New Hampshire Is Home To One Of The Oldest Running Lifts In America

Black Mountain, NH, the oldest ski area in the state, also has one of the oldest overhead cable lifts in the country: the J-Bar.

About a year ago, Black Mountain and the surrounding community restored the historic J-Bar to its original appearance.

Black Mountain was in jeopardy of not opening this season, but was able to pull through thanks to an investment by The Indy Pass. In 2019, Teddy Hubbell, who runs the YouTube channel Teddy's Lift World, paid a visit to the J-Bar at Black Mountain.

He recorded the experience for those curious about lifts with a history longer than their vertical.

Watch his video here. 

The J-Bar is located to the far left on the map below.

Map of Black Mountain <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:courtesy of Black Mountain.;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">courtesy of Black Mountain.</a>
Map of Black Mountain courtesy of Black Mountain.

The lift has been around since 1935, when the lift was installed at Whitney’s Farm on Black Mountain.

It was not always a J-Bar. When it was installed it was a rope tow built by Moody's Inn to service a small ski hill.

The original lift consisted of an overhead cable with strands of ropes that skiers would hang onto, but would eventually be switched out with shovel handles in 1937 for an easier ride-up. These handles were purchased from Sears and were installed on the rope tow to make it easier to ride, although the shovel handles were very small and could only fit one hand.

The shovel handles were then be replaced by the J-Bar setup a little while later, which still exists to this day.

In 1954, the shovel handles were replaced with simple J bars, without any modern equipment like springboxes.

Also around that time, he towers were replaced with metal I beams. The counterweight was also moved from the bottom vault drive to a new top return.

Although the J-bar uses primitive technology, it is surprisingly effective. The drive is inside a wooden building and driven by a small, quiet, electric motor.

Instead of having a slow button, there is a shovel handle attached to a cord that lowers a piece of an old railroad track to act as a clutch to slow it down. There is also a tall tower on top of the drive building that the operator can climb into, allowing them a view from the top. They can slow the lift down with another shovel handle clutch if needed.

As Black Mountain expanded, the J-Bar was left in its own area, becoming a lift with little purpose, and was even used to bring snow tubes up the hill for people to go tubing on in the '70s and '80s.

As of 2019, it rarely runs and is only kept for historical purposes, but as you can see, those who admire its historical value are very happy it is still existent on an actual ski hill.

Black Mountain (New Hampshire) Stats/Info:

Vertical: 1100 ft.

Skiable Terrain: 143 ac.

Average Snowfall: N/A

Lifts: 5

Trails: 45

Snowmaking: YES

Night Skiing: NO

Mega-Pass: Indy Pass

Related: Australia's Largest Ski Resort Begins Work On New 6-Seat Chair

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