• By Rick Kahl

    Photography by Hubert Schriebl

    It took incredible courage, strong vision, persistence and a large dose of naïveté to launch a ski area back in the 60s.

    The 60s—Yodel-ay, we’re on our way!

    The party often continued at the on-mountain inns: the motel-like Stratton Mountain Inn, the Henrichs’ small Birkenhaus, the Austrianflavored Liftline Lodge, run by Herbie and Gretel Schachinger, and Hotel Tyrol. All were located across the parking lot from the base lodge, and nestled into the forest. “The Stratton Mountain Boys often played at the Hotel Tyrol. They held limbo contests there; Wendy [Hubert’s wife] and I were the limbo champions,” says Schriebl. Folk singer Chris Johnson played at the Inn. “He did ‘Mr. Bojangles’ really well, he even had bells on his shoes,” Hubert recalls, just like the song says.

    Birkenhaus was a little piece of Austria’s Tyrol transplanted to Vermont. The architecture, construction, carved details in the woodwork and ceilings and the dark-stained beams were the real deal. The dining room featured Anne’s Austrian cuisine, and the help wore lederhosen and dirndls. Liftline and the Tyrol were similarly authentic.

    View towards the base lodge, 1962

    Skiing, and Stratton in particular, was glamorous. Birkenhaus’ most high profile guests were the Kennedys, Jackie and Bobby and all the kids. “We had the whole clan for two weeks over Easter, about 1965,” Anne says. “Bobby was fascinating. Jackie was, too. She could be remote, but she would still go into the sauna with all of us, and she would sing with Emo in the evenings.” Emo personally taught her to ski, and many of the Kennedys learned at Stratton. Caroline got her start, as did countless other children, in Ruthie Rowley’s Big Cub program.

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