Fernand "Fern" Pontbriand inquired with Otto Wallingford about teaching skiing. A fellow University of Maine graduate, Pontbriand had developed a passion for skiing at Sugarloaf while helping to operate his family's Auburn hardware store. Despite having never skied at Lost Valley, Pontbriand was hired on the spot and asked to help manage the business. Decades later, he reflected that "the first three years I was there were the best years of my life, because I'd go out teaching at ten o'clock in the morning, then come back in and do the office work, have lunch, and then go out teaching at one o'clock in the afternoon and then come back in, it was beautiful."
Meanwhile, Otto Wallingford was making huge technological advances for the ski industry with his new company, Valley Engineering. In April 29, 1968, he filed for a patent for a grooming invention involving "two foraminous drums" that "sift the scraped particles of snow and deposit a powdery layer that is suitable for skiing." His powder maker invention was sold to ski areas across the country and in Europe. Valley Engineering was eventually acquired by Kassbohrer (maker of PistenBully snow cats), which continues to operate a facility in Auburn today.
More terrain was added for the 1969-70 season, with plans to eventually serve it with a new double chairlift. Snowmaking was also improved, while night skiing was expanded.
Following a difficult 1969-70 season, Lost Valley expanded its snowmaking coverage for the 1970-71 season. Other improvements included overhauling the lifts and renovating its food service facilities.
The recently added terrain on the northern side of the ski area finally received direct lift service for the 1971-72 season, as a new double chairlift was installed with a base terminal over the top of Lapham Brook. Five new trails were advertised, all complemented with night skiing and snowmaking. A 1,000 square foot addition was constructed on the north side of the lodge, providing additional cafeteria space. A conference room was also constructed, named the Evergreen Room.
No only was Wallingford considered an expert in snow grooming technology, but he was also labelled "the foremost authority on snowmaking in the state" by the Bangor Daily News. In 1973, he served as a consultant for the installation of a new snowmaking system at Camden Snow Bowl.
While Lost Valley alumnus Karl Anderson raced in the 1976 Winter Olympics, a young family was developing their skills at the small Maine area. Rob, Julie, and Anne-Lise Parisien all went on to represent the United States in the Olympics.
A new novice trail (likely Rabbit Run) was added for the 1977-78 season, connecting the top of Chair 1 to the Chair 2 complex.
For the 1978-79 season, the rental shop was tripled in size and a ski shop added. In addition, Lost Valley boasted a "fully-automated ticket-dispensing system."
Like many other ski areas, Lost Valley struggled with the poor 1979-80 season. Lift ticket revenue in December declined by over 80%. Pontbriand, by now part-owner of the ski area, commented, "Every week was like the beginning of a new season. We didn't know what to do to get people out. We couldn't motivate them, because people didn't think there was snow." A small business loan was needed to keep the area afloat.
The following season had a better start, however the February vacation week was severely impacted by April-like weather. Pontbriand reacted to the financial woes by joking, "We're going off of caviar and back to the basic peanut butter and jelly."
Despite back to back rough seasons, investment in the area continued, as snowmaking and night skiing were expanded to 100%, including new lighting on Bull Moose.
Circa 1988, Fern Pontbriand bought out Dr. Gardner and Wallingford.
Lost Valley circa the 1980s
1990-91 was yet another difficult season, as Lost Valley only managed to operate for two days of the Christmas school vacation week. With another rough start in 1992-93, Pontbriand responded to a press inquiry by joking, "You'd like to see a grown man cry. But I'm laughing now because I'm tired of crying."
Tiring of the work and rough seasons, Pontbriand handed over operational control of the ski area to Lincoln Hayes, Diane Moreau, and Connie King. A five-year agreement was later signed, giving the operators up a 48% stake in the area. Moreau served as snow sports director and King as general manager.
Lost Valley experimented with allowing Cresta Sleds on the slopes during the winter of 1999-00. A rental fleet of 20 sleds was offered, with hopes of the sport becoming as big as snowboarding.
Lost Valley founder Otto Wallingford passed away on January 2, 2000 at the age of 76. Wallingford was posthumously inducted into the Maine Ski Hall of Fame in 2003. The induction ceremony of the inaugural class, which also included former Lost Valley manager John Bower, was held at Lost Valley that fall.
After a successful racing career that included three World Cup wins and a silver medal at the World Championships, Julie Parisien returned to Lost Valley as a race coach circa 2000.
Julie Parisien at Lost Valley circa 2001
Owner Fern Pontbriand passed away on August 10, 2003 at the age of 75.
In 2004, Lincoln Hayes, Diane Moreau, and Connie King purchased late owner Fern Pontbriand's 64 percent stake in Lost Valley, declaring, "We're in this for the long haul."
Former owner Camille Gardner passed away on May 8, 2014 at the age of 92.
Rescue from Near Closure
In June of 2014, Lincoln Hayes announced that due to ten consecutive seasons of losses, Lost Valley would not open for the 2014-15 without outside help. Locals soon rallied and raised tens of thousands of dollars, ensuring the area would operate for the 2014-15 season.
Bull Moose and Chair 1 (2015)
In the fall of 2015, Aerial NDT Inspection, Inc. President Scott Shanaman purchased the ski area, easing concerns about Lost Valley's future.
After stabilizing the area and laying the groundwork for future improvements, Lost Valley took major steps forward for the 2017-18 season. Air Force veteran and longtime Lost Valley skier John Herrick was named General Manager as three new trails were opened, including an expert trail on the east side of the area. In addition, the former Spruce Peak Triple from Sunday River was acquired for future use. Finally, in February 2018, the Lost Valley Brewing Company debuted.
||Average Percent of Terrain Open
|December||24% (3 reports)|
|January||51% (4 reports)|
|February||76% (5 reports)|
|March||75% (1 report)||
-- start conditions table -->
|Recent Conditions Reports|
|Mar. 26, 2023 by newenglandskier13|
Wet Powder, Spring Snow
|Feb. 4, 2023 by newenglandskier13|
Packed Powder, Frozen Granular
|Jan. 26, 2023 by newenglandskier13|
Wet Packed Powder, Wet Powder
|Dec. 18, 2022 by newenglandskier13|
Packed Powder, Wet Powder
|Feb. 9, 2022 by newenglandskier13|
Frozen Granular, Loose Granular
|Lost Valley Ski Area on NewEnglandSkiConditions.com|
|Mt. Southington to Install New Partek Chairlift - May. 23, 2023|
|Signs of Uncertainty for the 2020-21 Ski Season - Aug. 2, 2020|
|Lost Valley Announces Three New Trails - Nov. 6, 2017|
|Lift Construction Ramping Up Across New England - Jun. 6, 2017|
|Brewery, Snowcat Development Facility to be Added to Lost Valley - Apr. 11, 2017|
|EXCLUSIVE: Interview with New Lost Valley Owner Scott Shanaman - Nov. 5, 2015|
|Lost Valley Sold - Nov. 1, 2015|
|Lost Valley to Open for 2014-15 Season - Oct. 1, 2014|
|Sunday River Donates $5,000 to Save Lost Valley Fundraiser - Sep. 26, 2014|
|Lost Valley Fundraiser Reaches $10,000 Mark - Sep. 23, 2014|
|Lost Valley Ski Area NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News Page|
Click on lift name for information and photos
Year by Year History
Adult Weekend Full Day Lift Ticket; Adult Full Price Unlimited Season Pass
||Season Pass Price
|2022-23||$66.00||$645.00||9.8 days||December 16||April 2|
|2021-22||$60.00||$595.00||9.9 days||December 18||March 26|
|2020-21||$60.00||$595.00||9.9 days||December 19||March 21|
|2019-20||$60.00||$575.00||9.6 days||December 6||March 15|
||Season Pass Price
|2018-19||$55.00||$549.00||10.0 days||December 14||March 31|
|2017-18||$49.00||$499.00||10.2 days||December 15||March 31|
|2016-17||$45.00||$499.00||11.1 days||December 16||April 2|
|2015-16||$45.00||$499.00||11.1 days||December 30||March 13|
|2014-15||$40.00||$399.00||10.0 days||January 1||March 29|
|2013-14||$45.00||$455.00||10.1 days||December 20||March 29|
|2012-13||$45.00||$455.00||10.1 days||March 17|
|2011-12||$45.00||$455.00||10.1 days||December 22||March 18|
|2009-10||December 18||March 14|
||Season Pass Price
|2007-08||$35.00||$399.00||11.4 days||December 15|
|2006-07||$35.00||$399.00||11.4 days||March 25|
|2004-05||$31.00||$440.00||14.2 days||December 23|
|2003-04||$31.00||$440.00||14.2 days||March 14|
|2002-03||$31.00||$440.00||14.2 days||December 13|
|2001-02||$30.00||$440.00||14.7 days||December 26|
||Season Pass Price
|1998-99||$30.00||$450.00||15.0 days||December 26|
|1997-98||$30.00||$450.00||15.0 days||December 17|
|1996-97||December 26||March 23|
|1993-94||December 27||April 2|
||Season Pass Price
||Season Pass Price
|1974-75||$7.00||$80.00||11.4 days||December 5|
||Season Pass Price
|"Does anyone have a recording of the piping (whistling) from the commercials ? I believe it was a tune by Debussy. But I was looking for the one from the local TV and radio commercials "|
|Anthony Nadeau, Oct. 24, 2023|
|"Worked at Lost Valley from 73-76 than again from 93-03 as part of the lift crew. Like a ball club sometimes it takes a new coach/manager to turn things around. The new owners might just do that. "|
|Gary Henault, Nov. 3, 2015|
|"Lost Valley has been in my family since 1963. I hope the current owners can see what it takes to continue I love it here"|
|Mike Cyr, Jan. 18, 2015|
|"where I learned to ski in 1978 from Brunswick Rec Department Ski Club. Great fun!!!"|
|John Paddock, Jun. 7, 2014|
Lost Valley Ski Area - official site
Lost Valley - SmallSkiAreas.com