According to the Vermont Tramway Reports, Saint Michael's College operated a 310' long Mitey Mite lift (which is a wire rope tow with plastic handles) from before 1969 to 1978. This lift could handle 400 skiers per hour.
Joe Connelly, who is the Nordic Ski and Men's Cross Country coach at St Michael's (since 2000) and raced for St Mike's '83-'87,contacted us with more information:
"I believe SMC operated a small lift and had a jump across Rt 15 to the west of main campus, not to the south. This is the area we generally refer to as "the cornfield". To the south across Rt 15 is heavily wooded and would not be safe for skiing due to severe obstacles. This is the area below the college observatory bounded by Lime Kiln Rd, the railroad tracks, and the Winooski River. I run down there occasionally. The edges of this area would result in a 100'+ drop off to the river or a ~40' dropoff onto the railroad tracks."
I was in the area on Oct 28, 2005, and stopped by the college to try to find it. St. Michael's is essentially flat, but there is a short drop off on campus, across on Rte 15. According to Joe Connelly, this may have been the location for a jump:
"The view in your photo is where I believe the college's jump was. The flat area in the central right side of your photo was where 2 large quarry buildings stood. When I was in school these were abandoned but I climbed inside them many times (very cool metal spiral staircase outside the main building). I have some photos of this building, and photos of campus taken from inside them. From the top floor you were higher than Rt 15, but not as high as the rooftops of campus buildings. This area is now flat (and elevated) because it was filled in 2 or 3 years ago. I can't recall who was doing major excavation at the time, maybe the hospital just northwest of campus. Anyway, I've seen pictures of the jump during competitions from the 40's maybe (?) and the background appears to show Mt Mansfield which makes me suspect this area for the jump. Plus this is about the only area with the runout needed for a jump."
||Nevertheless, there is a spectacular view of Mt. Mansfield from this location. Here it is on October 28, 2005, snowcapped from an early season storm.|
|While on campus, my friend
Scott and I stopped by bookstore, where his sister works. She tried to
find faculty on campus that might know about this area, but
unfortunately, they had all stepped out. We decided to check out the
At the library Steven Burks helped us out, by directing us to old school yearbooks from the late 60's-late 70's. We leafed through them all. There were plenty of pictures of Nordic skiers, downhill racing at Underhill, and a few other skiing photos, but there was no mention of anything on or near campus.
Elizabeth Scott, the college's archivist was contacted thereafter, and she is currently looking into the old area. She sent us this picture which may or may not be related to the ski area. It may be that this picture is Nordic in nature.
Joe Connelly has more information: "I believe the (above) picture you received from Elizabeth Scott is of a narrow "trail" about 3/4 mile from where your first photo was taken. This is on the northeast portion of the cornfield area. There's a remote possibility this photo was taken in another location (noted below) but I'm pretty sure I've got it right. We train down there once a week doing hillbounding. This photo is of the less steep area that we run down to get back to the bottom. The obvious cut where earth has been removed has me a little stumped. Plus it's hard to determine the steepness of the trail from this photo.
If this photo was taken where I think it was then this is the area where I believe the college's lift was. When I was a student I recall remnants of a tow at the top of the hill in this area. We used this area for hillbounding workouts even back then. The 310' length of this lift makes sense for this area because the trail we bound up takes about 50 seconds. Plus it's about the only area anywhere connected to college property that would be reasonable for alpine skiing of any sort. Today the trails have almost completely grown in. The trail in your photo is still there, plus the trail we bound up (super steep and narrow-I can't believe you could ski down it-but maybe). There used to be a trail down the backside but that's all grown in. The liftline cut can be seen if you know where to look (I just pointed it out to one of my skiers last week), but you'd never find it on your own."
We hope to visit the area again and take some more photos.
If you remember this ski area, just let us know.
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