History of The Ridge
19461st Year of Operation; 2 Portable Rope Tows in tandem ran up the hill where the T-Bar is now located. The Ridge Run was the first and only trail during this 1st ski season.
1947The Meadow Tow and Meadow Slope was added off of Judd Road with a small warming hut provided.
1948A larger tow called the Ridge Tow replaces the two portable tows. The Robber Oak and Upper and Lower Swing were cut connecting the Meadow Area to the Lower Area.
1949The Flying Dutchman was cut.
1950Slalom Hill, The largest and Steepest at Otis Ridge was cut to the left of the Ridge Tow.
1954Snowmaking introduced by way of an ice crusher. Ice farmed off local lakes, crushed and blown over lift lines and trails.x
1956Poma Lift Introduced. One of the earliest Poma lifts ever built.
1957Acorn Trail Cut.
1959J-Bar constructed (a homemade lift constructed in North Adams). A rope tow was built next to the Poma Lift providing a beginner's lift. The trail next to this new rope tow was called the Ski School Slope (now the western portion of the Bunny Hill. )
1960Larchmont Snowmaking and Equipment installed on the Robber Oak and Flying Dutchman.
1962T-Bar replaced the original Ridge Tow. The Ski School Bowl was cut between the Robber Oak and Acorn Trails. The new Base Lodge and Rental and Ski Patrol buildings constructed.
1966The Farm Slope was cut on the Camp Side of Otis Ridge. No Lift was provided and Camp Beginners took pride in sidestepping up this sunny hillside.
1967The Farm Tow was installed next to the Farm Slope. The Bunny Tow replaced the original Ski School Tow but further to the east in its present location.
1968The Grouse House constructed to house growing numbers of ski weekers. Huge snowmaking compressors installed in the basement, adding snowmaking to all trails except the meadow. 7000' of pipe was installed.
1972The Pony Tow and Pony Slope constructed to accommodate growing numbers of ski school classes.
1975The Know Trail cut, providing a critical transition in terrain for improving intermediate skiers. The first full service touring trails were cut, with touring rentals added to the shop, and nordic instructors added at the ski school.
1977The touring trails expanded and the first Touring Trail grooming equipment added. The Knox Trail widened to accommodate racing. The Ski School Bowl, Glade, and Robber Oak widened into one expansive intermediate area. The Bunny Hill and Pony slopes reshaped. The Meadow and Camp slopes widened, tripling in size and becoming one expansive novice area.
The Grouse House was originally built in the 1960's. David and Hooker Judson were then the owners and initial developers of Otis Ridge. Dave was a member of the famed 10th Mountain Division during World War II. He, as other returning members, somehow became involved in the ski business. They did the initial planning and developing of the Otis Ridge Ski Area when the primary mode of uphill transportation was rope tows. They were responsible for the inception of the Ski Camp and saw the area go through many changes.
At the time the Grouse House was conceived, Dave had at least a two-fold purpose in mind. At that time Otis Ridge was noted as a teaching area and Dave would bring foreign ski instructors over from the Alps. They would stay the winter and bunk over the ski shop. In addition, Dave was a pioneer in the snowmaking business and was looking to upgrade the system. He started at first to construct a building to house two large compressors that he had purchased from the Holland Tunnel Authority. He then decided that by adding an upstairs, he could house his visiting instructors.
Somehow the initial plan expanded and what you see today was then built. Our long tenured bookkeeper provided the information on how the name of Grouse House came into being. Apparently there was a nest of Grouse that had not hatched when the roof was due to go on. Rumored is the fact that he held construction till the nest was clear. Hence the name the workers gave it sort of stuck.
Through the years there were changes. There was a shed porch addition built on the slope side. The initial bar was moved to that area. On December 25, 1994, an electrical fire started in the bar and lounge area. Only through the quick and efficient response and actions of the Otis Volunteer Fire Department was the building saved. As a result, the addition was razed and the building returned to the initial design. The winter of 1993/94 was a particularly poor snow year in the Berkshires. It was with the assistance of some good friends and local contractors that we were able to close the building back in and make it possible to renovate slowly in the years to come.
The basement of the Grouse House still houses the snowmaking operations of the Ski Area. Those dining on weekends in the winter can experience this first hand. When the compressors and water pumps start, the building experiences the associated vibrations and some noise. Customers who have spent the night upstairs while this occurs have said that it lulls them right to sleep. When in operation, we can arrange a tour of this operation for you. Please do ask if you are interested.