Hills High School
Ben Barrows Hill
Ski Fertile Valley
|Thanks to Galen
Crane, we first heard of this area that operated in Hebron. First
run by the Hebron School at some point in the 1960's, it was taken over
by Oxford Hills High School in 1967. Here are
his details which best describe this area:
"On weekends in 1983 and 84, some of us used to walk with our brand-new wooden Burton snowboards from campus (Hebron School) to what I think is called Ben Barrows Hill, about a mile and a half north of Hebron. Here, near a house on a slope in the woods, was the old Oxford Hills High School ski hill, which had one lift and one or two trails. It was real grown-over then, so I imagine it's all but undetectable now, but worth a look nonetheless. I can't remember where we got that information (that it was Oxford Hills's ski hill), but that was the consensus. OH is the HS in Norway/South Paris, the nearest big town."
Here's a topo map of the area, showing the rope tow on Ben Barrows Hill.
Loafasaur remembers a lot of details on this area:
The rope tow on Ben Barrows hill was a hand-me-down
from Hebron Academy--HA no longer needed it when they put a new rope tow
on the side of Little Singepole. The Oxford Hills ski team, under
the energetic leadership of Coach "Big Al" Wescott,
took over operation in 1967-68 and ran it for three years, through
69-70. We had several days of fall ski team "training"
cutting brush on the trails--the place hadn't been operated for a few
years. We also had the annual rituals of pulling out the
rope and hoisting the counterweight each fall and reversing the process
each spring. The rope tow was powered by an old tractor engine in
a hut at the top of the tow. The rope itself was actually quite
nice, soft and easy on gloves and clothes. There were two fairly
wide trails on either side of the tow and one narrower one next to it.
The terrain rolled and was quite steep at the bottom. In
particular, the trail on the left as you looked up the hill had a very
steep final pitch with a pronounced lip (we called it Lovers' Leap) and
a quick transition at the bottom. We had one race that
came down over the Leap, but its use was discontinued after an
unfortunate with a high bib number lost control over the lip and ended
up doing a face plant in the transition. There was a large, long groove
in the snow from his helmet, punctuated in the middle by a smaller
groove that his nose made. After that, we mostly used the Leap to
see who could make it down standing up on cross-country skis.
(cont.) There was also a woods road leading up the
mountain from the top of the tow that we used a couple times for GS
The most colorful character I ever saw on skis lived a
hundred yards down the "access road." Teddy Carver cut a little
wood now and then to buy booze and other necessities. The OH Ski Team was
into Red Man chewing tobacco (We weren't allowed to smoke, you see.), and
Teddy was always pleased to take a hefty dip out of somebody's Red Man pouch.
He'd come out once or twice a week when we were practicing, ride the tow, and
ski with us. He had a pair of incredibly ancient (even then) ridgeback
hickories with leather straps, and skied with one eight-foot alder sapling for a
pole. When Teddy wanted to turn right, he put the pole under his
right armpit and pulled up on it. When he wanted to turn left, under his
left armpit. And when he wanted to stop, you guessed it. He's the
only person I've ever seen seriously use this technique. He was pretty
good at it!
The only grooming was what we did with our skis.
After a big storm, the entire team, boys and girls, would spend an entire
practice just sidestepping/packing in "wing formation." It might
not have been much for our ski technique, but it was a helluva conditioning
tool. We were pretty good at x-c races, the more rugged the track, the
The swan song for the OH slope was Winter Carnival
in February 1970. We hosted a regional meet, and pamphleted the high
school and community to get out a crowd. The weather cooperated, and there
was a good turnout. Don't remember details, just that the OH team did
well. After the meet, we wowed the crowd by using the lip of that last
pitch on the rope tow track for an impromptu jumping demonstration
featuring spread eagles, daffy's, etc in the 30'-50' range. No 360's or
flips, but my skis were 208 cm, and everybody else's were similar. The
crowd was suitably impressed in the late-afternoon, late-winter sunshine.
And that was it. Oxford Hills practiced at Mt.
Abram starting in 1970-71. The old slope on Ben Barrows Hill was used no
Does anybody else remember this lost area? If so let us know.
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