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The main T-Bar (2015)
Mt. Mohawk Ski Area
Shelburne, Massachusetts
Status: Lost/Defunct
First Season:1957-58
Last Season:1980s
Vertical Drop:450 feet
Standing Lifts:0
Past Lifts:2 T-Bars, rope tows
Left: The main T-Bar (2015)
Recent NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News:
Located off Route 2 between Greenfield and Shelburne Falls, Mt. Mohawk ski area operated for nearly a quarter of a century. After sitting idle for decades, the former ski trails are generally unrecognizable by scores of Berkshire East and Mt. Snow skiers who drive past them every day.

Roberts School

The Roberts School was founded in Greenfield circa 1916 or 1917 by Alice Roberts. A few years later, Roberts relocated the school to a location south of the Mohawk Trail, just over the Shelburne line. The school operated for both day and boarding students and included a working farm.

Walter C. Richardson Jr. and his wife Ethel Mae purchased the school in June 1955. A Bronze Star recipient in World War II, Richardson had previously taught at Eaglebrook School. He and his wife were alumni of North Adams State Teachers College. Walter was a North Adams native, while Ethel Mae was from Greenfield.

Mohawk Skiway Opens

The Mt. Mohawk logo in 1958
The Mt. Mohawk logo in 1958

A small rope tow ski area opened on the property in December 1956 as the Mohawk Skiway. Located several hundred feet higher than nearby Greenfield, the area could sometimes see more snow and lower temperatures than the populated valley below. The ski area was operated by Greenfield attorney Philip H. Ball Jr. for its first half decade.

The rope tow served ski area was expanded upward in the late 1950s and early 1960s, paving the way for new ownership and larger operations.

Mohawk Skiway is Rebuilt and Renamed Mt. Mohawk

The Richardsons took over the operation of the ski area in 1962-63, renaming it Mt. Mohawk. Two new Mueller T-Bars were installed that season - 650 and 2,000 feet long. The lift parts were reportedly delivered with the new Chair 2 at nearby Thunder Mountain. The lifts were paid off in three years.

During its debut season as a T-Bar area, the area was open weekends, holidays, and afternoons on Wednesdays and Fridays. Some of the trails featured dramatic views of Mt. Monadnock. Adequate snowfall resulted in the season stretching to March 31, when owner Walt Richardson pulled ski parents in a sleigh to the top of the mountain via snowcat. Richardson told the Greenfield Recorder Gazette, "They have been patiently sitting at the bottom during the winter while the youngsters skied, so we thought we would show them what it was like up above."

Three trails were added for the 1963-64 season, increasing the ski area's statistics to 5 miles of trails and 45 acres of slopes. Two new snow packers were added to improve conditions. In addition, the spring boxes on the T-Bars were painted green, yellow, blue, red, and purple to "add a festival atmosphere." In addition to the two T-Bars, the area also operated a 450 foot rope tow for ski school sessions.

Following the 1963-64 season, 17 year old Mt. Mohawk Ski Patroller Harris Synder was named the top patroller in the country by the National Ski Patrol.

The 1964-65 season was a tough one, particularly for Mt. Mohawk. While the area was able to open on December 12, mild weather subsequently shut it down and resulted in big losses over the holiday period. Making matters worse, on December 21, Richardson's father was operating a snow tractor when he was thrown from the machine, resulting in a tricky rescue by local ambulance employees. The accident resulted in a broken back.

Apart from the false start, the 1964-65 season likely ran from mid January to mid February, resulting in less than two dozen days of operation. The 1965-66 season started in a similar fashion, with mild weather preventing skiing until January. Improvements for the season included an expanded parking lot and widening/smoothing trails.

William Sweeney (of Sweeney Ford) at the Mt. Mohawk base area in 1968
William Sweeney (of Sweeney Ford) at the Mt. Mohawk base area in 1968

When natural snow allowed, Mt. Mohawk was a popular regional sports center. In addition to ski races and YMCA programs, the ski area had a popular winter carnival every February.

During the winter of 1968-69, two of the Richardson sons and a friend rescued a duck frozen into a nearby pond. The duck was named Irving and lived in the ski lodge that winter.

In an announcement that caught some by surprise, Walt and Ethel Mae closed the Roberts School following the 1969-70 school year, stating "It's time we had a family life of our own." Taking public school teaching jobs in Ware that fall, the Richardsons handed over day to day management of the ski area to Francis Garmalo and Ski School Director John Kells.

The new managers added another trail and expanded operations to 7 days a week (when even Berkshire East was still operating weekends and holidays). The duo enjoyed a very strong second half of the season, concluding it on natural snow with an Easter Egg hunt on April 11. Garmalo and Kells remained in charge of the area into the 1971-72 season.

The Mt. Mohawk base area in 1972
The Mt. Mohawk base area in 1972

While Walt moved to Williamstown and remarried, Ethel Mae remained in Shelburne with her sons. Assuming the title of owner-manager of the ski area for the 1972-73 season, Ethel Mae invested in night skiing lights, which were expected to be on six nights per week covering the lift line, open slope, and two trails. In addition, a sound system was installed for playing audio tapes or the radio. Kells remained as Ski School Director, while John Graves headed up the Ski Patrol. Richardson's four sons helped to operate the area.

Peter Weiss took over as Ski School director in 1973. While things were looking up for Mt. Mohawk, the warm winter of 1973-74 was a disaster. The area was only open for one third its normal season, shutting down in February. Richardson told the Greenfield Recorder, "No doubt about it, this has been the worst season."

The area rebounded with a good 1974-75 season, spanning three months. Nevertheless, as nearby ski areas such as Mt. Snow, Berkshire East, and Mt. Tom grew and modernized, Mt. Mohawk remained firm in its roots. Not only was skiing only available via natural snowfall, but bathroom facilities were limited to outhouses with the claim that 'Indians never used plumbing either.'

Mt. Mohawk likely reduced its operations to just one T-Bar during the late 1970s, opening generally only on weekends and holidays. The area was likely operated by Mt. Mohawk, Inc. starting in January of 1979.

Closure

The main T-Bar base terminal at Mt. Mohawk (2013)
The main T-Bar base terminal at Mt. Mohawk (2013)

Mt. Mohawk likely closed sometime between 1980 and 1982 after one or two snowless winters. Mt. Mohawk, Inc. was dissolved in late 1983. Years later, a new building was constructed adjacent to the main T-Bar, becoming home to multiple businesses. Meanwhile, a sizable portion of the ski area may have been purchased in 1993 by Camille Cosby, wife of comedian Bill Cosby.

Ethel Mae Richardson passed away on March 9, 2000 at the age of 73. Walter Richardson passed away on May 30, 2001 at the age of 77.

While the trails have grown in, both T-Bar lifts remain standing in the woods. It is unlikely that Mt. Mohawk will ever reopen for skiing.

Expansion History
Project
Season
Upper Mountain
Abandoned
1961-62

Image Gallery
1960 Eastern Ski Map1961 Eastern Ski MapMarch 22, 1963 Greenfield RecorderMarch 29, 1963 Greenfield RecorderDecember 21, 1963 Greenfield Recorder Gerald Seibert Ski SchoolFebruary 2, 1968 Greenfield Recorder
View All Images in Mt. Mohawk Ski Area Image Gallery

Lifts
Click on lift name for information and photos
Standing Lifts
Installed

Past Lifts
Seasons
The bottom terminal of the Novice T-Bar in 2014
Novice T-Bar
Mueller
T-Bar
1962-63
-
The lift line (February 1968)
Summit T-Bar
Mueller
T-Bar
1962-63
-

Maps
1958-59 Mohawk Skiway Trail Map1962-63 Mt. Mohawk Trail Map1976-77 Mt. Mohawk Trail Map
View All Mt. Mohawk Ski Area Trail Maps

Year by Year History
Adult Weekend Full Day Lift Ticket; Adult Full Price Unlimited Season Pass
1970s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1977-78$4.751977-78 Ticket Price Graph1977-78 Season Pass Price Graph1977-78 Skier Visit Graph
1976-77$4.501976-77 Ticket Price Graph$45.001976-77 Season Pass Price Graph10.0 daysJanuary 81976-77 Skier Visit Graph
1975-761975-76 Ticket Price Graph1975-76 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 271975-76 Skier Visit Graph
1974-751974-75 Ticket Price Graph1974-75 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 27March 231974-75 Skier Visit Graph
1973-741973-74 Ticket Price Graph1973-74 Season Pass Price GraphJanuary 121973-74 Skier Visit Graph
1972-731972-73 Ticket Price Graph1972-73 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 91972-73 Skier Visit Graph
1970-711970-71 Ticket Price Graph1970-71 Season Pass Price GraphApril 111970-71 Skier Visit Graph
1969-701969-70 Ticket Price Graph1969-70 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 261969-70 Skier Visit Graph
1960s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1967-68$3.751967-68 Ticket Price Graph1967-68 Season Pass Price Graph1967-68 Skier Visit Graph
1965-661965-66 Ticket Price Graph1965-66 Season Pass Price GraphJanuary 81965-66 Skier Visit Graph
1964-65$3.501964-65 Ticket Price Graph1964-65 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 121964-65 Skier Visit Graph
1963-641963-64 Ticket Price Graph1963-64 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 24March 151963-64 Skier Visit Graph
1962-631962-63 Ticket Price Graph1962-63 Season Pass Price GraphMarch 311962-63 Skier Visit Graph
1950s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1958-59$2.001958-59 Ticket Price Graph1958-59 Season Pass Price Graph1958-59 Skier Visit Graph
1956-571956-57 Ticket Price Graph1956-57 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 181956-57 Skier Visit Graph

Visitor Memories
"I have fond memories of Mt Mohawk, Roberts School and the Richardson family. I attended Roberts School for 5 years. We were lucky enough to learn to ski during school hours. I still remember Mr R making sure we could fall and get up on both flat and steep grades before he taught us to ski. We only wanted to ski so this was frustrating but the first time we fell... we knew why this was important!! My father (Peter Sullivan) actually made the rope tow out of a car with its rear wheel off the ground... the rope went around the wheel and connected at the bottom of the hill to another wheel...When the car was running and in gear, the rope turned and up the hill we went! Pretty clever huh??? Great memories!!!"
Kathy Sullivan, Sep. 22, 2019
"My grandfather took my brother and sister and I there to learn how to ski around 1970. We took ski lessons from the Richardsons son every weekend for a couple years in the mornings and skiied on our own in afternoons. Great memories. Im still skiing 50 years later and smile every time I drive by on my way up to the bigger mountains these days."
Carl Dunn, Feb. 19, 2019
"My family and I all learned to ski on the Mt. Mohawk trails in the 1960s. It was a terrific family ski area - affordable, just the right size, and, most importantly only a few minutes from downtown Greenfield. This meant we could easily get to the slopes in under 20 minutes. It was a great jumping off point to the larger and more challenging ski areas in NH and VT."
Karen Rea, Nov. 12, 2017
"I was a student ski patroler there during the winters of 74-77 and can say it operated on weekdays as high school students like me skied after school every day. It was a natural only area with fairly decent pitch, rock hard moguls and tight trees. You can still see the t-bar supports as you drive by. It was a great family mountain with a vibe like the current Cochrines in Vermont"
john stobierski, Feb. 23, 2015
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External Links
  • Mohawk Mountain - New England Lost Ski Areas Project
  • Last updated: September 19, 2019

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