Lost Ski Areas
Jeremy Davis, founder of the New England Lost Ski Areas Project, and author of "Lost Ski Areas of the White Mountains," has released a second book. "Lost Ski Areas of Southern Vermont" is a 160-page chronicle of the history of some 60 now-defunct Vermont ski resorts, complete with interviews, research and 180 photographs.
There are over 100 abandoned ski resorts in Vermont alone. Davis' books capture a time when outdoor winter recreation was just as much about community as a resort "experience." The ski areas of yesteryear were mom and pop operations that often ran just a few surface lifts, but were plentiful, widespread and down-home enough for parents to simply drive around the bend, pay a couple of dollars and drop their kids for the day. NELSAP research suggests that a combination of factors, including an economic slowdown, larger resort development (including modern, season-extending snowmaking), and shortening winters led to the shuttering of resorts throughout New England.
"Chronicling [the lost resorts] is very important as many of the ski pioneers are sadly passing away. Now is the time to record their memories and stories," says Davis. "This is a unique part of our history and needs to be preserved before it's too late."
NELSAP's work has drawn a dedicated following of skiers who were either brought up on the local hill, or who have relatives who were in that mix. Snowboarders might seem a bit disconnected from the book's main audience, having come of age after most of these ski areas were "lost." But for modern riders on the hunt for offbeat "backcountry" destinations, the book provides fuel for adventure -- and just as important, a deeper context for the history of winter sports in the Green Mountain state.
Anyone seeking to adventure in an abandoned ski area should "always ask permission or make sure the land is available to the public before riding," warns Davis. "Readers have to understand that you need to be very careful -- there are a lot of unmarked hazards at lost ski areas."
The book's account of ski area closures also offers skiers and boarders alike a chance to ponder the future of the sometime-tenuous existence of the modern ski resort.
"Predicting the future is tough, but I'd imagine that some of our current resorts will become 'lost' 70-100 years from now," says Davis. "Particularly some of the medium-sized areas that have marginally operated in the last decade. It all depends on how technology such as snowmaking can improve to counteract any warming/lack of snow that may eventually occur."
Davis says there will definitely be more NELSAP book titles in the future, and includes Northern Vermont, the Berkshires, and the Adirondacks/Upper Hudson Valley in his list of regions he's considering covering. "Lost Ski Areas of the White Mountains" got a great response, even becoming the best-selling non-fiction title at a New Hampshire bookstore.