History ~ Memories ~ Recent Photos
I first heard about this ski area from one of my mother's friend who lives in Dracut. She had heard about my research and mentioned this lost area. I found it with my family, and could see the slopes, but it was too blocked off to go check it out.
Research continues on this area. According to Richard Vinal, In the 1940's a Dr. Merrill started the ski area, and then was sold to Raymond Brox of Dracut, who operated it until the 1950's. According to George Labrecque, the area was located on the SE side of Loon Hill on land owned by the Burgess Farm. In 1949 it did have a 1000' rope tow, operated Wednesday PM and all weekends. It had a vertical drop of 200', a grade of 25 degrees, a warm-up hut, and a snack bar. Brox later went to Snow's Valley to operate that with the Bean Family in Waterville Valley.
In the 1950's it was run by the Brox, then run by Richard Vinal. Vinal states that "I ran it with 2 60 horse powered ford v8 engines that ran the rope tow. It was never a Jeep that ran the tows. We had a powerhouse on top where my Dad Fred Vinal watched over everything"
In 1963, Labrecque purchased the area and ran it until 1966. It had two side by side tows, one at 500' in length and the other 900' in length. It had three slopes and two trails. Night skiing was available. The area was typically open on weekends and holidays.
In 1966, the area closed, and the tows were sold to a Belgrade Lakes Land Development company. Other equipment was moved to Pinnacle Mountain in Roxbury.
According to Richard Vinal, whose grandfather Richard Vinal used to run the hill, the area closed because it faced south, and the snow melted too quickly to develop a deep enough snowpack. He states that the snack bar was burned down by vandals in the late 1970's.
Here is the Terraserver overhead picture. You can see quite a few, short slopes, though its mainly grown in.
Kevin R Kidney has some more information on this area: I grew up in Salem MA. so I skied some of your lost ski areas, like Page's hill in Peabody & Hamilton Slopes in Hamilton. I am now living in Dracut, MA, and I hear the natives talk of the "Dracut Ski Tow" which was located in the Arlington St. area of east Dracut. I have lived here for 22 years and it has been gone for that long at least.
Maria Robarge remembers seeing this area: I remember the Kenwood Ski Tow. In the 50's, I used to spend a lot of time at some friends' house in that area. We used to, sometimes, either walk or ride our bikes around that area. At this point, all I remember is seeing it from the road. I haven't been by there in years. Back then our winter interest was ice skating on the numerous Dracut swamps. Now there are houses built on them!
Shaun Jones: I too have heard locals talk about the old Kenwood ski tow but never saw it myself. My house is actually in the above photo (upper left). My neighbor (house also in photo) remembers the area pretty well.
Barry Williams: The Kenwood Ski Slope was called the "Kenwood Ski Tow" it had 7 or eight trails and I think it had three rope tows. I was owned and operated by the Burgess Family. Some of whom still live in the area. I lived in Dracut and use to ski it. Also the parking use to be on the property of course and there is or was a small slope to the right hand side of the slopes for Kids to sled, slide and toboggan on.
Alan Slobodnik: I lived in Lowell and started skiing at age 9 in 1956. My older brother and I started out teaching ourselves and learning from other like-minded kids at Longmeadow Golf Club just down the street from us. We climbed up the biggest hills we could find and schussed straight down until we learned how to turn. After a friend told me about Kenwood, I finally convinced my mother to drive me. An all day ticket on Saturday was 75 cents, big money for me at the time. I got double thickness rawhide gloves so I could survive the rope tow. I was not good enough to go down the main hill from the top of the rope tow. It was very narrow, steep and icy.
My friend, Russell MacAulay, who had done big mountain skiing and had taken lessons really impressed me because he could Wedelen from the top. I either dropped off the rope tow three quarters of the way up, or went to the top and took the gradual trail off to the left which went back to the snack bar (both quite visible on your aerial photo). Once a day or so, I would measure my progress by attempting to ski the main trail form the top. I invariably fell. We slowly graduated to Priest's, Boston Hill, and later Mount Snow and Waterville Valley when we reached high school and could drive. But I still have a soft spot for Kenwood. Thanks for keeping it alive.
What fun memories of blissful times. I grew up and still live in Dracut. My dad
was in the ski troops in Italy at the tale end of WWII. He introduced me to
skiing when I was about eight. We regularly skied Kenwood, Benjamin Hill and,
later Indian Head. I remember a brand new pair of wooden Northland skis. My dad
presented them to me unwrapped on Christmas Eve. They must've been real
expensive 'cause he gave me a speech about my being a scholar and a gentleman. I
had the best Dad ever.
Dave Conole: As a boy in the 1960's, the ski tow had ceased operation (my Dad skied there as a boy though in 1920's). By the 1960's the area had been abandoned. During weekends and school vacations in the winter my brothers and I would go tobogganing there. On a weekend day there could be as many as 100 people sledding, skiing etc. Also during that era it was a great place for snowmobiles - as they were getting very popular then. There were two major trails - one alongside the hill and one facing nearly east (not good for a ski hill). We would climb to the top and come down on our toboggan. At that time there were remnants of a ski operation (an old wooden jump that was deteriorating, and a few telephone poles indicating that a tow was once there. In the seventies, the other side of the hill was developed with houses (Lexington Ave, etc). The Burgess Family owns the property - They would raise cows there in the summer months years ago. Sad to say it may soon be all gone to houses. If you stop at the intersection of Methuen and Arlington Streets (Pulaski Square) and look over to the Northeast you can still see the major hill of the Kenwood Ski Tow.
Grammalady: My father (Elroy M Richardson) operated the tow lift for Raymond Brox who leased the land from Burgess. There were three main trails, It was a fun run. I learned to ski there. When Ray moved on to greener pastures at Waterville Valley Richard Vinal operated it for a while. Raymond's sister Bertha operated the snack shack and served hot chocolate.
Paul Rousseau: I grew up in Dracut in the Kenwood area, the Ski Tow is opposite Vinal were Arlington and Methuen St intersect. I can remember the shack up on the what we called the "Main Slope", and the trail on the left side that went thru the woods, around the ski area I remember the stone wall at the bottom and hearing that someone hit it and was taken to the hospital. The area was bought by local farmers who's cows would graze there in the spring and summer. I believe it has been resold to developers. It is very overgrown now and you would never know that this was once a place where I and hundreds of people would spend our Sunday afternoons. I don't know when it closed but remember when it did we would still go there on weekends and sled or toboggan down the dreaded "Main Slope" into my teenage years. I often talk to my children of the ski area and the fun I had as a child.
Marc Mihail: As a boy I lived in Dracut and attended Dracut Centre School. I used to spend considerable time at the Kenwood Ski Tow in the late 40s until about 1951 or 52. To my young eyes the vertical drop appeared larger than life, but then so did everything else. The area provided a lot of fun and I remember a fair number of skiers there on most weekends. I continued to recall it most fondly even after becoming a ski instructor in the Tahoe area and have often thought of Kenwood as my "real" training ground.
I remember this area as being used by Burgessís Farm. I can remember them walking the cows down Methuen St. onto Arlington St then into the meadow below the hill. I never skied there but my mother and her sister talked about it. I lived on the Lowell Dracut line near Methuen Street, and as a pre-teen I remember riding my bike out to the hill. It had been closed for a few years by then, and was used mainly for sledding/ tobogganing. From the top on a clear day I remember being able to see the Boston sky line.
Richard Vinal visited this area in December of 2015 and took some recent photos. Click on each for the larger version:
|Looking down the main run.||Looking up the main run.||Looking up rope tow line.||Looking down the rope tow line.|
Richard Vinal visited also visited this area in September of 2010, and sent us the following photos. He states that the foundation for the building where the rope tow ran along which was NOT powered by a truck with its tires taken off but by a single gas powered truck engine mounted on a stand with numerous wooden posts and bolts. Click on each image for a larger version.
|Rope tow building foundation.||Bolted pole on ground.||Another pole.|
|Looking up the liftline.||More of the liftline.|
Last updated: Dec. 18, 2015
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