When I posted a history of cross-country skiing at Lake Minnewaska and Mohonk Mountain House a few weeks ago, I was pleased, yet frustrated. Pleased because I felt that it was a good piece, but frustrated because it was a bit one-sided. There was precious little information available about Mohonk.
After several weeks chasing down blind alleys, someone referred me to Mohonk Mountain House’s archivist, Nell Boucher. She kindly shared her knowledge, filling in many gaps about the dawn of time – er, skiing – in Ulster County. For example, the alpine operation at Mohonk started much later than I’d previously thought. Mea culpa: instead of brushing my error under the rug, I prefer to come clean.
So far as I’m aware at present, Mohonk Mountain House’s guests were able to ski cross-country in 1933. If this is correct, it was the first commercial skiing available in southern New York and perhaps the entire state, antedating Gore Mountain by a year.
There’s more to be written here. Comparing the arc of the Smiley family’s business fortunes to that of Ken Phillips Sr. and Jr. would be fascinating. But many of the players are no longer with us, and those who remain may choose not to tell their story. Herewith, our update to: