Web site lists "lost" ski areas

03/10/08 10:29AM By Jane Lindholm
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(HOST) Gone are the days when skiing in Vermont was just about flying down a steep hill on a clear, cold day. It's now a billion dollar industry in this state alone, with resorts and spas and high class restaurants. But the small mom-and-pop ski areas of yesteryear are not being forgotten. VPR's Jane Lindholm explains.

(Lindholm) When Mount Whittier ski area in northern New Hampshire closed in 1985, all of its equipment stayed behind. Its gondola and towers were left to the elements, decaying where they were abandoned.

Jeremy Davis came upon this New England equivalent of a ghost town as a child on a family trip, and it stuck in his mind.

So for the past nine years he's been dedicated to finding all of New England's lost ski areas through a website he created.

(Davis) "In New England we have found, so far 588. And in Vermont we have 113 ski areas on the site. We think the total will be closer to 125 to 130. That's quite a lot, especially when you consider there's only about two dozen or so ski areas still operating in the state."

(Lindholm) Davis has been described as a ski archaeologist. He researches history, looks at aerial photographs, and follows up on e-mails from people who have stumbled onto his site. And he tries to visit as many lost ski areas as he can.

(Davis) "It can be exciting if you've done the research on the area and people have told you about it, to say, ‘Oh, there it is! I can see the trails in the woods.' Or, `Look, there's the rope tow all grown in.' But then there's a sense of sadness, too, especially if I have pictures from when it was operating. It's kind of sad to see these areas that were thriving with lots of families and people really having a good time and enjoying the area, and now today where it's turned back to woods in some cases.''

(Lindholm) But he's tracked down people who remember most of these ski areas-even ones that closed in the 1930s. And he includes their fond memories and photos as well as the history of each ski area on his website. Many of these were small, community-run areas that operated in the era before big resorts and artificial snow-making.

(Davis) "After World War II you had a lot of 10th Mountain Division troops -- soldiers that had served in that and had been involved in skiing across the Alps and a lot of Europe -- decided they wanted to stay in skiing. In New England a lot of resorts, open and closed, owe a lot to the 10th Mountain Division."

(Lindholm) Now, some of the areas that Davis has researched are beginning to reopen. And all of them will live in posterity that once were lost and now are found. For VPR news, I'm Jane Lindholm.

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New England Lost Ski Areas Project
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