Greenfield Center, NY
c1939- around 1960's
History ~ Listings by the Year ~ Memories
Darrow's Farm Slope was first a hike up and ski down area with a jump and floodlighted slope built in the late 1930's. The ski area was located on Locust Grove Road in Greenfield Center. The area was started by Ed Taylor, who later went on the found Alpine Meadows after World War II. His daughter, Linda Jo Taylor Stevens, sent us terrific photos of this lost area, which appear on this page. The area was sold to Tommy Orton, who then invited Larry Mahar and his friends to join in the partnership. The area operated into the 1960's, when Skidmore College took over the operations. They later packed up the rope tow and moved it to their new campus near downtown Saratoga Springs.
NELSAP heard from Larry Mahar who wrote up the excellent following writeup of the history of the ski area:
"Larry Mahar, a retired New York City advertising executive, was one of the owners of Darrow's Slope, located on Locust Grove Road, outside of Saratoga Springs, NY, on a hill owned by a farm family name Darrow -- thus the name Darrow's. It had been sold by the founding owner named Taylor, who went on to open a genuine mountain ski area, Alpine Meadows, in nearby Spruce Mountain in South Corinth. I believe that ski area lasted into the 90's. Larry became associated with Darrows while he was advertising director for a local ice cream company. A young man he knew named Tommy Orton owned the ski area and invited Larry and his friends to join him in a partnership, which they did. It was not a big ski area, but the fact that it was open two nights a week under the lights drew avid local skiers. Their main draw on weekends was families with children.
The area had only one rope tow
driven by an old automobile engine pulling the rope. It hade an automatic
emergency shut-off on top of the hill to prevent skiers who didn't let go of the
rope from being pulled into the engine. It consisted of a "hit string",
which anyone who went past the safe point would hit and disengage the engine.
Larry and one of the other owners would take turns standing watch as skiers as
they engaged the rope at the bottom of the hill and excited it at the top of the
hill. The owners kept careful watch of people, especially youngsters,
engaging the rope at the bottom of the hill because the beginning skiers had a
penchant of tumbling as they grabbed the moving rope.
|There were good years and bad years. A bad year would see as little as 13 days of skiable snow. A good year would be much longer. The only advertising the ski area got was a sign at the end of the road which connected with a main highway. Larry and his friend, Tom, were the only owners who actually skied. A typical season showed little or no profits after buying the new rope needed each year, the insurance and the lane rental which was 10 percent of gross.|
|There was a snack shack at the bottom of the hill which was usually attended by Larry and Tom's wives. The typical menu was coffee, hot dogs and soda. After about three years, the crew got tired of the labor involved in operating the venture and they abandoned it. Nearby Skidmore college showed an interest in operating the facility for its students and took it over and ran it at the same location for awhile. Later on, they moved it to the new campus, which came with a large hill. The irony of the story is that, some years later, Larry, who lived about a block from the college at the outskirts of Saratoga moved away and sold his house. Before selling it, he and his wife had built a new kitchen add-on. Some time later, they would drive by the house and find that the owner had removed the kitchen addition and replaced it with a garage. Not much later, Larry and his wife were driving by the college and noted that they had added a warm-up shack. The shack turned out to be their kitchen addition from their house which the new owner had disposed of!|
|The years passed and the college ski area vanished just as fast as it had appeared.|
|Larry has only one memento left Darrow's Slope -- a red, blue and white sign reading "Emergency Stop! HIT STRING"."||
Darrow's Listings by the Year
|1939||None||Large open slope with night skiing||Jump available||Skiing in the East, Ski Trails and How to Get There|
|1940||Ski Tow||800' long, 450' wide slope||Night skiing||The Complete Ski Guide|
|Mid 1950's||Tow||Slope||Located on Locust Grove Road off Rte 9N, 1.5 miles west of Saratoga Springs. Open weekends and Tuesday/Friday nights, or by appointment for clubs. Managed by Larry Mahar||Ski New York Guide|
My Dad would take us there on Saturdays. He did not ski yet so he'd just wait in
the shack and talk with people coming and going. The place was literally a hill
on someone's farm. We called it Darrow's rope tow. Yeah, it was tiny. A hill, an
engine, a rope and a few poles. I remember a warming hut that looked like a kids
fort. I think it had a dirt floor and some benches. Hot cocoa was ladled from a
large pot and I'd skim the "skin" off the top to drink it. (I think this was
because it was made with real "whole" milk. They might have offered hot dogs,
but am not positive. 4 foot long hats were popular back then and I remember my
brother's got caught in the rope and the "liftie" pulled it off after it
traveled back down on the rope. I took a skiing class there sponsored by the
YMCA one night. It had snowed that day and I thought it was difficult learning
"snowplowing" in the deep snow. We may have done two seasons there and then my
Dad took up skiing and we started going to Adirondack Ski Center in Corinth.
Carter Yepsen: I have a good friend that skied there in the 40's when a lift ticket was 5c. It was somewhat self-service, meaning if you were the first one there, you'd walk to the top of the hill, start the old car that ran the rope and put it in gear. The remains of the car that ran the lift are still there - looks to be a model A.
Dave Woodcock: Darrow's, I believe, was started by Edwin B. Taylor Jr. of Saratoga Springs, NY then a man by the name of Ron Strader, I think, took over. Not sure about the year. Mr. Taylor trained the Army troops at Mt. Rainier for WW II . After the war he started Alpine Meadows Ski Area in Porters Corners, NY with his wife Jo.
|Jim Hallock sent us this scan from the Skidmore Scope Magazine, Spring 2003. It shows Ed Taylor teaching a class at Darrow's in 1953.||
If you have more information on this area just let us know.
Last updated: Nov 12, 2007
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