• 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!

    Well, that, and a business plan, access road, accommodations and infrastructure. Stratton Mountain was largely inaccessible at the time; there were only logging roads above Taylor Hill Road. Solid forest stretched for miles around the current base area and Sun Bowl.

    stratton in winter 60 300x157 The 60s—Yodel ay, we’re on our way!

    Stratton in the winter of its first season of 1961–62

    It took incredible courage, strong vision, persistence and a large dose of naïveté to launch a ski area. Snyder, a managing partner at Moore & Munger in New York City, measured up on all counts. And that was fortunate, because even in the go-go ’60s, investors could see there was little potential for profit in a seasonal fringe pastime like skiing. For more than a year, Snyder found no takers. A chance meeting with Pete Seibert, the founder of Vail, unlocked the vault. Seibert had been seeking investors in New York, just as Snyder was, and with the same luck, that being none. Then Seibert hit upon an incentive: buy stock or bonds in his company, and get a lifetime lift pass—and the option to buy a lot on the mountain for $500. It worked for Vail, and for Stratton as well, even when lot prices at Stratton leaped to $5,000.

    Once funded, progress was breathtaking. There were few, if any, regulations to impede progress. Stratton began cutting trails in the spring of 1960, started work on the base lodge that summer, worked through the winter, and by December 1961 completed work on the lodge, seven trails and three lifts, including one lift and three trails from the summit—Tamarack, North American, and Rimeline (long since subsumed into Standard). A state-funded access road followed a year later, thanks to the efforts of State Senator Edward Janeway, and Stratton was in business.

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