A monadnock that rises out of the Connecticut River Valley, Mount Ascutney has become a playground for hang gliders, mountain bikers and backcountry skiers .Photo by Fine Artist Nancy L. Griswold
home,” he adds. And soon, it may once again have a lift that runs. Comebacks are rare, but Mount Ascutney and the town of West Windsor and surrounding area are poised to pull one off.
A mountain’s town Glenn Seward has lived in the West Windsor area for 47 years and worked for 18 of them at Mount Ascutney Ski Resort, doing everything from mowing lawns to making and grooming snow to flipping burgers in the kitchen. “Everything that’s involved with running a
ski area,” he says. At one point, he was one of some 200 full- and part-time employees, many of who lived locally. For Seward and others, Ascutney was not just a ski area or a job: it was a cornerstone for the community. As West Windsor resident, telemark skier and trail builder Jim Lyall recalls, in a town of about 1,000 residents there were three spots people would go to meet. “You used to see your neighbors at the school, the post office and the ski area,” he says. “There used to always be something going on there.” Locals have been skiing the moun-
tain for as long as anyone can remember. In 1935, the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Windsor Outing Club cut the first trail down the face of the mountain. Development of the Ascutney ski trails occurred shortly after and a series of owners expanded the resort. Fans of Magic or Mad River Glen would recognize the old-school eastcoast style of trails like Touch N’ Go or Snowdance. The mountain’s unique forest composition also offered some 50 acres of glades through well-spaced hardwoods and dense spruce forests. The 1980s saw some $65 million in investments at the ski resort, but
soon the resort was mortgaged to the hilt. A group of investors called Summit Ventures Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection in 1990. New Yorkers Steve and Susan Plausteiner bought it for $1.1 million in 1993 and attempted to restart the resort the following winter. They were not successful and in 2010, Ascutney’s primary lender, New York investment bank MFW Associates, took possession. A liquidation followed and the chairlifts were sold. Meanwhile, the trails and base lodge sat empty. The loss of the resort sent ripples through the local economy. Seasonal