Rangeley and Saddleback
The Little town of Rangeley may not be familiar to you but if you ski you most certainly have heard of Saddleback Mountain. It was while I was chatting with the waitress at the Red Onion that the importance of Saddleback became clear.
Saddleback Ski Resort
In the 1950’s ski fever hit the Rangeley area. Saddleback Mountain was developed into a world class ski resort. The influx of winter ski enthusiasts gave life to the little town if Rangeley. Saddleback actually opened for the 1960 ski season. The lower T-Bar opened on December 31, 1960, serving the Wheeler Slope. The upper T-Bar, serving Grey Ghost and Hudson Highway, opened in late January.
No Snow, No Gas, Oh No!
Saddleback Resort continued expanding and upgrading, adding chairlifts and snow making machines. Then in 1973-74 poor weather combined with gas shortages resulted in a disastrous season for New England’s ski resorts. While 1974-75 was a better season, it was not enough to rescue Big Rangeley Corporation. In 1975, Casco Bank and Trust Co. foreclosed on the ski area and sold it to a company called Saddleback Kingdom.
In 1978, Massachusetts businessman Donald Breen purchased Saddleback and immediately began investing in it. Also that year, President Jimmy Carter signed H.R. 8803, which started a land acquisition plan for the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail Corridor runs through Saddleback and the proposed expansion area for the resort. Confronted with endless red tape and potential eminent domain losses, Breen held off on his investment as negotiations dragged on for over a decade.
In 2012 the Breen family announced the resort was for sale. In 2015 they announced that there would be new owners to open the resort in 2016. The promised re-opening never came.
A New Hope
While I was in Rangeley the news hit the airwaves. An Australian Company was buying Saddleback. They would invest millions and open back up doing it right. The reopening date is contingent upon how quickly Majella Group can install a modern quad chairlift to replace an aging double chairlift, a light at the end of the economic tunnel.