Hartford Ski Club
Simsbury, CT
1937-1959

**If anybody from the Hartford Ski Club is reading this, please email me at nelsap@yahoo.com. Thanks!**

History ~ Memories

History

The Hartford Ski Club started a small ski area on the west side of Talcott Mountain in 1937. Improvements were made to the area, and a rope tow was added in 1943. More slopes and trails were added to an upper rope tow in 1951. The area was closed in 1959 due to a lack of snow and golf, as a golf course was built at the ski area. Today, the area is 100% golf course!

Here is more information directly from the Hartford Ski Club's website:
In the Fall of 1937, the Club obtained the use of the slope on the west side of Avon (Talcott Mountain) and work was started on a trail. The original open-type shelter and fireplace were constructed in 1939. In 1941, the lower slope was equipped with floodlights for night skiing. In 1943, the lower ski tow was erected. In 1945, the enclosed shelter was built. In 1951, additional slopes and trails were cleared and the upper ski tows were completely rebuilt.

(Right - a topo map of the area, showing the ski lift behind the the steep slopes of Talcott Mountain)

The abandonment of our Avon slope in 1959 was caused by the lack of snow and the inroads of golf. It was with nostalgic feelings for many to see the passing of this era in the history of the Hartford Ski Club.

(Left - as you can see, the ski area is no more, and is a golf course today)

Memories

Bob Widger: "The Hartford Ski Club had a small Ski area on the back (west) side of Talcott Mountain in Avon.  I think it closed about 1957 when the club decided to put more effort into their new lodge at Mad River Glen.  It had a large open slope with a rope tow and some trails above with another rope tow and even a small ski jump.  The main slope also had lights for night skiing. I remember that the lower tow loaded from the right instead of the left as most rope tows do.  To start it a group of club members would climb about halfway up the slope, grab the rope and run downhill while the guy operating the old jacked up car that powered the tow put it in gear and popped the clutch.  Just like rolling a car down the hill to start it. When there was more than a couple of people on the tow the operator had to down shift.  The land was rented from a local farmer who pastured cows on the main slope in the summer.  It is now a fairway at the Cliffside Country Club."

Anonymous: "Hartford Ski Club's ski slopes were on the west side of Avon Mt. in Avon, just south of Heublein Tower.  One could actually climb the main ski trail (off season) and go further up a trail to the top of the mt. and walk to the Tower. The area had a rope tow run by an old Buick that was at the top of the tow.  I am aware that the area operated in the 40s and 50s(?).  My father did much work there.  I believe he was chairman for a time. There is a golf course at the base of the former ski area slope now"

Tony Goodwin: Having grown up in West Hartford and even skied here once, I can definitely say that this ski area was different from the Simsbury Ski Club, although they  were located just a few miles apart on the same road.  The Hartford Ski Club had two tows and some nice gentle open gladed terrain next to the upper tow.  For some reason, the upper tow started from a small rise and at first went down.  The one time I can remember skiing there I was 8 or 9 (1959), and when I started off  I was too light to weigh down the rope and ended up hanging from the rope.  The lower tow went up a steeper slope, and it probably did require a downshift of the old truck when there were many skiers on the tow.  Conversely, if there was only one skier on the tow, the operator could floor it and give the rider a really fast trip up the hill something my father apparently once did to my mother.  There was also a trail cut practically to the top of Avon Mountain which would provided nearly 1,000 feet of vertical descent for those who climbed up.  The trail was rough and rarely skiable and therefore allowed to grow up many years before the slopes and tows were abandoned.

My father remembers that there was a trail cut practically to the Heublein Tower (no llift) but that it was so rough it was hardly ever skiable.  My father also recounted running the lower tow (which meant "driving" the jacked up truck) one day when my mother came down all by herself to get on the tow.  Knowing that she was a good skier and not being able to resist, my father "floored it" and gave my mother quite a ride.

The Hartford Ski Club was quite active in its day, including sponsoring John Jay at the Bushnell Memorial.  In his prime, Jay could fill that several thousand seat hall two straight nights.

Does anybody else have any more information?  If so, please let us know!

Last updated: March 5, 2007

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