Mount Tom

This post was originally published on July 15, 2008.  It is one of the most viewed posts on the blog.

Welcome To Mount Tom.  All through my developmental years and even for a long time prior, Mount Tom in Holyoke MA was a local place for people to go. Mount Tom was the home to a local ski area as well as an amusement park, Mountain Park. As a child I recall going to Mountain Park probably 2-3 times with my family. We would mostly go to Riverside Park in Agawam MA but on occasion we would go to the smaller, less crowded Mountain Park. The amusement park, which opened in 1895 as the end of a trolley line closed in 1987. Then around 1977 while in junior high school I took up skiing and spent a better part of my teenage years and early 20’s skiing there on Friday nights and an occasional weekend afternoon in the winter. It was at about this time that Mt Tom opened their alpine slide and later on a water park.

Always White Day Or Night.  This is the sign that once on the access road to the parking area welcomed you to Mount Tom. “Always White, Day or Night” was their slogan for the ski area. Just beyond this sign was the entrance to the parking area for the amusement park.

All That Remains.  Most of the buildings at Mountain Park are now long gone. This building, was the 100+ year old carousel house which was destroyed by a fire in 2002. Besides the all steel and concrete pavilion this was one of the last few standing buildings. All that remains now is twisted metal.

Burnt Timber …..and burnt out beams. The lighter colored beams is where the fire burnt at it’s hottest temperatures. I remember the Holyoke Fire Department responding to this fire sometime in 2002.

The Pavilion.  This is the last remaining building of the old Mountain Park. It is a pavilion where they had picnic tables and the like and you could sit and each your lunch or dinner or snack that you bought at one of the stands.

Party Remnants.  Over the last several years with the closing of the ski area a lot of the local teens have spent many hours having beer parties and bonfires on Mount Tom. The local police blame the youth in the impoverished city for the damage to the left over buildings and the brush and building fires that have brought the fire department up there many times over the years.

Ski Shop.  The is the side of the ski shop that you saw as you exited the parking area on the way to get your lift tickets.

Mount Tom Lodge. The building in the background is a portion of the ski lodge at Mount Tom. In the foreground is the pool that was part of the waterpark. There are signs on the lodge that say “Future Home of the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club”. The signs look fairly new but the lodge and the area in general will need a lot of work to be useable on a regular basis once again.

Ticket Booth.  This is the old ticket booth where you bought your lift tickets upon entry to Mount Tom.

Group Sales And General Office.  The portion of the building to the right is the former group sales office and general office for Mount Tom. The part of the building to the left is the far side of the ski shop.

Ski Instructors Building.  A Professional Ski Instructors of America sticker holds together the broken window in the ski instructors building. This is where the instructors gathered to get their assignments for the many lessons that were given at Mount Tom.

Ski Lift Building.  The building that the lift operators used for the Beginners Slope and the Lower Tom and Upper Tom T-Bar lifts.

Lift Sign.  An old and badly faded lift sign on the side of the lift building for the Beginners Slope and the Lower Tom and Upper Tom ski runs. It reads “This Lift Services Easier Terrain.”.

Lower Tom and Upper Tom.  Looking from the access road through an opening in the fence over the lift operators building and up the Lower Tom and Upper Tom ski runs. In the photo to the left you can see some of the old concrete pylons that supported the poles that the J-Bar and then the double chair lift operated on. In the late 80’s and early all the J-Bars were replaced with double chair lifts.

Ski Lift Ramps.  The old dual ski lift ramps at the bottom of the main lift. You used to stand on these to give you a bit of elevation for the lift pick up to take you to the summit of the mountain. The ski area had 17 trails 60% of wich were intermediate level, 30% beginner level and 10% advanced level.

Lower Vista. This is looking up the Lower Vista trail from the base of the old ski lift to the mountains summit. This was considered the main trail as most of the other trails connected to it and it had the double lift.

Water Park Building.  This building was part of the Summer Slide at Mount Tom Water Park. To the right of the building was a water slide.

No Tresspassing.  Unfortunately to see Mount Tom and Mountain Park you have to go “exploring” i.e. tresspassing. Here my unidentified exploring companion (i.e. fellow tresspasser)takes a peak over the fence near one of the many no tresspassing signs. It was a beautiful spring Saturday afternoon and we were just one of several car fulls of people out enjoying the mountain.

Ski Rental Shop.  This is the door you entered to go return your ski’s, boots and poles to the rental shop. It was one of the busiest rental shops around as most weeknights local schools ski clubs introduced many of the area’s youngsters to the joys of alpine skiing.

Thank You …Come Again. The last sign you saw as you exited Mount Tom and worked your way back home. The Mount Tom Ski area operated from about 1960 to 1998 and then sold most of its lifts and snow making equipment off to other ski slopes in the area. The water park also closed that year as well after Riverside Park (now Six Flags New England) in Agawam MA opened a 12.5 million dollar water park.

I shot all these in April 2004.  Currently these photos are not available for re-print.

This appeared on masslive.com on November 11, 2013.  Many old signs from Mt. Tom were sold at weekend auction.

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/11/dozens_bid_on_mt_tom_ski_area.html

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1 Comment

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One response to “Mount Tom

  1. Robin

    I have such great memories of Mt Tom! What a shame to see it in this condition. My dad, sister and myself were all instructors in the 70’s and 80’s. I look at these pictures and it seems like yesterday….wow it really brings me back to a wonderful time in my life. Thank you for sharing the pictures!!!

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