The snow is beginning to fall now and it is time for us to break out our skis and snowboards so we can schuss down the slopes. It is important to take a moment when you are on the top of the slope ready to take your first run to acknowledge the people who came before us and left us with the gift of several ski areas to enjoy in our state.
Did you know that New Jersey once had over 30 alpine ski areas? Alpine skiing in New Jersey started in the early 1900s. Believe it or not but New Jersey was once in fact known as a skiing state. There were many little ski areas that dotted the countryside of the entire state. There was a ski jump at the North Jersey Country Club in Wayne as early as 1924! Many people think that the only place where ski areas could be located in the state is in Sussex County.
Our state had small ski areas and several ski jumps that were located throughout the state. They were found in many locations from High Point State Park in Montague to the southern part of the state in Lower Alloways Creek, Salem County. Now I know you are thinking that there couldn’t possibly be any “mountains” in Salem County – but remember when some of these little ski areas were born – people didn’t ski as much as they do today or take as many runs – so a small hill with a rope tow or a chair lift was just fine. There was indeed a ski area in Lower Alloways Creek and it was called Holly Mountain. It had a rope tow, a chair lift and a ski lodge.
Some of the first ski slopes in the United States were cut by the men in the Civilian Conservation Corps. This was a depression era organization started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The CCC built many of the early roads in the State Parks across the country as well.
Out of the many ski areas that decorated New Jersey’s landscape only 2 are left today – Campgaw Mountain in Mahwah and Mountain Creek (formerly Vernon Valley/Great Gorge) also in Vernon. Hopefully these won’t fade into the past too.
Many Europeans came to the United States and brought their passion of skiing with them. The stories of some of these men and the many ski areas that were located in New Jersey can be found in the book: “Skiing In New Jersey?”
Skiing In New Jersey? takes you on the journey of the birth, the rise and the fall of the state’s alpine ski industry. There are also wonderful personal stories included about the people who were involved with the first ski areas in the state.
The forward to Skiing In New Jersey? reads:
“Liz takes you back in time to the birth of skiing in one of the most unlikely winter sports states in the country – New Jersey. Her book honors the spirit of the Europeans who brough their inbred passion for snow and the great outdoors to these shores. The spirit of these pioneers of skiing, described in this book is still alive in those of us who have been lucky enough to reap the rewards of their incredible journey.” – Donna Weinbrecht – 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist – Freestyle Mogul Skiing.
(c) 2014– Elizabeth Holste – author – Skiing In New Jersey?”