Maine Top Ski Tow

Augusta, Maine

Thanks to Todd Patenaude for writing up this excellent story on this lost area in Maine. Here is the full scoop on this lost area.

Maine Top Ski Tow was owned and operated by two sisters Cecile Patenaude Morin and Therese Patenaude  Rodrigue from 1951 to 1955.  They got interested in skiing when their brother Robert Patenaude returned from the service where he was a ski trooper in the 10th Mountain Division during WWII.  Hi Point Tow ski hill in the North Augusta, which was run by the Abenaki Ski & Outing Club, closed in 1950.  The Club managed to convince Cecile and Therese’s father Wilfred Patenaude that his farmland on River Street would be great for a new local ski area. 

Entrepreneurs Cecile Patenaude Morin, Therese Patenaude Rodrigue

Abenaki Ski Club giving free Saturday morning lessons to the local children

It was only a 300' hill, but the Abenaki ski club would give free skiing lessons on Saturday morning, and all the kids from Sand Hill and the rest of the City would be there. 

 Gloria Morrissette and Cecile Morin worked in the warm up shack selling hot cocoa, coffee, donuts, candy bars, and nabs

L-R Therese Patenaude Rodrigue, Cecile Patenaude Morin, Julia Patenaude Fontaine, Glo Morissette

Serving hot chocolate to cold skiers.

Therese Patenaude Rodrigue and Al Fontaine would run the tow.  Al Fontaine was a big help in keeping the motor maintained and filled with gas.  He was an avid skier and spent allot of his free time helping.  It was there that he meet his wife Julia Patenaude who was a sister to the owners. They were open on Saturdays, Sundays and during school vacations.

They also had three posts with spotlights for night skiing, which they offered from 6-9 every night.  The charge was  .25 for children and .50 for adults

Al Fontaine, member of the Abenaki ski club

Therese Patenaude Rodrigue showing the proper way to grab the rope. One hand in front and the other grabbing the rope  behind you.  This gave balance when being pulled up.

The ski tow equipment had a Red Seal Continental motor and the Sheaves and pulleys were purchased at Mosher Machine Shop in Gardiner. The rope used was a one-inch hemp rope that would stretch from usage. In the beginning of each season they needed a skilled person to cut and splice the rope.  The paper companies used a lot of ropes in their mills to run some of their machinery.   So each season Maine Top Ski hired such a worker from Hudson Paper Mill in Augusta to shorten the tow. He would first cut the rope, take out the unneeded extra, and unravel about three feet from each end.  Then take the 5 or so strands from each end and weave them back together.  He had such expertise in his skill that you would not be able to tell where the rope was spliced back together.

Therese Patenaude Rodrigue and Glo Morrissette on top of the tow cable

The ski slope was facing south which allowed only 6-7 weeks of favorable skiing a year.  This was the reason the Maine Top Ski Tow was not able to make a profit and was eventually closed. They sold all the equipment to Spruce Mountain Ski Club in Jay late in the 1950's.

View looking down the ski slope, barn is still standing today.  Warm up shack on the left is gone.

Theresa Patenaude Rodrigue

Glo Morrissette getting ready to ski.

Eleanor Clark and Glo Morrissette taking a break

The line to the ski tow for the ride up.

Therese having her cup of coffee before starting the towing motor.

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