Wethersfield Ski Club Tow   
Rocky Hill, CT
1948-?

History ~ Memories ~ Recent Photos

History

The Wethersfield Ski Club was a brief ski area that operated in Rocky Hill from the late 1940's to the early 1960's. It was a small ski area, one open slope on a 150 foot drop, served by a rope tow. It only operated for a few years. The founders of the area were likely Brooks Allen and Ed Higgins. The area was abandoned in the early 1950's and has now completely grown over.

Memories

D. Raymes first told us of this area:

"
While hiking at the new Quarry Park in Rocky Hill, CT, I came across a trail guide which listed a ski slope run by the Wethersfield Ski Club. The ski tow was run by a 1936 Buick.  According to the guide: 'This ski club held its organizational meeting December 1, 1948 and  chose this slope for its skiing that winter.  Sixty members attended.  The property was leased for one year at no charge.  "Rocky Hill residents, both children and adults, were invited to join the club, which would provide an instructor.  Membership dues were 2.50 for adults, $1.00 for children, and $3.50 for families."   

"On Sunday, December 5th, from 1-3 p.m., members held a slope cleaning party." The slope was an open field at that time - now it is grown over with trees. The remains of the Buick are still there.' Quarry park overlooks the CT river off main street."

Sam Putnam:

My father, Lee Putnam, had skied on this hill a couple times back in the forties.   Though he was not a member, he went with a few lifetime friends who were members.   He is fairly certain that Edward Higgins, a member (now deceased) may have played a roll in getting the Buick on the hill or at least obtaining it, as he worked for Buick at the time.  My Dad relates a humorous story how he was brought up the hill at quite some speed as Mr Higgins was at the top of the hill in the Buick goosing the throttle.   They used a lantern to light the hill at night. 

Very likely one of the founders may have been Brooks Allen who lived on Hartford Av at the time, and was a member of the Wethersfield Ski Club.  He was in the U.S Armyís 10th Mountain Division during the war training as a skier.

My Dad, who has lived in Wethersfield all his life and still resides there today, believes that the hill only operated for 3 or 4 years.

Derrick Watson: From a buddy of mine who's dad, Lee Putnam, was a member;

The club/hill appears to have been founded by a US Army veteran from the 10th Mountain Division, Brooks Allen, who returned to the area after the war and was one of the few, if not only, skier locally. 

Sounds like Mr. Allen got some of his buddies involved, including Ed Higgins, who may have been able to get the Buick that provided the tow's power as Mr. Higgins worked for a Hartford area Buick dealership. 

It appears that the club operated the tow for 3 to 4 years before closing it down for reasons unknown.    While in operation, it appears that Mr. Higgins was the operator of the tow, and the hill also featured night skiing, with the slope lit up with oil or gas lanterns!

 

Recent Photos

Brian Wilcock visited this area in late 2008, and took the following photos. Here's what he found:

The quarry is within walking distance to my house. I had seen the old car before so I thought I would go take some pictures for the site. I had never heard of it being used as a rope tow before I saw your site, so I don't know anything about the actual operation.

The slope starts on top of a long ridge that runs perpendicular to Old Main Street in Rocky Hill. About 200 feet behind the Buick, there is a sharp drop off into someone's backyard. There is a trail that goes right by the Buick so local kids have been tagging the car and helping mother nature slowly destroy it for years. At the bottom, it flattens out a little and then drops sharply into a railroad grade that is still slightly active. The slope has a total vertical gain of around 150 feet and drops at a very consistent pitch of around 20 percent. If it weren't for the train tracks, this would have made an excellent beginner hill. Also, when cleared, the hill would have offered stunning views east into the Connecticut River valley towards Glastonbury, Manchester and Hartford. I don't think that the area gets much natural snowfall so I can't imagine that it was open very much but it still would have been a really cool place to introduce people to the sport.
 


A view from the middle of the slope looking uphill. The Buick is in the center of the horizon.

This shot is from the same point looking downhill. It includes the only 2 mature trees I could find in the area and I'm not sure that they are old enough to have been there during the rope tow's operation.
 
This shows a view from uphill of the car looking downslope (east).

This shows a view from downhill of the car and displays the graffiti and rotting insides better.
 

 

Another view of the Buick was provided by Jon Regan. Still recognizable features after 50+ years!

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

Last updated: December 19, 2008

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