Press-Republican

Local News

February 6, 2010

Vermont Ski Museum doesn't gloss over long history

If you go


Vermont Ski Museum, Old Town Hall, P.O. Box 1511, 1 South Main St., Stowe, VT 05672. Phone: (802) 253-9911.

It's a mobile that rivets your attention when you first enter the Vermont Ski Museum in Stowe.

Not one of those simple mobiles you made in high-school art class, either. Nor one of the type that made Alexander Calder famous. Rather, it's an atrium-filling depiction of 60 years of ski technology.

Hanging from three steel I-beams and slowly rotating throughout the day, the Ski Lift Mobile shows off a range of equipment from a homemade rope tow to a gondola. A venerable T-Bar, a Poma lift, plus single, double, triple and quad chairs demonstrate how getting to the top of a ski trail has become quicker and more comfortable over the years. Visitors should be sure to view the array from the second-floor mezzanine.

SKI HISTORY

There's much more to this museum, which fills an 1818 meeting house that also once served as a firehouse during its journey through village life.

Timelines, one focused on Vermont's contributions to skiing history and another juxtaposing the national and international scenes, provide context. Posters, memorabilia and a treasure trove of artifacts help bring the story to life.

Vermont has become synonymous with the sport of skiing. By 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps saw the potential of ski trails along former lumber roads. Workers envisioned a similar purpose for an 1857 carriage road leading to the Summit House atop Mount Mansfield. Soon after the state's first rope tow, driven by a Model T Ford engine, opened at Woodstock in 1934, Mount Mansfield had one of its own.

That tow, powered by a 1927 Cadillac engine, cost 10 cents a ride, or — don't cry, modern-day skiers — $5 a season.

One interesting artifact is an ingenious nutcracker-like device that allowed skiers to grab the rope while keeping hands free.

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