The Mt Tom Ski Area operated for nearly 35 years in Holyoke, introducing thousands of people to the sport of alpine skiing, before it closed for good in 1998.
Producer Dave Fraser talked with former President and General Manager Dave Moore plus several others who had an association with the iconic landmark that’s remembered so fondly by so many.
This story originally aired on February 1, 2017. Find more stories of western Mass places that are “gone but not forgotten” here.
Read the Full Transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: The Mount Tom Ski area operated for nearly 35 years in Holyoke, introducing thousands of people to the sport of alpine skiing before it closed for good in 1998.
Producer Dave Fraser spoke with several people who had an association with the iconic landmark to uncover the history of a place that’s remembered so fondly by so many.
Dave Moore, Mt. Tom Ski Area: It was almost like an accident, but we took credit for it. This was a nobody rode the bench sport. Now, I took credit for inventing it, but it’s not at all true. I mean, it just happened.
What really did it for me was the Winter Olympics, the sixty Olympics, which were in Squaw Valley, and a couple of kids from the US did really well skiing.
Billy Kidd, Gene Siebert, and Billy Kidd was from Squaw. And wow, I mean, every kid who came to Mount Tom in those days and I’m one of them, we’re skiing down that hill, man.
We were Squaw Valley, you know, this is the Olympics.
And I always told people I was lucky I got to ski everywhere and I’d say my two favorite places to ski, my two favorite trails were the upper tee at Mt. Tom and Ruthie’s run at Aspin because it was just big and wide and fun.
I came on because I got a job when the first winter I worked there as a as a ticket seller. I was so happy to be there. I was had been away since high school. And it was just a fit. I just loved it. I couldn’t I couldn’t work hard enough. And maybe two or three years later, I was running it.
Greg & Lisa Masciadrelli, Mt. Tom Ski Area: They started teaching it in 1979 and continue teaching right up till the day of closing, which was in 1998, I believe it was, when they closed what we taught there. I met Lisa there, my wife, there many years ago. There it was a best place in the world to teach skiing and be part of being so local and close to home.
Jay Pagluica, Blanford Ski Area: That was my first ride on a chairlift at Mount Tom in the in the mid sixties. That’s where everybody went that that line of lights in the distance from southern New England, that was a beacon to southern New England for for people that wanted to do something.
First time I’d seen snowmaking, which was another just unbelievable thing to me. They make snow here? Cool. I want to see that happen.
Dave Moore: When I first got there, between 2:30 in the afternoon and 6:00 at night the place was empty. It was you know, they had been a country club till 2:00, and then at night it was a busy place weekdays.
So we had all this time and the lifts are turning. We made the snow. We’ve groomed the snow. Out we go into the schools and again, I take a lot of credit for it but it was really the teachers or the administrators at the particular schools that trusted us.
We just taught them how to ski, but we taught a lot of them how to ski.
Brian Freeman, Mt. Tom Ski Area: Busses would roll up. There would be 300, 2-300 kids getting off the busses at one time and they would get broken up into groups by school and ability. So we would have ten, 15, 20 groups of 20 kids all over the mountain.
Greg & Lisa Masciadrelli: And it was families and it was a great place to gather and recreate with people that your neighbors and people you didn’t know and it was very friendly. It was a great place to go on a weekend or on a weeknight and just ski and have a great time.
Dave Moore: People would come in, pick up their kids, drop off their family, whatever it was, five, six, seven years old, and leave them there for the day or the night. And I’m like, We’re doing something right here.
But we were the first people to have the Grucci family who the fireworks people in western Massachusetts and we had them shooting off fireworks at the top of the mountain. And the first time we were supposed to do it, it snowed like crazy, right? You know, we were waiting for the snow all winter and it snowed when the crew chiefs were up on top of the mountain.
But always white day and night, the mountain in your own backyard. You know, we had a million of them.
Oh, everyone who’s ever going to watch this is going to say it’s raining out and he’s going to say, come on up. It’s a it’s a really nice day for ski.
I thought it was vital that I be out and people know that somebody really who I’m going to see there is going to be there and telling me that this is going to be good and it’s going to be good now.
The ski area closed in 98. And, you know, there had been a lot of factors leading up to it, mostly economic.
People talk about it all the time. The place really was meaningful. I feel fabulous about it.
I feel like it was, it was, it was something to be proud of. And I wish it were still there.