For years, the engine that powered the rope tow at the Ski Bowl in North Creek – believed to be the first rope tow in New York State – lay abandoned in the woods a few hundred feet from the access road to the state-owned Gore Mountain Ski Center.
It was a relic of another era, like the rustic WPA-era Ski Hut, warmed only by one big stone fireplace, and a reminder of the place where many local residents now in their mid-sixties and seventies were introduced to the sport, in heavy, laced boots, on Norwegian wood skis with the first cable safety bindings.
In addition to the rope tow, the Ski Bowl boasted a 3000-foot T-bar that took skiers “over the ridge,” planned during World War II and put into service in 1946, an 830-foot vertical drop and a network of trails that were kept packed by local men wearing snowshoes.
Those trails included the expert Hudson, easy Gentle Valley and the intermediate Oak Ridge. When the action moved to the new Gore site on the other side of the mountain, the lift and the trails were abandoned. (The T-bar was revived in 1988.)
Over the past twenty years, however, the Ski Bowl – or Old Gore – as it is also known – has undergone a revival, thanks in large part to its integration into the state-owned Gore Mountain Ski Center. (In 2002, the Olympic Authority, the agency responsible for managing Gore and many of the state’s other public recreational facilities in the Adirondacks and Catskills, agreed
to maintain the Ski Bowl, which was created by the Town of Johnsburg in 1934 and which still owns the facility.)
In 2007, for instance, a triple chair dubbed the Hudson was installed along the T-Bar lift line. When then-State Senator Betty Little dedicated the chair lift, she asked if any of those watching had skied the original slopes and scores responded with cheers.
Many of those old trails have been restored, their natural and traditional character retained, with narrow curves and bends along the fall line. From the top of the chair, skiers can easily access Gore Mountain Ski Center via the Peaceful Valley trail.
The Olympic Authority has also improved snowmaking at the Ski Bowl, modernized and expanded the Joe Minder Lodge and developed a professional Nordic Center with certified race courses. And its work there is not yet done, the agency recently announced.
On June 23rd, the authority’s Board of Directors approved resolutions to resume construction of a new year-round lodge near the site of the original WPA building. It will also install a new Hudson chairlift and a zip coaster, all of which had been delayed by the lack of necessary infrastructure within the Town of Johnsburg.
The lift is projected to be available for the ’24-25 ski season and the completion of the lodge is slated for 2025, a press release from the Olympic Authority stated. “The Ski Bowl project will provide a year-round boost to the business community of North Creek,” stated Mark Smith, Supervisor, Town of Johnsburg. “The Ski Bowl redevelopment is a significant project that strengthens the position of North Creek as a year-round destination.”
The new lodge, which replaces the WPA lodge that was destroyed by fire in 1999, will be an 18,300-square-foot facility with a restaurant and two levels of patios with slopeside views. The lodge is positioned to become a popular destination for additional summer activities. The innovative zip coaster will be a unique attraction that combines the features of a zipline with a rail system.
The new lodge will be connected to Johnsburg’s new wastewater treatment facility, which is now under construction. The Town of Johnsburg has been awarded several grants to construct the facility, which is expected to be completed prior to the completion of the lodge.
“After many years of working through the process, we are excited to get this project underway,” said James Bayse, General Manager, Gore Mountain. “The new lodge will be a full-service hub for year-round activities, and the zip coaster will be a one-of-a-kind draw to our area.”
According to the Olympic Authority, Gore Mountain generated $31.3 million in direct spending in 2022-2023. Reaction to the Olympic Authority’s announcement that work the redevelopment of the Ski Bowl would resume has, on the whole, been positive, though many on social media argued that the agency should have incorporated more mountain biking trails into its plan.
Illustrations, from above: The North Creek Ski Bowl Rope Tow building in 2006 (photo by John Warren); and a New York State Department of Commerce photo promoting skiing at the North Creek Ski Bowl, prior to the opening of the Gore Mountain Ski Center in 1964.