Last updated: November 25, 2019
Located in the coastal town of Camden, the Camden Snow Bowl has been a popular local ski area for decades.|
Winter activities on the slope of Ragged Mountain date back to at least 1936, when the town's first winter carnival was hosted. An estimated 10,000 people turned out to the weekend event, which spurred the development of a proper winter sports facility.
Located on the eastern slope of Ragged Mountain, work on the facility likely started in mid 1936. Lumber reportedly had to be ferried across Hosmer Pond, as the base area was blocked by woods and swamps. According to Camden Outing Club member Eugene Rich, the group "made every effort to keep our Snow Bowl development out of the papers for we felt we wanted a completely finished area before inviting the general public." Using all volunteer labor, the development debuted during the winter of 1937-38, with Governor Lewis Barrows lined up for the dedication of the facility in February.
Among the activities during the early years of the Snow Bowl included alpine skiing (featuring a rope tow), ice skating, and tobogganing. Skiing was also popular on the trail at nearby Mt. Megunticook.
Following World War II, the popularity of the Snow Bowl grew. According to the Lewiston Daily Sun, one January 1947 weekend saw over 10,000 visitors, with car license plates observed from as far away as Florida, Texas, and Washington. Improvements were made to the lodge circa the 1947-48 season, funded in part by fundraising dinners hosted by the outing club.
Not only was Camden Snow Bowl bringing in tourists from all over the country, but it was also considered integral for local residents. In 1948, the Town of Camden appropriated $1,000 to grant local students free use of the rope tow.
A new rope tow was purchased for the 1949-50 season, as the twelve year old lift had "gone to pieces all at once." In addition, a new wing was added to the main lodge with volunteer labor (including free architectural services). One year later, a novice slope was cleared on the other side of the rope tow.
Camden Snow Bowl Expands
After surviving multiple lean winters in the 1950s, plans were made to keep up with the skiing boon of the 1960s. New trails were reportedly cut circa 1963, followed by a lift line in 1965. Leveraging federal funding, the plans included a new lift, a new lodge, new trails, new power lines, and snowmaking equipment.
The Big T-Bar circa the 1960s or 1970s
The new lift, a Hall T-Bar, was installed for the 1966-67 season, debuting on January 14, 1967. With 761 vertical feet of lift service, Camden Snow Bowl was now a mid-sized ski area. Ten months later, the base lodge burned down, side tracking the multi-year expansion plan. The snowmaking installation was postponed so that a new A frame lodge could be constructed in 1968.
In the spring of 1971, the Camden Snow Bowl sold a rope tow to a group of Belfast, Maine residents, who then developed the El Depot ski area with it.
Suffering from a series of bad winters in the early 1970s, the Camden Outing Club looked to move forward with snowmaking at the Snow Bowl. Lost Valley's owner Otto Wallingford was hired as a consultant. Funds were obtained from local, state, and federal government sources for the installation of a $120,000 Hedco system in the fall of 1973.
The snowmaking system was installed just in time, as only 14 inches of snowfall was recorded that winter. The new snowmaking system resulted in 40 days and 10 nights of skiing in a season that would have otherwise yielded 4 days from natural snowfall.
Dedham's Loss Is Camden's Gain
In the spring of 1974, former Ambassador, IBM World Trade Corporation President, Smugglers Notch owner, and Camden resident Arthur "Dick" Watson bought the foreclosed Bald Mountain from the Farmers Home Administration and donated the lifts to the Camden Snow Bowl.
Installation of the double chairlift in 1975
The lifts were refurbished in early 1975 by a crew including Comprehensive Employment Training Act members. Installation of the chairlift and T-Bar took place via helicopter that fall.
Bad weather and increased electrical prices hit Camden Snow Bowl particularly hard during the winter of 1975-76, pushing it into financial jeopardy. While 1976-77 was a better season, the Camden Outing Club's financial situation resulted in it replacing General Manager Kenneth Hardy with Wendy Frutchy.
Camden Outing Club Steps Down
1978-79 was once again a tough season, with bad weather and only one functional snow gun resulting in a sizable operating loss. Subsequent winters took their toll, resulting in the operation falling deeply in debt and nearly closing in 1980. The Camden Outing Club ceased operating the ski area following the 1980-81 season.
The town soon started lease negotiations with Colorado businessman John Finn. Finn's proposal included making the Snow Bowl a year round area complete with an alpine slide and bumper boats. The deal fell through by the end of the summer of 1981.
Around that time, nearby Samoset Resort came to the rescue and agreed to run the Camden Snow Bowl for the 1981-82 season, purchasing two new snow guns to help hedge against subpar snowfall. The Samoset Resort continued operating the Snow Bowl through the 1983-84 season, however continued losses resulted in it handing the reins back to the town later that summer. Former Canadian national ski team member Russell Lagare was then hired by the town of Camden to run the ski area.
The late 1980s also took their toll on the ski area, as sales feel steeply with the start of the 1988-89 season. The 1989-90 season was no better, as the operating deficit was deeper than what the town could afford.
Into the Future?
The Ragged Mountain Recreation Area Foundation was created in 1991 with the intention of helping fund improvements at the Snow Bowl. A major fundraising campaign was commenced in 1997. Meanwhile, the area was in the midst of three consecutive seasons operationally in the red.
Ragged Mountain Redevelopment Construction (2014)
The snowmaking system received a boost in 2002 when the Snow Bowl received a federal grant for improvements.
In 2006, the Town of Camden hired Horizons Engineering to conduct a study and compile a long range plan for the ski area. Among the recommendations included improved snowmaking and a new chairlift.
In 2010, the former summit triple chairlift at Shawnee Peak was purchased by the Snow Bowl and placed in storage, in anticipation of the Ragged Mountain Redevelopment Project.
While work on the project began in March 2014, construction fell behind schedule, resulting in a January 29, 2015 opening with triple chairlift service. Nevertheless, the redevelopment resulted in top to bottom chairlift served trails, complete with improved snowmaking and LED lights for night skiing. The double chairlift was reinstalled for the 2015-16 season, improving beginner offerings.
The triple chairlift and base lodge (2015)
|Town of Camden to Request Federal Funds to Construct New Snow Bowl Lodge - May. 25, 2017|
|Growing Problems at Camden Snow Bowl - Apr. 25, 2017|
|New Camden Snow Bowl Lodge Postponed - Apr. 27, 2015|
|Camden Snow Bowl Opens - Jan. 30, 2015|
|New Camden Snow Bowl Opening Date Announced - Jan. 21, 2015|
|Camden Snow Bowl Still Without Chairlift Service - Jan. 19, 2015|
|Smaller Ski Areas Struggling to Open - Jan. 4, 2015|
|Camden Snow Bowl Reopening Delayed Until 2015 - Dec. 30, 2014|
|REPORT: Camden Snow Bowl Construction Behind Schedule - Nov. 16, 2014|
|Saddleback Purchases Camden Snow Bowl T-Bar - Nov. 6, 2014|
|Camden Snow Bowl NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News Page|
Click on lift name for information and photos
Year by Year History
Adult Weekend Full Day Lift Ticket; Adult Full Price Unlimited Season Pass
||Season Pass Price
|2021-22||$45.00||$545.00||12.1 days||December 26|
|2020-21||$43.00||$529.00||12.3 days||December 26||March 25|
|2019-20||$43.00||$529.00||12.3 days||December 21||March 15|
||Season Pass Price
|2018-19||$43.00||$529.00||12.3 days||December 23||March 30|
|2017-18||$43.00||$529.00||12.3 days||December 22||March 31|
|2016-17||$43.00||$529.00||12.3 days||December 17||March 19|
|2015-16||$39.00||$529.00||13.6 days||January 1||March 6||22,000|
|2014-15||$39.00||$499.00||12.8 days||January 29||April 4||28,000|
|2013-14||$35.00||$468.00||13.4 days||December 20||March 16||30,000|
|2012-13||$35.00||$468.00||13.4 days||December 22||March 24||30,592|
|2011-12||$35.00||$468.00||13.4 days||December 23||March 18||26,873|
|2010-11||$33.00||$446.00||13.5 days||March 27||33,749|
|2009-10||$33.00||$446.00||13.5 days||March 13||30,363|
||Season Pass Price
|2008-09||$33.00||$446.00||13.5 days||December 24||27,669|
|2007-08||$30.00||$425.00||14.2 days||March 30|
|2006-07||$30.00||$425.00||14.2 days||March 25|
|2005-06||$30.00||$425.00||14.2 days||December 22||17,711|
|2001-02||$28.00||$360.00||12.9 days||December 26||30,000|
|2000-01||$28.00||$360.00||12.9 days||April 1||35,000|
|1999-00||$29.00||$360.00||12.4 days||December 26|
||Season Pass Price
|1998-99||$28.00||$360.00||12.9 days||December 26|
||Season Pass Price
||Season Pass Price
|"The Snow Bowl was one of the best parts of growing up in Camden. It was such a major part of my childhood and provided endless winter entertainment, whether it be night skiing with friends, ski team, or picnicking with an amazing ocean view at the lean to off lookout, it made winters in Maine a whole lot of fun! "|
|Jessica Povec Brooks, Nov. 27, 2019|
|"I visited Camden Snow Bowl on 2/22/2014 and was able to ride the Big T-Bar before it was removed. It was one of the longest t-bars in the USA and was unique because it was longer than the chairlift. It was one of the nicest t-bars I have ridden because it was never too steep, too flat, too slow, or too fast. It was a great lift and hopefully they can sell it and get it reinstalled at another location.- Newenglandskier13"|
|Sam Shirley, Jul. 8, 2014|
Camden Snow Bowl - official site