470 million to 360 million years ago (give or take a few million years): The story of Carrabassett Valley begins when two huge land masses that would eventually become North America and Europe slammed together, unleashing cataclysmic events. According to Terry Plank, an earth science professor at Columbia University (quoted in John and Cynthia Orcutt’s book Enduring Heights: The High Peaks of Maine), the continental collision forced clay and sand from the ancient ocean depths up onto the land in huge piles that would become the Appalachian Mountains. Plank says large amounts of hot magma then rose from the earth’s mantle and flowed over many of those mountains, including the ones in western Maine. The heat from this fiery mass forged the ocean mud into brick-like formations that state geologist Bob Marvinney terms “layered metamorphic rock,” mostly granite and a heavier mineral called gabbro. From Carrabassett Valley’s standpoint, the most notable of these formations are what we now call Sugarloaf and the area’s other high peaks. Marvinney estimates those mountains were originally 12,000 to 15,000 feet tall.
286 million to 245 million years ago (more or less): According to the Maine Geological Survey’s website, a period of “continuous uplift and erosion” during the late Paleozoic Era resulted in tremendous changes to the local landscape, including large fractures in the bedrock. Marvinney believes this could have been the beginning of a drainage ditch that would become the Carrabassett River.
2.5 million to 13,000 years ago (all times approximate): This was the Pleistocene Epoch or what we commonly call the ice ages. The geological survey says huge glaciers several thousand feet thick covered Maine. As the ice sheets advanced and receded over many thousands of years, they caused serious erosion of the mountains. Without what Plank calls their “brick tops” of hardened stone, Sugarloaf and the other high peaks would have been whittled away to nothing, as were mountains that once existed in parts of Maine where the soil was softer. Instead, the relentless glaciers gradually scraped away enough of the rock to reduce the peaks to their current heights, exposing granite that was once buried deep in the earth’s crust. About 21,000 years ago, the last of the glaciers began to recede, a process that would take over 8,000 years. In his introduction to David S. Cook’s book Above the Gravel Bar: The Native Canoe Routes of Maine, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology David Sanger of the University of Maine says the melting glaciers initially resulted in high water levels, but that soon changed.
13,000 to 10,000 years ago (your guess is as good as mine): According to Sanger, with the weight of the glaciers gone, the land rose up. Combined with climbing temperatures, this caused the water to recede. Estimates vary, but the first people, called Paleo-Indians, probably arrived in western Maine during this period. These were the ancestors of the Wabanaki, the collective name for the tribes we know today as the Penobscots, Passamaquoddys, Micmacs and Maliseets. “People may have been waiting for the ice to melt away,” said Marvinney. “They moved in pretty quickly after the ice melted.” Cook says the Paleo-Indians may have been preceded into this “strange and forbidding” tundra-like landscape by herds of caribou or similar animals that fed on moss and grasses, possibly alongside the last of the mastodons and mammoths.
10,000 to 2,800 years ago (results may vary): Although there were still large swaths of grasslands, forests slowly expanded across western Maine as the climate warmed. These new forests were initially spruce, fir, poplar and birch, according to Cook, but as the climate continued to change, oak and white pine took root, Hardwoods became common about 8,000 years ago, while maple, ash, beech and hemlock joined the mix about 5,000 years back. By then, the landscape had recovered from the glacial withdrawal and assumed many of the aspects we’d recognize today, and it’s likely people had settled in what is now Carrabassett Valley. A 1999 archeological excavation at the Hammond Field picnic area on Route 27 found small flint tools made from stone mined in eastern New York, indicating they were brought here by some of the earliest humans to arrive in Maine. According to state archeologist Dr. Arthur Spiess, the site couldn’t be definitively dated, but it was at least several thousand years old and could have been from the late ice age.
A similar site at the south end of the airport was surveyed in 2008, but again, researchers couldn’t establish a definite date when it was in use. Spiess said it wouldn’t surprise him if there were many more such sites along that stretch of river. It’s also not clear whether the Indians lived here permanently or just visited occasionally. “Certainly, the site was occupied for thousands of years,” said Dr. Ellen Cowie, co-director of the Northeast Archeological Research Center, who conducted the airport dig. “We don’t know if it was seasonal. Not necessarily.” What is known is that during the early part of this period, the Paleo-Indians traveled on foot, following riverbeds over difficult terrain, so long trips were unlikely. But sometime after the ice was gone and the forests took over, the birchbark canoe was invented by person or persons unknown – possibly as long as 9,000 years ago, says Cook, although Spiess thinks it was more like 3,500 years back. Because this type of canoe was easy to carry and held a lot of people and supplies, it allowed far more extensive travel than had previously been possible. It was now feasible to summer on the coast, where fish and clams were abundant, and canoe up rivers in the fall to winter over in the interior, where game was plentiful. It should be noted that the Carrabassett was far from the easiest route inland, so Cowie suspects Native Americans returned here in spite of the hardships because either food was abundant or the place held some spiritual significance.
2,800 to 500 years ago (roughly): According to Spiess, Indians in Maine borrowed a bit of technology from tribes further south, learning to make fired clay pottery for cooking and food storage. “Native Americans developed a generalized hunting, fishing and gathering economy based upon the mobility of birchbark canoes and cooking food in ceramic pots,” wrote Spiess in an academic paper. “They combined subsistence and settlement strategies to move people to seasonally available resources, or to move food (such as baskets of clams or dead moose) and other resources to camp or village locations.” What this meant was that tribes came together on the coast in the summer, but broke into smaller units as colder weather approached, and moved inland. “The carrying capacity of the land wasn’t enough for large groups of people living in one spot,” said James Francis, the director of cultural and historic preservation for the Penobscot Indian Nation. “In fall, they’d break into family groups, so they could eke out an existence over the winter.” Another major change occurred between 2,000 and 1,500 years ago with the introduction of the bow and arrow, which soon replaced the spear as the weapon of choice for hunting. While tribes further south engaged in some farming, Spiess says, “Life over most of Maine was based almost entirely upon harvesting wild resources until after contact with Europeans.”
1500 A.D. to 1650 A.D. (starting to feel a little more confident about these dates): White explorers show up in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Although it would be many decades before they reached Carrabassett, Spiess notes that their iron tools, copper kettles and even firearms were traded from tribe to tribe, reaching well inland before their creators ever set foot here. What also spread were European diseases and increased conflicts between tribes. Over the next century and a half, the native population in both Carrabassett Valley and the rest of the state was decimated. According to Cook, by about 1730, all the native inhabitants of western Maine had vanished.
A band of men from York, Maine attacked and burned the village of Old Point, now known as Madison, killing several people including the resident Catholic priest, Father Raul, and, possibly, an Indian named Chief Carrabassett. Contemporary accounts of the massacre don’t mention Carrabassett, leading some historians to question whether he existed. But it’s not unreasonable to suppose that the chroniclers of the time, mostly white men, might not have placed much importance on naming every Indian killed, even those who were chiefs. In 1768, Thomas Hutchinson published The History of Massachusetts-Bay from the Charter of King William and Queen Mary in 1691, Until the Year 1750. It contains the following paragraph:
“Harman and the men who went to the cornfields did not come up till near night, when the action was over. They all, of both parties, lodged in the wigwams, keeping a guard of 40 men. The next morning, they found 26 dead bodies, besides that of the jeƒuit, and had one woman and three children priƒoners. Among the dead were Bomazeen, Mog, Job, Carabeƒett, Wiffememet, and Bomazeen’s ƒon in law, all noted warriors.”
Is the town named after that fallen chief? Possibly, but there’s no definitive answer. It’s unlikely the river that flows through town was named the Carrabassett by Native Americans. They may have called the river a term that roughly translates as Seven Mile Stream, because the parts of it that featured the best hunting and fishing were about seven miles from Old Point.
Or they may not have. As James Francis of the Penobscot Indian Nation wrote in the foreword to David S. Cook’s book Above the Gravel Bar, “The Euro-American way to name a place is either by naming it after someone, or naming for another place. … Penobscots had three basic ways of naming a particular location. Places were named for their geography or geology, the resources found there, or their names are based on legends that were passed down from generation to generation.” Whether the name Seven Mile Stream fits any of those criteria is debatable. As Cook noted in an email, European settlers could have coined the phrase for purely practical purposes. “There are numerous examples of such streams whose names help one know where they are, how far they may have come or have left to go,” he said.
But back to Carrabassett. According to an article in the Fall 2016 edition of the Carrabassett Valley Connections newsletter by Steve Pinkham, author of Mountains of Maine, Old Tales of Maine and More Old Tales of the Maine Woods, “We know little about [Chief Carrabassett], though in 1830 Nathaniel Deering of Portland published a fictional play called ‘Carabaset’ about the life of the Norridgewog warrior.”
Pinkham spoke to Carol Dana, linguistics specialist for the Penobscots, who noted that the Wabanaki language doesn’t have a letter R, and the letter B is pronounced as P. Even so, Dana speculated that the Carrabassett name could have been derived from a Wabanaki term meaning “one who turns around quickly,” possibly because he was particularly agile at fighting or hunting.
In any case, the Seven Mile Stream name became firmly established. Pinkham noted that the first written reference to that designation was in the journal of a member of Benedict Arnold’s company in 1755. For the next century, all maps referred to it as either Seven Mile Stream or Seven Mile Brook. In 1870, Pinkham said, Alvin Johnson’s Map of Maine lists it for the first time as the Carrabassett River, but a map of Franklin County from about 1887 shows that designation only for the section of the river south of North New Portland. Above that, it was the “Seven Mile River.”
Historians have no explanation for what prompted the name change, however gradual or abrupt, but within a few years the Carrabassett name prevailed for the entire length of the waterway. As you’ll see later in this timeline, the first railroad station in Jerusalem was called Carrabassett (although sometimes spelled with one ‘t”). As for the town, it took its time associating itself with the river that flowed through it, not officially adopting the name of Carrabassett Valley until 1971.
Benedict Arnold’s company, on their ill-fated march to Quebec, likely camped for several days in what later became Carrying Place Township and Dead River Township, not far from the northeast corner of Carrabassett Valley. Their journals constitute the earliest recorded history of the area and earn them the distinction of being our very first tourists.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts sold 1.1 million acres of western Maine to William Bingham of Pennsylvania. The purchase price isn’t clear in the historical record, but according to The Golden Voyage: The Life and Times of William Bingham by Robert C. Alberts and other sources, it appears to have been less than 13 cents per acre. This huge plot of land west of the Kennebec River was eventually surveyed and divided into townships, two of which were later named Jerusalem and Crockertown and would eventually become Carrabassett. Bingham was considered one of the richest men of his time, having made a fortune in the West Indies as an agent for privateers. He was also a member of the Continental Congress and later a U.S. senator. Bingham hired agents to find settlers and buyers for his lands, but seems to have been only moderately successful. Much of the property, including present-day Carrabassett, was still in his possession when he died in England in 1804. The Bingham estate would not be fully liquidated until 1964.
Bingham’s heirs sold 1,457 acres along both sides of the Carrabassett River, which were divided into 15 settlers’ lots located between the present-day site of Huse Mill Road and the Kingfield line. The first settlers arrived and begin logging operations.
Stagecoach service began from Kingfield to Flagstaff and Eustis, following along the Carrabassett River. The stage also stopped in Jerusalem to let out-of-state visitors off at the Carrabassett Mineral Spring Farm and Camps (present-day Spring Farm) This health resort, known for its medicinal waters, was originally a boarding house for loggers. It was owned for many years by C. G. Smith of Boston and continued in operation into the 20th century, eventually expanding to include a game park featuring bison and bear cubs and a natural swimming pool. (Much of this information and information in subsequent entries comes from the Franklin County portion of the State of Maine Sesquicentennial publication in 1970 and was written by Mrs. G. Norton Luce with research assistance by Hershel Boynton.)
A special Maine census listed a population of 54 people from eight families in Jerusalem, where there was also a sawmill. Crockertown was still uninhabited.
Township 3 Range 2 (Jerusalem) was officially organized and named Treadwell Plantation.
While there had been other permanent residents of Crockertown as early as the 1840 Census, perhaps its two most important locals arrived in 1880. Charles G. Campbell and Asa U. Baker had emigrated to Maine from New Brunswick in 1865 and settled in Kingfield. Fifteen years later, they purchased 150 acres and a building from George Hatch for $40 and began farming in the area now known as Campbell Field. According to Crommett, some of their apple trees were still growing there when he lived in the neighborhood. According to the 1880 U.S. Census, these two men constituted the entire population of Crockertown, while Jerusalem had 21 residents. Campbell was still living on his farm according to the 1900 census, but had moved back to Kingfield by 1910.
According to Guy Rioux’s book The Franklin County Narrow Gauges: Next Stop Kingfield, the Kingfield & Dead River Railroad (essentially a dummy corporation controlled by the Franklin & Megantic Railroad Co.) extended a two-foot narrow gauge line to create service from Kingfield to Carrabassett. The project was backed by a landowner syndicate headed by Frank J. D. Barnjum, which planned to build a lumber mill, store and hotel in Jerusalem. There was a depot at Spring Farm and a new station was constructed on what is now the Carriage Road near the future site of the Red Stallion Inn. The railroad’s primary purpose was to haul lumber, pulpwood and timber, but it also carried freight and passengers (the first passenger car on the line was named “Carrabassett”). Several homes, sawmills, a spool mill (owned by R.A. Huse & Sons) and a lodging facility catering to sportsmen called the Carrabassett House and Cottages were soon constructed in the vicinity of the station. According to Sterling T. Dow’s book Maine Postal History and Postmarks, a post office was established there in 1894 (it closed in 1903). As was not unusual at the time, the name of that office was spelled “Carrabasset.”
An aside: Barnjum was born in England around 1858 and later moved with his parents to Canada. He was something of a child prodigy, having worked for a Montreal brokerage firm at age 13 and engaged in commodity trading (mostly timber) in Boston by age 19. In the early 1900s, Barnjum acquired nearly all the land in Jerusalem after Franklin County took the properties for non-payment of taxes. He owned a home in Kingfield where his wife and children spent summers until it burned in the late 1920s. His holdings in Maine eventually grew to some 300,000 acres and included a sawmill in Madrid. He died a wealthy man in Paris, France in 1933.
The Franklin & Megantic was sold to the Sandy River Railroad Co. for $87,000 in stock. The F & M had taken full control of the Kingfield & Dead River the year before, but hadn’t paid the bondholders of that line anything, so they filed proceedings in court to take control of the Kingfield-to-Carrabassett line as compensation. In September, the track was extended 4,000 feet north to serve the Cumberland Mill Co.
After a couple of years of discussing the idea, according to Rioux, surveying was conducted to extend the rail line six miles to Bigelow, a village in Crockertown. Work on the extension was completed in December at a cost of $32,000. Meanwhile, the Madison Bulletin reported that “Frank J.D. Barnjum, timer and pulp wood agent, has just purchased Crocker township, for Boston parties for $110,000.” The Crockertown Lumber Co., owned by Isaac Crocker, was organized in Portland to cut timber on the recently purchased property.
Crockertown Lumber’s new steam mill, located in the space between the current location of the Carrabassett Valley Public Library and Carrabassett Valley Academy’s old dormitory, began shipping lumber in January. The Russell Remick Birch Mill also went into operation. The Bigelow passenger station (which still stands) and freight shed were completed that summer. Bigelow had about 100 residents working at the mills and many of them lived in the B.N. Merrill boarding house. That fall, railroad workers built a 15-foot by 20-foot hunting and fishing clubhouse about two miles south of Bigelow on the Carrabassett. It became known as Riverside House and is still in use today. By November, mail service to Bigelow had been established.
William C. Record began operating Record’s Sporting Camps on 75 acres in Jerusalem, located across the road from the current site of the Sugarbowl bowling alley.
Crockertown Lumber’s mill was sold to Prouty & Miller of Vermont. At some point around this time, the new owners constructed a dam creating Caribou Pond, allowing them to float logs down the Carrabassett River to their mill.
The new owners built an addition to the mill for a planer and clapboard machine, as well as a small electric plant that allowed the settlement to be lighted by electricity. The complex now included the boarding house, 16 dwellings, a blacksmith shop and a storehouse. Output from the mill reached 100,000 board feet per day.
Prouty & Miller partner Oscar G. Miller sold most of Crockertown, nearly 20,000 acres, to the Great Northern Paper Co., which planned to use the timber as pulpwood for its mill in Madison.
A fire on January 27 destroyed the mill, causing railroad revenues to decline to almost nothing. The mill was rebuilt in record time, and Prouty & Miller purchased the timber rights for 4,260 acres in the southeast corner of Jerusalem. In order to transport this lumber to the mill, a 2,500-foot extension of the rail line into Hammond Field and a 350-foot curved trestle across the river were constructed about two miles south of Carrabassett Station.
Around this time, The Maine Telephone Co. began service to the area, with its 1908 directory listing 10 phone numbers.
A great forest fire began at Hammond Pond near Jerusalem and burned over Hammond Pond Mountain, now known as Burnt Mountain, across the north side of Sugarloaf and west of the Caribou Pond Road toward Crocker Mountain. The flames damaged some 5,500 acres and came within a half mile of Bigelow, where a train was standing by to evacuate residents. While the damage was extensive, this event resulted in the terrain that provides some of the above-tree-line skiing on Sugarloaf today.
The two railroads serving Carrabassett and Bigelow were financially shaky, so three bankers from Gardiner consolidated those lines with the more stable rail companies serving Strong and Rangeley, thereby creating the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad. Even so, the two spurs struggled to turn a profit and were eventually leased to the Central Maine Railroad, which would continue to operate them until 1923.
In June, the Carrabassett Timberland Co., owned by Charles P. Hutchins and William C. Atwater, officers of a New York-based coal company, purchased the northern and southeastern parts of Jerusalem from Barnjum. Later that month, Barnjum also sold the southwestern quarter of the township to Hutchins and Atwater. These transactions were designed to help the cash-strapped Great Northern mill meet its need for spruce for its Madison mill, because Great Northern was a major customer of Hutchins and Atwater’s coal company. From 1908 to 1912, nearly 55,000 cords of spruce pulpwood were driven down the river to the mill.
Hutchins, who had a previous interest in the area from fishing trips he’d taken to Alder Stream, decided to take the advice of Great Northern president Garrett Schenck and purchase what is today Alder Stream Township. To do so, Hutchins formed a new corporation called the Dead River Timberland Co., which assumed the holdings of Carrabassett Timberland. The Alder purchase was completed on November 8. Hutchins was the father of the late Dead River board chairman Curtis M. Hutchins and grandfather and great grandfather, respectively, of long-time Sugarloafers Christopher and Charles P. Hutchins. Over time, Dead River grew to become one of Maine’s largest and most diversified businesses with interests in everything from building supplies to lobstering to film processing. Its ownership of land in Carrabassett continued until 1981, when its remaining property was sold to the Penobscot Nation under terms of the Maine Indian Land Claims Act.
The Maine Central Railroad purchased the Sandy River line.
The railroad continued to struggle. The Maine Public Utilities Commission authorized the Sandy River to extend its line through Carrabassett northeasterly along the Carriage Road all the way to Grand Falls, but the project was never constructed. The PUC also approved the abandonment of the Carrabassett to Bigelow line, but only about 3,100 feet was actually shut down.
Service was suspended on the Kingfield to Bigelow line over the winter. During this shutdown, the Huston Brook bridge was replaced and the Poplar Stream bridge was repaired. The trains again began running on May 1, 1922, but on May 29, the bridge over the south branch of the Carrabassett in Kingfield collapsed, dropping all but the engine and last car into the river.
Hutchins, Atwater and Edward Varney, a Fall River, Massachusetts box maker with a mill in South Berwick, supplied the capital for the newly organized Lawrence Plywood Co. in Jerusalem, near the present-day site of the town hall. The mill began operations on November 1 using wood supplied by Carrabassett Timberland Co. While there was still much logging in the area, the logs were increasingly being carried to the mills by trucks. Bigelow had ceased to be a busy lumber center, and there were only a few houses and a general store there. Josiah S. Maxcy and Herbert S. Wing took control of the Sandy River line from Maine Central as receivers.
Rail service to Bigelow ceased in 1925, and the rails between that village and Huston Brook were removed in 1927.
A state highway, Route 27 (also called the Arnold Trail), was built, linking Kingfield and Eustis, and replacing and upgrading the old county road. This not only made it easier for sportsmen to access the area, it also made trucks a serious competitor for the railroad's primary business of transporting lumber.
Edward Varney, who had been managing Lawrence Plywood, sold his shares in the company to Dead River.
Maxcy and Wing successfully petitioned the Maine Supreme Court to allow them to shut down the railroad, citing competition from trucks as the reason the line was unable to turn a profit. The last train ran on July 8. But it wasn’t quite over yet. The Lawrence Plywood Co. convinced the state railroad commission to resume limited service by promising to ship all its products on the line. In April, 1933, trains began running between Carrabassett and Strong. It would prove a short reprieve.
The end finally came in April, when the receivers petitioned the state supreme court for permission to sell the railroad. The court agreed and ordered an auction be held May 18 in Farmington. The high bidders at $20,000 were Morris Sackoff of Portland and Harry S. Kamenske of Nashua, New Hampshire, who in turn sold the assets to the H.E. Salzberg Co. of New York. The Sandy River ceased operations on June 30, and the sale became final on July 1.
For some time, Clyde Jacobs, manager of Lawrence Plywood, had noticed a decline in box sales, because of a production cutbacks at a textile mill in Fall River, the major customer for Lawrence’s boxes. Jacobs had attempted to diversify, selling hardwood panels to furniture makers; white birch veneer to Cummings Co. in Norway, Maine for candy sticks; and poplar to Berst-Forster for its matchstick manufacturing operations in Dixfield and Oakland. Jacobs also contracted with Berst-Forster to manufacture matches in Carrabassett, but the type of matches made there didn’t sell well. On May 30, Dead River liquidated Lawrence Plywood. (That same year, Dead River entered the oil business, which to this day is it primary business asset.)
On September 16, the last section of narrow-gauge rail was removed in Farmington, ending nearly 56 years of operation.
With the discontinuation of the railroad, most inhabitants left the area. Gradually, some of the buildings they left behind were converted to hunting and fishing camps. The final section of the Appalachian Trail opened on August 16, running from Bigelow Station to Oberton Stream. Also that year, a Maine Forest Service campground was located in Campbell Field, as shown in a Maine Appalachian Trail Club map from 1938.
The U.S. Army built an emergency landing field in Jerusalem.
Dead River records show that northern Franklin County continued to be an important source of pulpwood for the company. From 1948 to 1953, about 60,000 cords per year were cut, mostly in Alder Stream and Jerusalem townships. But that wasn’t the only tree cutting going on. In 1948, some enterprising locals from Kingfield cut a ski trail on Mt. Bigelow.
The Maine Ski Council, formed the previous year by an act of the Legislature, created a subcommittee to find the location in the state with the best ski-development potential. After considering Saddleback, Pleasant, Bigelow, Blue, Old Spec and Baldface, the subcommittee settled on Sugarloaf, because it had superior exposure and annual snowfall, as well as fewer accessibility problems.
The Sugarloaf Mountain Ski Club was organized. In October, the club received a five-year easement (at a cost of $10 per year) to build an access road across land owned by the Merrow Estate to reach Great Northern land on Sugarloaf. Sel Hannah, a ski-trail expert from Franconia, New Hampshire, helped design Old Winter’s Way from the base of the snowfields to an elevation of 1,800 feet.
The club began trail and lift development on Sugarloaf. Amos Winter, a general store manager from Kingfield, and a group of youngsters hiked up the mountain with skis on their backs to do the actual cutting.
The first Sugarloaf Schuss race was held in April. Avid skiers, such as the Robert Scotts of Orono, the James Howes of Waterville and the Richard Luces of Farmington began converting old hunting camps into ski lodges.
The first ski lift, a 10-horsepower portable rope tow, went into operation. It was located to the left (looking uphill) of the present-day Boardwalk trail. The tow charge was one dollar per day for non-club members.
In April, Evelyn Brown of the Merrow Estate sold the club the 4,780-foot-long parcel of land it was using for access to the mountain.
In February, Great Northern gave the club a 20-year lease for the use of Sugarloaf at a price of $25 per year.
Great Northern sold most of its land in Crockertown to Scott Paper.
On March 24, a group met at the Worcester House in Hallowell to organize the Sugarloaf Mountain Corp. The officers were Robert Bass, president; Richard Luce, vice president; Richard Bell, secretary; and James Flint, treasurer. SMC bought out the holdings of the ski club for $10,000 worth of stock (1,000 shares). During that summer SMC issued and sold $100,000 worth of common stock and hired Amos Winter as executive manager. That season, the first T-bar was purchased, the original base lodge was constructed, and the Lower Narrow Gauge Trail was cut.
New ski camps were being constructed at Bigelow Station and Campbell Field creating a community of skiers there and all along Route 27. On February 21, 1956, Thomas S. Slattery of Minot sold Jonathan, Roger and G. Norton Luce “as parcel of land with buildings thereon, situated in what was formerly the freight yard of the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad, at a place called Bigelow.” Not everybody who used those camps was a skier, though. The deed also specified, “One Gust Johnson has been granted the right to occupy one half of the shed situated directly back of the camp for his own use as long as he lives.” Johnson was a fur trapper. … Other families using Bigelow buildings for ski camps included the Bells and Folgers, while the Kiersteads, Mendalls and Cummings were building new camps in Campbell Field. The Carys and Basses built on what was then Route 27, but would soon become known as Woodcock Road. … Many of the new structures were being constructed on land owned by Dead River and leased from the company. In his history of Dead River, former board chairman Curtis M. Hutchins wrote, “There is ample evidence in the early pages of this Dead River story that my father was a far-sighted man. However, even if he possessed a crystal ball, it is hard to believe that he could have foreseen the day when Jerusalem Township would be swarming with human beings bent on breaking their legs by sliding down Sugarloaf Mountain. As a matter of fact, … I have to go over to Carrabassett every once in a while and see it to believe it.” Development eventually spread to other Dead River properties such as Carrabassett Village and Spring Farm. As Hutchins noted, “Thanks to my father … Dead River owns much of the land at the eastern base of Sugarloaf, and this ownership eventually dragged us out of the relative peace and quiet of the land business into the hurly-burly of the real estate business.”
SMC bought its first groomer in February 1956, and a weekend ski school was opened. The company had managed to turn a profit in its first season, and in its second season, another T-bar was added, Narrow Gauge Trail opened, and the base lodge was doubled in size. Brooks Dodge laid out Tote Road trail, with a warming hut halfway down. The ski school expanded to seven days a week.
State Highway 27 through Campbell Field and Woodcock Lane was discontinued, making those roads private. This was the first part of a project to straighten and upgrade the state road and a major step forward in Carrabassett Valley’s long tradition of private roads.
On the mountain, Roger Page was director of the ski school, and Werner Rothbacher was hired to teach the Austrian technique of skiing and to coach the junior program.
Irv and Edna Judson began construction of Judson’s Motel in September on land they bought from Dead River. It would open for limited operations the following February.
Leo Tague, a native of Coplin Plantation, bought Record’s Camps, adding a dining room to serve skiers and renaming it Tague’s Motel. Shortly thereafter, Clem Begin of Megantic, Quebec was hired to run the food operation.
Snowfall was so heavy that winter that the upper T-bar houses and cables were still buried in April, and SMC offered a free day of skiing to anyone willing to help shovel them out. “Awesome ski year,” recalled Jean Luce, who said she skied until Memorial Day much to the chagrin of her mother who thought she should have been busy planning her June wedding.
During the summer of ‘58, Harvey Boynton built a ginger-bread style ski shop next to the base lodge, where the Sawduster chair now unloads.
Sugarloaf hosted the U.S. Junior National Championships.
The Sugarloaf Sauna opened on the corner of Townline Road and Route 27 (this building later became Hug’s restaurant). The sauna is featured in the background of the famous bare-chested Uncle Al poster from the Bag.
Big changes on the mountain. A new two-story base lodge was built at the present site, and the parking areas were moved downslope. This shift made room for a 15-acre beginner’s slope. The Skidway T-bar was installed.
A new wing was added to the base lodge, and Double Bitter Trail was cut.
Boynton moved his ski shop to a new location, where the Bag restaurant is now. The roof became known as “Boynton’s Beach,” a prime spot for happy hour.
Big changes in the valley. The seasonal housing boom hit, with lots of construction in Spring Farm, Poplar Stream and Carrabassett Village, as well as in townships north of the mountain.
In July, the Bigelow Corp. purchased the remaining 2,000 acres of the Merrow Estate from Mary White. The estate stretched from the current location of Hug’s restaurant to well up the Access Road, including what is now much of Carrabassett Valley Academy’s campus. Mark H. Merrow and Leon Warwell had purchased the land in 1920 from the Prouty and Miller families. In 1938, Wardwell sold out to Merrow, who died that same year. Evelyn Brown and Mary McDonald (later Mary White) inherited the property, with Brown conveying her interest to White in 1957.
Bigelow Corp. was financed through $10,000 investments from its board members and associates, who included George “Tim” Terry III, president; Harvey Boynton, vice-president; Adrian Asherman, secretary/treasurer; Ralph M. Clark, clerk.; as well as Alden MacDonald, Wadsworth Hinds, William Kierstead, Dr. Edwin Ervin, Parker Poole and Emil “Jay” Winter. According to a Bigelow Corp. paper, “The intent of this group was to invest in this property for the long term and to develop it in such a way as to best preserve the character of the area.” After a timber assessment, feasibility study and a development plan were prepared by the Joseph Sewall Co., one-acre lots were laid out under what Terry called “rigid controls as to types of structures and to keep the commercial area carefully separate from the residential sections.” This was the beginning of what’s now known as Sugarloaf Village 1 and 2.
In November, Pfeifle Enterprises purchased for one dollar and other considerations land from SMC to build the Sugarloaf Inn. Don and Mary Pfeifle lived in and operated the inn with their three boys.
Late in the year, Rangeley Power Co. began offering electric service to Jerusalem, Crockertown and Wyman townships.
On the mountain, the Whiffletree and King Pine T-bars went into operation, and the Ram Down and Widow Maker trails were opened. … John Christie, who had been working as a ski patroller and bartender, was hired as Amos Winter’s assistant manager. Christie was responsible for laying out plans for a top-to-bottom lift line that was completed in 1966, effectively transforming the mountain. Christie became Sugarloaf’s general manager in 1965, but left that job in 1968 to head the Mount Snow Development Corp. in Vermont. In 1972, he came back to Maine and purchased Saddleback ski area, which he sold in 1976. He later wrote The Story of Sugarloaf, an extensive history of the mountain and was inducted into the Maine Ski Hall of Fame.
The Somerset Telephone Co., successor to the Maine Telephone Co. and now owned by Kenton Quint of North Anson, created the Bigelow exchange (237) with eight accounts, including the Sugarloaf base lodge, Sugarloaf Inn, Chateau Des Tagues, Judson’s Motel, Norton Luce, Donald Pfeifle and Harold Anderson
The Bigelow Corp. constructed Brackett Brook Road in Sugarloaf Village and put a prefabricated Stan-Mar chalet at the crest of the hill, which was eventually sold to Robert Porteous of Portland. The road was extended to what is now Townline Road, and a number of people built homes on it, including Norton and Jean Luce, Frank and Deanna Avantaggio, and Alden and Margaret MacDonald. In 1964, Bigelow hired Jud Strunk to live in another Stan-Mar chalet next to the Luces. Strunk’s job was to sell lots in the development by ferrying potential buyers around in a then-novel red Polaris snowmobile to show them lots on roads that hadn’t yet been built.
The Red Stallion Inn was created from what had been a Dead River Co. horse barn. Dead River leased the structure to a corporation owned by David Rollins and Wesley Sanborn. John and Jean Love ran the business. When the owners ran out of money in 1966, they sold the Stallion to Ed Rogers. There is some evidence the barn was originally part of the Spring Farm health resort, but it’s not known when or even if it was moved to the Carriage Road. It’s also possible the barn was constructed from timbers moved from Flagstaff before that town was flooded in 1949 by a Central Maine Power dam project. In any case, the structure was used as a barn until 1960, when Clifford Norton of Kingfield remembered shoeing horses there. Soon thereafter, Jean Luce recalled seeing horse dung being removed from the area that became the dance floor, although that task may not have been completed as thoroughly as might be hoped. According to Ed Rogers, during wet spells, the Stallion always had a familiar smell.
Around this time: Dead River and Leo Tague constructed an airstrip in Jerusalem on land owned by Tague at the current location of the airport.
Also around this time Route 27 underwent considerable reconstruction. Sections such as Spring Farm Road and Little Poplar Stream Road were discontinued and became private ways. As some stretches of the road were abandoned, they were taken over by the paper companies that owned the surrounding properties and maintained as access roads to ski camps. Weekend populations swelled, particularly in the winter.
Up on the mountain, George Cary was elected president of SMC.
Tague’s Motel caught fire, destroying 10 units, the kitchen, dining room and lounge. A six-room addition, store and gas station were saved. Tague hastily built a larger motel across Route 27 at the current location of the Sugarbowl bowling alley, managing to get the newly christened Chateau des Tagues open in time for hunting season. … On Tague’s original site across the road, an older couple, possibly the Andrews, opened the Til Midnight Store. They rented the remaining cabins in back to skiers. That location later became at various times Valley Pie, a pizza place, and Macho’s Mexican Restaurant. Ted Jones recalled visiting the Til Midnight Store for an unusual purpose. While flying his plane, he noticed he was running low on fuel. So, he landed on Route 27 and pulled up to the store’s gas pumps and filled up.
This was the first year Sugarloaf ski passes featured photos. Yet another new section was added to the base lodge.
Charles and Elinor Clark of New Portland opened the Capricorn Lodge on Route 27 (the building later became Carrabassett Valley Academy’s original building) on land they had purchased in 1962. The Capricorn had 21 rooms and a lounge described as having a “Bavarian décor,” but the local business association published a brochure describing it, perhaps inadvertently, as “Barbarian.” The Clarks operated the lodge until 1971, when they sold it to Harold Alfond.
Dutch Demshar built a ski camp in Spring Farm. Other than that, it seems to have been a quiet time.
The Mogul Delicatessen, a prefabricated log building, was moved onto the lot at the corner of Townline Road and Route 27 (across from what’s now Hug’s restaurant). The Mogul was owned by David Brophy of Waterville and featured everything from Italian sandwiches to baked beans and brown bread on Saturdays. Dick Ayotte worked at Mogul’s until he left to start his own store in Valley Crossing.
Dick and Mary Fountain built the Lumberjack Lodge on Route 27, and they became permanent residents along with their four children. The Lumberjack is now a condominium development.
Around this time, a larger, permanent, year-round population began emerging, as people moved to the area to work at the mountain, for the various inns and at assorted businesses providing building materials, car repairs, gasoline and laundry services to weekend visitors.
The Sugarloaf Regional Airport underwent some upgrades after Franklin County entered into a contract with the federal government to improve the dirt runway. Harvey Boynton and Leo Tague were instrumental in bringing this about because they paid the county’s 25-percent share of the cost of nearly $32,000.
Construction of the Gondola began in the fall and operations commenced in January, with 50 four-passenger cars, carrying skiers 8,430 feet while lifting them 2,300 feet up the mountain. According to news accounts at the time, this addition attracted visitors from all around the northeast.
The mountain was rebranded as “Sugarloaf/USA.”
The Richard Bell Sugarloaf Interfaith Chapel was built on the mountain, offering three services each Sunday, as well as weddings, youth activities and christenings. Bell of Farmington was one of the chief fundraisers for the facility. Before the chapel was constructed, both Catholic and Protestant religious services were held in the “Pack Sack” picnic area in the base lodge basement.
Sugarloaf hosted not only the NCAA Championships for men, but also the World Heavyweight Ski Championships. For the NCAA, the slalom and giant slalom were held on Narrow Gauge trail, while the downhill took place on Tote Road. A 45-meter ski jump had been constructed the previous year at the foot of Poplar Mountain across Poplar Stream from the Carriage Road, not far from the old town dump.
Harry Baxter was hired as the new ski school director. Baxter had previously been at Mt. Whitter in New Hampshire. The following year, after Christie’s departure, Baxter became general manager of Sugarloaf.
Off the mountain, cross-country trails were being created from old logging roads and the narrow-gauge rail bed.
In response to the increasing interest in local real estate, Dead River Co. established a recreation division to deal with its property in the Carrabassett Valley area. Leaseholders were given an opportunity to buy the land their camps were on, and new housing developments were plotted out.
The state changed the name of Crockertown to Sugarloaf Township. The population consisted of six Fountains, five Pfeifles, four Luces, four Clarks and one Harold Anderson. For the first time, the township had a public-school bus to take kids to Kingfield, freeing the parents of that duty. The bus was owned and operated by the state, and Jack Hargreaves of New Portland was the driver.
The first of Dead River’s developments, Redington North, opened in February. It would soon be followed by Redington East. … According to Jean Luce, there were 42 chalets and A-frames on Route 27 and its turnouts between the Access Road and Tague’s.
The season began with heavy rain, which flooded the basement of Judson’s Motel at Christmas. With an inn full of skiers, Irv Judson attempted to save the furnace from the rising water, but died of a heart attack in the process. His wife, Edna (known affectionately as “Ma”), continued to run the motel for many years.
The snowfall that year totaled a record-setting 347 inches, with two back-to-back storms over five days adding 67 inches. Everything was buried, and Route 27 was closed for 24 hours until the state highway department could bring in special equipment – a giant snowblower from Aroostook County – to clear Route 27. More than two dozen people stood on the snowbanks in the Capricorn’s parking lot to watch the big machine blow snow nearly to the river. Even so, many side roads remained impassable, and for a week, Fotter’s Store in Eustis delivered groceries to the Capricorn, where the locals picked them up using toboggans and skis. Brackett Brook Road was finally opened by two graders, one towing the other. On the bright side, the ski season ran from November 10 to May 11.
The first double chairlift, Bucksaw, was installed that fall. It was 5,360 feet long with 1,191 feet of vertical lift. The Sawduster double chair was also constructed (1,300 feet long with 130 feet of vertical lift), although it wouldn’t open until the following year.
The Valley Crossing shopping complex was built by Dead River at the corner of the Carriage Road and Route 27. By this time, Dead River had expanded into construction, supplying building materials to other contractors, interior design, furnishings, maintenance, snow removal, firewood and propane, mostly as a result of burgeoning demand in the Sugarloaf area. As Dead River’s Curtis M. Hutchins wrote in his company history, “The primary purpose of these extensive operations was to promote the Carrabassett Valley as a recreational area and thereby enhance the value of our unsold land in Jerusalem Township.” As we’ll see in following years, that didn’t work out quite as planned.
The annual Jerusalem Dump Party was featured in the November issue of Playboy magazine. Everyone had their clothes on (in the photos, anyway).
Twenty condominiums were built on the mountain, signaling an approaching shift in the real estate market. The units were priced between $19,000 and $35,000. … Land values in the area were estimated to have tripled in the last 10 years.
Dead River built three model homes in Redington East and proposed adding a golf course to that development. Smaller “spacemaker” homes were being offered by Dead River for $18,000 to $28,000 including wells and waste disposal systems.
Dutch Demshar was managing Peter Webber’s Ski Shop at Valley Crossing.
Four area residents had planes: Harvey Boynton, Dutch Demshar, Leo Tague and Ted Jones (who told the Original Irregular that he preferred flying low because if something went wrong, he could get out and fix it).
Cap’n America (aka Peter Roy) was appointed the Red Stallion’s public relations director.
An advertisement appeared in the Original Irregular for “Ayotte’s Country Store and Pot Shop.”
Faced with high costs and low profits, Dead River sold off its construction, design, services and building materials operations, but it did build a 28-unit condominium project in Valley Crossing. At this point, the company estimated some 350 to 400 families had ski camps of one sort or another in Jerusalem.
That winter, Sugarloaf hosted the Tall Timber Classic World Cup, the highest-level race held up to that time on the mountain, as well as the Arlberg Kandahar races.
An SMC subsidiary offered another 30 condos for sale on the mountain at prices ranging from $24,900 to $38,000.
With the explosion of development on Sugarloaf, a staffed gate was set up on the Access Road near what is now the check-in center. The gatekeeper was Smitty Smith.
Clem Begin and Leo Tague formed the Sugarloaf Construction Co.
Sugarwings began offering charter air service from the airport.
After purchasing the Capricorn Lounge, Harold Alfond hired Jim and Jean Doughty to run it for him, which they did until 1978.
Hutchins of Dead River met with local residents of Jerusalem, Crockertown and Wyman to urge them to incorporate as a town in order to lower the state taxation rate of 15 mils on unorganized territories (most of that money went directly to the state) and thereby gain greater local control over spending. On October 26, Jerusalem voted 21-13 to become the Town of Carrabassett Valley. The election was held at Judson’s Motel and overseen by Deputy Secretary of State Peter Damborg and other state officials. Frank Rogers cast the first ballot. Wyman and Crockertown declined to join the new municipality, the latter by a margin of one vote.
During the summer, the Village Center on the mountain was constructed. It included an expanded space for Harvey Boynton’s ski shop, but the end of “Boynton’s Beach.” There was also room for the Bag & Kettle and several other shops, as well as 17 condos, a locker room and office space.
Down at Valley Crossing, the Ski Rack, which had been located in Livermore Falls, began operations, as did the Truffle Hound restaurant.
Al Webber built the 31-unit Blue Ox Lodge, which was later sold and converted to a condominium development called Timberwind.
At the base of the mountain, the Bigelow Corp. demolished the last remaining houses from the railroad era. By that time, Bigelow had sold 340 lots in the area.
SMC president King Cummings announced the company had purchased Burnt Mountain (1,750 acres) from Scott Paper and had acquired an option to purchase Crocker Mountain.
Dead River’s Left Bank condo project opened in November. The company also proposed building a dam on the Carrabassett River to create a 350-acre lake to enhance the area’s appeal as a four-season resort. The idea was kicked around for several years, but ended up going nowhere.
Leo Tague sold Chateau des Tagues to Joseph LaBeau of Orono, who later defaulted on his loan, returning ownership to the Tagues.
Route 27 was designated by the Maine Department of Transportation as a scenic highway.
The Red Stallion hosted the first World Mud Football Championship. It was covered by ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
The Outer Space Band played the Stallion for the first time.
Singer-songwriter-comedian (and unsuccessful state Senate candidate) Jud Strunk left the area on July 15 for Nashville and later Hollywood. The following year, he became a regular on the final season of the TV show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-in. Strunk, who had moved to Eustis after his real-estate adventures, had his biggest hit record in 1973 with Daisy a Day. Other chart singles included My Country and The Biggest Parakeets in Town. After his show-biz career ended, he returned to the area to start a business restoring antique airplanes.
An organizational town meeting was held in March, but the first official town meeting took place on April 26 on the second floor of Valley Crossing over Ayotte’s store. Voters dealt with a warrant containing 19 articles and elected Larry Warren, Preston Jordan and Parker Hall as selectmen. Maralyn Beck was chosen as the town clerk, tax collector and treasurer.
WTOS-FM, an alternative-rock station licensed to Skowhegan, went on the air. Soon thereafter, its transmitting tower was moved to the top of Sugarloaf (hence the call letters), and “The Mountain of Pure Rock” increased its power to 57,000 watts, allowing it to be heard for more than 200 miles in all directions.
At the annual town meeting in March, Carrabassett Valley voters decided by a vote of 24-14 to establish a town-manager form of government. Preston Jordan, who had recently resigned as first selectman, became the first to hold the post. He’d serve until 1989.
After two seasons of light snowfall, Sugarloaf installed its first snowmaking system. The Spillway East chairlift opened. SMC general manager Harry Baxter left for Jackson Hole, and Charles Skinner was hired to replace him.
By a vote of 7-6, the 13 adult residents of Crockertown (officially Sugarloaf Township) voted to join Carrabassett Valley, and the voters of Carrabassett cast ballots in favor of accepting them. The Legislature later approved the annexation. The expanded municipality became the largest in area of any organized town in Maine. At that year’s town meeting, held at the base lodge, residents decided to name the combined town Carrabassett Valley, rather than Sugarloaf. The planning board, consisting of chairman Norton Luce, Phoebe Stowell, Burnham “Bud” Ragon and Carol Stratton, was given the task of creating a comprehensive plan. It would take the next 11 years to complete that work.
The mountain hosted a big country music festival sponsored by Maxwell’s restaurant (now Longfellow’s) in Kingfield. The headliner was Waylon Jennings, with Jud Strunk one of the supporting acts.
Dead River’s venture into real estate came to an end, as demand for housing had shifted from the valley to condominiums on the mountain. As Hutchins put it, “[F]urther development after 1975 seemed unwise.”
When the Bag & Kettle moved to the mountain in 1972, its space at Valley Crossing was taken over by Flannagan’s restaurant. Three years later, the three partners in that enterprise had a falling out, with two of them, Larry Sullivan and Joe Williamson, taking control. They renamed the operation Tufulio’s, allegedly because they considered themselves two fools for getting into this business deal in the first place.
Jean Doughty was elected a Carrabassett Valley selectman, the first woman to hold that post (and the last until 2018).
Central Maine Power acquired Rangeley Power. A new transmission line from Wyman Dam in Moscow went into service later that year to meet increased demand for electricity from Sugarloaf.
A new two-lane bridge replaced the old one-lane span carrying the Carriage Road across the Carrabassett River. According to The Original Irregular, the new bridge meant “no more kamikaze games of who’ll get across first.”
SMC sold the Sugarloaf Inn to Peter Webber.
William Sim, general manager of the Donner Ski Bowl near Lake Tahoe, was hired as the new general manager of SMC replacing Charles Skinner, who returned to his personally owned ski resort in Minnesota. Before Skinner left, he gave an interview in which he said Sugarloaf, Scott Paper, Dead River and Huber Corp. had been in discussions for several years about building a massive resort including both Burnt and Crocker mountains, as well as a dam across the Carrabassett.
The path of the Appalachian Trail was moved away from Bigelow Station and the summit of Sugarloaf to its present location across the peaks of North and South Crocker.
The section of the Carriage Road from Double A Drive to the old town dump was discontinued. The dump was closed, and a new transfer station opened.
Townspeople also considered a proposal to purchase Poplar Mountain for recreational use, particularly hang gliding. No action was taken on the idea. Hang gliding was already being offered on Sugarloaf (the World Hang Gliding Championships had been held there the previous year), and it attracted NBC’s Today show that summer. But the activity was discontinued shortly thereafter because a glider nearly collided with electric lines running between the base lodge and the Gondola.
That summer, the Schuss Café and Maxwell’s were taken over by SMC. … Gladstone’s restaurant opened over the Bag. It was for dinner only. During the day, the space was used by the Sugarloaf Regional Ski Education Foundation (a predecessor to Carrabassett Valley Academy) for its tutorial program.
Chateau des Tagues changed its name to the Narrow Gauge Inn.
The valuation of Carrabassett Valley was $14,829,421. The tax rate was 19.5 mils.
The town library opened under Ayotte’s store at Valley Crossing.
The town recorded its first birth. Brady Winn was born to John and Janine Winn.
Harold Alfond donated the Capricorn Lodge to the University of Maine Foundation.
The Red Stallion built an extension on the south side, the only part of the building that remains today.
Ayotte’s bought the Designs building across from the airport for a move planned for the following summer. The building had originally been built by Emory Hall of North New Portland as a youth recreation center called The Valley Den. Its elongated shape was meant to accommodate a bowling alley, but that never happened.
Snowmaking began on November 1. On November 13, Double Runner lift opened and there was skiing on Boardwalk.
The Merry Construction Co. was formed by Lloyd Cutler, Larry Warren and Tom Hildreth to purchase the Valley Crossing building from Dead River.
Joan McWilliams and Peter Wentworth dominated the Maine Freestyle Championships. Later that year, McWilliams won the National Amateur Freestyle held at Wildcat Mountain.
At the March town meeting, voters approved funding for a touring center for cross-country skiers. The 3,800-square-foot center was built later that year on the public lot at a cost of $150,000. Newell Construction built the access road, while Clem Begin constructed the building. (Begin was also busy that year putting yet another addition on the base lodge, a space now known as the King Pine Room.) Upon completion of the touring center, it was leased to Western Mountains Corp. WMC’s board of directors was composed of Larry Warren, president; Alden MacDonald, treasurer; Dutch Demshar, clerk; David Spaulding and Gardiner Defoe. Jack Lufkin was hired as manager. Season passes were $20 for the first adult, $10 for the second adult and $5 for children. … Meanwhile, Larry Warren and Hazen McMullen cleared old tote roads and provided a temporary building for cross-country enthusiasts. … The town meeting also created a recreation reserve fund, using $36,000 from surplus and $14,000 from that year’s tax money.
SMC created a new company, Mountainside Corp., to handle development, sales, rental and management of real estate.
The Valley Crossing building was moved up to the Mountain and renamed Village West. To accommodate the move, the building was cut into three sections, and Route 27 was closed to traffic while it passed through. Johanna Luce Harris remembered that the school bus she was riding on as a student was stuck behind the slow-moving convoy, making for a very long trip home that day. … Shortly after the big relocation, the Valley Crossing site was sold to Valley Associates (Larry Sullivan, Chris Hutchins, Joe Williamson). The new company oversaw the construction of the Hotel Carrabassett and a new location for Tufulio’s, both on the original foundation. The Hotel Carrabassett later became Valley Crossing One Condominiums. Soon thereafter, Valley Crossing Two Condominiums was built on another part of the same foundation.
On the mountain, plans were announced for a large hotel to be built next to Village West. Because of SMC’s later financial problems, it took several years for that project to be completed.
John Diller headed the freestyle program. The top competitors were Janet Montgomery and Joan McWilliams. In March, Montgomery defeated McWilliams and successfully defended her Eastern Amateur Freestyle Championship at Waterville Valley. Don’t feel too bad for McWilliams, though. She went on to become a four-time national champion.
The University of Maine held a six-week forestry camp in Carrabassett during the summer.
Judson’s Motel celebrated its 20th anniversary March 3-5. The Narrow Gauge Inn (also 20 years old) changed its name back to Chateau des Tagues after Leo and Mary Tague again assumed control. The Tagues ran the motel and dining room, while the lounge was leased to the Red Stallion.
Sugarloaf Groceries opened in Village West. This subsidiary of SMC was run by Dan and Sue Reichart.
Dexter Shoe opened an outlet store in Village West. The company was owned by Harold Alfond, who had recently become a part-owner of the Boston Red Sox.
The airport runway was reconstructed by the county, adding a new apron and tie-down area, as well as extra parking.
In January, Clayton “Tiger” Bragdon Jr. was elected director of the Sugarloaf Area Association, replacing Gordon Bither, who moved away.
That same month about 150 skiers took part in the Can-Am races, and White, White World Week was held January 23-28.
Carrabassett Valley’s valuation jumped over $4 million to $18,750,000. The tax rate held steady at 19.5 mils. … There were 27 elementary school students in town and six who attended high school. Reports at the time listed the year-round population at about 200, but this was probably the number of people registered to vote. This figure was likely somewhat inflated by the increasingly common practice among weekenders of having one member of a household register to vote in Carrabassett, while the other continued to be a resident of their original hometown. That kind of splitting continues to the present day. … In March, the town meeting was held at the new touring center for the first time. Voters approved a zoning ordinance and agreed to buy a lumber yard on the Carriage Road for $18,000 as the location for a fire station.
In July, Ayotte’s opened its new location on Route 27. The official grand opening was October 15-16.
In November, the selectmen voted to buy four acres from Chase Brothers as the location of a new town office. The town office had been located in Valley Crossing prior to that building’s relocation, but was moved to temporary quarters in Chateau des Tagues while a permanent home was constructed.
Something must have happened this year, but we seem to have missed it.
The Bigelow Corp. sold land on the Access Road to Michael and Linda Gammon to build a new Ski Rack ski shop. This site later became Theo’s/Sugarloaf Brewing Co. and is now The Rack restaurant.
On the mountain, the Village South complex was built.
In the valley, the Maine Department of Transportation constructed a picnic and rest area on Route 27 at Hammond Field Brook. The land was owned by Wing Spool and Bobbin Co., which leased it to the state.
The skating rink at the touring center opened on January 20. After that, it appears to have been a quiet year.
On October 5, entertainer Jud Strunk and Richard Ayotte, owner of Ayotte’s Country Store, died in a plane crash shortly after takeoff from the airport. A scholarship fund was established in Ayotte’s name to aid local children taking part in ski competitions.
More to come, stay tuned.