Monson, MA

I first heard about this area through a college friend of mine, Nate Rochideau, who lives in Monson. While visiting his house in March of 1998 we found this area, although it is only visible from the road (you can't get to it, its on private property). It is another small rope tow area that operated at a private school. Wilbraham & Monson Academy used to be located in Monson, MA (known then as Monson Academy) during the 1960's. They operated a rope tow area mainly for students, although townspeople were allowed to use it. According to Coralie Gray, the area was short but fairly steep.

Monson Academy moved to Wilbraham sometime in the 1960's. They left most of their buildings behind, so not only is this a lost area, but its a lost school. The dorms/classrooms lay silent, slowly falling apart. Interesting!

Owen Houghton helped to develop this area: My background growing up in Woodstock, VT (home of the first ski tow in U.S.) and being captain of the high school ski team etc. led to my interest in developing the ski tow at Monson Academy in 1960 while serving as Assistant Headmaster.  This great starting professional experience gave me portfolios in Admissions, Guidance, Alumni Relations and advisor to a variety of student groups within the 220 student body.  I became the ski club and later ski team coach, working closely with the local maintenance staff to erect a motor housing shed, establish safety lines and tire-rim returns and generally "groom" the relatively steep field in back of the prep school dining hall.  We developed a competitive team, erected the usual wooden ramp for a jump, gave each other lessons and tried out the latest racing techniques (with bear traps and long-thongs!) and expanded the program to recreational skiers and public.  Sometimes a few of us would get adventurous before morning classes, fire up the engine and get in some quick runs (up) in second gear!  I also recall the need for a barrier at the bottom before dropping off to the railroad track!  Operational dates are probably all in the 1960's but would love to hear from others on recollection of continued operation after I left in 1963 to do doctoral work at Boston University.    (Owen can be contacted at  
Here is a map of the area in the 60's. Number 18 is the ski slope.

An overhead view of the area today. Totally grown in!
A view of the slope from Main Street. Picture courtesy Laurie P.

A pulley on the engine house. Picture courtesy Laurie P.

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