Pleasant Mountain ski area opened in January 1938. After a name change in 1988 to Shawnee Peak, the new owners have restored the original name. Drew Johnson / The Forecaster

Shawnee Peak ski area in Bridgton has returned to its roots, taking on the name Pleasant Mountain –  its original name, and the same as its geographical location.

Many local skiers have been calling for the switch back to Pleasant Mountain for years. A survey taken of local skiers by the new owners, Boyne Resorts, which took over in 2021, confirmed that the majority of Shawnee Peak regulars wanted the name change, according to Rachael Wilkinson, marketing director at the ski area.

“We’ve been really excited by the overwhelming response to the change,” Wilkinson said. “I wasn’t even aware of how positive the change would be.”

Pleasant Mountain is the oldest ski area in Maine, opening in January 1938.

“I think, for me personally, it’s been a really interesting journey looking back at all the history,” Wilkinson said. “It’s sort of mind-blowing when you look at it all.” 

Just three months after Pleasant Mountain originally opened to skiers, writer, certified ski patrolman and Maine Ski Hall of Famer Dave Irons was born. He first skied at Pleasant Mountain in the 1950s and published a book on it, “Shawnee Peak at Pleasant Mountain: Maine’s Oldest Continuously Operated Ski Area.”


“Portland skiers in the ’30s used to drive over to the Mount Washington Valley,” Irons told The Forecaster. “They were looking for a place closer to Portland to ski and they saw open fields at the bottom of Pleasant Mountain.”

The Portland skiers asked a local farmer who owned the land, Harry Douglas, if they could ski on his property.

“You can ski,” Douglas said, according to Pleasant Mountain’s website, “but please put the fences back up for my cows in spring.”

A rope tow was soon built on the lower part of the mountain and a trail from the top was cut by the Civilian Conservation Corps. On Jan. 23, 1938, Pleasant Mountain officially opened. That same year, the mountain became home to the first ski patrol in Maine.

After World War II, then-owner Russ Haggett returned to his hometown of Bridgton.

“He came back, and they started expanding on Pleasant Mountain,” Irons said. “They began to develop a real ski area.”


In the early 1950s, Maine’s first T-bar was installed on Pleasant Mountain and, in 1954, the state’s first chair lift was installed there as well. The Downeast Ski Club, founded in 1948, was instrumental to Pleasant Mountain’s growth, Irons said. Many club members became ski instructors and ski patrollers, and they also built a clubhouse at the base of the mountain that they use to this day.

The ski area continued to develop and draw a crowd over the next few decades and new owners took over in 1988, renaming it Shawnee Peak after another ski resort they owned, Shawnee Mountain in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania mountain was named after the Shawnee tribe of Indigenous people that has roots in Pennsylvania, but the Shawnee were never within 600 miles of Bridgton, Irons said.

“I think they were trying to create a corporate image; a company that owned multiple ski areas,” Irons said.

In 1994, Chet Homer bought the mountain and went on to operate it for 27 years before selling it to Boyne Resorts in 2021. Boyne Resorts operates ski resorts and golf courses across the country, including Sugarloaf and Sunday River in Maine, and Loon Mountain in New Hampshire.

The small but mighty Pleasant Mountain is still going strong, known for its family-friendly atmosphere, trails designed for both amateur and experienced skiers, and night skiing. Its scenic views of Moose Pond in Bridgton and – on a clear day – the peak of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, mark the beginning of every run.

Irons is delighted with the name change and has high hopes for the ski area going forward.

“They could change the name of the ski area, but they couldn’t change the name of the mountain,” he said, referring to the switch to Shawnee Peak in the ’80s. “I think you’ll see Pleasant Mountain doing very well in the future.”

The new owners of what used to be Shawnee Peak in Bridgton have changed the name back to Pleasant Mountain. Jill Brady / Portland Press Herald

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