Spruce Street Tow
Rumford, ME
Lift served 1938-1950

Thanks to Paul Jones, we now know the full history of this lost ski area. Here are his details:

This ski area existed in Rumford for more than thirty years in many forms. For many years it hosted the outstanding winter carnival of the winter season in Maine. It was the precursor to the Scotty's Mountain Ski Area that was developed starting in 1946

The first ski area in Rumford was located along Spruce Street from the Aker’s Lumber Company (next to what was Puiia’s Hardware) to Breau’s Dairy (next to what is now Community Energy). It began with local children’s ski jumps on both sides of the street and a ski slope in the cow field in back of the dairy and bordered by Holyoke Avenue and Spruce Street/Swain Road.

In 1923 the Chisholm Ski Club was organized. They build a natural hill ski jump, toboggan run adjacent to the jump outrun and a quarter acre skating rink with lights and sound equipment for announcements and music in back of The Chevrolet Garage (next to the Rumford Water District building). The major effort by the club with the support of Oxford paper Company provided the facilities needed initiate the Annual Rumford Winter Carnival. The street was also used to run winter horse races in conjunction with the carnival. The Carnival became the major winter outdoor event in Maine up until the early 40's.

In 1926 the club built a tower and increased the jump to a 60 meter hill which was rated as the largest jumping hill east of the Mississippi until a larger hill was built in at Lake Placid for the 1932 Olympic Games. During the early years the interest in cross country skiing increased and a competition trail was developed that was rated as world class. The ski area became the annual site for the State of Maine cross country and Nordic combined championship competition and periodically the Eastern Amateur United States Ski Association competition.

The area was also used for school competitions and recreation which included skiing, skating, tobogganing and snowshoeing. Early cross country, downhill and slalom races were run near the jumping site and later moved to the ski slope in back of the dairy. The flat field below the ski slope was used for short ski, snowshoe and obstacle races.

The ski slope was approximately 300 feet wide and 1200 feet long and had about 200 feet of vertical . At the top of the open slope there was a woods trail that went further up the hill to the left. On the right side, the narrower open slope continued on up a gradual slope for 1000 feet and then went on up a steep open slope for another 1000 feet providing a total of 400 feet of elevation. The distance from top of the steep slope to the base of the ski area was enough to create challenging downhill and slalom courses as well as gentle slopes for recreational skiing. The ski area was conveniently located for the children in town to go to during the week on foot or skis and for family outings on the weekends.

In 1938 the Chisholm Ski Club installed a solid shaft 1200 foot T-Bar ski lift designed by Reidar Christensen,an engineer in the Oxford Paper Company and one of the early promoters of skiing in Rumford. With the support of Oxford paper Company the lift was fabricated in the mill with the help of Finn Sorenson and Mac Macfawn and erected by the Chisholm Ski Club. The slope was also lighted to provide evening skiing. The lift and lights were operated until World War II when gas and power shortages prevented the club from maintaining the services.

Following the war the facilities in back of the Chevrolet Garage were discontinued and the land returned to the Power Company. The jumping tower had deteriorated and collapsed in a February snow storm. The ski slope was reactivated and continued to be used until 1950. By that time all activities had shifted to Scotty’s Mountain on the other side of town in back of where the Mountain Valley High School is now located.

The cross country ski trails remained and the venue was the site of the 1950 FIS World Championship cross country races In addition, the 1952 Olympic cross country tryouts were held on the cross country trails in 1951 and the Olympic team trained for a week on the trails prior to sailing to Oslo in 1952.

In 1950 the lift was sold to either Mr Lou Hall or the town of Andover and established the Lone Mountain Ski Tow in Andover in the south end of town.

There is no evidence of the busy winter sports activities that once took place along Spruce Street for so many years. The cleared areas have returned to forest. The only legacies are the facts that the area was the site of the first organized ski activities in Rumford (the Rumford Outing Club of 1917-18 held their activities in the area), the road leads out to the current ski area (Black Mountain of Maine) and the interest and enthusiasm for the sport of skiing have generated a host of talented skiers that have influenced the sport across the country as well as developing generations of families who have and continue to benefit from this healthy outdoor activity.

If you remember this area and have more info, just let us know.

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