The site of the nation’s first rope tow is up for sale. The Woodstock hill (which lies partly in Pomfret) is a strategic link between two other recreational treasures. So a conservation group hopes to purchase and conserve the property with the help of interested ski history buffs and outdoor sports enthusiasts.
The first rope tow in America was installed on what was then Gilbert’s farm in Woodstock in 1934. It was powered by a Model T Ford. The Vermont Land Trust, along with several Woodstock residents, hopes to buy the 100-acre parcel, which also links the Appalachian Trail with the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park. Attorney Richard Windish is just starting to assess how much fundraising would be needed to meet the current owner’s price, which is not yet being disclosed.
“One of the big concerns, and I think the primary driving force behind the effort to conserve the land, is that if it did get purchased by another party it would potentially end up either subdivided or developed or in some way the public access would not be the same as it is now,” Windish said.
Windish commends the current owners, the Appel family, for allowing public use of the hill, and hopes that an agreement can be reached soon to buy the land for all kinds of community recreation. He says back country skiers already like to use the slope, which is marked by an historic plaque commemorating its snowy, storied history.