Rec Area Ski & Slide, 1950's
Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum
“This is a notice to all mothers and fathers of Millinocket. Now is a good time to buy that pair of skis or toboggan that your youngster has been wanting, and his or her chances of using them in a supervised way are very good at the present time.” This message went out to townspeople in the early 1950’s via the local newspaper’s recreation department weekly report! At that time, a new winter sports area had just opened at the north end of the athletic field on State Street. Both children and adult beginners were welcome.
The area had two separate ski slopes, both advertised as “rock free and skiable on six inches of snow.” There was a 350 ft. portable ski tow, a toboggan run, and a scooter trail. Snow scooters (fourteen were purchased) would be furnished free to any child who did not have other snow equipment available. The toboggan run quickly became popular with both children and adults. There was no admission fee and the area would be in operation Saturdays, Sundays and school holidays.
Later, night skiing was possible when lights and wiring were installed and a generator was moved to the area. A Feb. 28, 1952 recreation director report stated that more than 1835 people had used the area to date and the number of spectators was more than 430. Volunteers were on hand to instruct children on their skiing. A ski school was started with volunteers from the recreation department and Katahdin Outing Club. The first Saturday there were 56 young people there to learn to ski.
Later on (date unknown), the steeper ski slope was extended to 35 feet and built up about nine feet higher. This would allow for a ski jump to be added and would be used “only by those skiers taking instruction from the new winter sports director at the high school, Mr. Burns.”
In Feb, 1952, a section of the old bath house was cut in half and moved to the ski area by volunteers to be used as a warming hut. A stove was donated for heat. At about the same time, the speed of the ski tow was cut back so that it pulled the skiers up the hill at a slower rate. This was to make use of the tow safer. At this time, the area was also open every afternoon from 3:30 to 4:00 PM.
Wally Delahanty was Recreation Department director. The ski school lessons were led by qualified instructors George Legassey, Robert Parker and Winston Boutaugh.
In addition, sliding areas were being considered for other areas of town “to keep children from sliding in the streets.” Plans were for areas on Bates St., Maple St., one near the VFW Hall, and one on Prospect St. in Little Italy. Also, permission was received from Mr. Seelye, land agent for GNP and the town selectmen, to place a small sliding ramp in the town park! No information on whether any of those were completed!