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New England's Alpine CCC Ski Trails
Mt. Mansfield
Stowe, Vermont
The CCC crew at the Ranch Camp
The CCC crew at the Ranch Camp
Overview
Not long after the establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps, Mt. Mansfield was targeted for recreational development. Ski trail development was overseen by Charlie Lord and Perry Merrill.

In 1932, Craig Burt convverted a logging camp into the Ranch Camp, which became the base of the CCC and later skiing.

The Bruce Trail was cut in 1933, followed by the Nose Dive in 1934.

By 1937, there over 40 miles of ski trails on the mountain.

In 1940, the first chairlift was installed on Mt. Mansfield. The Stowe ski area would develop into one of the largest in the Northeast, incorporating some of the most popular CCC trails.

Trails on Mt. Mansfield
Location map Bruce Trail - Open
The Bruce Trail was cut by the CCC in 1933 and was the site of the first Mt. Mansfield ski race in February of 1934. Located on the south face of Mt. Mansfield, the trail did not become part of the Stowe ski area, as it ended at the Ranch Camp to the south of the future ski resort. The trail is noted for its unique Elevator Shaft section.

Nose Dive Trail - Open
Originally known as the Barnes Trail, the Nose Dive Trail was cut by the CCC in 1934 and 1935 and quickly became a world class race trail. Intially descending from the top of the Nose, the start of the trail was later moved a bit downhill, and later truncated to start near the top of the quad chairlift. The trail would eventually be incorporated into the Stowe ski area. The trail was drastically altered in 1965, when the 7 sharp turns were reduced to 3 after significant clearing and bulldozing.

Lord Trail - Open
The Lord Trail was named after developer Charlie Lord. The first trail on Mt. Mansfield to be built with the help of dynamite, the Lord Trail is now part of the Stowe ski area.

Perry Merrill - Open
The Perry Merrill Trail was named after the Vermont forester involved with the development of the Mt. Mansfield ski trails. The trail is now part of the Stowe ski area.

S-53
The S-53 Trail was designed around 1940 by Charlie Lord and named after his CCC camp.

Teardrop Trail - Open
The Teardrop Trail was cut on the west side of Mt. Mansfield in 1937. It originally ran from the top of the Nose via the Nose Dive down to Underhill. The name was derived from the tears what would develop in skiers' eyes from its speed.



Quotes
The Nose-Dive Trail (L), 7.5 m., is a sporty ski-run that swoops down Mansfield from the Nose and is temporarily climbed with the Long Trail, which crosses the road at this point. The downhill race of the championship meet of the Eastern Ski Association of America was held on this run in 1937, a distinction that could not be added to unless it should be chosen for the downhill run of the next international Olympics to be held in this country.
Vermont: A Guide to the Green Mountain State, 1937, p. 262


Mt. Mansfield's Nose Dive Trail at Stowe, Vt. has undergone major surgery. The Racing Start, used primarily for major downhill races has been banked; the infamous Seven Turns has dwindled to three wide "S" turns; and the Upper Schuss, Shambles, and Lower Shuss at the mercy of bulldozers have lost their teeth and no longer considered sections to approach with caution. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Dot Birmingham and Walt Pesko , 1965


The Bruce Trail starts with a bang: a seven-foot-wide pipeline plunges straight downhill for about 80 feet, then makes an abrupt 90-degree turn to the right. If you survive this initiation, you'll do fine on the rest of the run.
Backcountry Skiing Adventures: Vermont & New York, p. 113


The Bruce Trail has a southeastern exposure, and consequently tends to have less consistent snow conditions than the Teardrop Trail, which has northern and western exposures.
Backcountry Skiing Adventures: Vermont & New York, p. 113


The Teardrop was described in one account as "The pièce de résistance" of the trails in the Underhill area. Skiing in the East proclaimed it as "one of the most thrilling trails in the East." It originally linked up with a trail to the Halfway House for a total descent of 3 miles. An 800-foot rope tow was at one time in operation at the base of it, along with a warming hut and snack bar.
Backcountry Skiing Adventures: Vermont & New York, p. 117


The Nose Dive record was set by my father on March 16,1940. The offical record 2 min. 17.6 sec. for the 1.4 miles was set during the Vermont downhill by Milton Hutchinson, a Barre (VT.) member of the Mt. Mansfield Ski Club. The Nose Dive of today is considerably improved over the trail on which my dad Milton Hutchinson made his record run in 1940. Even so, it took nine years before anyone did better. Considering straight the present opportunities for nearly continuous running, someone was bound to step up the speed. The record for the new Nose Dive course is 2 min. 3.2 sec. set by George Macomber of the 1949 United States F.I.S. team. The Nose Dive by the way has been the scene of five eastern downhill championships - in 1937, 1939, 1942, 1946 and 1949
Bill Hutchinson, 2011


Images
The 1948 USGS map of Mt. Mansfield
The 1948 USGS map of Mt. Mansfield

CCC trails highlighted on the 2009 Stowe trail map
CCC trails highlighted on the 2009 Stowe trail map

The quasi-abandoned upper Nosedive (2011)
The quasi-abandoned upper Nosedive (2011)

The quasi-abandoned upper Nosedive (2011)
The quasi-abandoned upper Nosedive (2011)

The quasi-abandoned upper Nosedive (2011)
The quasi-abandoned upper Nosedive (2011)

The Nosedive (2011)
The Nosedive (2011)

The Nosedive (2011)
The Nosedive (2011)

The Nosedive (2006)
The Nosedive (2006)

The Nosedive (2006)
The Nosedive (2006)

The Nosedive (2006)
The Nosedive (2006)

The Nosedive (2006)
The Nosedive (2006)

The top of the Bruce Trail (2011)
The top of the Bruce Trail (2011)

The Teardrop Trail as seen from the CCC Road (2011)
The Teardrop Trail as seen from the CCC Road (2011)

The Teardrop Trail as seen from the CCC Road (2011)
The Teardrop Trail as seen from the CCC Road (2011)

Resources
  • Stowe - NewEnglandSkiHistory.com
  • Birmingham, Dot, and Walt Pesko. "Skiers and Skiing" Hartford Courant. 9 Dec. 1965.
  • Goodman, David. Backcountry Skiing Adventures: Vermont & New York. Boston, MA: Appalachian Mountain Club Books, 2001.
  • Mt. Mansfield - FranklinSites.com Hiking Guide
  • Vermont: A Guide to the Green Mountain State. Cambridge, MA: The Riverside Press, 1937.


  • Last updated: August 3, 2011
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