Berkshire East Ski Resort Mountain Coaster
Loved by locals as one of the last family-owned and -operated New England ski resorts, Berkshire East has been upping the ante — literally — and has brought the resort into the national limelight with the opening of Ride the Thunderbolt, North America’s longest mountain coaster.
Also known as alpine coasters, mountain coasters use inclined terrain to create a thrill ride driven primarily by gravity rather than machinery. Found mainly in the Alps, mountain coasters have elevation drops practically unheard of with conventional roller coasters, and Ride the Thunderbolt is no exception.
During its 5,450-foot run whizzing past the boulders and cliffs of the Berkshire mountains, it descends a total of 3,850 feet with riders controlling their own speed with personal hand brakes.
The coaster opened for the winter ski season December 20. Aside from general resort closures, it will be open year-round.
Berkshire East also recently completed installation of a new quad lift system with a conveyor-belt loading area that will allow an additional 1,000 people per hour to access the resort’s 52 trails spread over 162 acres.
Maine Maritime Museum
Since it began in 1962, the Maine Maritime Museum, formerly the Bath Marine Museum, has had major acquisitions every decade, and the 2010s mark one of the most transformative times yet for the only remaining wooden sailing vessel shipyard in the United States.
The museum is reopening its blacksmith shop in the same spot it originally stood before it burned down more than a century ago in 1913.
“A lot of people don’t equate wooden ships with metal, but there was a lot of metalworking involved,” said marketing and communications manager Katie Meyers.
“We didn’t have pictures of it, though; and rather than create a replica, we show how blacksmithing worked with artifacts people can touch and pick up in a modern, open, stand-alone space.”
Since the exhibit opened in August 2014, visitors have been watching professional blacksmithing demos and trying their hand at swinging hammers. The expanded lobstering exhibit, which will be among the largest on the profession in New England, will open in July and will take the museum’s interactive experiences a step further.
Aiming to educate visitors about lobstering, from trap to table, museum staff have solicited all Maine lobstermen to contribute videos and their own personal buoys to the new 6,200-square-foot, two-story exhibit building, which will include a map room showing where each lobsterman’s buoy fits on the map. “We’re trying to tell the story of everyone in the industry,” Meyers said.
Museum staff can create customized tours based on group interests, from naval history to Maine history to a hands-on exploration of fishing, including options for lunch in the museum function space, which is served by on-site caterers.