Norseman's Hill
Bolton, MA

A sign for the "Ski Tow" at Norseman's Hill, 1950's.

Thanks to Neal Estano who contacted us about this lost area in Bolton! This was an early rope tow/ski jump area that was owned and operated by his grandfather, Donald Erickson. His mother and Donald's daughter, Gail (Erickson) Estano, wrote up the following article on the history of this area. All following pictures are courtesy of the Estano family and can not be used for any commercial purpose, thanks.

Also, Dick Kenyon met with Gail and was able to get some additional pictures which are found below. 

"The Norseman's Hill Ski Area was a dream come true for Donald Erickson, having deep Scandinavian roots, his parents, Swedish immigrants and two siblings born in that country. He began his ski jumping career in his early 20's which fueled his desire to own a ski jump.

Skiers gather at the base of Norseman's Hill, 1950's.

Another view of the base area, showing the intersection of Rte 110 and 117. This picture is taken from the ski jump, 1950's.

This dream was realized in 1948 when a tract of 100 acres came available for sale in Bolton, Mass at the junction of Route 110 and 117. He almost single handed cut and cleared three downhill slopes, the jump slope and constructed the jump itself. There were a few friends to help him in their spare time and weekends. The project consumed more than two years of hard labor---- a labor of love for the sport.
He devised a "rope tow" from an old truck engine for moving skiers to the top of the slopes. A skier took hold of the rope with the right hand and grabbed the rope from behind with the left hand. In no time you would be at the top, ready for your next run downhill. Rather primitive in today's ski world. And it sure did wear out a pair of gloves in a day!

Don Erickson

More of the jump.

Another innovative design was a "snow making machine" to snow cover the jump trestle in the event of sparse natural snowfall which was often during three consecutive winters in the early 1950's. This "machine" sprayed water on the slope in freezing temperatures. As the spray hit the ground, ice crystals formed. Those icy ski conditions were not ideal but better than the alternative.
The trees cut to clear the slopes, became the boards and timbers for the jump trestle, milled locally in Bolton, Ma. at Bud Zink's Saw Mill.

Preparing the jump.

Programs for the area, provided by Gail Erickson to Dick Kenyon. Click on each for the larger version.

Not wanting to omit any names of the folks kind enough to help, I will say he was most grateful to all the helping hands of family and friends who joined in this huge project. Also on the same note, several people assisted financially, as they, too, were avid skiers and eager to the see the success of this project and to have an operating ski slope and jump locally. Skiing in the 1950's was not as popular as it is today.
Interest in forming a Ski Club grew in a short time, thus the "Bolton Ski Club" was born. Several members from the Gardner Ski Club, Lancaster Ski Club, Scandinavian Ski Club of Worcester, Ma, the Brattleboro Vt Ski Club, Lake Placid Ski Club and Lebanon Ski Club joined forces and added to the "work force" in leisure hours. They later became sanctioned by the US Eastern Amateur Ski Association.

A ski jumper soars through the air. Note the huge crowds!

Gail Erickson's membership card, provided to Dick Kenyon.

Strand Mikkelsen of Strands Ski Shop in Worcester Mass. was a loyal supporter. I believe the shop continues today by Strands son or Grandson. Other loyal workers and supporters that I recall were, Kai Rasmusen, Ernie Melanson, Rus Griswold, Ralph Bailey, Kendall Gifford and Vernon Collins to name a few and still stand out 56 years later."

One last view of the base area.
A ski ticket from the area, provided from Gail Erickson to Dick Kenyon.

Dick was able to get this newspaper article showing a trail map of sorts from Gail - notice that there was three trails along the jump. The ski jump was not pictured.

We're glad to add this area to our site!

Neal continues with some more information about the current state of the area:

Bolton Orchards (apple business) is currently at the location. I lived near the site until 1977- at that time there were still some remnants of the ski jump and some pulleys for the rope tow and some trails were still discernable. The rope tow was powered by a Ford pickup truck! According to my mom the business went bust in part due to warm weather and no snow.

I went to Google Earth and have a saved image (above) on the location. The buildings near the intersection is Bolton Orchard Farm stand, the largest building is a warehouse for storing apple crates (at least it was when I was a kid there). The ski jump was just below (south) of that building. There are a lot of pine trees on the hill where the trails were then you can see a little break (between the dense trees and the road) which is the exact location of the jump itself.

To the right is the Google Earth shot of the area.

Dick Kenyon took a picture of the area from February 2005:

"I have attached a photo of Norseman's Hill taken by me this February.

The "arrow" marks the approximate location of the ski jump. The building in the right corner is part of the Bolton Orchards complex. The view is across Route 117 towards the hill looking south west. The town of Bolton is to the left."


If you have more information on this area just let us know.

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