In 1938 when the Mellon’s developed Laurel Mountain as a private ski club, the Ligonier Valley was a playground for the wealthy with fox hunting, trout fishing, and the Rolling Rock Club. This valley was where the Westinghouse, Carnegie and other famous Gilded Age families mixed socially for holidays away from the city heat and work pressures.
“This was a time when Pittsburgh was the 6th largest city in the US. The Laurel Mountain Region was to Pittsburgh what the Catskills were to NYC and the White Mountains were to Boston. The Industrial Revolution started here because of Pittsburgh’s three river-ways that created natural access to the city”, says Jim Shultz, an owner of Mountain Works Corporation.
Mountain Works, located within a few miles of Laurel Mountain, installed a new fixed–grip quad lift, completely Skytrac engineered and fabricated in Salt Lake City. It is a 2400 pph, 300 HP that replaces a 1960’s Poma double chair.
“As a 10-year-old kid growing up here and skiing here, I saw forest rangers complete with their brown ranger hats running the chairlift that the state installed. The ski club only had a t-bar and you couldn’t believe it! It was a double-diamond t-bar. You better hold on!
The ski area sat with no activity from the mid-eighties until 1999 when a new group came in and invested in a new lodge, groomers and modern snowmaking. They installed a used quad chair and got the Poma double chair operating and installed a tubing park which they thought would be a sure key to success. They ran it for about ten years.
The resort sat for 12 years when local people, having history and a big heart for the area, found Governor Ed Rendell in a tour bus – as the story was told – and asked the governor to consider earmarking funds and commit to the revitalization project.
The project broke ground last October of 2015. Seven Springs Resort, less than 25 miles to the North, will operate as the concessionaire. This arrangement will offer great options for skiers.”
Ligonier Construction, located in nearby Laughlintown, was awarded the general construction contract that included removal of the existing chairlift, site clearing and trail grading.
“Obviously, we’re excited about the progress made there and are very appreciative,” said Alex Moser, marketing director for Seven Springs and Hidden Valley. “We’ve done a lot of collaborative work there with Ligonier Construction and with the state.” (Paul Peirce, TribLive)
“During a celebration on the reopening progress, Robert Nutting, Seven Springs Resort Chairman said, ‘Our partners—DCNR and Ligonier Construction—have made tremendous progress in helping us push towards our goal of reopening Laurel Mountain. This is a renowned skiers’ mountain with a unique and proud history. By reestablishing the ski area as a community asset, it will bring with it new jobs, activity and the ability to attract even more visitors to our region.We look forward to realizing our goal and celebrating as the first skier takes the first run down Lower Wild Cat and the steepest terrain in the commonwealth is reopened for all to enjoy.’
Operation of the resort by Seven Springs would be the latest development in the history of one of three ski areas privately operated on Pennsylvania state park land. Once the exclusive winter playground of Rolling Rock Club members, it [Laurel Mountain] opened in 1939 and later was deeded to the state. Laurel Mountain is among the first ski areas in Pennsylvania” ( excerpt from First Tracks!! Online)