Eagle Ridge Ski Area|
Proposed in the 1960s
Located in southern Vermont, Searsburg nearly became home to an alpine ski area in the 1960s.
Circa 1960 or 1961, Troy, New York area residents Allan W. Read and Leonard F. Hatton began to acquire acreage from the Briggs family in Searsburg, Vermont. Circa 1961, two businessmen hired attorney Stephen Gilman to incorporate a company with the intent of starting a ski area on what was locally referred to as Searsburg Mountain. The name Eagle Ridge was picked at random by the owners after the could not find an official name for the mountain. Gilman offered shares of stock from his Bennington office.
Initial plans for the 1961-62 season included five trails, a Pomalift, a custom-built chairlift to be designed by the owners (Hatton described a special feature being "its closeness to the ground, which will be from four to six feet"), a lodge, a restaurant, and a ski shop. Overall, the area was expected to encompass 500 acres. The opening date was soon pushed to the 1962-63 season.
Google Earth rendering of Searsburg
Construction was reportedly underway during the winter of 1961-62, with Hatton reporting that a parking lot had been cleared and that trails would soon follow.
By the end of 1962, the corporation was facing financial issues with the Bennington Banner reporting "an idle bulldozer has been rusting away all year on Molly Stark Trail at Eagle Ridge." Meanwhile, the owners were involved in meetings with the Vermont Highway Department, as it planned to relocate and improve Route 9 in the area.
Despite the financial issues, property acquisition continued in 1963, with Hatton acquiring Clarence Briggs' gift shop near the proposed base area.
The corporation announced it had completed the acquisition of the 500 planned acres during the summer of 1966. President Allan Read purchased a home in the area and noted he and Hatton were trying to sell holdings in New York so that they could concentrate on the new development. Read emphasized the project would progress "with more vigor."
The last known mention of the project was in late 1967, when Skiing magazine once again mentioned Eagle Ridge as a proposed ski area.
At the time of the proposal, the ski area would have been located less than 10 minutes from Dutch Hill and about 20 minutes from Mount Snow and Hogback. At one point, the proposal was said to include three peaks, one of which would top out at over 3,000 feet in elevation. If correct, the latter parameter would suggest the area could have been located east of Route 8, on the present day location of the Searsburg Wind Farm, providing upward of 1,400 vertical feet. More likely, the 3,000 foot claim was approximated from the 2,923 foot peak west of Route 8, suggesting the ski area would have had about 600 vertical feet.
1954 USGS Topographic Map of Searsburg
There are no known remains of the Eagle Ridge ski area proposal. The Searsburg Wind Power was constructed in the general vicinity (it is unknown if Eagle Ridge ski area was proposed for the industrial wind farm ridge or an adjacent one) and went online in July 1997.
||SEARSBURG - Eagle Ridge will be a familiar name in this alpine town next winter when development of a ski area is completed by two Troy businessmen.
The Eagle Ridge corporation has bought a mountain owned by the Briggs family and others, just southeast of Clarence Briggs' gift stand at the top of Searsburg Mountain.
Bennington Banner, 1961
||The proposed area nestles in a quadrant formed by Route 9 on the north and Route 8 to the east and includes three peaks, the highest 3,000 feet...
"New Areas - Maybe." Skiing. November 1967.
"Plan Eagle Ridge Ski Area Development in Searsburg" Bennington Banner. March 30, 1961.
Last updated: August 25, 2020