Ride up, Slide down

NORTH CREEK Most of us who reside in North Creek are somehow connected to the phenomenon of alpine skiing. We are skiers ourselves, friends and family of skiers, and employees and employers in the ski industry. In the winter, when we travel back home from a trip south, the first thing to greet us when we enter the Wevertown corners are the wide ribbons of white that form the uppermost trails of Gore Mountain. Many of us can hear the dull roar of snow guns during the night from our homes, or see the distant lights of trail groomers pulsing in the cold. While skiing has become part of the definition of North Creek; out-of-towners have more than likely never heard of North Creek, yet often times know exactly where Gore Mountain is. A permanent exhibit at the Depot Museum of The Upper Hudson River Railroad station on Main Street in North Creek provides a glimpse of our skiing history. Entitled Skiing in North Creek in the Early 30s and 40s, the exhibit features everything from antique ski equipment, including military skis, childrens skis and skis fashioned from an old barrel, to photographs of visitors arriving at the depot from Syracuse and New York City via the famed snow train, and even part of an old rope tow that pulled skiers to the tops of trails.. We knew right from the beginning of the museum being founded that one of the rooms was going to be devoted to skiing. said museum director Sharalee Falzerano, The Johnsburg Historical Society donated quite a few artifacts, and many members of the community donated their skis and ski paraphernalia to the museum. One piece of particular interest, although from a more recent time period, is a pair of skis given to the museum by Olympic gold medalist Donna Weinbrecht, who competed in Lillehammer in 1994. Most of the other artifacts, however, come from residents who harbor a deep nostalgia for their skiing past. I hear people come into the museum and swap stories with one another, and they just love it, commented Falzerano Now we are looking to make this even bigger, were trying to get New York state to set up a ski museum in North Creek; weve had a few meetings with ORDA on it, but still nothing is definite. To see the exhibit, visit the depot museum anytime from May through October. Skiing has certainly evolved throughout the history of North Creek, from the time when a few pioneers etched out rugged trails on Pete Gay Mountain, a satellite peak of Gore Mountain to the present day where innovations in every aspect of skiing have made a trip to the slopes of Gore as easy as walking from the car to the base lodge to the ski lift. Things really got their beginning with the 1932 winter Olympics in Lake Placid, when a group of North Creek residents attended the games and realized the potential of their hometown as a ski destination. This led an adventurous crew of devoted outdoorsmen to begin trailblazing at Barton Mines in places where the North Creek chapter of the American Legion had begun clearing out logging roads on Pete Gay Mountain. Not long after the trails had been made suitable for skiing, winter sports enthusiasts from the surrounding areas in the east caught wind of skiing opportunities in the little village of North Creek. Tourists hopped the Snow Train early in the morning and arrived that evening, often staying with townspeople who rented out rooms to visitors. The next morning, truckloads of skiers rode to the garnet mines to spend the day on the slopes, including Halfway Brook trail, Pete Gay Trail, Rabbit Pond Trail, Roaring Brook Trail, Ridge Trail and Cloud Trail, a practice that would bring about the popular slogan Ride up, Slide down. Visitors could obtain all of their skiing needs on site at The Gore Mountain Ski Shop run by Butler Cunningham. The skis were wood and the boots were leather; the equipment was much less sophisticated. noted Patrick J. Cunningham, son of Butler Cunningham and president of present day ski shop Cunninghams Ski Barn in North Creek. There were no rentals, but they did do repairs. They basically just sold equipment to the people; the equipment was not expensive. As enthusiasm grew in the mid 30s, the North Creek Ski Club and the Schenectady Winter Sports Club came together to form the Gore Mountain Ski Club that would continue to improve skiing in North Creek. As the history of skiing progressed, many milestones would advance the success of the sport in North Creek. In 1964, Gore Mountain Ski Resort would open at its present location, and from there, the skiing sensation would continue its legacy in the little village.

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