Few places-at least on this side of the Atlantic Ocean-are as steeped in the history of skiing as Stowe, Vt. Intrepid downhillers have been schussing Mt. Mansfield-Vermont's highest peak, at 4,393 feet-since at least 1914. It's where a comrade's injury gave Minnie Dole the idea for the National Ski Patrol. And, also, where FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps helped create the proving grounds for the likes of Billy Kidd and scores of other future Olympians.
With such a rich past, it's only natural that the Vermont Ski Museum should find a home in Stowe's picturesque village, after failing to take root in two more central but less visited locations. "It clearly belongs in a ski town," says Ken Biedermann, president of the nonprofit group that is driving the $1.2 million project to create an appropriate showcase for one-of-a-kind artifacts such as the old hickories that carried Andrea Mead Lawrence to gold medals in Oslo in 1952.
Hoping to open before the lifts stop this spring, VSM organizers are busily finishing renovations on a handsome Federal-style building-built in 1818-that's done duty as everything from town meeting house to fire station. Sans hook and ladders, the 5,400-square-foot structure has the airy feel of a place the whole community can gather to celebrate its heritage.
Indeed, Biedermann hopes the 4,000-piece collection will evolve into both a representative and organic link between Vermont's past and present. The museum's mission is to collect, archive and display all things that "commemorate and preserve Vermont's skiing heritage," from the high-flying jumping era to the bump-bashing of Donna Weinbrecht at Killington.
Between the old photos, racks of metal Head Standards and rare 16-mm footage from the formative years of Magic Mountain, visitors will find the requisite museum store, complete with memorabilia from their favorite resorts. Perhaps more importantly, skiers will take home a greater appreciation for those who broke trail before them. After all, it's been one heck of a run.
Contact: Vermont Ski Museum, 1 South Main St., Stowe; 802-253-9911; www.vermontskimuseum.org.