Retreat Tow
Bart's Tow
North Sherburne (now Killington), VT

The Retreat Tow (also known as Bart's Tow) was a brief ski area that operated in Norrth Sherburne near Killington, VT. Claus A. Bartenstein was the founder of the area, and had always dreamed of opening up a ski area. In 1947 he started clearing the hill just above Route 100, and opened the area then. The rope tow was 600' long, and served six slopes and trails, including the 1200' long Christmas Tree Alley.  The Retreat Lodge had bunking space for 30 guests. A station wagon helped carry skiers from Rutland to the ski area and back each day.

The area closed in 1950, when the tow was sold to Pico.

(Right - a trail map of the area, late 1940's, thanks to Richard Walsh, who received the image from Anne Marie. Click on map for larger version)


NELSAP heard from the Bartenstein family, including the sons of the founder, Claus P. and Michael. Both share with us their extensive memories below:

Clause P. Bartenstein: My name is Claus P. Bartenstein, and I am the son of the builder and proprietor of "The Retreat Ski Area", which was located at the top of what is now called "Bart's Hill Road" as my father was called Bart by all the residents of Sherburne, Vt., and all his friends.  Retreat Tow and Bart's Tow are one and the same, just different names.  It was always called The Retreat Ski Area by the family.  He was by profession a mechanical engineer, having immigrated from Friebug, Germany in 1928 and finally settling in North Sherburne (Killington) in 1946.  He and my mother ran The Retreat Resort, later The Circle B Camp, and finally Grindelwald Guest Haus, on the Elbow Road directly across Route 100 from where Bart's Hill Road is now.

(Left, the Retreat Lodge, from Richard Walsh who received it from Anne Marie)


My father, Claus A. Bartenstein dreamed of having his own ski area, and was a good friend of Brad Mead and Carl Acker, owners of Pico Ski Area.   In 1947 my father started clearing the mountain just above Route 100 (Bart's Hill Road was the walk way from the parking area and became a road of the town after my parents started selling building lots on the hill where the ski area had been.)  I was 12 years old in 1947 and helped my father clear the area and build the ski tow.
My father, Claus A. Bartenstein, was also an accomplished artist and taught painting classes in Rutland.  He was selectman of the town of Sherburne for many years and also a charter member of the Sherburne Volunteer Fire Department.
He then purchased a Ford Model A engine and transmission.  He then designed and built a stand for the engine and transmission along with a system of pulleys.  These were mounted on a cement base and a "tow house" with a warming hut built around it.  It was a rope tow utilizing a one (1) inch rope, telephone type poles with automobile wheels as pulleys mounted on the poles. Later on lights were installed for night skiing.  The cost for skiing at the Retreat Ski Area was $1 a day.  My brother and I both learned to ski on this hill and wore out innumerable pairs of mittens on the rope tow. 
When the Korean War broke out in 1950 my father returned to engineering and the equipment was sold to Pico Ski Area where it was used for many more years
Michael F. Bartenstein: I am Michael F. Bartenstein and I also learned to ski at the age of six on my Dad's rope tow. I can remember being so small, I had to hang in the air from the rope as some of the valleys in the tow track were deeper than my height. The tow was so popular with the local people from Rutland, skiers would aim their car lights at the hill so they could night ski. I have been skiing 57 years since then as well as competitive racing and still run into people who remember "Bart's Hill".
Our family has very fond memories of growing up in "virgin" ski country and would welcome any correspondence from those interested in early Vermont skiing.

(Michael can be contacted at

An article on the area from the Rutland Herald, December 27, 1946. Click on it for the larger version. From Richard Walsh, who received it from Anne Marie.

A few other NELSAP readers remember this area:

P. Linnemayr:  The Retreat Tow in North Sherburne (now Killington) I believe was owned by Claus Bartenstein, a German expatriate who settled in that area during the 1940's.

Thanks to David Partridge, volunteer at the Vermont Ski Museum, we now know of this area that operated near what is now the Killington base road. Here are his details:

"I skied at Bart's Tow which was located near where the "Welcome to Killington" sign is in North Sherburne. There is currently a Bart's Hill Road there and the tow was in that area. I remember it as the craziest tow that I ever was on. You started out normally, but soon found the rope way over your head followed by the crest that ground your knuckles into the snow, and the suddenly the top pulleys. Best be quick to get off!"

Anybody else remember this one?

Last updated: February 6, 2007

Head back to Lost Vermont Ski Areas

Head back to the Main Page