Early 1950's - 1980
were two Mt. Tom ski areas...one in Massachusetts and one in Vermont.
Mt. Tom in Vermont was/is located just to the north of town, on Rte 12.
It opened during the early 1950's, and was originally owned by a Maurice
Wood. The area was subsequently sold to the Rockefeller family sometime
in the 1950's/1960's, which own and operate the still open Suicide Six.
Suicide Six and Mt. Tom shared lift tickets.
Here, a ski lesson takes place on Mt. Tom in the 1960's. The parking lot is across the street.
operating with just a few rope tows, Mt. Tom expanded during the late
1950's/early 1960's, adding two Poma lifts on its 500' drop. Several
trails were added thru the 1960's, until the area reached its maximum
size in the early 1970's with 7 trails/slopes.
Here's the trail map from 1963, clearly showing the wide open slopes and scattered trees.
|Unfortunately for Mt. Tom, the owners of Suicide Six needed to consolidate their two ski areas, as it was becoming costly to operate both. A Sno Engineering study recommended closing Mt. Tom and focusing on Suicide Six. Thus, Mt. Tom closed in 1980, as Suicide Six sprouted two new chairlifts.||
On the left you will notice the Terraserver overhead picture of the former lost area. While there was not a large variety of trails and slopes, several tree islands surely made skiing interesting. Compare this to the rather bland topo map above.
|Betsy McDonough and I found this area in April of 2000. As you can see, the slopes are still remarkably clear and mowed.|
A few NELSAP readers remembers this area:
I learned to ski there in the late 50's and had a season pass there in the 60's that let us ski with its sister mountain, Suicide Six.
It was literally walking distance fro Woodstock Center, just north of the Village. My cousin had her weddiing reception in the base lodge one summer which was viewed as exceptionally cool.
Mount Tom was a rope-tow mountain that eventually went to a Poma lift. It never made it to the chair lift era. It closed in the late 70's. Woodstock kids still sled on it constantly.
Steven Wood: I was a Mt. Tom skier as a kid in the 1950's. My family lived in nearby North Hartland and skied regularly at Mt. Tom and Suicide Six. I have very clear memories of sunny spring days at Tom, which was more fun for me than Suicide, because it was more my speed at the time. My folks could leave my sister and me there while they drove over to Pomfret for an afternoon at Suicide and, apparently, have no fear that we'd still be there and skiing when they returned to pack us back into the '55 Chevy BelAire station wagon just before dark. I also remember that they'd leave us with a dollar, just one, which was plenty of money for the 10 cent hot chocolates and 5 cent candy bars and potato chips that we could by there.
On really warm days the big challenge was to see if you could go fast enough near the bottom to make it through the sticky snow and the slush all the way to the lift. I was very proud of usually beating my big sister at this, although I nearly always rode home in wet pants, and she didn't.
Skiing was somehow more fun in the 1950's and 1960's because the crowds were smaller and nobody I knew worried too much about how one looked, how good the snow was or whether kids were safe to be left alone. Of course, I was only a kid. The only thing that matter to me was whether my steel edges would stay on my second-hand skies until the end of the day. But if they didn't, a little wood putty, Elmer's glue and new screws would get you going again by next weekend.
Leah Scholz: I learned to ski at Mount Tom in the early 70's and it will always have a special place in my heart. I remember feeling like we kids owned the place. We were free to ski all day, and I cherished many sunny days on that slope, cutting through trails in the woods with my sisters and brother and various ski buddies. We were taught the distinct ski form of that era by French instructors who insisted that we keep our knees close together, slightly stagger our skis, and "pole plante" before each fluid turn.
I went back to Woodstock a few weeks ago after many years away. I was able to find Mount Tom - now cleverly disguised as a horse farm - because its topography is forever etched in my memory. I cannot remember the name of any slope, but I do recall yelling "go right" or "go left" to the pack up and down the big poma. And the infamous dip at the number 5 pole was a treat! In time, we felt we conquered Mount Tom, and we spent more of our ski days at Suicide Six. Mount Tom was still more fun, though, a place where you could feel more grown up than you really were, where you could be one of the big kids and a hotshot skier with ease. At Mount Tom, I learned not only to ski but to love skiing. Thanks to Mount Tom, skiing was then and will always be for me as much about friends, sunshine, fresh air, and freedom - sheer fun - as about sport.
Deirdre Farley: Seeing your page on Mt. Tom made me very nostalgic. My mother was there the day it opened and all six of us skiied there throughout our childhoods. I don't know how old I was when I first went, but I know I wasn't wearing ski boots. I was wearing red rubber boots and had slinky type bindings on little wooden skis. I was probably 4 or 5 which would have made it 1957 or 58. I would just play at the bottom while my older brother, sister and parents skied. (Back in those days, parents didn't worry about leaving kids while they skied. We knew lots of people and informal "snow play dates" cropped up all the time.)
I remember my first time on the "baby poma" which wasn't very scary, but the first time on the "big poma" I was terrified! The number 5 pole had a dip that meant that the kids were lifted in the air at number 5 which we grew to love, but all the older kids scared the hell out of you for your first trip and, or course I fell and had to be helped down the poma lift trail through the trees by a stranger.
Our favorite part of the day was lunch because we could eat French fries. (This was before McDonalds, and French fries weren't on every corner.) Hot chocolate and French fries were our idea of nirvana. We also would do naughty things like put salt in the sugar shaker, etc.
As we got older, we thought it was more "cool" to go Suicide Six so we gradually stopped going to Mt. Tom as much (although I secretly preferred it and felt more in control of the mountain.)
My uncle, Byron Thomas, painted a wonderful painting of Mt. Tom. A large panorama with lots of people on the mountain. My aunt who still lives in Woodstock has the painting in her house.
Thank you for bringing back these memories. As I type this, I can remember every inch of every trail and I spent many wonderful hours there.
Churchill: I skiied at Mt. Tom from the day it opened (every spare minute
I had, after school, weekends and vacations), until about 1964 when I moved
to Italy to go to school. I eventually married an Italian and am still
here in Italy.
A more detailed summary of Mt. Tom from 1951-1980:
|1951-1952||2 rope tows||Fast slopes||Nearest to village, owned by Maurice Wood||1951-1952 Eastern Ski Guide|
|1962-1964||2 Pomalifts||2 slopes / 4 trails, novice and intermediate||Ski school, snowmaking, snow packer||1962-1964 Eastern Ski Guide|
|1963||2000' Pomalift, 500' novice Poma||2 slopes / two intermediate and two novice trails||Cafeteria, first aid room, sun deck, ski ship||1963 Buxton's Ski Guide|
|1967, 1969||2 Pomalifts||2 slopes / 5 trails, novice and intermediate||Ski school, snowmaking, snow packer||1967, 1969 Eastern Ski Guide|
|1973||2 Pomalifts (900/hour capacity)||7 trails and slopes, novice and intermediate||Area operates daily, snowmaking equipment, ski shop, area restaurant, snack bar, rentals, warming huts, parking for 300 cars. French-American ski technique taught in lessons. Rates - $4.50 adult weekday and $6.00 adult weekend||1973 Ski Guide to the Northeast|
|1976, 1980||2 Pomalifts||7 trails and slopes, novice and intermediate||500' drop, ski school, snowmaking, packer. NE exposure. Area closes in 1980.||1976, 1980 Eastern Ski Guide|
Does anybody else remember skiing here?
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