DALTON — The "lost" ski areas author Jeremy Davis writes about are not the type that are waiting to be rediscovered. In fact, the remnants of many — bits of old tow ropes and rusting T-bars and J-bars — exist in plain sight.
His ski areas are "lost" in another sense — closed and only operational in old photographs and in the memories of those who once skied their slopes. It's those ski areas, those communities, he's been helping to reconstruct with photographs, newspaper clippings and the stories since the 1998, when he started the New England Lost Ski Areas Project website.
Since then, he's authored five books on the subject, chronicling the rise and fall of regional ski areas across New England.
"These areas were so important to communities," Davis told a packed house during the Berkshire Ski Season Showcase at The Stationery Factory on Wednesday. "These were more than a place to go and get a few runs in on a Saturday morning. These were community centers. People met their friends there. They met their future spouses there. They worked there. They patrolled there. They owned them. These were important places and it's important to get their stories."
Davis spoke with Kevin Moran, executive editor of The Eagle, about his latest book, "Lost Ski Areas of the Berkshires," during the final Berkshire Eagle Conversation Series event of 2019 which was part of the ski showcase. The Conversation Series is sponsored by Berkshire Bank.
"You don't have to be a skier to enjoy local history. We all drive by former ski areas or see the remnants when out hiking," Moran said of the appeal of Davis' book. "We're excited to have Jeremy Davis come speak about his book, but to be able to build something around the conversation is really fantastic. We hope to make this an annual event. One thing the Berkshires and Southern Vermont don't have is an outdoor winter sports expo to get everyone excited about the upcoming ski and winter sports seasons."
During the showcase, more than 600 attendees were able to mingle with over a dozen ski areas and winter sports retailers, including NeviTREK, Dion Snowshoes, Mount Greylock Ski Club, Berkshire East Mountain Resort, Catamount Mountain Resort, Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, Ski Butternut, the Garden, Ski Fanatics, Bousquet Mountain, Otis Ridge, Notchview, the National Ski Patrol and the Canterbury Farm Nordic Center.
"We hope to make this the beginning of a great Berkshire ski season," said Fredric D. Rutberg, president and publisher of The Eagle, as he greeted the crowd.
The event, he said, is something that isn't offered in the Berkshires despite it being an active winter recreational area with skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and many other outdoor sports taking place here. Large expos, he said, are offered in Boston and nearby New York.
"Why shouldn't people in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont have one close by?" Rutberg said.
Having a local ski showcase as an option brought out many of the evening's attendees.
Steve and Terry Maynard, of Pittsfield, were in attendance for both the showcase and the Davis' talk.
"We're new to the area, so we're interested in the history," Terry said.
The couple, who ski and snowshoe, recently moved to the Berkshires from western New York.
"I came to see if there's anything new at the local resorts and I wanted to hear the [Lost Ski Areas] presentation," said Adam Cameron, of Stephentown, N.Y.
He added, "It's nice to have a local alternative to the ski expos in Albany, N.Y., and Boston. There's a decent turnout for a first time [event]. I'm seeing a lot of local faces. Everyone's excited about skiing."