West Dover, VT – When Mount Snow’s visionary founder, Walter Schoenknecht, stood atop Mount Pisgah in southern Vermont in over a foot of freshly fallen snow back in autumn of 1949, he knew that he had found the perfect place to build his dream ski resort. Schoenknecht was an ex-Marine who was widely credited with inventing snowmaking at Mohawk Mountain ski area in Connecticut, which he owned. Only a few years later, Schoenknecht had purchased the land around the base of the mountain from the family of Rueben Snow and subsequently renamed the mountain “Mount Snow” in his honor.
On December 12, 1954, Mount Snow opened to skiers for the first time with two rope tows and two chairlifts that transported guests up to seven trails. In only a few years, Schoenknecht had transformed the mountain into a premier winter playground of the East with expanded terrain and amenities that were off-the-wall for the time, like a heated outdoor pool at the base lodge, an indoor skating rink and chain-driven covered chairlifts.
Schoenknecht’s boundless energy, ambition and creativity had many comparing him to another pioneer of that day named Walt Disney. And while not all of his ideas were perfect, including sending a proposal to the Atomic Energy Commission to detonate an atomic bomb at the base of the mountain to create more vertical drop, many of his initiatives like snowmaking, modern lifts and off-mountain amenities became standard practice for the ski industry.
Now 60 years later, there is much to celebrate this Founders Day, as December 12 has become known at the southern Vermont resort, with the celebration continuing throughout the weekend.
Mount Snow is offering $12 lift tickets to ski and ride on Founders Day, which can only be purchased online at least 24 hours in advance. There will be a comprehensive historical display in the Main Base Lodge, lift line giveaways, birthday cake for everyone, throwback parties, live music, scavenger hunts and more. The resort is inviting everyone to wear their favorite retro ski gear to honor the styles of the past, and there is an “old school” bamboo gate ski race planned for this Sunday that will even have a straight ski category.
For more information about the Founders Day Weekend 60th anniversary celebration and to purchase $12 lift tickets for December 12, visit www.mountsnow.com/events/