|Dave Brooks, from the
Nashua Telegraph, wrote an article in the winter of 2002 which included
some closed ski areas in southern NH. He wrote about this one, and the
following is from him, and tells the story of this club-owned area:
The Amherst Ski Club started on a hill opposite Wilkins School (in Amherst, also known as Jake's Hill) but in 1964 bought land on a steeper hill in Mont Vernon, off Brook Road.
"We had a bunch of work parties to clear it, moving rocks and burning brush, in the good old days when you didn't have to worry about pollution," joked Walter Kilian, a former Mont Vernon town moderator who was a member of the now-defunct ski club.
"We lugged an automobile engine up there for the rope tow, and we each took turns running it, on Saturdays and Sundays and holidays. .. After a snowstorm we'd all go up there and try to pack it down. We had an old Skidoo (snowmobile) that we'd ride up that side and down the front face to pack it down."
||A few dozen families
paid "maybe $100 a year" to be part of the club, said Kilian.
"It was just a fun type of place."
His son, David, recalls meeting friends and learning to ski on the two trials - one steep and short, one slow and winding. "The slope was challenging enough, steep and narrow, that it kept your interest. .|.|. But you had a lot of friends there, so it didn't matter that you were skiing the same trails," he said. "We even had a sun deck on top, where you could congregate with your friends."
So what happened? Money, says Walter Kilian.
"At the tail end the insurance was getting so doggone high. We actually sold bonds, believe it or not, to cover some of the expenses. When the weather went bad, we were sort of stuck with the land, paying taxes. So in the end, we turned the property over to the town as a gift." The area closed some time in the 1980s, he recalls.
Peter Terkow sent us in several pictures and more history of the mountain:
My family skied there in the 60ís and
70ís. My dad served as president for at least one term.
Our ski patch (at top of page) features a stump, an outhouse and a canary in a bird cage. While not exactly a skiing theme for most, the symbolism may be more obvious as you read on.
Another photo is of the main trail at Amherst Ski Club's Hill in Mont Vernon. The Amherst Ski Club, after operating for years at Jake's Hill in Amherst, moved to the property they purchased in Mont Vernon. The purchased property was raw forest land. All the trail cutting and construction was completed by member volunteers. Note the lookout station overlooking the rope tow known as the "Bird Cage". The hill had four trails. Two narrow trails to the left of the tow and another easier trail to the far right. The photo was developed in April 1970. The pink heart in the snow on right makes me think this was taken closer to Valentine's Day. Slalom course is being set for a member contest. Like many small hills, our grooming was accomplished by energetic skiers side-stepping up the hill. I miss the hill but not the side stepping.
The last photo is taken at the base of
the rope tow. The seventh grade schoolmates appearing left to right
are Marie Roberge, Bev Chandley, Joan Hopkins, Peter Terkow, and
The US Ski Team Olympian, alpine skier, Steve Lathrop was a club member.
Several NELSAP readers also remember this area:
Patrick Naber: On your list of lost areas, there is a listing for a ski area in Mont Vernon, NH. I grew up in Mont Vernon. The name of the area was the "Amherst Ski Club" and operated as a membership club for a few short years. The club membership would sidestep up and down the hill to pack the snow after a snowfall. The main slope was quite steep, and ended in a brook just before the road. There was one lift, a rope if I remember correctly, and parking for a maximum of 10 cars on the side of Brook Road. There was a bridge to cross the brook which was several feet down in a gully. Members would also take turns operating the lift. My family checked into joining, and took a tour of the area, but decided against it. I haven't actually skied it, but still look for any sign of the slope when I have reason to travel Brook Road. If memory serves, operation would have been 1976 to 1980 give or take.
Steve Biddle: I saw with interest the listing for this little lost ski area. It was called "Amherst Ski Tow" and we had a family pass there in '75 or '76. It was only open on weekends or after school for ski lessons. These were taught by Annie Middleton of Bedford. It was a single rope tow with one main slope which was quite steep and a couple of narrow trails on either side. There was no warm up hut, and I remember it getting very cold once the sun passed over the hill. The bottom of the hill has a stream that was a hazard if you didn't put on the breaks. I loved going there as a kid, but I don't know when it closed except it must have been later than '76 or so.
Bert Roberge: Christmas 1969, I got my first "metal skies," with step in bindings. They were much better, and more durable than those old bear trap binding, wooden skies I used on Whitts Ski Tow in Peterbourgh back in 1963. Marie, my sister,and I recieved also for Christmas, a season pass at the Amherst Ski Club. She was the one who sent me this E mail on lost Ski areas of N.H. The place was small but that main steep trail, yes it was tough, I think I ended up in the steam a couple of times. I remember one cold day the engine would not start. It was a six volt car it came out of, because six volts was not enough that day. They huffed a twelve volt battery up the hill to start that old 1938 prime mover that day.
The warming hut was the engine room back in those days. I used to lay my gloves on the valve cover to dry them out. Living in Colorado,I spent many times skiing Loveland Pass, sticking my thumb out for a ride back up the hill. I often thought of the place and wondered if it still existed. Thank you for the memory!today, and skiing Vail, Aspen, Copper Mountain, these are "mega" ski mountains but Amherst Ski Club is an example how skiing got started in this country. To see history and be reminded of that "old" place takes back to a time when things were a lot more simple and FUN!!!!! When I came to
McKeller: The rope tow from
Jake's Hill was moved to the 2nd Amherst ski hill which was several miles
north of town and located to Brook Rd. around the beginning of the 70's but it
was a much steeper, carved out of heavy pine woods and had two narrow and
advanced trails with little runout at the bottom. There was a little bridge at
the bottom that crossed the brook. This area was never as big a deal or as
convenient to the skiers of Amherst and never caught on to the degree that
If you remember this area, send us an email and tell us about it.
Last updated: Dec 17, 2006
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