The Tow
White River Junction, VT
Years Operational Unkown

We recently heard from Bob and Maynard Young about a rope tow that once operated in White River Junction!  The elder Young, Maynard, played an instrumental part in the founding of this area!.

According to Bob, this tow was located on the old VA Cutoff Road between Hartford Village and the VA Hospital on Route 5. The hill has now given way to a residential development and a portion of Interstate 89 which runs across the lower part of the former slope!

Here is what Maynard has to share with us regarding the history of this rope tow:
Names of those who were involved in the project were George Bell, Gil Kibby, Rod Akers, a Dr. Godfrey [from the VA Hospital at White River Junction], and myself [Maynard Young]. The old truck engine didn't last long and we all chipped in and bought a Briggs&Stratton gasoline engine to run the tow. There was certainly no official name for it and the kids just called it "The Tow." If anyone wanted to use it, it was free and we accepted anyone who wanted to help with the operation. We would never dare to do such a thing today as we had no insurance and surely today, would be sued if a kid hurt his little finger holding onto the tow. I remember Irv Trombley told us about some wooden light poles that had been abandoned along the Conn River when they were clearing land for what is now the Wilder Dam. We went up there and got about five of them and bound them together and the doctor took a long pole and rode them down the river to a spot where we pulled them out and brought them up to the site. I can't remember how we transported them up there but it was probably from a truck from Kibby Construction. We dug those holes by hand and lugged those babies up hill to make the supports for the wheels for the tow."

Bob also has some great tidbits and memories about the tow in White River Junction:
"The cars parked on the side of the road and we were immediately presented with the "lodge".  Back then (1950, I would guess), the "lodge" was but a wooden hut heated by a wood fired pot bellied stove.  Outside, there was a small porch.  The lodge might have been about 50' x 50' and was one story of course.  We used the stove to dry our water soaked mittens.  I can still smell the steam as it rose when we placed the garments on it to dry.

Outside, the actual ski area was pastureland for the Brown dairy farm. After a short run out, the hill began.  I recall that it ran for several hundred yards up at which point it leveled off at a plateau.  After a brief flat spot, it began to rise but steeper this time.  The first section of the tow (back then it was all rope!) took us to that middle spot.  From there, another section went further up. The tow was powered by an old car or truck engine and it used tire rims positioned atop old telephone poles to support the rope and guide it in it's lengthy circular run.

As I recall, it ran only on weekends since the men who operated it worked during the week and with the hours of daylight in the winter quite short, there would have been no time for afternoon activity.  "Under the lights" was a term not known at that time.
It's where I learned to ski from the age of 5 or 6, perhaps even younger. Our equipment was the old leather and cable bindings.  Skis were long and heavy - all wood and not many had steel edging.  My teacher was a man who later used me and my brothers to demonstrate various techniques to his other pupils.  I think the logic was something like, "if these little tikes can do it, so can you!"  He was great on the slopes as a teacher and as a competitor.  Years before, he explained, he had learned on the backyard hills in Newport, Vt, ski jumping in high school back in the years about 1945 or so and even frequenting Tuckerman's for runs on the Headwall.  But to me, he was more than a teacher.  He made me proud many a time and even till this day.  He was one of the builders of the ski area; I call him Dad."

 Thanks Bob and Maynard!

Does anyone else remember this one? If so, let us know!

Head back to Lost VT Ski Areas

Head back to the Main Page