Lake Luzerne, NY
Late 1930's-unknown, At least 1964
I first heard about this area last year while researching Ski Hickory for a feature on NELSAP in 2001. On Hickory Ski Center's website, Lee Fleming wrote about her mom Fran Winbauer learning to ski at the mountain. Lee gave me directions to this area (only about 25minutes from my apartment), and her mom helped tell me a little bit about it. Fran is one of the founders of Hickory and Lee is her daughter.
About the area: Stone Mountain is located about 2 miles north of Lake Luzerne, along the shores of the Hudson River on River Road. The area was quite a center for winter sports during the late 1930's and early 1940's. A rope tow served a wide, very steep slope and few trails. The following description of the area comes from the 1939 book "Skiing in the East: Ski Trails and How to Get There".
"In the vicinity of the village a variety of acceptable trails are maintained, notably that on Stone Mountain where 3 jumps are located and a tow is operated. A toboggan slide is located on the west slope of Stone Mountain.
Stone Mountain trail starts on Lake George Road and runs cross country, gradually ascending the mountain, then starts a downhill run (2 courses available) to a level shoulder, then a short distance to the edge of a precipitous hill where there are three jumps, a toboggan slide, and several short runs of varying difficulty, ending in open slopes. Rating expert intermediate or expert. Trail is 1.25 miles long, maximum grade of 45 degrees."
Here's the 1939 trail map from that book. While no tow is shown, the area did operate with one.
Stone mountain's tow operated until at least World War II and perhaps afterwards. There is no guidebook that mentions the area after 1940, but based on a conversation with Lee Fleming and Fran Winbauer of Hickory Hill, the area likely did operate until the 1950's.
Laura Whitney has some more information: I just wanted to contribute some further memories of Stone Mountain in Lake Luzerne. I learned to ski there in the early sixties. It was maintained by some of us intrepid high school kids who went to Hadley Luzerne Central School, with considerable assistance from our Superintendent of Schools, Stuart Townsend, Sr. Also, many teachers helped to maintain the slope and the rope tow, and skiied with us every weekend. It was a great experience, and the face of the slope was a real "hair raiser". I have countless wonderful memories of skiing there, and many kids who would otherwise never had the opportunity to ski, did a lot of skiing there. There was a shed with a wood stove to huddle around and warm up to. We all got together and, with supervision, burned off the slope every fall, in preparation for the winter. I graduated in 1964, and don't know how long after that the slope was maintained or used for skiing.
I checked out this area twice - on April 2, 2001 and on October 5, 2001. The first visit was a disaster! Here's why.
2001 in the Lake George region was cold, with lots of snow lingering in
all areas except for low valleys. This was snow we had received in a
March blizzard that dropped 2-3feet on the area.
I arrived at the area on April 2 which was a midweek day. It was near freezing out. I saw the parking lot, and what looked like car tracks. It had what looked like just snow on it. I thought, hey, I'll pull in with my 4 wheel drive jeep so I get off the road. Underneath the snow was a very hard crust. I figured I better turn around and just park on the main road. As I turned around, about 30 feet away from pavement, the jeep crashed thru the ice and into a 2foot deep puddle full of broken ice, mud, and snow. I put it into four wheel drive and tried to get out of there...my tires just spun and spun. I was totally stuck on a back road in the middle of the week, with at least an hour walk to the nearest phone with no cell phone.
I figured the only to get out of there was to try to hitch a ride - something I usually would never do. Thankfully a truck came by in 10 minutes. Real nice local, tried to help get the jeep out, but no luck. He offered to drive me to a garage in Lake Luzerne. I accepted. At the garage, they said they could tow me out, and asked what I was doing there. I said "turning around", and they said "yah right, we now what people your age do around there." Whatever. Just tow my jeep out.
After almost 30-40 minutes of pulling and pushing with tow truck, we got my jeep out. It was covered in mud and I think my tires got damaged, they still seem a bit off since then. It cost me $40 and almost 2 hours of my time.
Moral of story - never park in an unfamiliar area, always carry a cell phone, and bring along cash - you never know when you might need it!
My next visit on October 5, 2001 was much better. It was a warm sunny day. I parked in the lot I had gotten my car stuck in 6 months before - this time it was dry!
The area is a bit strange. Apparently, many people use the hill for archery and target practice because there were targets and shells all over the place. Glad I was wearing bright clothes!
As you can see on the map on the right and picture above, it is one main slope, with a trail or two in the woods. It looks like the tow is on the right hand side of the main slope.
The upper half of the slope is very very steep, rocky, and majorly eroded. It would be very difficult to ski and would be a black diamond due to steepness (not length, its quite short).
||As you can from the top view, the soil surface is rocky and eroded. I believe this is the top of the rope tow line. Parking lot is seen at the bottom.|
|Another view from the top, looking down.||
entrance to the side trail noted on the overhead picture above. Notice
that its eroded too.
After hiking down this trail, I noticed somebody was setting up for target practice at the base. I made sure to get out of there quickly!
It appears that this area is on public land, but if you visit, wear bright clothes, and beware of any hunters.
If you have more information on this area just let us know.
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