THEN: Ski Butternut was named G-Bar-S Ranch when this photo was taken in the 1940s. Photo courtesy of Gary Leveille.

THEN & NOW: Ski Butternut in Great Barrington

Ski Butternut will be celebrating its 60th anniversary with a party on Saturday, January 20 starting at 2 p.m. The free event will include live music, a torchlight parade, and fireworks.

Ski Butternut in Great Barrington is celebrating its 60th anniversary this month. The 1940s-era photograph shown above features skiers on the slopes when the area was called G-Bar-S Ranch. Ski trails on East Mountain were originally blazed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. The CCC was part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” effort to provide jobs during the Great Depression.

The G-Bar-S was a “dude ranch” during the summer months, with horseback riding and rodeos in a rustic western setting. Ted Mack, the 1950s television personality, also ran a summer camp at the site.

By the late 1950s, the ranch had seen better days. Then Channing and Jane Murdock purchased the site, renovated it, and opened Butternut Basin Ski Area on Christmas Eve in 1963. The youthful Murdocks were only in their mid-20s at the time, making them the youngest proprietors of a ski area in the United States. Butternut Basin continued to grow and prosper under their leadership. Einar Aas, a champion Norwegian ski racer, joined the team as the ski school director in 1964 and served for 43 years until his passing in 2008.

THEN: In 1993, Ski Butternut owner Channing Murdock stood at the same location as shown in the first photo above. Photo by Gary Leveille.

The ski area’s name was later changed to Ski Butternut. In the 1993 photograph shown above, Channing Murdock stands in the same location as shown in the “THEN” photograph featured above. In the mid-1990s, Channing was seriously injured in a bicycling accident. Jane passed away in November, 2023. Ski Butternut is still owned by the Murdock family. The matching present-day view shown below features General Manager Ron Crozier.

Ski Butternut will be celebrating its 60th anniversary with a party on Saturday, January 20 starting at 2 p.m. The free event will include live music, a torchlight parade, and fireworks.

NOW: Ski Butternut General Manager Ron Crozier stands in the same spot as shown in the previous photos. Photo by Gary Leveille.
THEN: Horse-back riding at the G-Bar-S Ranch in the late 1940s. Photo courtesy of Gary Leveille.
THEN: Ski Butternut hosted rock concerts in past decades. The audience for a 1970s-era concert is shown here. Marie Tassone photo.
THEN: This enthusiastic ice cream guy offered cold refreshment at a 1970s-era Ski Butternut rock concert. Marie Tassone photo.
NOW: Tubing is a fun-filled winter pastime at Ski Butternut as shown in this photo taken several years ago featuring Samantha Hoover, Danielle Vining, Alexandra Hoover and Katelyn Leveille.
NOW: Tubing is a fun-filled winter pastime at Ski Butternut as shown in this photo taken several years ago featuring Samantha Hoover, Danielle Vining, Alexandra Hoover and Katelyn Leveille.

 

Legendary CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite skiing at Butternut Basin in the late 1960s. Photo courtesy Great Barrington Historical Society.
THEN: Legendary CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite skiing at Butternut Basin in the late 1960s. Photo courtesy Great Barrington Historical Society.