Hard Work And Plenty Of Nostalgia Lead To Reopening Of Littleton Ski Area

Feb 9, 2015

First the kids had to listen to the speeches and then there was the skiing...
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

In the 1960’s Mount Eustis was where lots of kids learned to ski, Ron Lahout remembers.

“Once you reached a certain age your parents would dump you off and you would spend the whole day there.”

“It was booming. I mean the place was packed. There was a snack bar and that was also a big deal to see if you could get a couple of bucks out of your parents to get hot chocolate.”

But in the 80’s Mount Eustis closed, the victim of problems ranging from a couple winters without much snow to concerns about insurance.

Dave Harkless didn’t grow up in Littleton so he never skied on Mount Eustis. But one day he had this idea.

“You know literally three years ago I snowshoed to the top of the hill and was sitting up there and I had been using this hill for a number of years and nobody else was using it and I just thought it was a big waste.”

Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

So Harkless began working with other businessmen and volunteers to get Mount Eustis going again, hoping to provide a convenient and inexpensive place for kids to ski.

There were fundraisers, and hundreds and hundreds of hours were spent including clearing the slope.

Last Thursday, with a strong wind and the temperature just above zero, Dave Harkless and several other volunteers were at Mount Eustis, hard at work.

“You know if I realized how much it was going to take to make this happen I probably wouldn’t have done it but most people say that about big projects like this.”

Businesses donated funds and equipment and volunteers donated labor to clear and prepare the ski slope.
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

But Saturday they were finished.

There were cheers and the hill and a rope tow and great anticipation from kids including 9-year-old Macy Adams of Littleton.

“I think it is really cool that we finally say that we have our own ski hill again. And, I can’t wait to ski.”

Bretton Woods lent Mount Eustis a portable tow rope until a longer, permanent unit that will reach the top can be installed.
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

And then the kids were off, zooming down the hill, some launching off a short jump – as kids will do.

Kids can ski there for a suggested donation of $5 a day, Harkless says.

“It is donation only so if somebody doesn’t have any money and they want to ski they will be able to ski here.”

“It brings affordable skiing to local youth that is the most important thing,” says Laura McCarthy is the ski coach at Littleton High School.

Credit Courtesy Mount Eustis volunteer group

For George Lewis it was putting on the way-back machine.

In 1938 his father, Wilson, used a team of horses to pull a huge engine to the base of Mount Eustis, setting up a row tow.

In the beginning - three years ago - there was an overgrown field and the part of the old tow rope.
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

“It is just wonderful what the town has done and what this group of people have done.”

Mount Eustis is the second community ski slope in the North Country to make a comeback. 

Mount Prospect, in Lancaster, was revived in 2009.