When we think of pioneers, we most often imagine explorers landing on the shores of rivers in canoes with newly befriended natives or trekking endless miles on the prairie to discover the geography of the land and determine the best locations to settle and build a community. But just as we have expanded our territory and spheres of influence, so have we expanded the territory of pioneers.
Pioneers do not merely develop the territory, they develop the activities, the interests, the technology and the original ideas that lend a unique atmosphere and appeal to their community. This area is often called “The Snow Capital of the East”. People from around the world anxiously await the shift in season that brings a soft blanket of snow and the experience of navigating the white hills with precision, speed and the elation of freedom.
If you are a skier, from the moment you embark on the lifts to the moment you make landing at the top of the hill, each fluid motion continues the story of the initial vision of pioneers who, in the instant of a spark of imagination, began to see the realm of possibility and dared to pursue their visions.
The Vermont Ski Museum, located at 1 South Main in Stowe, is a unique time capsule. It captures history and the minds of those who contributed their visions to the making of Stowe. Here is an overview taken from the Vermont Ski Museum Website:
- Since the 1850s, Stowe and Mt. Mansfield had been a tourist destination. Summer visitors traveled up the Toll Road to the Summit Hotel.
- Craig O. Burt of the C. E. and F. O. Burt Logging Company recognized a growing interest among the local population for ski jumping and racing. He developed existing logging roads in the Ranch Valley into downhill runs.
- During the Depression, Perry Merrill, Vermont State Forester, hired unemployed men to work in the Civilian Conservation Corps to cut ski trails, to build roads, and to increase access to Mt. Mansfield State Land. Merrill hired Charlie Lord, an early explorer of Mt. Mansfield, to oversee the work.
- Outdoor enthusiasts such as Roland Palmedo of the Amateur Ski Club of New York reinforced the notion that flatlanders would come to ski.
- An Austrian ski instructor named Sepp Ruschp came to Stowe, and later with the financial support of investors such as C.V. Starr, stimulated the expansion of the area into the Ski Capital of the East.
The rest is history. Lifts were built; ski patrol developed; races were held; local racers became champions. Stowe continues to nourish new generations of winter sports lovers.
75 Years of Lift Technology, Vermont’s Nordic Traditions, VT and the 10th Mountain Division and How Vermont Shaped Snowboarding are just a few of the themes on display and proof that Skiing is an important part of life here.
It is snowing.
The Vermont Ski Museum is also on Facebook.