Potato Patch
Pageant Hill
Meriden, NH
c1936-Late 1940's

The Potato Patch, also known as Pageant Hill, was operated by the Kimball Union Academy from the mid 1930's to the late 1940's. According to Lombard Rice, the school grew much of their own food, although where the potatoes were grown the soil was poor. However, it was great for skiing!

Lombard Rice sent us an article on skiing at KUA, that was written by Dr. Patricia Pierce Erikson in the KUA Magazine, Spring, 2001. She had interviewed Ira Peabody Townsend, who graduated from the school in 1938. Ira noted that "The first rope tow was all the result of a teacher at school named Pappy (Wayland) Porter...Pappy Porter hooked onto a Pierce Arrow automobile that KUA had retired. It probably had belonged to Mr. Brewster. That was in '36 or '37. We very cleverly put a couple of wheels back of the cab and wrapped the rope in such a manner that it went up the hill over sheaves and all. We had a rope tow and it was on Potato Patch. And it went for years and years and years. It was still going strong in the forties, I think when we decided we needed a better hill".

(On the right is a somewhat grainy picture, sent to us by Dave Hilton, of what appears to be the Potato Patch ski area).

Phil Cooke also remembers this lost area. Here are his details:

"I graduated from Kimball Union Academy in 1950. When I arrived in 1946, there was a ski tow on what we called the Potato Patch. This tow got lost soon after the more extensive ski area was put up by the school at Frenche's Ledges."

Phil was able to contact Jane Fielder, the archivist at Kimball Union, who provided him with two pictures from their archives. They are shown below, with descriptions:

January or February 1941. Students riding Pierce Arrow Powered Rope Tow. Photo by Edwin "Rocky" Rockwell Jr. Was class of 1941, and one of constructors of tow.
January or February 1941. Headmaster William Brewster's 1926 Pierce Arrow Touring Car powers Potato Patch Hill Ski Tow. Master Wayland Porter closest to Pierce Arrow with back to camera. Mr. Designed and supervised construction of tow. Photo by Edwin "Rocky" Rockwell Jr, KUA Class of 1941, and one of constructors of tow.

Jane Fielder, the archivist at the Kimball Union Academy, tells us that the Potato Patch was also known as Pageant Hill. The physics teacher, Wayland Porter, devised the rope tow lift and built it with the help of some of the boys and the headmaster's old Pierce Arrow touring car as the power that pulled the rope and "could deliver boys at the top of a six hundred foot slope at the rate of twenty per minute." This was done in the early 1940s.

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

Last updated: Jan 3, 2007

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