Glidden's Ski Tow
Ashland, NH

1950's-Early 1980's

Linda Brewster's father Cyrus Gray ran the rope tow at this small area in Ashland. Here are her details:

Our father Cyrus Gray ran the tow for many years, our house sat at the base of the hill and we would ski over to the tow once we could see the wheels turning and the rope moving with our binoculars. It was such a great way to spend the weekends with our friends. It is so sad when I go visit my parents and see the hill overgrown with trees and know that the kids and some adults will never know the fun they are missing out on. Its nice to know that you are preserving the memory of the old "ski tow".

And Patty Stewart's aunt and uncle owned the area. Here's a great first hand account:

I grew up in the geographical center of New Hampshire, in the small town of Ashland.  In the winters of my childhood my sister and myself, and several other kids from town, would hike up Highland Street with our skis and poles slung over our shoulders.  At the top of Highland Street my Aunt and Uncle owned the Glidden’s Ski Tow.  Glidden’s was a huge hill with a magnificent jump to the left and a more gradual slope to the right for those of us (like myself) who were too intimidated to jump fifty feet into mid-air.  My sister was the jumper in our family and she could ride the ski tow like a pro.  The ski tow was a thick, royal blue rope that ran from the top to the bottom of the hill, wrapped around a pulley at each end, getting it’s power from electricity and some rubber belt contraption, it went fast and furious.  In my younger years I would walk back up the slope as I feared the tumultuous tow would rope me in and forever pull me around in circles or that I would fall and ,to my great embarrassment, they would have to shut off the tow.  Sometimes my big brother, Harvey, would let me ride between his legs as he held me under my arms while holding onto the tow with only his elbow, I thought him so brave for being able to maneuver such a stunt.  Eventually, I learned to use the tow myself and came to appreciate its ability to whisk me back up the hill in a jiffy.   

We would ski until we were too cold, tired or it got too dark.  After skiing, everyone that could fit would go into the small red ski hut at the top of the hill and sit around the pot bellied wood stove drinking hot chocolate.  I remember it clearly, everyone had rosy red cheeks, runny noses, and static filled hair.  The smell of wet mittens hung in the air.  On the outside of the ski hut hung a sign that read “SKI AT YOUR OWN RISK”, “KEEP SCARFS CLEAR OF ROPE”.  At dusk my sister and I would walk home, exhausted but feeling good about our day.

The ski tow hasn’t run for years, my uncle eventually shut it down for insurance reasons.  My kids and I now slide at the grand hill and I tell them stories of it’s operating years.  I’m not sure, but I think the old blue rope is still coiled up in the ski hut, where I am sure my sister and I left a mitten or two……..

Several other NELSAP readers remember this ski area: 

Sharon St. Onge:
"There was a ski area-rope tow- in Ashland, NH, run by the Glidden family and was up on Highland Avenue. This was privately run but open to all townspeople.  I am not sure the years but I know it was there in the 50's, 60's as I skied there."

Robert Zock: 
"I grew up next door to Glidden's Ski Tow in Ashland, NH.  It was owned and operated by the Glidden family and volunteers.  Skiing was free to all.  It was a pretty long rope tow powered by a Ford tractor.  They had an old Tucker with skis on the front to groom, a lodge at the top, with parking at the top as well.  At one point there was night-skiing.  It closed in the early 80's due to the insurance costs. Earlier in the century there were wooden ski jumps near the location used by Ashland High School back when students could risk themselves for the glory of sport and school.  My baby-sitter growing-up, a petite woman, used to ski-jump for the school in the late 30's. Often, kids would come to school on Monday wearing a badge of honor from their weekend of skiing - an oozing rope-burn on their arm or face - the result of falling on the way up and getting caught under the heavy, speeding rope.  Skiing was much better then, nobody complained."

Does anyone else remember this area? If so, let us know!

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