Updated: Jul 5, 2020
West Virginia has a rich history of snow sports, recreation areas, and resorts. Chestnut Ridge Ski Area is a lost gem that made skiing popular and accessible to folks in the Morgantown, WV vicinity. Chestnut Ridge Ski Area was found about 12 miles east of Morgantown near Cooper’s Rock State Forest on what is now Chestnut Ridge Park.
The ski area operated from 1951 to 1973. It featured a 500-foot-long slope, a rope tow powered by a Model A Ford engine, and a warming hut. An article in Panorama Magazine, 1984, says that Members of the Mountaineer Winter Sports Club bought a Model A Ford Engine for $25 to drive a rope tow. However, the most significant expense was the 1,200-foot long rope, which cost the club $500.
The slope at Chestnut Ridge faced east/southeast, which helped limit the average snow season to 25 days. Ski rates at Chestnut Ridge were $1 for adults and 50 cents for students. Sunday was a popular day at Chestnut Ridge serving almost 200 skiers.
Coopers Rock State Forest currently offers two cross-country ski trails: a two-mile intermediate loop and a three-mile advanced trail. Chestnut Ridge Park offers sled ridging, hiking, fishing, paddle boating, swimming, camping, and other recreational activities.
Richard “Chip” Buck provided photos featured in this article (dated 1959). Chip’s father-in-law, John Lojewski (deceased 10/4/2009) was a charter member of the Mountaineer Winter Sports Club in Morgantown. The beautiful lady in the foreground is Shirley Lojewski.
Controversy: Two sources for this article say that Chestnut Ridge was home to the first rope tow in West Virginia. Other sources say that Driftland in Canaan Valley hosted the first rope tow. Do you have a data source or a story? Share your stories and photos about Chestnut Ridge Ski Area with the Museum at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: DC Ski Club, West Virginia University – West Virginia & Regional History Center, Highland Outdoors Magazine