By David Buckman
The Thompson-Ames Historical Society
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11/2/06 History of the Gunstock Ski Area
Gilford’s Thompson-Ames Historical Society will present a program on Gunstock’s colorful 68 year history on Monday, November 6th at the Meetinghouse at 24 Belknap Mtn. Road in Gilford Village. The Gilford resort has been a major regional attraction since 1937 and has drawn generations of families to the 2000 acre preserve on the eastern slopes of Gunstock Mountain.
Delivering the presentation will be David Buckman of Gilford, who was Gunstock’s Marketing Director for thirty years. The program will cover the early days at the resort which was built as a WPA (Works Progress Administration) Program starting in the early 1930s. The much needed project created more than 300 jobs in a time when unemployment in the winter approached 30%. For each dollar raised locally the federal government matched it by $10.00. The buildings were expanded in 1970 and again in 1985. All the expansions were funded with local dollars.
In a forward looking environmental model, Gunstock’s distinctive main lodge and other buildings were built from timber, cut and milled on-site and stone cut in a quarry on nearby Cobble Mountain. The local carpenters, craftsmen and laborers who constructed the rustic lodge used almost all hand tools, block and tackle and even oxen in the project.
David Buckman will discuss physical changes such as the development of trails, lifts, ski jumps and snow making. These improvements enhanced the use of the area for both Nordic and alpine skiing.
Gunstock had one of the first chairlifts in the country and skiing and ski jumping became very popular pastimes at the resort in winter during the 1940s and 50s. Family oriented, the resort’s instruction programs produced skiers by the thousands and some of the best racers in New England, including Olympian Penny Pitou, who won two silver medals at the 1960 Olympics at Squaw Valley. Constantly innovating, the program covers four major expansions and shows many lesser known Gunstock offerings.
County owned, Gunstock Mountain Resort is run be a Board of Commissioners. Over the years, many local people have served on this board.
Following the program, time will be available for questions and reminiscing.
The program will begin at 7:30 p.m. following a brief business meeting at 7:00 p.m. There is no charge. Refreshments will be served.
Please contact T-AHS at 527-9009, if you have any questions.