WRENTHAM (CBS) — Wrentham, Massachusetts is the only town in America named Wrentham. Sweatt Hill, one of the town’s highest points, has joined a unique Massachusetts list.
Jeremy Davis has been a historian of sorts since 1998. He has been slaloming his way through the state looking for ski areas of Massachusetts past.
“There’s about 175 in Massachusetts. That’s a huge number. That’s about one every other town,” Davis told WBZ-TV. “These local ski areas filled that niche of having a place to be outside during the winter months.”
A hill, peak, or ridge — that’s all many Massachusetts towns and cities needed to hit the slopes, or rather, make the slopes.
“The ’60s were the time where a lot of these areas were kind of at their peak,” Davis said.
But over the years, these small town businesses went downhill.
“There was more liability. These places needed to have more insurance. It became expensive to maintain, had to put in snowmaking and grooming and compete with all these larger resorts up north. And that kind of eventually led to their demise across the area,” Davis said.
A demise for some, but Wrentham had different plans for its former peak. Sweatt Hill has evolved into a recreational area with hiking trails, ball fields, and a few memories along the way, like an old chimney.
“The chimney didn’t work, the flume, so it would get smoky inside. But someone once told me that they didn’t care because at least the hot chocolate was lukewarm and their friends were there,” said Davis.
And the lift cable for the J-bar that once carried daring skiers up the hill has become a guide to the top.
“One of the people said it was terrifying steep as a kid and now I can see why,” Davis said while walking down.
The hill had everything from blue squares to more technical trails that Davis described as “the Massachusetts equivalent” of glades.
Being back at base camp was a sigh of relief and being able to reminisce alongside history is something Sweatt Hill hopes to return to the skiers of yesteryear.
“Now it’s a great community resource to be able to have this lost ski area, to have stuff left to see remnants of the ski area itself, but being able to explore it nice and easy,” said Davis.