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The top terminal of the Kennebago Quad (2011)
Saddleback Mountain Resort
Rangeley, Maine
Status: Lost/Defunct
First Season:1960-61
Last Season:2014-15
Vertical Drop:2000 feet
Standing Lifts:2 quads, 2 doubles, surface lifts
Past Lifts:
Left: The top terminal of the Kennebago Quad (2011)
Recent NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News:
7/11/2017: Saddleback Still Quiet Nearly Two Weeks...
6/28/2017: Saddleback Sold to Australian Company
4/24/2017: STUDY: Probability of Lost New England S...
2/9/2017: Eaton Mountain to Reopen, Saddleback to...
Located in the Rangeley Lakes region of Western Maine, Saddleback Mountain has been home to lift served skiing for over half a century.

Bald and Saddleback Developments

Ski resort fever hit the Rangeley Lakes region in the late 1950s when local businessmen looked to tap into the growing number of skiers in New England. Ski area designer Sel Hannah was brought over from New Hampshire to check out 2,470 foot Bald Mountain in Oquossuc and 4,116 foot Saddleback Mountain near Rangeley. While Hannah saw more potential in Saddleback, both mountains were developed by separate companies.

In the summer of 1958, word of the Saddleback development spread all over the northeast. Billed as the Sun Valley of the East, the Rangeley-Saddleback Corp. sought nearly $250,000 via the sale of stock. Using land leased from Hudson Pulp and Paper Co. (which had just shut down its logging camp there in 1957), the group expected to have a chairlift and T-Bar in operation for the 1959-60 season.

While Bald Mountain opened in 1959-60, Saddleback's development ran behind schedule. In the summer of 1960, two Hall T-Bar lifts were purchased. Trail building work was in full swing as the fall and T-bar delivery dates neared. Meanwhile, a two story lodge designed by Robert Tieger was being constructed.

Saddleback Finally Opens

The Rangeley Double Chair in the late 1960s or early 1970s
The Rangeley Double Chair in the late 1960s or early 1970s

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.

Shortly after the conclusion of the freshman season, Saddleback's owners announced the addition of three new trails for 1961-62. These new intermediate and expert trails would be called Royal Coachman, Blue Devil, and Parmachenee.

Heading into the 1962-63 season, the ownership received a $50,000 Small Business Administration loan, allowing them conduct general improvements to the base area.

The Rangeley-Saddleback Corp. made a huge investment for the 1963-64 season, as it installed a nearly 1,200 foot vertical Mueller double chairlift. At 4,600 feet in length, it was Maine's longest chairlift (beating out the only other chairlift in the state at that time at Pleasant Mountain). Unfortunately, the following seasons suffered from poor snowfall, resulting in the sale of the ski area in 1966 to Guy Gannett Publishing Company and one of its executives, J. Richard Arnzen.

The double chair was re-engineered for the 1966-67 season, providing more uphill capacity. Two new trails debuted as well.

For the 1967-68 season, a short chairlift was installed adjacent to a rebuilt lodge, while the novice T-Bar was moved below it.

A new lower mountain snowmaking system was planned for the 1968-69 season. Ironically, that winter's early snowfall was so plentiful that the installation was neither completed nor needed.

John Christie Arrives

The Rangeley Double Chair circa the 1970s
The Rangeley Double Chair circa the 1970s

In the fall of 1972, Guy Gannett Publishing Company to the youthful former Sugarloaf and Mount Snow General Manager John Christie's Big Rangeley Corporation. Much of the land was still leased from Hudson Pulp and Paper Company, which offered to finance a large expansion. Later in 1972, Christie briefly looked into purchasing central Maine's Eaton Mountain with the thought of using it as a 'storefront' for Saddleback.

Not long into his tenure, Christie oversaw the initial development of the new area to the east of the ski area. In addition, construction started on a new condominium development.

The gondola lift line (Bronco Buster) circa the early 1980s
The gondola lift line (Bronco Buster) circa the early 1980s

The 1973-74 season was a disaster across New England, both in terms of weather and gas shortages. In addition, Hudson Pulp and Paper Company sold much of their holdings in Maine, thus taking away Saddleback's planned investment partner in the expansion.

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.

For the 1975-76 season, night skiing was added on the Wheeler slope, served by the short double chairlift.

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.

By the time the 1979 season rolled around, Breen had invested a million dollars in Saddleback, opening the high altitude expert paradise Kennebago Area. Snowmaking was also improved.

Snowmaking improvements continued in the early 1980s, including an $85,000 investment for the 1983-84 season. In 1984, a third chairlift was reported as purchased to serve additional novice and intermediate terrain, but was never installed.

The base lodge circa the early 1980s
The base lodge circa the early 1980s

Appalachian Trail Battle

By the time the mid-1980s arrived, Breen apparently owned over 12,000 acres and was looking to expand the ski area. With the Appalachian Trail corridor running through his land and proposed expansion area, Breen met fierce opposition. Confronted with endless red tape and potential eminent domain losses, Breen held off on his investment as negotiations dragged on for over a decade.

Finally, in late 2000 a settlement was reached in which Saddleback agreed to sell a large tract of land, as well as a significant easement on another tract. By this time, Breen was in his 70s and looking to retire.

Near Closure Followed by Big Investment

Looking up the mountain from the South Branch Quad in 2012
Looking up the mountain from the South Branch Quad in 2012

Following the 2002-2003 season, the Breen family announced Saddleback they would not operate the ski area in 2003-2004, as either they'd either sell the ski area or close it. As the fall approached, it looked like Saddleback would indeed cease operating. In September, a retired professor and Saddleback skier named Bill Berry approached Breen and offered to buy the ski area. As a result of that meeting, the Berry family purchased the ski area and the thousands of acres of undeveloped land around it for an estimated $8 million.

Following their first season as owners, the Berry family started an aggressive expansion plan. For 2004-2005, the main lodge was dramatically expanded, the main chairlift refurbished, and the lower mountain expanded into the South Branch Area with a new quad chairlift.

Dramatic long term plans were also released, involving the development of new real estate and multiple new trail pods and lifts. While the original timeline showed much expansion taking place early on, plans were slowed down a bit.

In 2008-2009, the Kennebago T-Bar was replaced with a new fixed grip quad chairlift. In conjunction with a yurt and many new snow guns, the Kennebago area has become one of the most impressive expert areas in New England.

On October 11, 2011, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services approved USA Lifestyles, Inc. as a part of the EB-5 program. Under the EB-5 program, a foreigner can invest $1 million in an approved United States business (which must then create jobs), in exchange for a green card. With the Franklin County, Maine labeled a Targeted Employment Area, the minimum investment is cut in half to $500,000, making participating rural businesses such as Saddleback more attractive. Jay Peak was used as a model for the development of the Maine program. It is not known how much money Saddleback intends to raise, nor when it would spend it.

Closure

The idle Rangeley Double (2016)
The idle Rangeley Double (2016)

In December of 2012, the Berry family announced Saddleback was for sale. The reported asking price for the 400 acre ski area was $12 million. The family retained the 7,600 undeveloped acres around the ski area.

In July of 2015, the Berry family announced Saddleback would close if they could not obtain financing for a new quad chairlift. In September, the family announced they were in negotiations with multiple potential buyers. In December, the family announced the area would likely reopen in January 2016 under new ownership. While snowguns were set up, lift inspections were not conducted, and the area never opened.

As 2016 progressed, the base lodge continued to host weddings, but no announcements were made about ski operations. Late in the summer, an effort was started to develop a non-profit cooperative to operate the ski area. While a verbal sale agreement was reported, the transaction was not completed, resulting in the area sitting idle during the 2016-17 season.

On June 28, 2017, the Berry family announced it had reached an agreement to sell Saddleback to the Australian Majella Group. While lift replacements have been announced, it is not known if the area will open for the 2017-18 season.



NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News
Recent Articles
Saddleback Still Quiet Nearly Two Weeks After Sale - Jul. 11, 2017
Saddleback Sold to Australian Company - Jun. 28, 2017
STUDY: Probability of Lost New England Ski Areas Reopening - Apr. 24, 2017
Eaton Mountain to Reopen, Saddleback to Remain Closed - Feb. 9, 2017
Opening Day Yet to Arrive at Multiple Ski Areas - Jan. 18, 2017
Saddleback Mountain Community Resort Announces 30% of Funds Raised Thus Far - Nov. 30, 2016
Verbal Agreement Reached to Sell Saddleback - Oct. 27, 2016
REPORT: Effort Underway to Operate Saddleback as Cooperative Entity - Aug. 17, 2016
Saddleback's Future Still Shrouded in Mystery - Jul. 5, 2016
John Christie Passes Away - May. 9, 2016
Saddleback Mountain Resort NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News Page

Expansion History
Project
Season
Gondola Area
Cancelled
1970s
Southwest Summit Area
Cancelled
1979-80
Kennebago Area
Open
1979-80
South Branch Area
Open
2004-05
False Peak
Proposed
No Name Area
Proposed
West Bowl
Proposed
Magalloway Area
Proposed

Image Gallery
1961-62 Eastern Ski Map1962-63 Eastern Ski Map1964-65 Eastern Ski Map1966-67 Eastern Ski Map1967-68 Eastern Ski Map1970-71 Eastern Ski Map
View All Images in Saddleback Mountain Resort Image Gallery

Lifts
Click on lift name for information and photos
Standing Lifts
Installed
The Cupsuptic T-Bar bottom terminal in 2007
Cupsuptic T-Bar
Hall
T-Bar
1960-61
The Kennebago Quad in 2011
Kennebago Quad
Doppelmayr-CTEC
Chairlift - Quad - Fixed
2008-09
The Rangeley Double Chair circa the 1960s
Rangeley Double
Mueller-Doppelmayr-CTEC-Borvig
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1963-64
The Sandy Double Chair in 2004
Sandy Double Chair
Hopkins
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1967-68
The South Branch Quad in 2007
South Branch Quad
Doppelmayr-CTEC
Chairlift - Quad - Fixed
2004-05

Past Lifts
Seasons
The Kennebago T-Bar in 2007
Kennebago T-Bar
Hall
T-Bar
1979-80
-
2007-08
Lower T-Bar
Hall
T-Bar
1960-61
-
1966-67
Roosters T-Bar

T-Bar
1967-68
-
2003-04

Maps
1963-64 Saddleback Trail Map1967-68 Saddleback Trail Map1967-68 Saddleback Trail Map1980-81 Saddleback Trail Map2003-04 Saddleback Trail Map2005-06 Saddleback Trail Map
View All Saddleback Mountain Resort Trail Maps

Year by Year History
Adult Weekend Full Day Lift Ticket; Adult Full Price Unlimited Season Pass
2010s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2014-15$69.002014-15 Ticket Price Graph2014-15 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 13April 192014-15 Skier Visit Graph
2013-14$59.002013-14 Ticket Price Graph$799.002013-14 Season Pass Price Graph13.5 daysDecember 21April 202013-14 Skier Visit Graph
2012-13$59.002012-13 Ticket Price Graph$799.002012-13 Season Pass Price Graph13.5 daysDecember 15April 212012-13 Skier Visit Graph
2011-12$59.002011-12 Ticket Price Graph$699.002011-12 Season Pass Price Graph11.8 daysDecember 17April 1597,0002011-12 Skier Visit Graph
2010-11$50.002010-11 Ticket Price Graph$649.002010-11 Season Pass Price Graph13.0 daysDecember 16May 12010-11 Skier Visit Graph
2009-10$49.002009-10 Ticket Price Graph$649.002009-10 Season Pass Price Graph13.2 daysDecember 11April 112009-10 Skier Visit Graph
2000s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2008-09$40.002008-09 Ticket Price Graph$450.002008-09 Season Pass Price Graph11.3 daysApril 122008-09 Skier Visit Graph
2007-08$40.002007-08 Ticket Price Graph$450.002007-08 Season Pass Price Graph11.3 daysDecember 15April 202007-08 Skier Visit Graph
2006-07$40.002006-07 Ticket Price Graph$450.002006-07 Season Pass Price Graph11.3 days2006-07 Skier Visit Graph
2005-06$39.002005-06 Ticket Price Graph$500.002005-06 Season Pass Price Graph12.8 daysApril 162005-06 Skier Visit Graph
2004-05$35.002004-05 Ticket Price Graph$595.002004-05 Season Pass Price Graph17.0 days2004-05 Skier Visit Graph
2003-04$35.002003-04 Ticket Price Graph$700.002003-04 Season Pass Price Graph20.0 daysDecember 192003-04 Skier Visit Graph
2002-03$49.002002-03 Ticket Price Graph2002-03 Season Pass Price Graph15,0002002-03 Skier Visit Graph
2001-02$49.002001-02 Ticket Price Graph2001-02 Season Pass Price Graph16,0002001-02 Skier Visit Graph
2000-01$47.002000-01 Ticket Price Graph2000-01 Season Pass Price Graph2000-01 Skier Visit Graph
1999-00$45.001999-00 Ticket Price Graph1999-00 Season Pass Price Graph1999-00 Skier Visit Graph
1990s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1992-93$29.001992-93 Ticket Price Graph1992-93 Season Pass Price Graph1992-93 Skier Visit Graph
1991-92$29.001991-92 Ticket Price Graph$350.001991-92 Season Pass Price Graph12.1 daysNovember 291991-92 Skier Visit Graph
1990-91$32.001990-91 Ticket Price Graph$650.001990-91 Season Pass Price Graph20.3 days1990-91 Skier Visit Graph
1989-90$32.001989-90 Ticket Price Graph1989-90 Season Pass Price Graph1989-90 Skier Visit Graph
1980s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1988-89$29.001988-89 Ticket Price Graph1988-89 Season Pass Price Graph1988-89 Skier Visit Graph
1987-88$27.001987-88 Ticket Price Graph1987-88 Season Pass Price Graph1987-88 Skier Visit Graph
1985-86$23.001985-86 Ticket Price Graph1985-86 Season Pass Price Graph1985-86 Skier Visit Graph
1984-851984-85 Ticket Price Graph1984-85 Season Pass Price GraphNovember 231984-85 Skier Visit Graph
1983-84$20.001983-84 Ticket Price Graph1983-84 Season Pass Price Graph1983-84 Skier Visit Graph
1982-83$20.001982-83 Ticket Price Graph1982-83 Season Pass Price Graph1982-83 Skier Visit Graph
1981-82$17.001981-82 Ticket Price Graph1981-82 Season Pass Price Graph1981-82 Skier Visit Graph
1980-81$15.001980-81 Ticket Price Graph1980-81 Season Pass Price Graph1980-81 Skier Visit Graph
1970s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1978-79$9.501978-79 Ticket Price Graph1978-79 Season Pass Price Graph1978-79 Skier Visit Graph
1977-78$8.501977-78 Ticket Price Graph1977-78 Season Pass Price Graph1977-78 Skier Visit Graph
1975-76$8.001975-76 Ticket Price Graph1975-76 Season Pass Price Graph1975-76 Skier Visit Graph
1974-75$8.001974-75 Ticket Price Graph1974-75 Season Pass Price Graph1974-75 Skier Visit Graph
1973-74$8.001973-74 Ticket Price Graph1973-74 Season Pass Price Graph28,0001973-74 Skier Visit Graph
1971-72$7.001971-72 Ticket Price Graph1971-72 Season Pass Price Graph1971-72 Skier Visit Graph
1970-71$7.001970-71 Ticket Price Graph1970-71 Season Pass Price Graph1970-71 Skier Visit Graph
1969-70$7.001969-70 Ticket Price Graph1969-70 Season Pass Price Graph1969-70 Skier Visit Graph
1960s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1968-69$6.001968-69 Ticket Price Graph1968-69 Season Pass Price Graph1968-69 Skier Visit Graph
1967-68$6.001967-68 Ticket Price Graph1967-68 Season Pass Price Graph1967-68 Skier Visit Graph
1964-65$4.501964-65 Ticket Price Graph1964-65 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 111964-65 Skier Visit Graph
1963-64$4.001963-64 Ticket Price Graph1963-64 Season Pass Price Graph1963-64 Skier Visit Graph
1962-631962-63 Ticket Price Graph1962-63 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 211962-63 Skier Visit Graph
1960-611960-61 Ticket Price Graph1960-61 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 311960-61 Skier Visit Graph

Visitor Memories
"Never skied here for a winter vacation, but went up for my sister's skiing competition. I went up the newly built quad to the very top of Saddleback, and almost got lost! The ski patrol was really lax and don't do a good job of marking unsafe trails. Nonetheless, I took the lift again later in the day and found myself in beautful crusing trail called 'America' or something like that. Anyways, I truly hope this mountain has a better future, for I might ski It once again. "
Tucker Stanton, Aug. 4, 2016
"First skied Saddleback in the early 1970s and thoroughly enjoyed it. My Aunt and Uncle lived in Wilton, ME along with my grandparents in Lisbon Falls, ME. In our visits at Christmas we would ski around Wilton, ME at a local slope and work in a trip to Saddleback when possible. In 2015, I took my son and his buddies to Saddleback and we had an awesome time, almost 45 years later! "
Brett Sulpizio, Nov. 29, 2015
"I skied Saddleback in January 1968. I had never been on a chairlift. When we reached the top, I couldn't make myself get up and ski off the chair. The equipment had to be stopped so that I could drop off and the operation could proceed. It is a life long memory."
Sally Knutson, Mar. 23, 2014
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External Links
  • Saddleback - official site
  • Saddleback Mountain - FranklinSites.com Hiking Guide
  • Last updated: July 27, 2017

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