1939-circa mid 1950'
late 1950's-circa 1983
Feb 7 2015-
Official Website: www.mteustis.org
General History Guidebooks Pictures Memories Articles
is a historic ski area that has been in operation in several distinct
phases. It opened in January of 1939, closed around 1983. Due to a
community-wide effort of volunteers who dedicated much of their own
time, money, and effort, the area reopened on February 7, 2015. Mt.
Eustis holds the record for the longest closed ski area to reopen in New
England - approximately 32 years.
The origins of Mt. Eustis can be traced back to 1937, when the Mt. Eustis Trail, described in the Nashua Telegraph as a "novice-intermediate run ending in open slopes" was cleared by the Littleton Outing Club. Seeing the potential to add lift served skiing, a 1600' rope tow was built on the slope in late 1938/early 1939, and was formally dedicated by the Littleton Outing Club on January 28 or 29, 1939. The ski area was located on land owned by Wilson M. Lewis, a 38 year old farmer in 1940 who lived nearby on Mt. Eustis Road, and who operated the tow with C. Edward Magoon, a 38 year old grocer. Lewis also owned a slaughterhouse, and a future trail, the Slaughterhouse, would be named after it, which ended near the slaughterhouse. The Outing Club continued to be involved during this time, but its exact level of involvement is vague. For the 1940-1941 season, Wilson and Magoon installed floodlights on the main slope.
|In about 1945, the land and the ski area was sold to George Pepperell, who continued to operate the ski area until the mid 1950's. A warming hut was built during this time with a snack bar. Night skiing continued, mainly on Wednesday nights, with music being piped in across the slopes.|
|In the mid 1950's, Interstate 93 was cut through the bottom of the slope, which shrank the ski area from a 350' drop and 1600' long slope to a 280' drop and 1000' foot long slope. Bill Nichols remembers that Mt. Eustis closed during this time due to the dramatic reduction of the hill. However, the area reopened a few years later, with Littleton purchasing the land in 1960, obtaining 34.67 acres for a price of $7,200, according to an article in www.newhampshirelakesandmountains.com.|
||The town continued to
operate the area until about 1983, although the exact last day of skiing
is not yet known. It is also possible that the area did not operate in
1979 or 1980 due to a severe lack of snow during this period. There was
an effort to fundraise for a T-bar in the early 1980's, but this failed,
with the money possibly being stolen.
Throughout the rest of the 1980's and into the 2000's, the ski area was abandoned, but still saw use. The slope was still kept relatively clear by the town, and was available for skiers who wanted to earn their own turns. The small lodge became vandalized and was eventually torn down at some point in the 2000's.
|Then, beginning around
2002, local businessman Herb Lahout began to examine the possibility of
reopening this area. Although initially unsuccessful, the idea of
bringing back Mt. Eustis was seen as a possibility. In late 2011/2012,
Littleton Bike Shop owner David Harkless raised the possibility of
restoring the ski area, and him, along with Herb Lahout, Chris Hubble,
Trevor Hamilton, Gardner Kellogg, Brien Ward, Gary Ward, Gerry LaFlamme,
Shawn Sweeney, Mike Norman, Joe Lahout, Ron Lahout, Phil Branch, Bill
Wetherbee, and Jim Hamblin all contributed in various ways to get the
project going in 2012.
With all of these volunteers, along with many others, a non-profit group, Mt. Eustis Ski Hill was organized in 2013, which allowed for formal fundraising and development. A goal of $100,000 was set to reopen the area - which would include a rehabbed rope tow from the former Lisbon ski area (to be restored by Littleton High School students), lights for night skiing, trail clearing (a new gladed section was developed to the south of the tow), a warming hut (which was donated by Home Depot), engineering work, and more. In 2013 and 2014, more and more volunteers and groups got involved, along with many local businesses, who were generous enough to donate supplies and funds.
The New England Ski Museum's Cal Conniff grant program awarded Mt. Eustis a grant towards their reopening.
|By December of 2014, the initial lights for night skiing were installed, and skiers were able to earn their turns under these lights. A groomer has been donated by Bretton Woods, along with a portable tow, as the rope tow was not yet ready to be installed.|
|Mt. Eustis was finally
able to have an official grand opening on February 7, 2015. While there
issues with the generator to power the donated tow, snowmobiles were
used to bring skiers to the summit and the reopening was a huge success.
The area continued to operate during weekends in February, and is
well-suited for much success in the next few years.
(Right - two photos, courtesy of the Mt. Eustis Ski Hill Facebook page, showing the construction of the portable tow. Click on each for a larger version)
Jeremy's Commentary: The reopening of Mt. Eustis continues the trend of volunteers and community efforts to reopen or sustain New England's smaller ski areas, which began around 2000. After decades of losing so many ski areas and losing out on the benefits that they provide, skiers had enough - and took the initiative to restore and/or promote their local ski areas. We are indebted to the efforts of the volunteers of the Mt. Eustis Ski Hill who worked so hard to bring this facility back to life.
|1939||1600' tow ready by Dec||1/2 mile long slope, 15-300 feet wide, 20 degrees steep. Needs 12" to ski, suitable for novices and intermediates||Located north side of Mt. Eustis, NE Exposure. Runs out onto 1/2 mi of open slopes||Skier's Guide to New England|
|1940-1941, 1946-1947||1600' tow||Open slope starts as trail, 1/2 mile long. 1/2 mile slalom slope as well||Skating rink||NH Winter Map|
|1947-1949, 1951||Same||Same, but also 2/5 mile long Slaughterhouse Trail. Main slope floodlighted for Wed night skiing, and wired for music. 600 foot practice slope||Warming hut, snack bar, ski instruction, accessories.||NH Winter Map|
|1951-1952||Tow||Novice and intermediate slopes||none||Eastern Ski Map|
|A NY Post article in 1939 shows Charles Talbot, who had survived a plane crash near Bermuda, skiing at Mt. Eustis.|
|The rope tow is shown here in 1973, courtesy of Bill Currier. It was developed in May of 1973, but the picture was likely from April. Click for larger version.|
|The topo map (left) and aerial image (right) of Mt. Eustis||
|Left- the Practice Slope area in the late 1990's, and the rope tow (right).|
In 2009, Jeremy visited the area and took the following photos. It was a perfect day to hike with clear skies and good visibilities. You can see that the main slope had been maintained, and remnants of the old lift and lights were still visible. Click on each for a larger version.
Rope Tow Remnants
|Former base of the rope tow.||Rope tow tower towards bottom of slope.||Tower higher up, overgrown.||Former rope tow drive building at summit.|
|Base of the slope||Lower portion of the slope||Former light pole||Towards top of slope||Top of slope|
Jeff Plant: I grew up in Littleton, N.H. in the 1950's and 60's. Mt.Eustis was agreat place to learn to ski. Prior to the completion of I-93 the main trail was significantly longer than in your map. The Littleton Outing club ran the Mt. Eustis area and there was a small ski jump along side the tow. The Outing club provided lessons and sponsored an annual race at Eustis. The main slope is still open and when I go home I always take my teleskis and skins and if the snow is good, before the snow machines arrive, I can get some fresh tracks.
Roger Ahlgren: I skied Mt. Eustis in the late 40's and 50's...We used to call it Mt. Useless as it had not much vertical drop.
Jamie Ide: Mt. Eustis was in use until at least 1983 when I graduated from Littleton High School. There was a fundraiser held around that time to raise money to purchase a t-bar lift; a basketball game between the high school faculty and former members of the New England Patriots. I still have the program somewhere, including autographs from the players. The t-bar was never purchased and the rumor was that the money raised had been stolen. I don't know if that's true, but I have very fond memories of skiing there.
Bill Nichols: Some
more about our Mt. Eustis that I can offer. I moved to Littleton from VT in 1943
with my family, (I was 13) and we were overjoyed to find that ski hill here in
town because we were ski enthusiacs. I finished learning to ski well on that
slope taught by my father, Stod Nichols and a Swiss inn owner from Franconia
named Hans Thorner. Wilson Lewis owned the slope then and he lived in the farm
house at the base of the tow, the 1600' rope, I had always heard was the longest
in the State then. Then in 1947 George Pepperell bought the home & property and
put lights on the hill and there was night skiing every Wednesday.
George felt he needed a ski patrol & help running the tow engine which was a V-8 Mercury at the top of the hill. I went to work there on weekends and one of the "perks" was his people skied free. An all day ticket then was 25 cents. Later, that year I joined the National Ski Patrol when a group started volunteering at Mt. Eustis.
In 1949 I took over running the Patrol until I went into the service in 1951 and still taking turns with other patrolmen running the tow engine. The exhaust pipe just ran down through the floor of the towhouse. When there was no wind we would fall asleep from the fumes that came back up through the floor. It had a hand throtle and when the rope got going too slow we knew we had to shake the operator awake. We all must be brain
damaged! In the mid fifties the Interstate 93 was put through the slope cutting it in half ending it as a ski hill. But in the late 50's the Town of Littleton took over and ran the short hill for a year or two, but the appeal of nearby Cannon Mt. won over and ended Mt. Eustis as a ski hill.
Another ski trail was called The Buddy Nute Memorial Ski Trail that was built from the actual summit of the mountain with a telephone for ski race starting, but did not run down the ski slope, it went more to the N.W. all the way through the woods and came out two blocks West from the bottom of the slope. Wilson Lewis did have a slaughter house where the Slaughter House Trail came out near his farmhouse and the trail got it's name from it. To this day there is a maintained historic site called "The Horse Cemetery" and is just across the road from the slaughter house site.
Mar 1, 2012:
Group Eyes Next Hurdle for Mount. Eustis Endeavour. NHLakesandMountains.com.
Sep 11, 2014: Mt. Eustis Ski Area to Make a Comeback in 2014. NHPR
Sep 30, 2014: Littleton's Mt. Eustis Ski Hill to Return. Union Leader
Feb 3, 2015: After 35-year hiatus, Mt. Eustis ski hill to reopen. Newhampshire.com
Feb 9, 2015: Hard Work and Plenty of Nostalgia Lead to Reopening of Littleton Ski Area. NHPR
Nashua Telegraph, Dec 3, 1937.
Nashua Telegraph, Jan 30, 1939
Nashua Telegraph, Jan 17, 1941
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