The History of Sugarloaf

The vision of Sugarloaf began way back in the 1940's when a group of Kingfield youths led by a Middle aged man and a few other skiers from various points of Maine including Bangor, Waterville, Augusta and Portland, started skiing in Carrabassett Valley or what was then Jeruselum and Crockertown townships. These skiers were not skiing on Sugarloaf though, they were skiing on the North side of Bigelow, a mountain with an easy access. Shortly after those group of skiers started skiing on Bigelow, Central Maine Power, built a dam that flooded their only access to their skiing terrain.

In 1950, Amos Winter, a 49 year old Kingfield general store manager, his brother Earland, Phineas Sprague from Bangor, and groups from Colby, Bowdoin, UMO and Bates College got together and decided to scout Sugarloaf. They climbed the Appalachian Trail to the top in March of 1951 and they all skied down execpt for Earland Winter, who descended on snowshoes. The explorers felt positive about the potential of Sugarloaf, and the Sugarloaf Ski Club was formed.

In the summer of 1951, Sel Hannah, a well known ski trail designer from Franconia, New Hampshire was contracted to come to Sugarloaf and lay out the first trail. Included in the group who cut the first trail was Stub Taylor, formerly Sugarloaf's Ski Patrol Director. Since that time, Stub has participated in the cutting of every trail at Sugarloaf. Cutting of the first trail was completed that same summer, and Sugarloaf saw its first skiers during the winter season of 1951/52.

The first mechanical means of getting skiers up the hill was a ropetow which was installed in 1953. A ski hut was constructed near the top of today's Birches Slope in 1954.

As it became obvious that Sugarloaf needed financial support to develop and serve the needs of skiers in Maine, the Sugarloaf Mountain Corporation was formed in 1955. The publicly held corporation immediatly installed the first T-bar in the present location of the Double Runner Chairlift. the Winter's Way and Narrow Gauge, Sluice, and Tote Road trails were cut. Also our distinctive logo was first designed. Initially used on signs to mark the route to Sugarloaf, the blue mountain triangle has become the most ubiquitous and recognizable symbol in New England.

The Next six years saw a base lodge constructed in the location of the present building. T-bar #1 (Skidway), T-bar #2 (Bateau), T-bar #4 (Whiffletree), and T-bar #5 (King Pine) were installed, and five more trails were cut on the mountain.

Up to this point, Sugarloaf had grown steadily and skiers from all over Maine traveled up to Kingfield to enjoy it. In 1964, it was decided that Sugarloaf should go "big time" and try to draw from all over New England. The Area's image needed a new drawing card. With this in mind, a 9,000 foot gondola was designed and the gondola line cut in 1964. The following year installation began and in 1966 the summit terminal and lodge were completed. Now skiers could ski from the top of this 4,237 foot mountain. Sugarloaf was becoming a premier ski area with national visibility. In 1971 a World Cup Downhill event was held here. The sport fo skiing grew rapidly in the late 1960's and early 1970's. The desires of skiers and of growth of other areas dictated better lifts and more intermediate skiing. Consequently, the Bucksaw Chair and intermediate terrain around it was developed in 1969. Between 1973 and 1975, three new double chairlifts were installed (Double Runner East and West and Spillway East.) Sugarloaf now had an uphill capacity of over 9,000 skiers per hour on 11 lifts, making it the biggest in the East.

The lack of snow during the winter of 1973/74 made the management aware of the need to take steps to ensure skiing all winter. Consequently, in 1974, the world's highest snowmaking system was installed, covering Narrow Gauge from top to bottom.

With the onset of the 70's, Sugarloaf pioneered the concept of ski-in, ski-out accommodations. Twenty on-mountain condominiums, the first condominiums in the State of Maine, were pre sold and built. Each year, to date, has seen more of these vacation homes built. This developement has given Sugarloaf needed overnight accommodations and established the foundation for developing a complete destination resort with complete on-mountain services.

In connection with this, the Village Center was constructed in the base area in 1972. Featuring shops and restaurants on the first two floors, this facility was the beginning of the first true resort village concept in the East. Commercial space increased in 1977 with the relocation of the Valley Crossing Building now known as Village West, which was moved eight miles north to Sugarloaf. In 1979, Village South was constructed, and Harvey Boynton's Ski Shop, located in the Village Center, was aquired by our company. In 1981, Gondola Village, which includes a modern nursery and daycare facility, was constructed.

With the growth in its bed base and the development of its village, Sugarloaf had become a true destination resort. The Company's marketing focus was aimed at attracting vacation and mid week skiers who would visit for four to seven days rather than just weekends.

The condition of the snow surface also became more important during marginal snow years. In 1978, to ensure good snow conditions, a major investment was made in the best snow grooming equipment available at the time, Kassbohrer Piston Bullies. Each year the fleet has been upgraded and expanded. Snowmaking coverage was doubled to 110 acres in 1981.

In the fall of 1982, an agreement was signed between Sugarloaf Mountain Corporation, Peter Webber Enterprises, the Town of Carrabassett Valley and Robert Trent Jones, Jr. for the construction of a championship golf course. This was the begining of a major effort to expand our summer business.

In 1983, skiing facilities were enhanced with the installation of a new second double chairlift on Spillway and a major overhaul of all our T-bars. Construction of the golf course continued at a rapid pace. Roads and utility lines were constructed in adjacent areas to form the basis for a new real estate development known as Village on the Green. A new waste water treatment facility located at the top of Bigelow Hill will meet the area's needs well into the future.

In 1984, skiing facilities were again enhanced with the cutting of three new trails on the upper part of the mountain. The West Mountain double chair was installed extending form the top of Bucksaw to the golf course area. the golf course was seeded, and a collector and pumphouse were installed in the Carrabassett River, not only to provide irrigation for the golf course, but to provide more water for expanded snowmaking. The Base Lodge was expanded wit the construction of the new west wing which provided expanded skier services including ski rentals, a 180 seat restaurant, a coffee shop, and a 300 seat lounge. An office building was constructed to house the sales and administrative functions of the Company.

In 1985, despite poor winter snowfall and a resulting lack of winter business, Sugarloaf experienced its greatest real estate sales year ever. The Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel which includes 119 condominium units as well as meeting space, an auditorium, and commercial space was constructed. Together with its facilities in the Base Lodge, this provided us with all the products necessary for a full-service conference business. The Snowbrook Village condominium development also includes a 5,000 triple chair, an indoor pool, and tennis courts. An additional 300 spaces of parking were constructed to replace spaces lost to the hotel. This same year saw the opening of the Sugarloaf Golf Course, the culmination of three year's efforts.

A second seccesive poor snow year in 1986, combined with the inadequacy of the Company's snowmaking system to meet customer expectationsm, resulted in lower than expected levels of ski business and significant financial losses. In addition, unsold units in Snowbrook Village, Village of the Green and Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel, had a severe negative impact in the Company's cash flow. These factors were the major reasons why the company filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code in March 1986

Despite the financial situation, in the summer of 1986, a major expansion of the snowmaking system was undertaken, which tripled the water capacity, with water drawn from the Carrabassett River, and extended coverage to the Bucksaw and West Mountain Chairlifts. Trail work continued with the grading of the Haulback and Skidder trails which were originally cut in 1984. hese improvements were financed by the sale of the Bigelow and Snowbrook projects to the Dartmouth Company (Sugarloaf Homes), which also assumed responsibility for on-mountain real estate sales efforts, enabling Sugarloaf to concentrate on its skiing and resort services.

In April 1987, The Sugarloaf plan of reorganization was approved and by June the Company was out of bankruptcy. This plan involved $8,000,000 of new investment from a new Board of Directors, sale of the Village on the Green and Riverside projects to the Dartmouth Company, the sale of the Hotel to Peoples Heritage Bank and new banking arrangements. This financing enabled Sugarloaf to continue with its capital improvement program. During 1987, the Ramdown, Boomauger, and Lower Widowmaker trails were widened and groomed. Snowmaking lines were run on these trails bringing total snowmaking coverage to 75% of all trails. Pumping capacity was increased by 33% and additional compressors were aquired to enable all snowmaking trails to be covered by Christmas in a normal year. Two additional wings were added to the base lodge adding 16,000 square feet for ski rentals, children's ski programs and cafeteria seating. In October 1987, the Company assumed responsibility for manageing the Sugarloaf Inn and the Sugartree Health Club, under a lease arrangement for a five year period through June 1992. In addition, condominium units in the Sugarloaf Inn Resort rentala program became part of our rental program. As part of this transition, staff of the Sugarloaf Inn Resort became staff of Sugarloaf/USA.

In 1988, members of the Board invested an additional $2,400,000 in the company. This financed the construction of two new quad chairlifts; Whiffletree, which replaced the T-bar of the same name, and King Pine, located on the Haulback trail. The Skidway T-bar was also replaced with a double chairlift. In addition, three new trails were constructed - Choker, Flume, and Slasher; and Haulback, Widowmaker, Cross Haul and Winter's Way were extensively improved. Snowmaking coverage was extended to all of these trails, bringing total snowmaking coverage to 82% of all trails. This represented the largest one year improvement to Sugarloaf's on-mountain facilities in its history.

In 1989, the Board invested an additional $2,100,000. These funds were used to provide working capital and to install three new state-of-the-art high pressure air compressors, replacing the existing air plant, and improving the efficiency if the snowmaking system by as much as 40%.

In 1990, members of the Board invested additional working capital and allowed the Company to purchase 320 new high efficiency snow guns and an additional snowmaking pump. This enhanced snowmaking capability was a key factor behind the selection of Sugarloaf by the United States Ski Team as its early season training site for a three year period beginning in 1989.

In 1991/1992 the company underwent a wholesale financial restructuring. Five investors. including Warren Cook our President, three members of our Board of Directors, and Jordan Lumber Company invested approximately $3,000,000 which was used to pay down bank debt and pay off all former stockholders, making Sugarloaf a privately owned company. As part of this restructuring plan, the Company purchased the Sugarloaf Inn (built in 1966) and the Sugarloaf Sports and Fitness Center (built in 1984). Also, the operations of the Ski Rack (built in 1979) were merged with the other retail operations of the Company.

Also in 1992, with the help of financing provided by the Town of Carrabassett Valley, snowmaking was expanded to cover 90% of the mountain. Snowmaking lines were installed in Wedge, Skidder and on the Front Face, allowing for consistent skiing above the tree-line. Snowmaking capacity was also expanded with the purchase of an additional pump (bringing our total capacity to 4,800 gallons per minute) and an additional compressor (making a total of 21,000,000 cubic feet per minute).

In 1993, again with the assistance of the Town of Carrabassett Valley, The Company paid of virtually all of its long term bank debt with the proceeds of a 3.7 million dollar loan from the town and the sale of the Company's sewer system to a newly created sanitary district. As a result of these transactions, the Company's debt was reduced by 4.2 million from 8.9 million to 4.7 million.

In 1994 the Company sold 3,200,000 new shares of its stock to S-K-I Ltd., owners and operators of the Killington and Mount Snow resorts in Vermont, Waterville Valley in New Hampshire, and one more in Vermont. As a result, S-K-I owned 51% of our company. The funds generated from this transaction were used to construct the new Sugarloaf Superquad and related new trails and snowmaking improvements, the largest on-mountain capital program in the company's history. The 51% partnership arrangement allowed for the company to be affiliated with one of the most successful ski area operating companies in the world, together with the opportunity to retain the unique character which made Sugarloaf famous.

The 1994-95 season began late, ended early, and was adversely impacted by a prolonged thaw in mid January. Operating results were severely below expectations. Despite this, additional improvements were made for the 1995-96 season. A new fleet of Bombardier snow groomers was aquired in a cooperative effort with our S-K-I partners. Our snowmaking system was upgraded, the concept of boundary-to-boundary skiing was introduced together with nine new glade skiing areas, and Peaks of Excitement a cooperative marketing program with the other S-K-I resorts was introduced.

In June 1996, S-K-I was aquired by LBO Enterprises, owner and operator of the Sunday River, Sugarbush and Attitash ski resorts; with the new combined entity becoming known as the American Skiing Company (ASC). ASC subsequently purchased the remaining 49% of our company from the five individuals who had financed the Company in 1992. After the sale of Waterville Valley and Cranmore, which were dictated by the Department of Justice, ASC includes the operation of six resort: Sugarloaf and Sunday River in Maine, Attitash-Bear Peak in New Hampshire and Sugarbush, Killington-Pico, and Mt. Snow-Haystack in Vermont.

Despite poor weather during peak periods and lower skier visits in 1996-97, the association along with American Skiing Company allowed Sugarloaf to improve its profitability. These improved results were rewarded with an investment of $3.8 million in capital improvements here at Sugarloaf in the summer of 1997, including the new Whiffletree Express Superquad, relocation of the old Whiffletree lift (now the Timberline Quad) to the west shoulder of the summit of the mountain, and additional trail work and snowmaking coverage in the Timberline Quad area.

The Summer of '98 Sugarloaf/USA spent about $1.5 million on improvements. The Purchase of a new air compressor for snowmaking will increase air capacity by 20% allowing for more snow to be made in a shorter amount of time. The Halfpipe has been excavated allowing for an earlier opening, 67 new 35 foot high tower guns and 4 new groomers including a new turet winch cat. 22 new condos have been built in Snowbrook and 12 new townhouses have been built in Spruce Creek, plus plans are underway for a new real estate development around the Bucksaw area.

During the summer of '99 Sugarloaf/USA expanded bullwinkles, built a tubing park, improved the snowmaking system, doubled snowmaking capability on the halfpipe and built more houses, townhouses and condos.

In August 2007 Sugarloaf was sold to CNL Lifestyle Properties, Boyne Resorts became the Operator of the resort and built a large addition onto Bullwinkles, 2 new Prinoth groomers were added to the fleet and the snowmaking system was upgraded with a new on mtn water boost pump and new Boyne fan guns and HKD guns.

Summer 2008, the snowmaking system saw all pumps replaced with the addition of 1 and the snowmaking compressors were all refurbished and 50 new HKD Low E snowguns were added.

2009 5,000 feet of snowmaking pipe was added to the system

In the winter of 2010 Brackett Basin opened

2011 saw Skyline quad open, replacing both Spillway chairs.  More gladed terrain opens in Brackett Basin and Burnt Mtn