Tubular fun debuts at Coolfont

January 04, 1998

by Ric Dugan / staff photographer

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Tubular fun debuts at Coolfont


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - On a day when the mercury hovered in the mid-60s and some might have wondered whether global warming had arrived, the region's newest winter recreational facility opened Sunday at the Coolfont Resort.

"I'm honored to be here today on this frosty, wintry day," Del. Charles Trump IV, R-Morgan, joked prior to cutting the ribbon on the resort's snow tubing park. Dozens of people wearing everything from insulated vests to shorts and T-shirts attended the official opening on the deck of the Edelweiss Shop and Cafe.


Four of the 10 runs on the slope were open Sunday, with most of the guests taking the plunge on a run resort maintenance director David Buhrman said drops about 100 feet over its 850-foot run. He said tubers could reach speeds of more than 40 mph under the right conditions.

"That was really fun. Can we do it again, Mommy?" asked satisfied customer Rebecca Truitt of Berkeley Springs. By a show of fingers she indicated she was 5 years old.

Jeanne Mozier, co-owner of the Star Movie Theatre in Berkeley Springs, described her first run as "nonthreatening. It's a nice, easy thrill."

Co-owner, president and CEO Martha Ashelman said Coolfont had been able to make about four feet of snow in recent days, with much of it surviving the heat wave.

Ashelman said the project, which cost more than $500,000, was a learning experience.

"We've learned everything but how to control the weather," she said.

Sam Ashelman said it has to be 28 degrees for the 10 snowmaking machines lining the slope to work. His wife said a $44,000 pump pulls up to 600 gallons of water a minute from a nearby lake which, when mixed with compressed air and sub-freezing temperatures, makes the snow.

"We originally thought we could do it for about $250,000," Martha Ashelman said after the ceremony. Items like the high-speed pump and a $103,000 slope grooming tractor escalated the total cost, she said.

The Edelweiss building is part of the park and includes a snack bar and retail shop. Martha Ashelman said the building will also be available for wedding receptions, outdoor concerts and other activities during the spring, summer and fall.

She said the park can accommodate up to 400 tubers at a time and ticket sales will be suspended anytime the wait for the tow line gets to 15 minutes. The cost ranges from $15 for four hours on weekdays to $15 for two hours of tubing during peak weekend hours.

Ashelman said there are afternoon mid-week discounts for groups of 20 or more children, as well as for businesses and clubs.

The park will be open from 1 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 1 to 10 p.m. Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Martha Ashelman told guests that the financing for the park was not secured until August. Colonial Village Industries of Berkeley Springs served as the general contractor on the project.

Last month she said 15 people were hired to help run the park and will improve off-season business at the 1,350-acre resort and conference center.

Trump said snow tubing will have "positive ripple effects throughout Morgan County" for other businesses by attracting more people to the area during the winter.

West Virginia provided a low-interest loan to pay off up to 45 percent of the project's cost and a $25,000 grant to promote the facility, according to a news release from the resort.

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