Early snow leads to strong holiday week for Tug Hill businesses

STEPHEN SWOFFORD / WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES Snowmobilers took advantage of an extra day off Monday near the Montague Inn. Area businesses catering to snowmobilers say they had a strong holiday week, thanks to all the snow.(Virkler story)

STEPHEN SWOFFORD / WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES

Snowmobilers take advantage of an extra day off Monday near the Montague Inn. Area businesses catering to snowmobilers say they had a strong holiday week thanks to all the snow. Strong business was also reported at the MontagueInn and on-site motel.

By STEVE VIRKLER
SVIRKLER@LOWVILLE.COM

A thick blanket of snow gave Tug Hill businesses an early Christmas present: plenty of business over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday week.

“It definitely is a nice boost for everybody,” said Stephen M. Hennigan, whose family owns the Montague Inn.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s has historically been a wild week for snowmobiling on Tug Hill — so long as there is snow on the ground, Mr. Hennigan said. However, that hasn’t been the case in recent years, including last winter when the snow didn’t really come until New Year’s Day, he said.

This season, trails have been open for the past few weeks, and the combination of good snow conditions here and lack of good riding in other areas led to a strong business for both the Montague Inn’s restaurant and on-site motel from the day after Christmas through Monday, the final day of schools’ Christmas vacation, Mr. Hennigan said.

“We haven’t had that in four or five years, at least,” he said.

STEPHEN SWOFFORD n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES Chad Mudron, Pittsburgh PA, refuels during a trip to the North Country to enjoy some snowmobiling Monday at the Montague Inn. “We don’t get much snow out there” Mudron said.(Virkler story)

STEPHEN SWOFFORD / WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES
Chad Mudron, Pittsburgh PA, refuels during a trip to the North Country to enjoy some snowmobiling Monday at the Montague Inn. “We don’t get much snow out there” Mudron said.

Mr. Hennigan said he was also happy to hear that most everyone stayed safe despite all the snowmobile traffic throughout the region.

“It seems like everyone had fun out there,” he said.

Michael K. Leviker, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department’s parks and recreation officer, said he and other members of the county Snowmobile Patrol were out in full force, and he was only aware of a couple of minor crashes, one in which the driver just went to the hospital by private vehicle to get checked out.

There was also a report of parts stolen from a snowmobile parked at the Milk Plant Tavern in West Leyden on New Year’s afternoon, with state police investigating that incident, Mr. Leviker said.

Trails were in good shape throughout the past weekend, he said.

“It is already better than last year,” Douglas M. Dietrich, president of the Lewis County Snowmobile Association, said of sledding-related business. “I think everybody did pretty well.”

Mr. Dietrich, owner of the Golden Shamrock Bed and Breakfast in Glenfield, said he’s had a number of lodgers thus far this winter and is off to a much better start than last winter, when unseasonably warm weather led to a short snowmobiling season.

Despite relatively high temperatures early this week, trails remain in fairly good shape, and colder weather and snow in the forecast for later this week should help to continue the strong season, he said.

“I think things will hold up pretty well,” Mr. Dietrich said.

Lorraine “Pixie” Bobela, owner of the West Wind Motel and Townhouses in Turin and vice president of the Turin Ridge Riders snowmobile club, said the area has been teeming with both snowmobilers and skiers and snowboarders at the nearby Snow Ridge Ski Resort.

“It was all great for all our businesses,” she said.

Mrs. Bobela said it’s been quite some time since the winter season has started off so well and she was particularly happy for Snow Ridge, since its first year under new ownership corresponded with a relatively snow-free winter.

“They had a great holiday,” she said. “The skiing was good.”

While the ski area was closed Tuesday, favorable conditions allowed the resort to stay open throughout the holiday week, and it is expected to be open through the rest of this week, Mrs. Bobela said.

The resort is also hosting a snowmobile hill climb starting at 1 p.m. Saturday at the West Road ski area. The cost for the event, put on by Toggenburg Racing, is $15 and includes one complimentary drink.