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Adirondack winter vacations, part II

The Enterprise published a great special edition on Jan. 2, 1954, all about enticing the uninitiated to spend their vacations in the throes of snow and ice in the Adirondacks; the edition, of course, was all about Tupper Lake, Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.

Part II — excerpts from the special edition …

Ski association formed in Saranac Lake

This story was written by Thomas B. Cantwell, a member of the Saranac Lake Ski Club.

Tom was village attorney, sportsman and World War II vet. He served on just about every civic board in Saranac Lake … and he was an orator of unequaled status in the North Country. He passed way too young at age 61, leaving a wife and a big, beautiful family to carry on his legacy.

“The United States Eastern Amateur Ski Association was born one Winter evening in 1922 at Saranac Lake following the Adirondack Ski championship held at the Blood Hill Jump.”

(The location of Blood Hill — the name of the family that originally owned the property where the jump was located — was, generally speaking, where that big yellow apartment house is located at the bottom of Lake Street hill at the beginning of Main Street.)

“A group of contestants and officials gathered at the Berkeley House discussing skiing in this country. Sparked by the organizing ability and enthusiasm of Fred Harris of Bellows Falls, Vermont, now famed for his Dartmouth Outing Club (Tom graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts) work, the men present saw the need for a governing body to regulate the increasingly popular sport of skiing.

“Among the skiers present that night were Dr. William Soper, who learned the sport in Europe and taught the youth of Saranac Lake each Winter; Ned Stonicker, then head of the telephone company in Saranac Lake and William Distin Sr., whose son later was captain of the Dartmouth ski team and a member of the Olympic Squad in 1946.

“Later the great apostle of skiing, Harry Wade Hicks, of the Lake Placid Club, consulted with the group of founders of the association and joined them to become a great booster for organized skiing.

“Charter members were the Brattleboro Outing Club, Nansen Ski Club, Norsemen Ski Club, Saranac Lake Ski Club and the Sno Birds of the Lake Placid Club.”

(It is a very long story, also including the names of the first presidents of the organization: Fred Harris, Harry Wade Hicks, Dr. R.S. Elmer, Douglas M. Burckett, Edwin D. Eaton, Lawrence E. Briggs and George Macomber.)

Tupper Lake has much to offer

By Clarence Potvin

President of the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce

“Tupper Lake rests around the shores of Racquette Pond about half way between Long Lake and Saranac Lake and is reached by Routes 10 and 3 and the Adirondack Division of the New York Central Railroad.

“It is enriched by the Racquette River which picks up the waters of Big Simond Pond, Big Tupper Lake and Racquette Pond on its way north to join the St. Lawrence River.

“This makes for a broader valley than is usually seen in this area and for a kaleidoscopic combination of mountain scenery and blue water seen nowhere else in the Adirondacks from an automobile.

“Cloak all of this with the ermine of winter and you have pure magic for those who enjoy the crunch of wheels on snow, the squeak of ski runners on a downhill slope or the quiet of a snowshoe on new snow.”

“Nothing about our town is pretentious except its setting and scenery and that is incomparable. The people are friendly, the town has comfortable accommodations and if you come once, you’ll come again.”

“Beginning skier has big chance”

By Fran Sullivan

Lake Placid Ski Instructor

“Skiing is for everyone. The fun and sport of this unequalled outdoor recreation is not limited by your height, weight, age or sex.

“Lake Placid has a lot of advantages for the beginning skier. It has several fine slopes with tows which make the going up easier and the coming down oftener. It has good slopes where you can buy or rent the right kind of equipment. And what is just as important, it has lots of beginners scrambling up and down the slopes and gathering around the fireplaces at night to compare experiences.

“Within easy distance of the Village is three centers with ski schools which are open all day, every day — Fawn Ridge, Alpine Lodge and Scott’s Cobble. Competent instructors offer lessons at all of the centers and each has a warming hut and snack bar. There are beginner’s slopes at each center.

“As soon as you have your ski legs, you may want to try the slopes at Whiteface Mountain Ski Center operated by the State of New York about 12 miles from Lake Placid. The center has a beginner’s slope and a practice slope, both with rope tows, warming hut and lodge where food is served.

“The 3300-foot T-bar lift carries skiers to the top of four lower level trails. Trucks and caterpillar-driven vehicles called ‘Sno-Cats’ take skiers from the lodge to heated shelters at the upper level at 4400 feet. From there, skiers hitch onto one of the two tows going to the top of the five downhill trails or take the easy ride down the highway which glides gently down to the main lodge.

“Ski touring is also popular with beginning skiers and the village is surrounded by good roads, open fields and two frozen lake surfaces where easy cross-country touring becomes a pleasure.”

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