Westminster School
Simsbury, CT
Late 1950's-Late 1960's, then late 1970's

Thanks to NELSAP reader Bruce Burdett, we first heard of this ski area that operated in Simsbury. Here are the details on this area from him:

"One very small ski area not listed was at Westminster School in Simsbury, Ct. The area was the work of the late Harry Cooke, a standout skier at Dartmouth College in his day and a biology teacher and ski coach at Westminster. Using student labor, he carved a series of four or five trails on a fairly steep but short side of the hilltop campus. At its peak, the area had two rope tows, built and maintained by Mr. Cooke, a main racing trail, warming hut and even a ski jump. For several years, the school hosted ski races there against other schools in the area. I grew up at the school, where my father was a teacher, and remember learning to ski there in the early 1960s. I'm guessing it opened in the late 1950s and closed in the late 1960s. Westminster is located off Route 10 in Simsbury. Incidentally, I was always told that Harry Cooke was the first American ever to do a flip on skis."

David H. Rodney, class of 81 also remember this area: I made my first few sketchy turns at Westminster School's little ski area. My family moved to Connecticut from Honolulu in 1972, and to Westminster School the following year where my father still teaches history. 

Westminster School's ski area closed in the late 60's, and was re-opened in the late 70's for just a few years. Again with the help of a group of students, Scott Berry (also a biology teacher, and a native of Vermont's Mad River Valley) cleared brush, ran one of the two original rope tows off of the left rear wheel of an old station wagon, and during the winter of 1977-78 coached a ski team at Westminster again. The great challenge to operating the ski area that winter was starting the car! One storm of many that season took down the original Hartford Civic Center roof, and there was plenty of snow to pack (side-stepping up the race course . . .) before practice all season. 

When the trails were first cut, the ski area was quite far back in the woods near the eastern edge of the campus. I remember exploring back there with Bruce Burdett's younger brother Doug in the early 70's, and at age nine it seemed quite a hike into the wilderness from his house on the edge of the main campus. There were five trails, short but a few of them quite steep, one with a good sized jump cut at the crest of the hill as Bruce described. In the mid 70's, and then again in the early 90's, soccer fields were cleared right to the edge of the hill to the east of the main campus. The top of what's left of the ski area is now just a few yards into the trees near the school's observatory at the edge of one of those fields. The bottom of the ski area was in a deep little hollow at the edge of the school's property. Just a few years ago another large athletic field expansion (progress, eh?) moved the school's tennis courts down into that hollow. The long-neglected little ski area is now pretty well surrounded by civilization and not very well hidden anymore. The trails and rope tow lines are still there, though a bit overgrown - most of the hill is too steep to build anything on!

An aerial shot of the area.

Any other readers attend this school and remember skiing here?

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