History of the Skiway

(Note: the following historical notes include significant excerpts from the book, Skiway – A Dartmouth Winter Tale, written by Everett W. Wood ’38.)

With its northern New England location and an active Outing Club, Dartmouth College was “the collegiate champion of the outdoor life and winter sports” in the early 1900’s. A number of men skied for the United States in the 1936 Winter Olympics in Germany, an amazing feat given that their local ski hills were what is today the Hanover Country Club.

In April 1955, a report, spearheaded by John Meck ’33 entitled, “Development of Adequate Skiing Facilities for Dartmouth Students in the Hanover Area,” was submitted to the Dartmouth Trustee Planning Committee. The report outlined five basic principles, the first two stating, “Dartmouth has had a preeminence in skiing which has been beneficial and… it is very desirable that this preeminence be maintained… both in terms of competition at the ski team level and of recreational skiing for the student body generally.” The Trustees were sold with the idea.

Holt’s Ledge

The Lyme, NH site for the Skiway was identified, acquired, and in the summer and fall of 1956, Holt’s Ledge was “transformed into the early Skiway. It couldn’t have been done without the help of strong and able people, most of whom lived within sight of the hill.” The first trails to open were named Worden’s Schuss, Lyme Drop, Gauntlet, Sachem, and Green Pastures.  “The major effort and ordeal of the 1956 season was the installation of the Poma lift, which gave the Skiway an uphill capacity of 800 skiers an hour. It was 3,775 feet long with innumerable wheel, cable, tower, platter, and power components.

Another achievement of [that] first season was the speedy completion and inauguration, on March 3, 1957, of the Peter Brundage Lodge… with indoor facilities, spacious observations rooms, circular fireplace, and gracious sun deck.”

Development of Winslow

Skiing on Holt’s Ledge was tremendously popular, but by 1967 was considered, “a costly success… not for lack of snow, but because too many skiers had too little surface to ski on.” John Meck authored another report entitled “Dartmouth Skiway – Completion of Winslow Hill Development” which outlined “two alternatives for trustee consideration: Installation of a lift on Winslow Hill, or installation of snow-making equipment on one or both hills.  Installation of the lift was the preferred solution. A 3,800-foot Italian double chairlift was ordered, delivered, installed, and tested, and four trails were cut, graded, and groomed in an unbelievably short six month.” The first trails were named “Ph.D.,” “M.D.,” M.B.A.,”, “A.B.,” “Cum Laude,” with “Pass/Fail” and “Dropout” for lesser achievers.”

Snowmaking

All seemed well until a series of winters with little snow in the east and knee-deep powder in the west. “In the winter of 1973-74, the Skiway had operated thirty-four days; in 1979-80 exactly four.” With other local mountains installing man-made snowmaking, “it was generally agreed in 1981 that snowmaking was the solution to the Skiway problem.” A memorandum, entitled, “Snowmaking at the Dartmouth Skiway”, was drafted to recommend installation of snowmaking equipment with gifts to be a significant funding source. The Trustees approved the project in 1985, and a special—and successful—fundraising campaign ensued. Equipment was installed by the end of December 1985 and “there followed one hundred days of skiing on perfect snow.” John Morton, head men’s ski coach from 1978-1989 and a two-time Olympic biathlete said, “Not only did [the man-made snow] mean better training, less travel time, and a Dartmouth Carnival at home, but the spirit of excitement and enthusiasm reached back to campus, where students lined up daily for the bus ride to the Skiway.”

Additional snowmaking was incrementally installed over the years with the most recent significant expansion funded by the Herman K. Dupre family. Considered a pioneer in snowmaking, Herman Dupre founded HDK Snowmakers and held 34 U.S. patents for various snowmaking systems and techniques. Herman and his wife “Sis” had 9 daughters, one of whom is Denise Dupre ’80, a former Dartmouth College Trustee and an avid skier. The Skiway trail Herman’s Highway was named after Herman Dupre.

McLane Family Lodge

The original Brundage Lodge started to show its wear and tear after 40+ years of use. Ideas were gathered for the creation of a new lodge which could host Dartmouth’s rousing winter carnivals and the men’s and women’s alpine ski teams, and support recreational skiing of the local community. In 2000 a white-pine timber frame was raised and the post & beam McLane Family Lodge was constructed. The frame was built from local VT and NH forests, and all the tables and benches were construction from wood from the College’s Second College Grant.

 

Trail Names

  • The old Sachem trail on Holt’s Ledge was renamed John Meck ’33 to honor the former vice president and chairman of the investment committee at Dartmouth College who championed development of the Skiway.
  • The Howie Chivers trail is named after Howard Chivers, the first manager of the Dartmouth Skiway from 1956 – 1983.
  • The Ph.D trail was renamed Upper Thomas and Lower Thomas after Lowell Thomas, a journalist, author, filmmaker and broadcaster who was a passionate skier, and would often broadcast his radio shows from ski areas.
  • The original M.B.A trail was renamed Herman’s Highway after Herman Dupre, a pioneer of snowmaking whose family donated significant snowmaking equipment to the Skiway and funded its installation.

Dartmouth’s Passion for Snow clip

 

Passion for Skiing book cover

The book highlights how a passion for skiing has expressed itself in the lives of Dartmouth-connected folks for over 100 years.

Dartmouth ski team logo

Dartmouth Ski Team history