The resort was founded in 1974 by Alabama dentist Thomas ‘‘Doc’’ Brigham, who had already built two ski areas in North Carolina. Looking for the snowiest location in the South, Brigham invested in the Cheat Mountain location which receives an average annual snowfall of 200 inches. The area’s unusually cold weather makes it the most southerly home of snowshoe hares, which gave the resort its name. It also allows Snowshoe the longest winter in the region, with skiing from late November to mid-April.
Snowshoe differs from most ski resorts because the majority of its facilities are found at the top of the mountain, while slopes plummet to the east and west ridges. Because of the isolation of the area, the owners built an entire community, which is now home to the state’s highest post office. The slopes are named for the industry that preceded skiing on Cheat Mountain, logging. Names such as Skidder, Ballhooter, Whistlepunk, Gandy Dancer, and Powder Monkey are mostly logging and railroading terms. Snowshoe’s famous Cupp Run and its new sister, Shay’s Revenge, are the largest slopes south of New York, each boasting 1,500 vertical feet.
Snowshoe was plagued with financial woes throughout its first decade. In 1983, Silver Creek, a competing resort, opened just a half-mile down the mountain. After two bankruptcies and several changes in ownership, Snowshoe became financially stable in the mid-1980s and was able to purchase Silver Creek in 1992.
In 1995, Snowshoe became part of Intrawest Corporation, a Canadian firm and one of North America’s largest resort development companies. Improvements include new slopes, increased snowmaking capacity, high-speed ski lifts, an adventure park for snowboarders, a snow tubing hill, and new lodging, condominiums, shops, and restaurant areas at its peak. Today Snowshoe Mountain receives more than a half-million visitors each year.
This Article was written by Connie K. Colvin
Last Revised on March 12, 2013
Deike, George H. III. Logging South Cheat: The History of the Snowshoe Resort Lands. Youngstown, OH: Trebco, 1978.