The Epic History of Stowe Mountain Resort

SKI CAPITAL OF THE EAST STARTED IN A ROUGH OLD LUMBER CAMP

by Brian Lindner

Of the more than 100 trails, two famous ski trails at Stowe are named after visionary men who, more than eight decades ago, saw Mount Mansfield as the ideal location to promote an entirely new industry in Vermont. Another trail is named after the man credited with eventually making Stowe "The Ski Capital of the East" and a fourth is named for the man who helped finance major improvements.

Charlie Lord, in black sweater, with his CCC crew in the winter of 1933/34 while cutting The Bruce on Mount Mansfield. The Bruce was Vermont’s first purpose-cut ski trail. The man with a sandwich second from left in the back is Paul Barquin of Springfield who skied down The Bruce the day it was completed making him the first person to ski down a cut ski trail in Vermont.
(Photo: From the collection of Brian Lindner)

Stowe Mountain Resort had its earliest beginnings in a rough old lumber camp in Ranch Valley to the west of today's Vermont 108 — several miles from today's main resort. The only ski trails remaining near the former site of Ranch Camp are those from the resort's Cross Country Center. All downhill skiing long ago migrated further up the road to where the resort sits today at the south entrance to Smugglers Notch.

Nobody knows exactly when the first skis glided across the winter snow in Stowe but it was almost certainly in the mid to late 1800s. Stowe was a farming and logging community after the Civil War and loggers sometimes traveled through the winter woods on long boards with upturned tips.

Brian Lindner is a member of the Mount Mansfield Ski Patrol and historian for Stowe Mountain Resort.

Read the complete history, including many more old photographs, at the Burlington Free Press