Locke Mills, ME, Nov. 15, 2000 (SAM Magazine)--One hundred interested locals, mainly skiers and former employees of Mt. Abram Ski Resort, packed the Bethel Inn today and watched as a half dozen people bidded on the 600-acre ski area. After an hour, auctioneer Tom Saturley declared a winning bid of $325,000 for the main resort complex, including 35 ski trails and a 600-foot tubing park, a 9,000-square-foot main lodge, a 2,000-square-foot log building built in 1996, a 1,500-square-foot maintenance garage, two double chair lifts, three T-bars and a handletow. Saturley said the winner was "in a little bit of shock" when he realized he was the new owner and asked the auctioneer not to reveal his name. But it is expected that he will make public his identity over the next 24 to 48 hours as he makes plans for opening the resort.
"He was actively looking for employees as soon as the paperwork was completed," said Saturley, speculating that the owner intends on opening Mt. Abram this season. Saturley said he was surprised to see an SRO crowd pack the inn a quarter of an hour before the auction began, saying, "it was very exciting for the bidders. It shows a great base of support." Preparations were underway to open the area the week before Christmas when the Camden National Bank announced it was foreclosing on a loan made to Randy and Kathleen Dunican who purchased the area in 1998. The ski area had suffered through two poor seasons and the new owner becomes the fourth for Mt. Abram in seven years.
A second parcel of land,33-lot undeveloped subdivision at Mt. Abram's base, was also auctioned off, but the bank purchased that for $100,000. Speculation is the bank will make short work of turning that collateral into liquid assets over the next few days. Saturley, who has conducted other ski industry auctions, was amazed at how passionately devoted several of the prospective bidders were to the ski resort, saying it was a "phenomenon" he'd never seen before.
Mt. Abram, which has 1,030 vertical feet, typically receives 125 inches of snow annually and in less than a two hour drive from Portland and the midcoast area. It was established in 1960 by the Cross brothers, who purchased the mountain primarily for its timber. It quickly gained a reputation as a small, family ski area and received snowmaking in the 1980s. After a foreclosure in 1993, a group headed by Rick Hoddinott Jr. purchased the ski area from Oxford Bank and Trust Co. Hoddinott et al added lights and owned the ski area until the summer of 1998 when the group's lender, Norway Savings Bank foreclosed. That was when the Dunicans purchased the resort for $455,000 and the undeveloped real estate for $125,000.