|Cumberland, Rhode Island|
|Vertical Drop:||315 feet|
|Past Lifts:||1 double, surface lifts|
|Left: The Ski Valley water tank|
|Recent NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News:
|3/21/2016: Iconic Ski Valley Water Tank Scheduled f...|
Last updated: September 14, 2021
Located on 481 foot Diamond Hill in Cumberland, Ski Valley operated for a quarter of a century before being converted to a real estate development.|
Amidst huge growth in the ski industry, Fred Egan and family developed a ski area on the east side of Diamond Hill for the 1961-62 season, initially served by rope tows. A state-owned ski area named Diamond Hill was located on the northwest face. According to Skiing magazine, Egan rigged up a rope tow using a 1953 Chevrolet truck from his steeple-jacking business. Egan was later described in the Providence Journal as always wearing a hat and being a member of the National Ski Patrol, "although nobody ever saw him with skis on." His wife Mary managed lodge operations.
A 1,400 foot long T-Bar was likely in place by the winter of 1965-66. Additional terrain expansion may have taken place for the winter of 1966-67. Egan declared the 1966-67 season to be "the best we have had in seven years."
For the 1967-68 season, Ski valley advertised 4 slopes and 4 trails served by the T-Bar and 3 rope tows. The area featured snowmaking and night skiing.
Ski Valley circa the late 1960s
The 1969-70 season may have had rare early April skiing following a spring snow storm.
At the start of the 1970-71 season, Ski Valley advertised 1 T-Bar and 5 rope tows and offered cross country skiing. Meanwhile, Diamond Hill installed two chairlifts.
Keeping up with Diamond Hill, Ski Valley installed a new Hall double chairlift for the 1971-72 season, possibly extending below the base lodge. Unfortunately for Ski Valley, 1971-72 was not a great winter, with Egan reporting a fraction of the normal number of skiers and stating, "if people don't see snow out in their front yard they don't think about skiing and don't come out."
The winter of 1972-73 was reportedly the worst ever to date for Rhode Island ski areas. Whereas much of New England struggled with a lack of snow during the 1973-74 season, Ski Valley fared relatively well conditions-wise. Unfortunately, fuel shortages kept many skiers away. Though Egan started the season hoping "we'll be in the money," he later noted that "we would have had a darn good year without this gasoline thing" and added that "We got better snow conditions this year, way better than last year, but the people are not coming out. We're better off, but not much."
Fred Egan's son Thomas was awarded a lease of Diamond Hill for the 1974-75 season and announced plans to connect the two areas and offer reciprocal skiing. It is not known if this came to fruition, as the Diamond Hill lease was awarded to another party within two years.
The debt from the chairlift caught up with Ski Valley, resulting in its removal due to foreclosure, likely before the 1977-78 season. Fred Egan suffered a heart attack around this time, leaving his wife and sons to play an increasingly active role in operating the ski area.
By the time the 1979-80 season rolled around, Ski Valley's lift network had been reduced to the T-Bar and three rope tows.
Circa the summer of 1981, Egan purchased the lifts, snowmaking, and grooming equipment from the recently defunct Pinetop ski area. His son Dennis took over as manager of Ski Valley circa the 1981-82 season, installing one of the acquired T-Bars for the 1982-83 season. Fred Egan passed away in the spring of 1982.
The Rhode Island winters in the early 1980s were extremely poor, prompting Dennis Egan to tell the Providence Journal in 1984 that "a good winter is just what I need to get back on my feet. If we have a halfway decent year this year, I think things will start going my way next year. If everything goes right this year, I can pay for everything I've done."
Following another poor season, Dennis Egan decided to focus on a career in construction. Mary Egan operated Ski Valley for the 1984-85 season, but "made up my mind before the season started that I was going to sell. It was just too much for me."
Ski Valley likely shut down for good in late February 1985. Reflecting on the quarter century of ownership, Mary Egan told the Providence Journal that "I think of all the nice people we've met through the years. I'll miss that, meeting people and talking to them. We made some nice friends through the years."
Much of the property was sold to real estate developers Marguerite Building Corp. and, within a few years, lifts were removed and the lodge demolished. The iconic Ski Valley water tank was constructed in conjunction with the condominium development, which ground to a halt in the early 1990s amongst real estate market issues. While some 100 condos were planned, not all were completed.
1987 Ski Valley real estate development ad
Peter Guimond passed away on May 18, 2001 at the age of 84. A decorated World War II 10th Mountain Division veteran, Guimond served as Ski Valley's ski school director for fifteen years.
The iconic water tank was removed circa 2016.
Mary Egan passed away on February 4, 2018 at the age of 92.
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Year by Year History
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|"I remember the song we used to sing (not sure if it was our own little ditty or the "ad" for the place): "Everybody skis at Ski Valley! They make snow day and night.... everybody skis at Ski Valley!""|
|Lori Fineman, Feb. 25, 2021|
|"I grew up skiing at this pace . I think there was a Tom Eagan a few older than me ( I am 73) and he was a fantastic skier probably best in the area.
|Brad Enegren, Dec. 10, 2020|
|"I think I was a 6th grade reading teacher of two of the sons at Community School. I’m 73, retired from teaching In Rehoboth, and widowed last June. Love and treasure your spouses and family. Life passes so quickly. I was only 21 when I began at Community in 1968! God bless you.
Carol (Voigt) Nelson"|
|Carol Nelson , Jan. 6, 2020|
|"Yesterday I was driving past Mercymount and saw the Ski Valley sign. I just had to take a drive up. As students of Mercymount (1974--me, in 4th grade and my sister in 7th) I think you guys ran a special for lessons after school a couple days a week. My mom signed us up. So it began. Rental ski's, lace up boots, folded up blue jeans, and side stepping up the bunny slope for 30 feet...and snow plowing down. Vivid memories of learning to let the rope tow slide through your mitts while before taking full grasp. Remembering how mittens did not last long with that rope. Hitting that jump on the hill to the far right just at the base of the first peak. Oh the spread eagle's were perfect 10's LOL
It's where we learned to ski. It was a blast!!! Also remember your dad having that box with some animal tail sticking out the hole. He would walk around the lodge and ask people to pet it and when they did the top would fly open and scare the pants off all the kids.
We went on to ski EVERY mountain in NH (and yes we ALWAYS got the patches and put them on our jackets)
Sadly, both my mom and sister have passed on but those memories will always be with me and bring a smile to my face--like today.
I do have some old pictures that I will have to dig out
|Tom Mendillo, Apr. 24, 2017|
|"We have your T-Bar! It is in excellent working condition and we have enjoyed its use continuously since 1986. If you are ever in the Philadelphia area please stop by and take a look. Sincerely, Wissahickon Ski Club, 265 Barren Hill Road, Conshohocken, PA 19428"|
|Andrew Sabia, Oct. 1, 2016|
|"Hi everyone, good to hear all is well:)) But one person I was thinking about is your mom Mary. How is she doing? We visited her about 15 years ago on a trip to Conn. for a family reunion. My dad , brothers and I took a day away from family and drove all over RI and ended up at her house. Knocked on her door and when she answered she looked puzzled. After a few minutes she realized who these crazy people were:)) She hadn't changed a bit, cigarette and all:)) Loved your mom and dad:)) After that trip, I started going out to Utah to try and learn to snowboard since there was no such thing when we were kids. Loving the west, thinking of moving out there. Anyway, say hi to all the brothers from the Michon's:))"|
|Debbi Jackson, Feb. 13, 2016|
|"Glad to hear that you are also doing well Dennis! Congratulations! on your family. Tell your family I said hello. Dr. Lynne T. Conte (Fontaine)"|
|Dr. Lynne Conte (Fontaine), Feb. 12, 2016|
|"Debbi , so glad you had great memories at the ski area. It was a great place as a kid to grow up i to have alot of good memories . In 1989 moved to NH to Cannon mountain and ran the race program for 5 years ,them moved over to North Conway area working in the ski industry in the winter time until about 6 years ago . Also have a construction company called Concrete Works / Intervale nh . Married 3 kids 2 boys -1 girl and yes they all ski very well .We try to ski atleast 1 day a week together . Good to hear from you and memories of Ski Valley . Dennis Egan"|
|Dennis Egan, Jan. 10, 2016|
|"Hi Debbi and Michael! Good to hear from you. Sorry to hear about your Dad Debbi. Congratulations! Michael on your large family."|
|Dr. Lynne Conte Fontaine (Maiden), Jun. 7, 2015|
|"Getting. Old u guys. .. I can be reached. On facebook. Yes thi s is Michael Egan 6children. 13. Grandchildren. So far I been. A busy man .lve been been a Boat. Captain. For the past 30 year. s. All my children were born in Mexico except my oldest daughter Cheryl Ann. She was born in Fla."|
|Michael Egan, Apr. 21, 2015|
|"My family and I started skiing here around 1964:) We soon became friends with the whole Egan family. My dad (Emile) worked in the ski rentals and many evenings he would stay all night and help Fred blow snow. My mom (Terry) worked the lunch counter, so my two brothers ( Michael and Scotty) and myself always had the best lunches ever. We loved the burgers, but the pizza was the best:)) Of course, like many young girls, I had the biggest crush ever on Dennis whom didn't even know I existed:( But watching him and brother David ski was always amazing. They were so good and fun to watch. I remember riding the T-bar up the biggest hill and halfway up you could try to stall the bar (try to pull it back far enough to get it to spring you up, like a rubber band). We always had so much fun there, so many great memories:) I used to call Fred 'my dad'. We moved to Florida in 71 and boy was I pissed:( No more skiing or Ski Valley or Dennis:)) HeHe. Anyway, a couple years ago, my dad passed. But before he left us, we broke out the old super 8 movies with the whole family present and had the most amazing fun watching them. So glad we have them, we laughed and giggled:) My mom has many photos too that we all still enjoy:)) Luv luv loved Ski Valley and the Egans:))"|
|Debbi Jackson (Michon), Oct. 22, 2014|
Diamond Hill - FranklinSites.com Hiking Guide
Ski Valley - New England Lost Ski Areas Project