Friday, December 26, 2008

Down-Mountain and Cross Country: 140 Years of Skiing in Maine

Maine’s skiing history goes back farther than any other New England state. A Mainer wrote America’s first book on skiing. A Maine company built the world’s tallest ski jump and the first chairlift in the East. Two Maine manufacturers were leading producers of skis in the mid-20th century. Two dozen Maine skiers have competed or coached at the Olympics. Maine has hosted five ski, snowboard and biathlon competitions at the World Championship and World Cup level.
These are a few facets of a narrated digital slideshow recently produced by the Ski Museum of Maine. The show, titled “Down-Mountain and Cross-Country: 140 Years of Skiing in Maine,” will be presented Thursday, January 8 from noon to 1 p.m. and again from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Museums of Old York’s Remick Barn, 3 Lindsay Road, York, Maine. For directions, visit their website at
Approximately 130 photos – some more than a century old – have been assembled from the Farmington-based museum’s collections and more than 40 other sources, including the Museums of Old York.
Photos to be presented cover the entire span of skiing in Maine, from the founding of Aroostook County’s Swedish Settlement in 1870 to present-day happenings all over the state. Locations that were historically important to the development of skiing include Aroostook County, Auburn, Bethel, Bridgton, Carrabassett Valley, Farmington, Fryeburg, North Berwick, Portland and York. Competition subjects include ski jumping, cross-country, alpine, freestyle and biathlon.
The story of Big A, the ski area that operated on Mount Agamenticus during the 1960s and 1970s, will be a prominent subject. The 692-foot mountain was proposed as a ski area shortly after World War II. When actually developed during the 1960s, Big A sported a chairlift, T-bar and rope tow. Other local subjects include Hussey Manufacturing Company of North Berwick, which built the first chairlift in the East and the world’s tallest ski jump.
The narrator will be Scott Andrews, a Portland-based ski journalist and director of the Ski Museum of Maine who assembled the photos and performed much of the research.
“Skiing has been part of the Maine way of life since the late 1800s, offering recreation and competition to both residents and visitors,” says Andrews. “The museum’s objective is to feed the passion of Maine skiers and to illustrate the significance of our sport to our state’s lifestyle and economy.”
“Down-Mountain and Cross-Country: 140 Years of Skiing in Maine” is sponsored by the Maine Community Foundation, the Ski Maine Association and the Sugarloaf Mountain Ski Club. It is presented by the Museums of Old York and the York Public Library.
Photo Caption: The building at the top of Mount Agamenticus was once a thriving ski lodge in the 1960s and 1970s. (Courtesy photo)