Introduction Wendy's Frontenac Lynx Creek Listings by the Year ~ Historical Photos ~ Recent Photos ~ Memories
Thanks to an interview with owner George Greer, we now know the complete story of Frontenac and Wendy's slope. George owned and operated Frontenac ski area from the 1960's until 1991. Both areas have closely related, albeit slightly complicated histories.
In the mid to late 1930's, Plymouth, NH was a major stop for the snow trains. Skiers would ride these trains from metropolitan areas in the south and would enjoy ski areas in NH. Both Plymouth and North Conway were major snow train destinations.
Three areas were developed in Plymouth before World War II - Wendy's Slope, Frontenac, and Huckins Hill. Huckins Hill was located east of town, while Wendy's and Frontenac were developed on Stage Coach Hill, just south of town. Wendy's was the area on the eastern side of the hill.
To help illustrate where the two areas were in relation to each other, here's a late 1930s map. Number 3 is the original Frontenac, and Number 4 is Wendy's. Map from New England Ski Museum.
|Here's a sign for the
snow conditions for these areas. This was taken from the Treetop
Restaurant in Plymouth, NH. It is likely from the 1940's.
Wendy's was founded around 1937 by Wendelyn (a man) Hiltie, from Switzerland. The area was home to the ski school of the Plymouth area. Wendy's operated until World War II, when Wendelyn went to South America to teach skiing down there. The area was immediately bought by the operators of Frontenac, which renamed the entire area Frontenac.
Throughout the 1940's/1950's, this newly combined area (trails were interconnected near the summit) operated tow interconnected areas - The East Slope and the North Slope. The East Slope was the original Wendy's, while the North Slope was the original Frontenac. The original East rope tow was lengthened to 1000' around 1948.
In 1960, the town of Plymouth zoned the North Slope residential, and that area closed. Thus, the original Frontenac closed. However, the East side kept the Frontenac name.
In 1962, George Greer and his wife Nancy took over the area from the former owners, which had originally included three women whose husbands had died. They closed to the area to the public, but instead operated it as a very successful ski camp. Attendees would learn how to ski and race, all on their own private area.
In 1969, a 920' Mueller JR T-bar was installed. This was one of the steepest, if not the steepest T-bars ever built in New England (I can attest to that!). This allowed skiers to make more rapid runs without wearing their arms out on the rope tow.
Throughout the rest of the 1970's and 1980's, the area operated as a ski camp and remained quite popular. Several readers below remember skiing at the camp. Unfortunately, the area closed in 1991, as many of the skiers that used to attend now went to larger areas.
remained dormant until 1994, when business partners Dan Burgess and Bill
Tollenger leased the area out. Tbey opened a coffee shop in the base
lodge, and operated the T-bar and rope tow. They also renamed the area Lynx Creek. It
was in that year that I (Jeremy) checked it out.
I was very lucky enough to be in that area that year. I had just skied Cannon and backcountry over to Mittersill during the day, following the only good sized snowstorm of the year. Lynx Creek had finally opened that week. My friend Dave Kirk and I checked it out. It certainly was an interesting place to ski!
First, the lift tickets were sold in the lodge, which looked more like a college dorm than anything else. The tickets were unbelievably cheap: just 5 bucks! We bought our tickets and headed out to try the slopes. I boarded the T-bar. I was totally unprepared for the ride.
See, that T-bar was the steepest one in all of New England! It rivaled any other T- bar from any area. The trip to the top only took about a minute but man o man was it steep! It was not a lift to fall off of.
A view of the slopes/trails in 1998. Notice the wide slope which is visible from Rte 93, and the narrow trails. The original Frontenac area is completely grown in and is located to the upper right, beyond this photo.
We skied the main slope, and then decided to try one of the lighted trails. About halfway down the trail the lighting just ended: now it was pitch dark on a completely unfamiliar trail. We had to slowly make our way down to the bottom.
The next T-bar ride Dave accidentally triggered the safety net at the top. This stopped the lift for about 10 minutes, and of course I was on the steepest part. I could not get off...it was way too steep. If I tried I would have slipped and started to roll backwards. Finally the lift got going again.
I only managed to get in 5 runs, we were pretty beat from Cannon earlier. Still, we were glad to have checked this area off the list, as it closed shortly afterwards. The T-bar was later sold to Cosmic Hill in Vermont, a private ski area.
You can still see the area clearly from Rte 93 as you approach Plymouth from the south. Sadly, George Greer has now passed away but I am thankful to have had the opportunity to have talked to him over the phone.
The area is now available for rent and has been renovated - as the Frontenac Ski Lodge. There is no lift served skiing however.
Bill Tollenger wrote to NELSAP and has an excellent first hand account of the reopening of Lynx Creek:
Dan and I were in Plymouth scouting out a new location for a coffee shop in September of 1994. Heading south on Main Street, less than a mile out of town, we saw a sign by the side of the road, “Ski Area For Sale”. Dan barely tapped the brakes as he cranked the wheel and up the driveway we went. At the time it was run by George Greer and had been operating under the name “Frontenac Ski Camp”. George was a heck of a salesman. By the end of the afternoon we’d hiked all of the trails, toured the lodge, and heard enough stories to fill our heads with visions of running our own ski area. As we drove away, Dan and I said to each other“We’re sissies if we don’t buy a ski area!” Has there ever been a more sound decision factor for starting a new business venture?
A short time later, we signed a lease with option to buy agreement with George. The lodge itself is an 8500 square foot building with bed rooms, sleeping lofts, a dining hall with restaurant style kitchen, and a main common room with an enormous fireplace. When run as a ski camp, it held up to 75 guests. Dan and I brought in a few friends and rationalized the whole thing like this: each person has their own room in the lodge, full run of the common areas and grounds for a monthly fee. That would cover the basic expenses. We could rent out the extra space to skiers and run it as a ski dorm.
That probably would have been a sustainable solution. Then Dan met a NH ski lift inspector with a seriously thick set of rose colored glasses. He took a look at our T-bar lift from the 1960’s and said “It wouldn’t take much to get that going again.” Really? Not much, huh? Now we were in high gear. Get the lift running and certified. Get the antique Thiokol snowcat running again (new hydraulic pump, hoses, $$$). Re-roof the lodge and fix a laundry list of structural problems. In general, make the place ready for business as a ski area. Oh, and get it all done in time for the 1994/95 ski season, just 2 months away.
We did open for December 1994. The season started with a couple of good snow storms, further stoking our belief that it would work. We spent more of our dwindling cash reserves on radio ads in the Plymouth, NH area. And they came. Fora few weeks, skiers and snowboarders were discovering the hidden gems on our lumpy, bumpy slopes. Then the warm weather hit. By late January 1995 we were outside in t-shirts painting the lodge in 60+ degree weather. It became known as the “Winter that wasn’t”. We had all over extended ourselves financially expecting to recover it with revenues that were not coming in. George had promised us that he’d never had a winter where snowmaking we needed. Mother Nature had always done the job for him. Mmm-hmmm, what else would you like to sell us?
You can imagine where this led, money flowing out, little to no money flowing in, Lynx Creek didn’t last very long as an active ski area. The bright side is that Dan and I are both able to look back and say “I skied at my own ski area”.
Listings of Wendy's/Frontenac/Lynx Creek by the Year
|c1937||Tow||unknown||Area is founded by Wendelyn Hiltie (a Swiss), who used the area as a ski school||Interview with George Greer|
|1939||800' tow||400' wide slope, 30 degrees, 200 foot drop, needs 8" of snow to ski, 1/2 mile long. Skiing for all levels||New clubhouse||Skier's Guide to New England|
|1942||Tow||400' wide, 1/2 mile long, suitable for all classes, new downhill runs and slalom slope||None||Complete Skier's Guide|
|Mid 1940's||Same||Same||Area is bought by Frontenac, becomes named Frontenac, Wendelyn goes to South America to teach skiing||Interview with George Greer|
|1946-1947||1500' North Slope Tow, 650' South (East) Slope Tow||North Slope (original Frontenac) - 6 Nov-Exp trails, 1/4 mile to 1 1/4 mile long. South Slope (Wendy's) - 650' tow, novice to expert open slopes, 1/2 mile long.||Lunches at chalets at both slopes||NH Ski Map|
|1947-1948||650' East Slope Tow and 700' North Slope Tow||East Slope - 1/2 mile open slopes, slalom course. Durrance Dip (0.3 mile long) recut North Slope - 3 novice to intermediate trails, slalom glade, other slopes and trails||Area operates weekends and holidays||NH Winter Map|
|1948-1949||1000' East and North Slope Tows||Same as below||Same||NH Winter Map|
|1951, 1953||1100' North Slope Tow, 1000' East Slope Tow||65 acres, East Slope 1/2 mile long, slalom course, Durrance Devil Dip trail, 0.3 mile beginner slope, snack bar in warming hut. North slope - slalom glade, 3 novice to intermediate trails, beginner's slope, other slopes and runs, snack bar and warming hut.||Ski schools at both areas||Ski NH Winter Guide|
|c1960||East Slope Tow||East Slope trails and slopes||North Slopes closes for good||Interview with George Greer|
|1962||East Slope Tow||Same||Area becomes a private ski camp||Same|
|1969||920' Mueller JR T-bar, 1200' tow||16 trails and slopes||George buys T-bar||Same as above|
|1970's/1980's||T-bar and beginner rope tow||Same||Area is quite popular for ski campers||Same as above|
|1994/1995||Same||Same||Area reopens briefly as Lynx Creek, tickets affordable at 5-7 dollars, coffee shop opens in lodge||Same, and personal visit by Jeremy|
We have a lot more historical imagery to add, but as a start here are some from 1971 from Debbie Johnson Benson. Click on each for larger version.
|Base lodge.||Beginner rope tow.||T-bar.||Main slope.|
Back in May of 2003, Betsy Brown and Laurie Puliafico visited and explored this area. At that time, much of the ski area was intact with a lot to see. Please click on each image for a larger version.
|Base lodge.||Snow roller near the base.|
|The beginner rope tow towers were still standing, sans rope.||Remains of one rope tow near the summit, may be an original Wendy's Slope tow, unknown.||Remains of yet another rope tow - this may also be from the original Wendy's or original Frontenac.|
|View down the liftline.||Close up of the T.||Unload area.||T-bar return bullwheel.||Collapsed lift hut.|
Slopes and Trails
|Main slope.||Another slope on skier's left near the summit.||Side trail on skier's right.||Lights for night skiing.|
Personal memories of the area
Jack McDonnell remembers this area: I was very impressed to find out that Frontenac was on your web site. From roughly 1982-1990 (add or subtract a couple of years; my memory is not that good) I went to Frontenac each year as a student in the Frontenac Ski Camp. At the time, the area was owned by George and Nancy Greer, who had been living at the area for many years. In fact, my mother and aunt attended Frontenac Ski Camp when they first opened, through the time that they installed the T-bar. George used to say that the area was one of the few remaining ski areas that was exclusively used for a ski school. The lodge really was like a dorm--it could have about a hundred kids staying there at once!
I was somewhat surprised to hear that the area had closed. I had assumed the place would keep on running forever--the owners had a daughter who also lived at the ski area. She seemed interested in keeping it running if and when her parents decided to give it up.
Jamie King: I want to thank you for a great site because I was wondering what had become of camp frontenac. When I was in elementary school (late eighties), lots of kids from my town used to go there for ski camp. It was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Greer, but that's why the lodge looked like a dorm, because that's pretty much what it was! I was wondering if you know what has become of it now, I loved the lodge and have so many memories there (many of which included falling off of that dreadful t-bar and shredding my mittens on the rope tow).
remembers the area in the 1990's:
I went to college at Plymouth State. We used to hike Frontenac when it was closed/for sale. When they re-opened it we went there a few times and had a great time at night. Even though it was low tide (you could kick up leaves under the snow in some places) it was great.
If you remember this area and have more info, just let us know.
Last updated: February 20, 2014
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