Jennings Family Tow
Conn-Ver Valley Farm
Pawlet, VT

History and Photos ~ Recent Photos

History and Photos

Many thanks to James Jennings who told NELSAP about his family ski area in Pawlet. We are not revealing the exact location as the area is on private property, but it is in a more isolated portion of Pawlet. The Jennings family had purchased this farm in 1958 when the previous owners had gone bankrupt trying to put in electricity.

This family ski tow was built by James Jennings and his father Bill in the 1963 when James was in high school. It was originally 400 feet in length, and was lengthened to 1000 feet in 1964. It had a vertical of approximately 200'. As you can see from the historic view on the right, the area consisted of one wide open slope, with the rope tow up the middle. The Jennings' would also rent out half of their home for skiers in the winter. The area was used primarily by the family and from local kids who lived in town. There was no charge to use the tow, but skiers did contribute gasoline to run the engine.

James told us that the lift is still in place, with the drive engine, an old GMC panel truck, located at the top of the hill. The tow has not been used for many years.

James shares with us more photos and history of this lost area.

"My parents....Mary and Bill Jennings purchased the farm in 1958.  We were from Connecticut and my father wanted to buy a small camp to stay overnight while visiting Vermont to ski.  My sister Betty and I were bought up on skiing.  We ended up buying an abandoned farm instead!

My father was always a "tinker".  In 1963 we built the first tow.  It was a 400 ft. tow powered by a 1939 Dodge pickup previously owned by the Vermont Department of Forestry and Parks.  The tow poles came from Locust trees we cut down on the farm.  Known also as "Ironwood" it is resistant to rot.....the reason the most recent photos show the poles still standing.....45 years later! "

Left - a view of the original rope tow in 1963 - it was later lengthened.

"Photo shows Bill Jennings at the top of the 1000 ft. tow.  The tow drive motor, which is visible in the background, was a 1949 GMC panel truck which we cut down and put tractor tires on the rear wheels.....we called it the "doodle bug" would go anywhere.  We would remove the left tractor tire, put on a smaller tire rim lined with fire hose and then connect the rope.  We had an emergency cut off bar in case anyone got their clothes entangled in the rope.  We used a 1963 Bombardier snowmobile to bring the battery up to the tow to start it.  We would tie the battery to a flying saucer and head up the hill.  After we stopped running the tow, we left the GMC up there.  Each year for kicks we would drive up and see if we could get it started - which we were doing in this photo."

"This photo was taken in the early sixties and shows friends of my father in front of the house.  To the right of the group is a pair of Northland wooden skis with medal edges.  They had step in bindings which were "Hi-Tech" for the time.  One of the gentlemen in the photo was in the Tenth Mountain Division during World War II. "
"Here is another photo of the tow taken around 1965.  At that time we would keep young stock (cows) in the barnyard. The small building at the base of the lift is a small warming hut.  Other times of the year we would use the hut for ice fishing on a local lake.  At the bottom of the rope tow we had a large block and tackle attached to a pulley which the tow rope ran through.  We used the block and tackle to take the "slack" out of the rope when the rope would get wet. "

Recent Photos

In 2008, Madeline Rockwell discovered this area, and took several photos which show the tow still standing. The land has recently been sold and it is unknown what will happen to the remnants of the tow. Here is a summer 2008 view of the area thanks to Madeline. For this and the following photo, please click on it to view the larger version.
A closer view of the tow.

If you remember this ski area, and want to share more info, just let us know.

Last updated: November 17, 2008

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