Gorham Kiwanis
Gorham, ME
1961-Mid 1970's

According to 1971 Ski Maine Promotion and First Tracks, this small ski area with a 500 foot rope tow opened in during the late 1950's and closed during the early to middle 1970's. The area was run by the Kiwanis.

Several NELSAP readers remember this area:

Bill Stevens: Also the Westbrook High School Ski Club did Ski Patrol duties and groomed a slope in Gorham with a short rope tow powered by an old Ford engine, which we also had to maintain and keep running. We side-stepped the trails for grooming. This was in 1956 or 1957.

Kim Lisa Kreiton: We lived in Gorham, so we took lessons at the Kiwanis hill there.  I clearly remember the technique required for riding the rope tow to the top of the hill: poles looped by their straps around your left wrist (you rode to the left of the rope), mittens allowing the tow rope to run loosely through your hands, skis pointed in the right direction, slowly tighten your grip until the rope suddenly grabbed you and pulled you up to the top.  I remember picturing how horrible it would be if your mittens got stuck or poles got mixed up and you might be pulled into the gears or motor!  Probably a not-completely unrealistic fear!  Our instructor was a "Neal", of the local funeral parlor family, and son of a school secretary, Mrs. Neal.   My childhood best friend, Heidi Luce, broke her leg attempting the "Expert" side of the trail when we were in about 3rd or 4th grade.  I remember arriving one day after a large snowfall, and the grown-ups hadn't "groomed" the trails yet.  So we helped side-step all the way up and down the Beginner side.  It seemed to take forever and my legs ached so much from the awkward sideways motion.

Now that I have two little girls, I am looking around for a similar tiny mountain that will be just right for them to learn on, and that they can master and feel as if they "own", just as I did the Kiwanis Hill, and Burnt Meadow Mtn.

"Flattop36": A small ski area in Gorham was called Kiwanis Ski slope, it was on Water street which ran off Main street in Gorham Maine.  It had a rope tow with two sides, one for beginners and the other side for experts.  It also had night skiing which was maybe the first in this area.  They had a little club house with tables and chairs and a little heater inside.  Also they served hot dogs, chips and soda which you got yourself.  Now, this all happened around the 60's and I'm not sure when it first opened or when it closed, but maybe late 70's.  It was a great place to go, for I could walk to the slope from my house on Elm street.  I think the season pass was 20.00 or 25.00.  It sure brings back great memories for me, because that is where I learn to Ski.  I remember a Mr. Graffin ran the food stand.

Bill VanVoorhis: As a kid, I skied at the Gorham Kiwanis Ski Tow .I was lucky to live about 1 mile from the hill. My dad and some other resourceful fathers from our neighborhood brushed out a trail from our backyard to the base lodge at the ski slope!

This trail required great skill to negotiate as you went down a steep hill "the field", through a narrow opening in the trees,1/2 mile downhill ,over a wooden plank 4 ft wide bridge over "Tannery Brook", later to be found to contain all kinds of nasty "ninja turtle "type goooo. From this point on it was 1/2 mile UPHILL to the lodge and freedom.

If you were a skilled enough skier, could maneuver a narrow goat path in the tuck position, didn't catch a ski on a broken stump, didn't go off the bridge into the gooo, had a flashlight for night trips and there were no slowpokes ahead, then you would arrive at the base of the rope tow at 0800 Saturday morning to watch Johnnie Files squirt the ether to the old John Deere tractor that ran the rope.

If you failed any of the above criteria ,ie. "wiped out", you "herringboned" the 1/2 mile uphill in which the lights came on at night on Friday and Saturday night as well as all school vacation weeks.

The base lodge served hot dogs, cocoa, soda etc. Townspeople drove to the area at the end of Water Street.

Season passes were available, day tickets were cheap....a $5 dollar bill would buy ticket ,hot dog soda chips m+m's and a hot cocoa at quitting time to fortify for the blinding schuss through the Black Forest after dark.

My son is 13 now, he and I are season pass holders at Shawnee Peak, 30 minutes away, which is great for us, but he will never feel the thrill of making the Tannery Brook bridge at warp speed, with maple branches leaving scars on your face, or the endless, no countless runs down the only two slopes in town, the main slope or the death defying ''EXPERT SLOPE" day after day, right in your own back yard!

My hats off to all the builders and operators of all the lost smalltown ski areas ,who took all their spare time to tie our boots, fix our bindings, mend our wounds, call our moms to come get us when we hurt, ignore us when we built 10 ft high jumps, only to break K2's in pieces in hopes the warranty would replace them, (which they usually did)

Also hats off to our parents for trusting us as we screamed across the fields into that tiny opening in the pines for another long day of learning at the ANYTOWN ROPETOW USA!!!!

That's all I have on this one, anybody have anything else to add?

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