The American Industrial Revolution, that is.
With roots dating back to the 1800s, Big Boulder Ski Area was spawned from Lehigh Coal and Navigation. The founding fathers of the Company were Josiah White and Erskine Hazzard who pioneered anthracite coal mining and played a significant role in the Industrial Revolution. These two entrepreneurs created the world’s first iron wire suspension bridge; and then went on to create an effective navigation system, hydrostatic locks, to transport large amounts of coal to Philadelphia.
To increase their efficiency and bring more coal from their mines to the navigation system the Company constructed America’s second railroad in 1827-28. By 1829 the conversion of this system was developed into a two-way system, which improved Lehigh Navigation. With the completion of the Morris and Delaware Canals in 1832-1833, this system had the largest carrying capacity of any canal in the U.S. stretching to Mauch Chunk to Easton, into New York and Philadelphia. By 1840, Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company employed over 1,000 men in a dozen or more manufacturing establishments. At its peak capacity in 1919 the company had 11,000 employees and was producing 5 million tons of coal all by underground mining methods.
Around 1942, during World War II, the coal industry shifted from underground to surface mining, and it was at that time that the employees built Split Rock Club on the shores of Lake Harmony as a company retreat. The club consisted of Split Rock Lodge and the adjoining Hazzard (Erskine Hazzard) ski slope. When the lodge sold in 1949, Hazzard ski slope became known as Big Boulder Ski Area. This was the first commercial ski resort in Pennsylvania, and it was here that snowmaking was first used successfully in a commercial application.
The idea for snowmaking came from an article reported on December 22, 1950 describing the story of the Tropeano brothers from Lexington, Massachusetts who made snow using an experimental portable irrigation system. Another report dated December 14, 1950 states that a Mr. Wayne Pierce of Milford Connecticut filed the first patent application for the making of snow by blowing water through a nozzle. These two events lead to further investigation of snowmaking at both Mohawk Mountain in Connecticut and Big Boulder Mountain in Pennsylvania.
John Guresh, an employee who was instrumental in building Big Boulder Ski Area was the pioneer who perfected the snowmaking machine. What spurred the making of this system was the purchase of the original system, which didn’t work, plus inspiration from the Larchmont Engineering Company to incorporate an irrigation nozzle, which again proved unworkable.
Guresh did not give up, and in 1956/57 a machine that resembled a lawn sprinkler was used to emit crystals that looked and acted like snow. Guresh said of his first efforts, “One of the biggest problems was keeping the water moving fast enough to prevent freezing before it could be sprayed.” He also stated “It never bothered me that I didn’t become rich and famous from the invention. I made a lot of friends and got a lot of recognition, that was more important.”
When Jack Frost opened in 1972, the experiences from Big Boulder laid the groundwork for a well thought out ski resort. All of the slopes, lifts, buildings, and snowmaking that would be required were planned as part of the original construction. Today, Jack Frost Ski Area is a companion resort to Big Boulder Ski Area.
With roots in the industrial age these two ski resorts have become the heart and soul of the Poconos Mountains ski industry of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Jack Frost Mountain provides an inviting ski area with a summit elevation of 2000 feet, base elevation of 1400 feet and vertical drop of 600 feet. 21 different slopes to include: ski school learning slope, 4 Easiest (beginner slopes, 6 More Difficult (intermediate slopes), 8 Most Difficult (advanced slopes) and 2 Terrain Parks. There are 9 lifts: 1 quad, 2 triples, 6 doubles and 1 ski carpet (used for kids lesons only).
Big Boulder Ski Area is devoting 50% of its overall terrain to park features. The base elevation is 1700 feet with a summit elevation of 2175 feet and a vertical drop of 475 feet. Big Boulder boasts the most progressive and innovative terrain park program. 15 different slopes to include: 4 Easiest (beginner slopes), 3 More Difficult (intermediate slopes), 3 Most Difficult (advanced slopes) and 5 Terrain Parks. There are 8 lifts:2 triples, 5 doubles and 1 ski carpet.
BB 11/29/10 (open only this day then reopened 12/3/10 for season)