SKOWHEGAN — The owner of Eaton Mountain has announced the ski and snow tubing hill in Skowhegan will not open this winter.

David S. Beers used Eaton’s website and Facebook page to announce the one-season closure, saying the decision was based on “several personal and business-related challenges” he must address.

“It is now necessary to take a year off in order to reposition the business so we can operate from a more solid footing and expand & improve upon what is already in place,” Beers wrote on the Eaton Mountain website.
“I want to stress that Eaton Mountain is not being closed permanently or liquidated. It is my intention to reopen next season and to continue with the ski area and snow tubing park as the primary focus of the business.”
Interviewed Tuesday, Beers said, “The biggest problem right now is that I have a family situation that requires me to be in Ohio right now for my son.”

Snow tubers slide down Eaton Mountain in Skowhegan as a new batch of sliders is towed up the hill Dec. 31, 2018. The mountain’s owner has announced Eaton will not open this year so he can deal with “several personal and business-related challenges.”

Beers said he has been working remotely for the past four seasons, but it has not worked out as he was hoping.

“Another issue is the built-in minimum wage increase,” he said. “Typically, we pay people more than minimum wage and then give them an end-of-season bonus, but we haven’t been able to do that for a few years.”

During a normal season, Eaton Mountain has as many as 15 employees.

As of Jan. 1, 2019, the minimum wage in Maine increased to $11 an hour. It is scheduled to increase to $12 on Jan. 1, 2020. The built-in increase was decided by voters in 2016. After 2020, minimum wage will increase according to rises in the cost of living.

Because of this, Beers is looking for ways to use Eaton Mountain year-round.


“We just needed a breather this season to figure out where we’re going to go,” Beers said. “We want to keep things going, but the place has not come close to return to profit. We’re working to regroup and looking at a wide variety of other uses. We do want skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing to still be a part of it.”

Eaton Mountain owners David and Donna Beers and their son, Jacob, in 2015 at the base of a handle lift tow that brings snowboarders up the mountain in Skowhegan.

Additionally, some of the equipment on the mountain is also in need of significant repairs. Beers said chairlifts still need work and, because it is specialized equipment, it is expensive to maintain.

Eaton Mountain hosts about 3,000 guests a year, Beers said. About 150 are typically utilizing the mountain on a nice winter day. When the weather is rainy, the facilities remain open, but many do not come out.

“One thing that is difficult is that everybody remembers the nice days here when we’re packed, but they’re not here when it’s drizzly and wet outside,” Beers said. “The show still has to go on, even though it costs $1,000 in labor to run the place each day.”

Beers said he has heard from customers, some of whom expressed shock with his decision to remain closed this winter. He said many have wished him well and said they look forward to returning to Eaton Mountain when it reopens.

“Hopefully, we’ll be back next year,” Beers said. “I just need to find a couple of key employees to make this all happen. I don’t want to run the place and have it be a ‘half-passer’ kind of thing. I feel like things have been sliding too much in that direction, so we’re looking at other uses of the property.”

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