Gilbert’s Hill

In January 1934, ski history was made in Woodstock, Vermont. That year three men —Douglas Burden, Tommy Gammack, and Barklie Henry— had come to stay at the White Cupboard Inn so that they could go skiing at Clint Gilbert’s hill, just north of the village, on what is now Route 12. On one particular night, the three sat around discussing how they could get up a ski slope faster so that they could spend more time skiing and less time climbing hills. The three proposed to the White Cupboard Inn’s owners, Bob and Betty Royce, that they would put up the money if the Royces would have installed a ski tow similar to one that they had heard about in Shawbridge, Canada.

The Royces took the challenge. They contacted William Koch, Betty Royce’s brother, who in turn enlisted the help of his friend David Dodd. David was able to amass the needed parts, including a Model “T” Ford with a Montgomery Ward Pulford tractor conversion. The White Cupboard Skiway, the first ski tow in the United States, opened on January 29, 1934. This ski tow in turn spawned a wave of other local ski tows, including “The Gully,” “Prosper,” and “Suicide Six.” These ski ways put Woodstock on the map as a ski destination, and thousands of skiers flocked to the area.