When Mt. Abram sold at auction last year, a locksmith changed the locks for the third time in seven years. That's how hard it is to run even the nicest of middle-sized mountains these days.
Mt. Abram started with three brothers, Stuart, Donald and Norton Cross, who owned a wood lot on a mountain in the little mill village of Locke Mills, Maine (since reincorporated as Greenwood). One day theyrealized what a good ski hill it would make, so they cut trails, built a lodge and opened for business in 1960. The grooming equipment that first year consisted of the three of them, plodding up and down the slopes on snowshoes.
Abram never made a lot of money for the Crosses, but it made a lot of families happy and trained a lot of skiers. In the Eighties, the Crosses borrowed heavily to install snowmaking, which led to a bank foreclosure in 1993. The ski area subsequently went through two more owners¿who made still more improvements¿and two more foreclosures. In December of 2000, a businessman and Abram fan from Portland bought himself two base lodges, five lifts and 700 acres of prime real estate, all of it tax-assessed at over $1.5 million. He got it for $325,000.
Mt. Abram is worth a lot more. Its 1,075-foot vertical drop won't steal the super-experts from nearby Sunday River, but unlike bigger resorts, it does provide a warm, friendly place where parents can let their kids run free at prices so reasonable they don't have to stop off to sell blood on the way.David Gilpatrick, a product development executive and ski patroller, could make his turns anywhere, but he prefers Abram for its "fabulous atmosphere." He loves the absence of screaming adolescents with cell phones eating 12-dollar lunches and careening into you on crowded slopes. He loves the great views of the Presidential Range from the summit and three-generation families chatting on the lift.
Me? I love the brown-bag-friendly lodge and steep, treed, old-fashioned bump runs like Rocky's. We both hope Abram survives unchanged forever. Right down to the locks.
Mount Abram Family Resort,
Vital Stats 35 trails; five lifts (two chairs, three T-bars); summit elevation: 2,075 feet; vertical drop: 1,075 feet;average annual snowfall: 160 inches.
What's New Three lanes of tubing, licensed daycare, 3K nordic trail.
Lift Tickets Adults $35, kids (6-17) $20.
A Good Deal Two-for-one lift tickets, Thursdays and Fridays.
Price Of A Hamburger $2.95
Information 207-875-5002 or www.skimtabram.com.