Various development projects as well as changing owners are among the highlights of Mount Snow’s sixty years of successful business.
By Evan Johnson
Photos courtesy Mount Snow
West Dover — It’s amazing how time flies. This winter, Mount Snow Resort celebrates 60 years with highlights including one of the first snowboard parks in the country, water geysers, two winter X Games, a close call with a nuclear explosion and the first six-pack bubble chair.
Kelly Pawlak, Mount Snow Resort’s General Manager, still remembers her early days working at the mountain. Pawlak started at Mount Snow in 1985 after graduating from college, when she moved to the area for the “ski-bum” lifestyle. On one of her first days working at the resort, she watched Mount Snow’s signature clocktower building – which previously housed the gondola – rolling across the base area to its current location where it houses offices, a daycare center, ticketing offices, tuning shop and rental fleet.
Since starting, she’s seen the mountain undergo a number of developments from new lifts to new owners. The resort has constructed the Grand Summit Hotel and developed neighboring Carinthia into an all-park area.
However, Pawlak maintains that much of the mountain’s 83 trails still maintain its original feel.
“A lot has changed,” she says, “but then again, much of the trails still ski the same way.”
Here’s a timeline of some of the highlights on Mount Snow’s 60 years.
May 1, 1953
Walter Schoenknecht, an ex-Marine and owner of Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall, Conn. and Brodie Mountain, in New Ashford, Ma. buys land at the base of Mount Pisgah from the family of Reuben Snow, a local farmer. Snow’s name is used in naming the resort.
December 12, 1954
Mount Snow officially opens with a base lodge, two, chain-driven double chairlifts and two ropetows accessing the first seven trails. The next year would bring a 3,800-foot chairlift
Mount Snow continues expansion with 32 trails, including the advanced North Face area.
Walter Stugger, Mount Snow’s first certified ski instructor, opens Carinthia Ski Area. The area is maintained with one surface lift.
Schoenknecht approaches the United States Atomic Energy Commission with a proposal to use an underground nuclear bomb create more vertical feet with the crater left by the explosion. The proposal is promptly denied.
Due to poor winter snow and mounting energy costs, Mount Snow files for bankruptcy and after a series of mergers is owned by the First Wisconsin Bank.
Killington founder Preston Leete Smith, buys Mount Snow as part of a new venture called S-K-I Ltd. Triple chairs are installed on the main and north faces of the mountain, snowmaking is added to almost 30 trails and a new summit lodge, replacing one destroyed in a 1969 fire.
Mount Snow expands to absorb Carinthia with its 14 trails, three lifts and base lodge.
October 15, 1987
Walter Schoenknecht passes away. His awards include the 1978 Sherman Adams Award, presented someone from the East Coast for significant contributions to the ski industry. Schoenknecht was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame that year.
Haystack Mountain files for bankruptcy. Mount Snow signs a lease to begin operating the area, connecting it via a bus route.
December 12, 1994
Mount Snow celebrates 40 years with historical displays, $19.54 lift tickets and a documentary titled “Tales from the Mountain.”
The American Skiing Company, which includes Sunday River in Maine, Attitash and Mount Cranmore in New Hampshire, and Sugarbush in Vermont, acquires the assets of S-K-I including Mount Snow, Haystack and Killington.
February 23, 1998
Mount Snow’s Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Center opens to the public
Mount Snow hosts the Winter X Games for two years in a row. More than 350 international athletes compete in ten events, drawing more spectators than all other Winter X Games combined. The Games are broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, reaching a worldwide audience of more than 20 million viewers in 140 countries.
February 10, 2002
Local snowboarder Kelly Clark, from West Dover claims the gold medal in the women’s halfpipe at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Clark, then 18, was the first athlete from Mount Snow to win an Olympic medal.
December 12, 2004
Mount Snow turns 50. For the “golden anniversary,” every number 50 chair on all lifts is painted gold.
American Ski Company sells Mount Snow and Attitash to Peak Resorts for $73.5 million. Mount Snow becomes the largest in a family of 11 resorts including Wildcat and Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire, Snow Creek in Missouri, Mad River Mountain in Ohio and others.
Peak Resorts spends $6 million in capital improvements at Mount Snow before the start of the 2007 – 2008 season. In addition to $3.5 million in expanded snowmaking, the base lodge and clocktower get a makeover.
Mount Snow announces plans to develop Carinthia area into the first mountain face dedicated to terrain parks in New England.
January 7 – 10, 2009
Mount Snow hosts the first ever Winter Dew Tour. The field of pros includes Olympic medalists Shaun White, Hannah Teter and Mount Snow’s own Kelly Clark competing in superpipe and slopestyle competitions at the new Carinthia area. The Dew Tour would return to Mount Snow the following winter for the tour’s final stop.
February 7 – 23, 2014
A number of athletes with strong connections to Mount Snow represent Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Devin Logan, who grew up skiing at Mount Snow and attended Mount Snow Academy as well as the Mount Snow Competitions Program, brought home the silver medal in the Olympic Games debut of women’s ski slopestyle. West Dover native Kelly Clark added another Olympic medal by winning bronze in women’s snowboard halfpipe. Carinthia pro team athlete and top-ranked AFP slopestyle skier Nick Goepper took home bronze in men’s ski slopestyle. Mount Snow Academy alum Eliza Outtrim made it to the finals in women’s moguls, finishing 6th.
In honor of Olympic silver medalist, Devin Logan, the Mount Snow area celebrates “Devin Day” with a parade through West Dover and a ceremony at the Main Base Area. The area is renamed “Mount Logan” for the day and a local burger restaurant begins featuring the new “Devin Burger” on the menu with two patties, jalapenos, Vermont cheddar and bacon.
Mount Snow is approved for federal EB-5 status. The resort hopes to attract $52 million to fund expansions for a new snowmaking reservoir and a new base lodge at Carinthia.
Snowmaking enhancements continue at Mount Snow with the arrival of 645 brand new low-energy snow guns; the largest single snow gun upgrade in the resort’s history and converting the entire snowmaking fleet to low-energy. A state-of-the-art snowmaking control system, called Smart Snow, the same one used for the snowmaking operation at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, is installed. Thousands more feet of snowmaking pipe have been replaced and a number of trails have been electrified so high output fan guns can be operated on them.
December 12, 2014
Mount Snow celebrates Founder’s Day and for the sixtieth year – the “diamond anniversary” the mountain celebrates with an entire weekend of activities. This December will feature historical displays, live music and 1954-priced lift tickets available for advance purchase.