Montpelier Recreation Department
Before 1969-1975, 1976-Around 1982
Thanks to F. Costello,
we were first alerted of this area that was operated by the city of Montpelier.
Here's what he has to say:
"Montpelier Rope Tow, operated by Rec. Dept. behind Vermont College in in late 70's, cost $ 0.25".
Vermont College is also defunct-it's now part of Norwich University in Northfield, VT.
VT Tramway reports indicate the Vermont College area was open before 1969, and operated until 1975. The area then closed during the 1975-1976 season. Late in 1976, the area reopened, this time run by the Montpelier Recreation Department. The last listing was from 1982, so it probably closed around then.
According to N. Phillips, the area was also called Sabin Pastures.
Thanks to G.
Reynolds, we now know a
little bit more about this area in an email received in July 2002.
"It was on the far slope of the valley behind and to the East of Vermont College. You can find it by going more or less due East from the old main building (where my Grandfather Ernest Grant studied when it was Montpelier Seminary - in 1896). Cross college street, go behind the college building there, poke around a bit and you will find the starting ramp for a 30-40 meter ski jump, buried in bushes.
Down the slope and up the opposite slope was the tow location. The tow ran East up the fall line and the warming hut was to the south of the tow. The engine was a 1937 Plymouth, running in first gear through a regular automobile transmission - a three speed, and it would tow a few people in second and we even experimented with third gear when things were dull and some of our rowdy acquaintances were riding it. SkiIng took place on a single open slope. I would guess the vertical was 200 feet; possibly 300. The slope was quite wide - maybe a couple of hundred yards. It iced up easily and to this day I have little trouble skiing on ice. My only skis both years I worked there were 6'9"(210) Montgomery Wards ridgetop wood skis with no steel edges. I skied from the engine shack to the bottom in one long continuous slide.
The area was run by the Recreation Department on a badly worn shoestring. I don't know who Mr. Sabin was, but someone certainly grazed cows on the land the rest of the year. The rope was donated, I was told, every year by Stowe, it being the previous year's North Slope tow rope. The Rec Department hired two high school students at minimum wage (then fifty cents an hour) to operate the entire ski area. One was mechanically inclined. He got the engine started and kept it running. The other was...well, the other had to have multiple skills. I sold tickets (adults one dollar, kids 50 cents, as I remember), policed the lift line for line-cutting and rowdiness, kept a fire going in the warming hut stove, ski-packed or threw snow in the rope tow ruts, organized packing parties after it snowed, or packed myself, and other duties the engine man couldn't do since he was tied to the top of the hill. On the frequent occasions when some rode through the safety rope, he had to be handy to restart the engine. Each morning of operation the crew of two would bring a toboggan down the Jr. College slope with two car batteries, freshly charged, and ten gallons of gas. There were other items on the sled, but I've forgotten exactly what they were.
I worked there the winters of 1950-1951 and 1951-52, receiving a ten per cent raise (to 55 cents an hour) the second year. Paul Chapman was the engine man the first year. He had worked there the winter before and brought me on to replace the previous man-of-all work. He graduated from Montpelier High School in 1952 and went to Tufts on an NROTC scholarship. The Navy got it's money's worth from Paul, because he served on active duty and in the Reserves for 30 years. I worked in the Pentagon for many years and Captain Chapman used to come by to see me once a year when he did his active duty there. Richard Knight, who was my age and in my class (1953) at Montpelier High School was the engine man the second year. I believe the area was operated after that, but I didn't work there, or ski there, again. I was into skiing at Stowe and worn-out second-hand Kneissls and Kastles by then."
Does anyone else remember this ski area? If so, email us!
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