NewEnglandSkiHistory.com
CT
|
MA
|
ME
|
NH
|
RI
|
VT
SkiNewEngland.net
 
Snow Valley as seen from Bromley (2016)
Snow Valley
Winhall, Vermont
Status: Lost/Defunct
First Season:1941-42
Last Season:1983-84
Vertical Drop:900 feet
Standing Lifts:
Past Lifts:1 double, surface lifts
Left: Snow Valley as seen from Bromley (2016)
Recent NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News:
Located in the shadow of Bromley, Snow Valley was once a major ski area. Though eventually overshadowed by larger nearby areas, Snow Valley managed to operate for over four decades prior to closing in the mid 1980s. Twenty years later, the roots of a private ski area were developed, with hopes of reopening Snow Valley in the 2010s.

Snow Valley as a Major Ski Area

The Snow Valley base lodge
The Snow Valley base lodge

Though there are multiple references to skiing starting at Snow Valley as early as 1936, there is no evidence that lift served skiing took place at the area prior to the onset of World War II in the United States.

Circa the late 1930s or start of the 1940s, Paul Kollsman acquired the Snow Valley property and looked to develop a ski area. A German immigrant, Kollsman became famous for inventing the altimeter. Prior to developing the ski area, he reportedly sold the Kollsman Instrument Company in 1940.

Snow Valley likely first opened as a rope tow operation in January 1942, with the T-Bar likely opening in February. Designed by Kollsman's nephews Walter and Dolph Rath, the ski area featured a T-Bar and two rope tows and was considered one of the largest ski areas in the East. Nat Niles served as ski school director. Thanks to the area's exposure and elevation, Snow Valley offered skiing that winter when other areas lacked the snow to operate. On the other hand, the exposure also meant that Snow Valley's slopes did not get much sunlight during the winter.

The $12,000 Snow Man's Rest lodge was considered unique for the time, as it provided a modern base facility in the days of dirt floor lodges with outhouses. Designed by Fritz Dillmann, the one floor fieldstone and red cedar structure included a cafeteria, a ski shop, ski patrol, and restrooms.

Two new trails and another slope were added for the 1942-43 season, which got underway prior to Christmas. Walter Rath's coin-operated ski timer invention (set up on the new Whippersnapper trail) dazzled the press, as it would light up a red light when the top gate closed and produce a ticket with the time at the bottom. The season extended into late April, leading the Brooklyn Daily Eagle to note, "Snow Valley is fast becoming the Sun Valley of the East." Fittingly, the Nat Niles Ski School merged with Sun Valley legend Otto Lang's ski school that season.

Meanwhile, Fred Pabst was consolidating his Ski Tows, Inc. chain of ski areas by relocating the lifts to nearby Bromley.

Around this time, Snow Valley lost its Grand Slam rope tow to fire. The tow was likely not replaced until after the end of World War II, when Walter Rath returned from serving in Europe. From 1943-44 through at least 1945-46, Fred Iselin was running the Snow Valley ski school.

Meeting postwar demand, a new lift was added for the 1946-47 season, increasing uphill capacity to 1,600 people per hour. Freddie Pieren was ski school director by the time the 1947-48 season was underway.

Transportation to Snow Valley was greatly improved between 1947 and 1949 when Route 11 and Route 30 were likely moved to their present location. Prior to this, a road leading from Manchester to Winhall passed through the base area of the ski area, often requiring chains for winter use. During World War II, a horse-drawn sleigh service was offered due to rationing and the difficulty of the road.

Falling Behind the Pack

The Snow Valley base area
The Snow Valley base area

Though Snow Valley's sheltered, high elevation location gave it quite an advantage in terms of natural snowfall, it was not immune from poor winters in the late 1940s. Snow Valley often took these periods in good humor, running ice skating exhibitions on the ski trails and reporting colorful conditions such as '[b]rown grass, peeping crocuses, four stumps, three boulders, one lift, three tows, four buildings, new road, and no skiers. O, the life of a ski area operator!'

John Stember likely succeeded the Raths as manager in 1950, followed by Fred Colclough. In June 1955, Fred and his wife Mary purchased the ski area. While other ski areas were growing, Snow Valley was fighting just to remain in a holding pattern. Immediate changes included adding more Ts to the T-Bar, constructing a "Ski-Kull" surface lift, and smoothing the slopes.

A new slope was added for the 1957-58 season. Bromley countered this by adding a chairlift for the 1958-59 season, to which Snow Valley responded with plans for a new beginner surface lift.

Snow Valley started the 1960s with the installation of a Pomalift for the 1960-61 season, while plans were also made for a double chairlift. The T-Bar's wooden towers were replaced with steel towers for the 1961-62 season.

On December 9, 1965, Fred and Mary Colclough sold Snow Valley to Marvin Ladd Parker and his fiance Avis Tifft. Initial plans included expanding the base lodge, improving lift capacity, and adding new trails. In addition, ownership attempted to encourage various levels of government to rebuild or relocate the steep access road. However, as was the case in the 1950s, investments in the area were kept to a minimum.

Citing a washed out access road, Snow Valley announced it would not operate for the 1971-72 season. Additional factors for the closure included rising taxes (despite the lack of road maintenance), insurance, and operating expenses.

1970s Expansion

The Snow Valley aerial after the installation of the chairlift
The Snow Valley aerial after the installation of the chairlift

New Jersey attorney John Frohling's Vermont Enterprises, Inc. purchased the 350 acre Snow Valley from Parker and Tifft prior to the 1972-73 season. A new beginner slope, a new mighty mite lift, a new parking lot, and a renovated base lodge were rolled out for the 1972-73 season. Beyond that, changes were initially minimal, as Frohling told the Times Record in 1975, "I knew all along that major changes would have to be made, but I was too new in the ski business to make them all at once." With Pet Muska serving as General Manager, Snow Valley decided to go after the overflow of the larger areas, while preparing to develop real estate.

Great Gorge co-founder John Fitzgerald was hired as General Manager starting with the 1975-76 season. Snow Valley took a big step forward for the 1976-77 season when a new double chairlift was installed. Extending to a point below the main lodge, the new lift increased the area's advertised vertical drop by 200 feet and likely opened to the public in January of 1977. Despite the expansion, the area remained on a Friday-Sunday operating schedule and the expected crowds did not arrive.

Snow Valley with Bromley in the background
Snow Valley with Bromley in the background

Noted ski coach Bruce Colon was named General Manager for the 1977-78 season.

Cross country skiing was reportedly added for the 1978-79 season, though it was also billed as new for the 1972-73 season. Circa 1980, Doug Wilk became area manager.

For the 1981-82 season, Snow Valley expanded its base lodge and installed snowmaking on the lower mountain. More trails were reportedly added for the 1982-83 season. Between those seasons, founder Paul Kollsman passed away at the age of 82.

Snowboarding Championship Venue

The 1984 National Snowboarding Championships at Snow Valley
The 1984 National Snowboarding Championships at Snow Valley

Snow Valley found itself on the cutting edge in 1983 and when it hosted the National Snowboarding Championships. The 1984 competition featured downhill on Saturday, March 3, and slalom on Sunday, March 4. East Dorset resident Andy Coghlan won both men's events, while Marianna Fruhmann of Hinterstoder, Austria took the overall women's title.

Closure

While snowboarding was up and coming, it was not enough to get the masses to return to Snow Valley. The area likely closed following the 1983-84 season. The National Snowboarding Championships moved down the road to Stratton in 1985 under the name of the U.S. Open of Snowboarding.

Rebirth as Private Area?

The Snow Valley base lodge in 2004
The Snow Valley base lodge in 2004

After being idle for two decades and almost being acquired by the US Forest Service, Snow Valley was sold to Chris Franco in the early 2000s and some trails were re-cleared. In June of 2008, Franco's Snow Valley LLC filed a Vermont Act 250 application for an $8.5 million project that involved refurbishing the chairlift, replacing the lodge with a 28,000 square foot building, constructing 12 rental cabins, establishing an equestrian facility, and developing 46 building lots.

Tangled in a bureaucratic and permitting nightmare, the project dragged on. Circa 2011, Christopher Franco sold his share in the project to Patrick Robinson. In August, the base lodged burned to the ground.

While the developer continued to modify the proposal, the permitting process costs continued to add up. On August 2, 2016, Snow Valley, LLC withdrew its Vermont Act 250 permit, stating it intended to submit a new application at an undisclosed date in the future.

It is not known if Snow Valley will ever reopen.

Image Gallery
Snow Valley Aerial Imagery, 1992 vs. 2009
View All Images in Snow Valley Image Gallery
Lifts
Click on lift name for information and photos
Standing Lifts
Installed
The Double Chair in 2002
Double Chairlift
Borvig
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1976-77

Past Lifts
Seasons
The Poma in 2002
Poma Lift

Platter
1960-61
-
The T-Bar in 2004
T-Bar
Constam
T-Bar
1941-42
-

Maps
1973-74 Snow Valley Trail Map1981-82 Snow Valley Trail Map2013 Snow Valley Development Map
View All Snow Valley Trail Maps

Year by Year History
Adult Weekend Full Day Lift Ticket; Adult Full Price Unlimited Season Pass
1980s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1982-83$15.001982-83 Ticket Price Graph1982-83 Season Pass Price Graph1982-83 Skier Visit Graph
1981-82$14.001981-82 Ticket Price Graph1981-82 Season Pass Price Graph1981-82 Skier Visit Graph
1970s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1978-79$11.001978-79 Ticket Price Graph1978-79 Season Pass Price Graph1978-79 Skier Visit Graph
1977-78$10.001977-78 Ticket Price Graph1977-78 Season Pass Price Graph1977-78 Skier Visit Graph
1976-77$9.001976-77 Ticket Price Graph1976-77 Season Pass Price Graph1976-77 Skier Visit Graph
1975-76$7.001975-76 Ticket Price Graph1975-76 Season Pass Price Graph1975-76 Skier Visit Graph
1972-73$7.001972-73 Ticket Price Graph1972-73 Season Pass Price Graph1972-73 Skier Visit Graph
1969-70$5.001969-70 Ticket Price Graph1969-70 Season Pass Price Graph1969-70 Skier Visit Graph
1960s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1967-68$4.501967-68 Ticket Price Graph1967-68 Season Pass Price Graph1967-68 Skier Visit Graph
1966-67$4.501966-67 Ticket Price Graph1966-67 Season Pass Price Graph1966-67 Skier Visit Graph
1965-66$4.501965-66 Ticket Price Graph1965-66 Season Pass Price Graph1965-66 Skier Visit Graph
1962-63$3.501962-63 Ticket Price Graph1962-63 Season Pass Price Graph1962-63 Skier Visit Graph
1959-60$3.001959-60 Ticket Price Graph1959-60 Season Pass Price Graph1959-60 Skier Visit Graph
1950s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1955-561955-56 Ticket Price Graph1955-56 Season Pass Price GraphFebruary 41955-56 Skier Visit Graph
1949-50$3.001949-50 Ticket Price Graph$35.001949-50 Season Pass Price Graph11.7 days1949-50 Skier Visit Graph
1940s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1941-42$2.501941-42 Ticket Price Graph1941-42 Season Pass Price Graph1941-42 Skier Visit Graph

Visitor Memories
"Stratton lifts were closed due to high winds on a day where it had snowed 6” overnight. My buddy and I skin hiked up and skies down twice. The best run is not the main run, but a quick shot through the trees, lookers left of the main trail."
TJ Markey, Mar. 10, 2019
"Snow Valley was the home of the winter ski trip for Boy Scout Troop 10 out Medfield MA, in the late 60s. We would sleep on the floor in the lodge, great memories."
Reed Captain, Jan. 10, 2016
Add a memory of Snow Valley
First Name:
Last Name:
E-Mail Address:
Comments:



External Links
  • Snow Valley - New England Lost Ski Areas Project
  • Last updated: June 24, 2019

    Also on NewEnglandSkiHistory.com...
    The Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain?
    The Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain?
    Killington and Pico almost connected
    Killington and Pico almost connected
    A classic trail cut by the Civilian Conservation Corps
    A classic trail cut by the Civilian Conservation Corps
    Before the resort, there was the Nose Dive
    Before the resort, there was the Nose Dive
    A lost ski area with a gondola!
    A lost ski area with a gondola!
    A small community run ski area in Lebanon, NH
    A small community run ski area in Lebanon, NH
       CCC Trails    Cancelled Ski Areas    Expansions    Lifts    Management    Maps    News    Then and Now    Timelines    Topics    In The Press    Links    Site Map    What's New    Feedback

    Copyright 2002-2019, All Rights Reserved.