MANCHESTER >> Jeremy Davis, founder of the New England Lost Ski Areas Project, will be at the Manchester Community Library on Feb. 25 to present a free talk titled "The Lost Ski Areas of Southern Vermont." His project's focus digs into the "over-investment, local competition, weather variation, changing skier habits, insurance costs," and what caused the ski areas to perish back into nature's roots, according to a release from the library.
With the uncertainty of winter weather that mother nature has granted the northeast with, its a surprise that slopes in the area are still able to maintain business. On the contrary, there are only 14 ski areas in southern Vermont that survive a total of 60 original in the four counties.
"I began to research former ski areas in the early 1990's when I was a teenager, when I was intrigued by two lost areas in NH; Mt. Whittier and Tyrol. I was curious as to what had happened to them, and there were not many resources. Over time I collected old ski articles, magazines, brochures, postcards, etc - and started my website, the New England and Northeast Lost Ski Areas Project in 1998, while a student at Lyndon State College," he said. "I'll show historical and current photos, satellite imagery, some stories from these areas, as well as talking about areas that have reopened."
Davis serves on the editorial review board for International Skiing History Association (ISHA) Magazine, which is located in Manchester, and was elected in 2000 to the New England Ski Museum Board of Directors. Between 2008 and 2014 he wrote four books and is currently working on a fifth about the Berkshires.
"I enjoy sharing the stories of these places with the world, so that they are not forgotten," he said. "So many are disappearing rapidly into the undergrowth and are becoming forgotten, so the goal is to preserve them electronically or in book format."
He added that it's difficult to run a profitable ski area and that potentially competition ran out other ski areas; one was more successful than the other. Many factors play into why a ski area doesn't last including "the energy crisis in the 1970's, poor snow years" (similar to today's), "the baby boomer surge getting older in the 70's, high energy and insurance costs, land being redeveloped, etc."
According to Outside Online, Colorado, which has the largest ski-based economy in the country, could lose $375 million and 4,500 jobs by 2017 due to climate change and the lack of snow. For smaller ski areas, the impact is similar. America's winter tourism banks $12.2 billion on average with 36 percent of the employment stemming from ski resorts.
However, Davis added that some lost areas have been redeveloped into housing developments, nature preserves or parks.
Hear more from Davis' research and ask questions at 6:30 p.m. at his talk on Thursday. The talk is made possible by the ISHA, a U.S. based nonprofit who's focus is to preserve and spread awareness of the winter sport's heritage. It's magazine is published six times a year.
—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.