Dogged by financial and legal woes, Timberline Four Seasons Resort in West Virginia announced that they will be officially closed for the rest of the season. Citing low snow and operational issues, the Timberline announcement comes on the heels of a series of short term closures at the mountain this season. Among the many problems that the West Virginia resort has faced over the last few months has been a lack of snow, a serious lift malfunction, and legal troubles.
A lack of snow has been the least of Timberline’s woes. Critics of the resort have cited mismanagement as a serious issue. Multiple complaints were brought against Timberline’s resort-owned utility company, leading to the Public Service Commission of West Virginia issuing a 65-page brief stating to a judge on January 14 that Timberline Utilities is…
“…unable or unwilling to adequately serve its customers or has been actually or effectively abandoned by its owners, or that its management is grossly and willfully inefficient, irresponsible or unresponsive to the needs of its customers.”
On February 11, a county prosecutor on behalf of law enforcement took steps to place all of Timberline Four Seasons Resort into Receivership as information about Timberline’s debts and financial mismanagement continued to surface. This legal trouble came on the heels of resort co-owner Fred Herz’s arrest in December 2018 on tax evasion charges. Herz’s uncle—and founder of the resort—Dr. Fredrick Reichle is also in trouble with the law on an unrelated federal grand jury indictment on February 6 for his alleged involvement along with other doctors in illegally prescribed medications in Philadelphia.
As if this bad publicity were not enough, the West Virginia Parsons Advocate reported a disturbing story on January 7 of the plight of Twenty-four J1 international student visa holders who arrived at T-Line at the start of the season. Upon arriving at their sponsoring company, Timberline, they learned that there was no work, no pay, and the conditions of their living arrangements were not what they had been led to believe by Timberline’s management. Only after being helped by the local community were all 24 relocated to other ski areas around the country, including 16 to neighboring Canaan Valley. To make matters worse, in January, mechanical issues with the main Thunderdraft lift—rumored to be a bearing failure on the bullwheel—caused them to close for multiple days.
This season’s final closure came with an optimistic statement today on Timberline’s facebook page:
“We appreciate all of your kindness as well as your goodwill as we take the necessary steps to modernize the business, management structures, and operations.”
It further promised that season passes purchased this season will be honored for the 2019/20 season.