History ~ Memories
The following history of Ski Rattlesnake was relayed to NELSAP by Allan G. Hartley, who passed away in July of 2015. Hartley served as the Treasurer of Ski Rattlesnake.
Ski Rattlesnake, located on Rattlesnake Mountain off Old Stafford Road in Somers, Connecticut, operated for four seasons, from 1964-65 through 1967-68.
In 1962, four local businessmen created the corporation to build the ski area on land owned by local bank branch manager Allan G. Hartley. Heading Ski Rattlesnake were president Donald Kemnitzer, a Somers dentist and avid skiier; local developer Roy Miller was vice-president; the land's owner, Allan Hartley, served as treasurer; retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Robert Usher was secretary.
Construction started in 1962 and continued for more than two years, with work being done by the officers, their wives and children, and "volunteers" who received a day of free skiing for each day worked. Heavy equipment contractors were hired to handle excavation and land clearing duties.
Ski Rattlesnake had three slopes and three rope tows. The Bunny Hill had a 350-foot tow. A much steeper slope with a 1200-foot rope tow led down to the main area, where it connected with a dog leg slope, with its own 400-foot rope tow. The area's total vertical drop was 450 feet.
Opening day was scheduled for the day after Christmas 1964. Ready to serve skiers were a ski patrol headed by Bob Salstead, a snack bar operated by Hal and Marg Hilliard, and a ski rental shop. Traffic control and security were handled by well-known Somers constable Ernie Bourque. December 26 arrived, along with rain and 63 degree temperatures. But two good snow falls quickly followed, and many skiers were on hand to enjoy Ski Rattlesnake's actual beginnings on New Year's Day 1965. The corporation's officers and families and several paid employees continued to operate the area on weekend days for the next four seasons.
Ski Rattlesnake shut down after the 1967-68 season, and the corporation was dissolved the following year.
Right - A Terraserver view of the ski area, late 1990's.
Ed Fedorich: I live in Somers, Ct. I enjoyed your article about the ski area that was once located in Somers on Wells Rd. There was another ski area in Somers called "Ski Rattlesnake" on Rattlesnake Mountain (near the intersection of Stafford Rd. and Cook Rd.). Cook Rd. is now called Cooksville Rd. since a development went in at the old Cook Farm. A friend of mine, Barbara Kenney (nee Courtney), who lived in town from about 1942 to around 1977 gave me the following information: Ski Rattlesnake had a lift and three rope tows. Its vertical drop was about 300 feet. I also recall some oldtimers telling me that it folded because it had a southern facing slope which resulted in the snow cover melting rapidly. I have been to the base of the hill. You can still see the slope although the forest is rapidly reclaiming it.
Aaron Pudlo: My best friend in junior high, his father had a poster in his cabin up in the woods that said "Ski Rattlesnake". It was a very cool poster & his father would tell us about what a great ski area Rattlesnake was. We lived in Hampden, MA just over the border from where Rattlesnake was located. I loved that poster & the thought of that little ski area.
Last updated: December 28, 2015
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