History of Abenaki Ski Area

 

View complete history archive of photos and newspaper articles here. Generously shared by Judy Breuninger.
 
The first trails on Poor Farm Hill were cut and used during the winter of 1936 by the newly-formed Abenaki Outing Club. The members, Wolfeboro and Tuftonboro residents, were interested in promoting winter sports in the area and were convinced alpine skiing would draw winter tourists.
 
The Hersey Family generously allowed use of their hill to all who came, and by 1940 a rope tow had been installed and a base lodge built, complete with stone fireplace.
 
The Abenaki Outing Club added enthusiastic members and began sponsoring winter carnivals. They erected lights and night skiing became a big hit.
 
During World War II the area was quiet but activity picked up again immediately thereafter. Abenaki was again the hub of winter activities and was directly linked to the success of Wolfeboro's winter economy, as many skiers from southern New Hampshire and southern New England came specifically to enjoy the skiing.
 
In the fall of 1946 plans were made to enlarge the slope by clearing a new novice practice area on the south side of the rope tow, which was then located on the southeast side of the main slope. The tow was later switched to its present location on the west side of the hill. Downhill and slalom races were held, attracting racers from all over New England.
 
During the early 1950's Abenaki continued to be extremely popular, with the Outing Club in charge of maintenance and running the operation.
 
In the 1960's both Brewster Academy and Kingswood Regional High School ski teams practiced and held races at Abenaki. The rope tow was extended further up the hill and trails on either side of the slope were widened. Night skiing continued to be very popular, especially among the young people from Wolfeboro and Tuftonboro.
 
The Wolfeboro Parks and Playgrounds Commission took control of the area but the land continued to be owned by the Hersey Family. Later they sold the land to the town.
 
In 1970 the Carroll F. Hersey Memorial Ski Jump was built. It was used by the Kingswood Ski Team beginning in 1971 into the 80's, but fell into disuse at the end of the 80's. Presently the jump has been taken over by new-growth saplings and is in disrepair.
 
During the 1990's the slope was open more sporadically than in the past due to problems with aging equipment such as the old Tucker Snowcat. There were some lean snow years as well, and the number of skiers dwindled as it became a "hit or miss" situation. The cross-country ski trails, however, which run around the perimeter of the area, were consistently alive with many skiers each winter.
 
The Friends of Abenaki formed in 2005 to help restore the ski area to its former position as a favorite winter recreation spot for Wolfeboro and Tuftonboro residents, young and old alike. With the high cost of lift tickets and inflated traveling expenses, a small town-owned area like Abenaki is even more of an important recreation treasure than ever.
 
A snow grooming machine was purchased with donated funds by the Friends of Abenaki. It enhances the quality of the snow and makes for a safer skiing surface. The group also purchased a used two for the novice slope which was installed for the 2006-'07 winter. The novice tow gives youngsters a chance to hone their skills before tackling the main slope and trails.
 
The exciting news for the winter of 2006-'07 was the addition of a portable snowmaking system which, although labor intensive and slow, enabled the area to open and maintain consistent conditions.
 
In September 2009 the Town of Wolfeboro received authorization from NHDES to withdraw water from the pond at the base of Abenaki, paving the way for construction of permanent snowmaking up on the hill. Installation of the system will cost $300,000 but will be well worth the investment, ensuring that Abenaki remains one of the few affordable town-owned ski areas in New Hampshire.
 
To do this the Friends need your help, with both fundraising and your input of ideas and hands-on involvement. Learn more about the Friends of Abenaki by visiting their website.
 
View complete history archive of photos and newspaper articles here. Generously shared by Judy Breuninger.