Boyne Resorts Restores ‘Pleasant Mountain’ Name at Shawnee Peak, Maine
How a Maine ski area spent 34 years named after a Pennsylvania ski area
To support independent ski journalism, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. Paid subscribers receive thousands of extra words of content each month, plus all podcasts three days before free subscribers.
It was the damnedest thing. A couple Pennsylvania boys hacking out of the backwoods and buying a Maine bump with twice the vert, and importing with them to New England the Shawnee name. Shawnee Mountain, Pennsylvania and Shawnee Peak, Maine. McSkiing before McSkiing was a global business plan. Like if Boyne had bought Big Sky in the ‘70s and renamed it “Boyne Sky.” Montana would have loved that. And that’s how “Shawnee Peak” hit the ski area formerly known as “Pleasant Mountain” when the PA crew showed up in 1988 and bought the joint for $1.4 million.
It was never a good fit. But it stuck. For 34 years. After the Pennsylvania Shawnees bailed out in 1992. After Chet Homer bought the ski area in 1994. After he sold it to Boyne Resorts last October. The brand had already been established, Homer reasoned, according to New England Ski History. And he had more important things to worry about. Beef up snowmaking. Replace every lift on the mountain. Stabilize operations. Nevermind that the ski area sat on Pleasant Mountain. That passholders and locals never cared for the Shawnee name. That this was the oldest ski area in Maine, in continuous operation since 1938, and for 50 years was called something else. It was Shawnee now, and it looked as though it always would be.
But Boyne is a company that cares as much about history as it does about innovation. Yes, they own every octopus lift in North America. Yes, they are building a gondola-tram complex at Big Sky that could pay off the national debt. But when they buy a ski area, the company keeps the local people in charge. The world’s first chairlift – originally installed at Sun Valley, Idaho – still spins at Boyne Mountain, Michigan (in a very modified form). When it makes sense to honor and preserve a historic piece of a resort or of skiing, they do it.
Today, Boyne Resorts officially restored the Pleasant Mountain name to their newest ski area. There’s a new website and everything. Here’s the logo:
“We are fortunate to be the mountain chosen by generations of skiers, riders, and racers, and extremely pleased to again be Pleasant Mountain,” said Pleasant Mountain General Manager Ralph Lewis, a local who grew up skiing there. “The name represents their countless memories and the area’s long history, and returning to it is a joy for me, both personally and professionally.”
Boyne restored the name, they said, based partly upon a survey that showed “overwhelming support” for a return to Pleasant Mountain. “Generations of loyalists have remained vocal and enthusiastic about the preferred name of their beloved ski area,” read a press release announcing the name change.
It’s a weird story. Eighties brand-worship meets social media-era nostalgia for a thing that was never that exciting to begin with. Boyne itself just last year changed the name of a resort that had been known for 58 years as “Boyne Highlands” to “The Highlands.” But the story of how a mid-sized Maine ski area adopted the name of a small Pennsylvania ski area, held onto the moniker for decades, and then found its way back is a good one, and worth spending some time on.
Below the paid subscriber jump - how the Shawnee name stuck for 34 years, why now is the time to change it, and a look at recent name changes across U.S. skiing.