Mount Snow History

Mount Snow Resort was founded in 1954 by entrepreneur Walter Schoenknecht, who was later inducted into the Ski Hall of Fame.  Over the past 60 years, Mount Snow has been a leader and innovator in the ski industry.  Here’s a look back at Mount Snow’s colorful history.

SkiSchoolBellOctober, 1949 – A Vision
Walter Schoenknecht, 30, an ex-Marine, stands atop Mount Pisgah (now Mount Snow).  He has been searching for a spot to build his ski area.  As he stands in 12-18” of fresh snow left by an early autumn storm and surveys the land around him, he decides that someday, this is the spot where he will build his ski area.

May 1953 – The Land is Purchased and a Ski Area is Named
Farmer Reuben Snow, who owned land at the base of what is now Mount Snow, passes away.  Walt buys his land.  Walt wrestles with what to call his ski area; Mount Pisgah doesn’t sound quite right.  Then it comes to him – he’ll name it Mount Snow, after Reuben Snow.

December 12, 1954 – Mount Snow Opens
Walt’s dream becomes a reality as Mount Snow opens with 2 chairlifts, 2 rope tows, 7 trails and a base lodge.  Mount Snow’s first chairlift is revolutionary for its time.  A mono-rail lift, it ran from a series of conveyor belts.  In the day when single chairs provided about 250 rides per hour and doubles were at 600 or less, Little Beaver transported an astounding 1200 skiers per hour.


Winter 1958-59 – More Skiing. . . and Swimming?
In just four years, Walt’s endless energy has transformed Mount Snow into the playground of the east.  The trail count now stands at 32.  A three-story summit lodge with a glass-enclosed sundeck sits atop the mountain.  At the base, the first outdoor swimming pool in the east opens, with the water temperature a toasty 100 degrees.  Inside the base lodge a skating rink offers skiers another diversion.

November 1960The World’s Largest Ski Area
With the development of the Sundance area, the Boston Globe newspaper calls Mount Snow “The World’s Largest Ski Area.”  Meanwhile next door Austrian Walter Stugger, who was the first certified ski instructor at Mount Snow, opens Carinthia Ski Area.

1964 – First Skis-On Gondola and Air CarOriginalLift Mount Snow continues to be the ski industry leader with the introduction of the first skis-on gondola to the summit.  These brightly colored cabins, which resemble eggs, allow skiers to keep their skis on yet at the same time be shielded from the weather.  A second gondola is added six years later.  The gondola isn’t the only unique lift Walt adds that year.  The space-age air car transports skiers from Snow Lake Lodge across the lake to the base of the mountain.

January 1970 – The Sunny Side Opens
With the opening of the Sunbrook Area, Mount Snow has 44 trails spread over three mountain areas.  Walt has cut trails that are revolutionary – wide swaths, such as South Bowl and Sundance, when narrow tree-lined runs are the norm.  Twenty years later, these “super trails” as they are called, are the latest trend at ski areas.

August 8, 1977 – A New Era
Meanwhile up north, another ski area is making great strides.  In 1977, Preston Smith, owner and founder of Killington Resort, purchases Mount Snow.

1977-82 – The Mountain Grows 
In the five years since Mount Snow was purchased by Killington, skiers see improvement in almost every facet of the operation.  New chairlifts are installed on the Main Mountain and North Face, boosting lift capacity by 58%.  Snowmaking is added to almost 30 trails increasing coverage from 7% to 52% of the mountain.  By 1985, snowmaking will blanket 78% of the mountain.  A new Summit Lodge is built in 1982.BoyGettingOffLift

April 28, 1986 – Mount Snow’s Boundaries Grow
Once again Mount Snow grows, this time by acquiring neighboring Carinthia Ski Area with its 14 trails, 3 lifts and base lodge.  Four short connecting trails join Mount Snow to Carinthia.

1987-88 – More Space, Fast Lift
A new base lodge addition increases space by 33% and includes a new restaurant and bar.  The Grand Summit Express chairlift cuts travel time to the summit from 16 to 8 minutes, and increases summit lift capacity by 46%.

1990 – Sunbrook Expands
Sunbrook gets six new trails, a quad chairlift and snowmaking.  On March 3, 1991, the Sunbrook trail “Thanks Walt” is dedicated in memory of Mount Snow’s extraordinary founder.


1992 – First Snowboard Park
The first snowboard park in the East opens at Mount Snow.  It features jumps, a half-pipe, quarter hits, spines, wedges, banked turns and a buried van.

1995-97  American Skiing Company and Mount Snow Grow
In 1996 the American Skiing Company acquires the assets of Mount Snow.  The American Skiing Company pumps $24 million into Mount Snow, including $6 million in lifts.  Mount Snow hand-clears terrain and opens tree skiing and riding for the first time in 1995.  The high-speed Canyon Express (1996) and the Nitro Express (1997) at Carinthia increase lift capacity.  A new 400-foot halfpipe is built at Carinthia and is the first halfpipe illuminated for night riding.

February 23, 1998 – The Grand Summit Resort Hotel Opens
Mount Snow’s new $18 million Grand Summit Hotel and Conference Center opens to the public.  The 200-room hotel offers a heated outdoor pool and hot tub open 365 days a year.  The Grand Summit Hotel also includes a health club and spa, restaurant and bar, deli, sport shop and 15,000 square feet of conference and meeting space..


1998-99 — $5.2 Million in Facilities and Terrain Invested
Mount Snow revolutionizes learn-to ski and snowboard programs with the construction of the Discovery Learning Area.  It consists of the brand new Discovery Center, a three-story 20,000-square-foot lodge with its own welcome and registration area, equipment rentals, snack service and theatre.  As new skiers/riders watch a movie introducing them to the sport, their instructor brings their boots to them so they can try them on in a relaxed, comfortable setting.  The lower floor of the Discovery Center houses all children’s programs.

Additional improvements include a new restaurant, which provides another dining option.  A lighted nighttime snow tubing park opens.  Tubers slide down a banked run and then ride up the Covered Bridge Magic Carpet.

Feb. 3-6, 2000 – The X Games at Mount Snow
Mount Snow hosts the 4th Annual ESPN Winter X Games at Mount Snow.  More than 350 international athletes compete in 10 events.  The Games shatter previous attendance records, attracting 83,500 people and outdrawing all other Winter X Games combined.  The Games are broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, and worldwide reach more than 20 million viewers in 140 countries.

Feb. 1-4, 2001 – The X Games Return
The successful ESPN Winter X Games return to Mount Snow, this year drawing 85,100 spectators.GondolaClockTower

February 10, 2002 – Mount Snow’s Clark Goes Gold
At 18 years old Mount Snow’s own Kelly Clark wins the first American gold medal at the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in women’s half-pipe. Since then, Clark, a four-time Olympian, has won a total of three Olympic medals and is the most decorated snowboarder, male or female, in the history of the sport with more than 60 wins.

June 16, 2006 – Mount Snow Hosts USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships
Mount Snow announces that it will host the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships July 19-22, 2007. This will be the largest event of its kind in the U.S. and will decide the nation’s best mountain bikers.

April 5, 2007 – Mount Snow Joins the Peak Resorts Family
The $73.5 million sale of Mount Snow and Attitash from American Ski Company to Peak Resorts is completed.

Summer 2007 – The $6 Million Summer
Peak Resorts wastes little time putting their stamp on their new acquisition spending $6 million in time for winter 2007-08.  Included is a $3.5 million investment in 101 energy-efficient snowmaking fan guns, giving Mount Snow the most fan guns of any resort in New England.

Summer 2008 – $5 Million More Invested and Carinthia is Re-Born
Mount Snow invests another $5 million, including $3.5 million in 150 additional fan guns.  With 251 fan guns, Mount Snow now has the largest high-tech fan gun fleet in North America.  Mount Snow also announces that Carinthia mountain will become the only New England mountain face dedicated entirely to freestyle terrain parks with 12 parks, a new mini-halfpipe in addition to its superpipe, a learning area, a redesigned base lodge complete with a lounge, expanded deck and a skate ramp.  Carinthia will also be the only East Coast stop for the inaugural Dew Winter Action Sports Tour in January of 2009.

January 7-10, 2009 – 25,000 Fans Experience the First Ever Winter Dew Tour
The Winter Dew Tour makes its debut at Mount Snow and the mountain is blessed with incredible weather and amazing storylines.  Millions watched live on NBC as a pro field including Olympic medalists Shaun White, Hannah Teter, and Mount Snow’s own Kelly Clark compete in superpipe and slopestyle competitions at Carinthia.  Clark earns gold medal in the superpipe competition.

Summer 2011 – Mount Snow Installs First Bubble Six-Pack in America
Mount Snow spends $8.5 million and  replaces the Summit Local triple chair with a new high-speed six-passenger bubble chair.  Named the Bluebird Express for its blue bubble, it’s the only covered six-pack in America and whisks guests from base to summit in just over seven minutes.

July 2011 – Mount Snow Master Plan Approved
Mount Snow receives approval from the State of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources for its master redevelopment plan, which includes 900 residential units and 200,000 square feet of commercial space.  The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service accepted Mount Snow’s master plan in 2010.

January 2014 – Mount Snow Launches Its First EB-5 Offering
The $52 million project includes West Lake, a 120-million-gallon water storage pond for snowmaking, and Carinthia Ski Lodge, a 36,000-square-foot skier services building.  The project was approved by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, and the Vermont EB-5 Regional Center.