Fond Memories of the Hogback Ski Area
By Bruce Cole
It was during the late 50's when, as students of nearby Marlboro College, Barbara and I became acquainted with the Hogback Mountain Ski Area. We were able to ski free of charge if we would spend a few hours side-stepping up and down the slopes - the original "groomers"! There was a single rope tow, a Poma lift and a T-bar servicing the slopes. All snow making was done by Mother Nature. Over the next 25 years starting the day after Christmas (for this was a family holiday), the Hamilton, White and Douglas families would start the lifts and we were ready to go. The season usually lasted until Town Meeting Day when all kids could ski for free. During these years every Marlboro elementary school was given free equipment, skiing and lessons on Monday afternoons. Life-long love of skiing was developed here and many entered the world of skiing in many capacities.
Hogback had a Buddy Werner League every Saturday which developed aspiring racers, hosted the Southern Vermont racing team and the Brattleboro Outing Club on weekends. Many families looked forward to the annual Easter Costume Parade, whose prize was a family season pass, which at that time was $150!! The list of skiers who had their start at Hogback is long and devoted.
Our family would grow over the years, from the original two of us, to include five children. Usually the children were on skis as soon as they could stand up! Arnold White was always willing to watch the current youngest member sleeping in a basket in the ski shop and would signal from the window when the baby woke. Hogback was truly a family ski area. Living two miles west of Hogback, we spent weekends and vacations there and felt perfectly comfortable dropping the children off after school. Our children are still involved in skiing, some for pleasure and others in the industry. Throughout the generosity and the love of community, the White, Hamilton and Douglas families provided a truly wonderful resource.........B.C.
For more history of Hogback, and for the history of 607 other New England ski areas that are no longer operating, check out the web site of the New England Lost Ski Areas Project. A "lost" ski area is one that is no longer operating. Most of the lost areas in New England were local or neighborhood hills, often with just a single rope tow. Some of these former areas have truly been lost - the lifts dismantled and the slopes grown over with forest, so that today no one remembers exactly where they were. The Hogback Ski Area is no longer operating, but it isn't lost! In the southern part of the Conservation Area you can still see three of the lifts and many of the small buildings that were part of the ski area infrastructure as you hike or ski or snowshoe the trails.
New England Lost Ski Area Project
Then and Now
The 1948 photograph is from the UVM Landscape Change Program website. The 2014 photo was reproduced by Diana Todd, Hal Himmelstein, and Staley McDermet in January, 2014. No, that's not the original "Hot Drinks" sign - it's a cardboard mock-up made just for the photo.
1950's era placemat from the Skyline Restaurant
Marcia Hamilton tells us, "The ski patrol hut was commonly called the Castle back in the day. It was used as a warming hut for the ski patrolers who patrolled all over the mountain all day. It was also used by a specific lift operator who used a radio and could have the lift stopped if someone fell along the track in view of the Castle. The same type of person would be at the bottom looking up the lift lines but the bottom person could not get a clear view of the top of the lifts. Little toboggan huts were constructed, one at the Castle, to house toboggans that would be used to retrieve injured skiers. The injured skiers would be attended on the slope and taken to the first aid room at the bottom of the Great White Way. From there they would be assessed and taken, if necessary, to Brattleboro hospital to set a broken bone."