The Epic History of Stowe Mountain Resort


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

Ski Patrol Refresher

My 7th Mt. Mansfield Ski Patrol Refresher ended late this afternoon. It was 2 days of management presentations, medical-skills reviews, lectures, and practicals together with a heavy concentration on lift-evacuation skills and practice.

Saturday Morning

Sunday Morning

Skis & boots we intend to use this season were to be checked and approved today. All equipment had to be signed in prior to our 8:00 a.m. start. My skis are now certified through May 2010.

This exercise mimicked an actual rescue in this same location at the top of Cardiac Hill behind the Mansfield Base Lodge

Oh, and by the way, in his annual state-of-the-resort presentation to the Patrol yesterday morning, SMR's CEO told us that, even with several offers on the table, the sale of the Resort (an AIG asset) is on hold.

Stowe Mountain Resort is now "Officially" for Sale

Is this a surprise? It shouldn't be. After all, AIG was clear, last year, about divesting itself of all non-core businesses. The inference to be drawn from the timing of this announcement and scope of coverage, is, I think, that the Resort is fairly close to be being sold. And, hopefully, to a deep-pocketed and experienced ski-resort operator — and on-mountain real-estate developer. AIG has received a surprising number of unsolicited bids from qualified buyers, spokesman Peter Tulupman said. He declined to state who the potential buyers are or if any are from Vermont. Vail Resorts, perhaps? Last September, RockResorts quietly bought into Stowe with the announcement that it was expanding its luxury property collection to the "heart of the Northeast" with the addition of The Mansfield Inn at Stowe, which "... will be a charming, luxury property that embraces its stunning alpine backdrop." It serves as the perfect entry back into the Northeast for RockResorts." Bet you didn't know that RockResorts, a resort hotel company headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc.

Why "quietly?" Well, a "rockresorts stowe" Google search returns this as the first organic result, a simple press release dated last September 22nd:

RockResorts Returns to the Northeast with the... Sep 22, 2008 ... "We are pleased to be working with RockResorts," said Jeffrey Toporek, principal of Stonewater Partners, Inc. "The Mansfield Inn at Stowe ... - 36k - Cached Similar pages

I wonder why when you click on the headline, the result is, "RockResorts - Page Not Found." And you won't find it if you navigate to the Press Room either. But, if you click on "Cached" – there it is! Are they coming out the back door — and right up the Mountain Road? Vail Resorts perhaps?