In May 2003, the Saddleback Ski Area in Maine was down to one employee, general manager Tom McAllister. Forced to lay off his entire staff, McAllister announced that the family-friendly ski area in Rangeley would close down unless a buyer was found. In stepped Bill Berry, an avid skier who taught skiing for 25 years at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington, Maine, and had skied and cherished Saddleback. Few realized that this former professor of geology at the University of Maine, Farmington, had family money to play with. Now there are more than 100 employees working on the mountain and more than a quarter of them are at Saddleback year-round. The Berry family has invested more than $12 million in improvements so far, including a new base lodge, three times the size of its predecessor, lifts, a terrain park and halfpipe, and the opening of a new glade, Casablanca, which at 44 acres is the largest glade in the Northeast. The mountain’s 2000-foot vertical drop is not far behind the 2,360-foot drop at Stowe, so don’t mistake Saddleback for a small ski area. The Rangeley Inn, my favorite hotel in the region, has just announced a midweek special where if you spend a night at the lodging, they’ll throw in a free lift ticket at Saddleback. Check it out!
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