Adventures in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont
Explore a frozen ice castle in New Hampshire Drink rum made by a world-class skier turned master distiller Get out there and start fat biking 6 inventions that helped change the course of snow sports
Plus: C.F. Bishop and the Autoneige Wunderbar Biergarten The little ski hill that could
TABLE OF CONTENTS
7 15 39 44
Explore this frozen ice castle in New Hampshire
Ski Bum Rum’s Ryan Max Riley
2020 UpCountry Ski Guide
How a world-class athlete became a master distiller
Alpine and nordic ski area index
6 inventions that helped change the course of snow sports
Funky, fun, eclectic and full of ‘Lebenslust’ Wunderbar Biergarten brings global menu to Bellows Falls
You’ll never look at an evergreen tree the same way again 3 ways to use dry pine needles
Innovation on and off the slopes
4 From the editor 5 Contributors 50 10 things not to miss
The little ski hill that could Brattleboro’s Living Memorial Park offers $5 lift tickets and 8 decades of tradition
Get out there and start fat biking 5 tips to get you started
C.F. Bishop and the Autoneige How a Berkshire cottager conquered the winter roads of The Berkshires
52 UpCountryOnline.com | 3
FROM THE EDITOR
It seems silly to think that ski resorts once banned snowboarders from the slopes, but it’s true. Recently, thanks to the time machine that is the internet, I watched a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. news segment from 1985 about the “dangers” snowboarders posed to skiers. “Uncooperative … Smart alecs.” was how one ski patrolman in the news segment (available on YouTube) described the snowboarders he had been kicking off of ski slopes. Opponents of snowboarding called it dangerous and wrote it off as a passing fad. Before 1983, snowboarders were banned at all major ski resorts. But that changed in 1983 when Jake Burton Carpenter, of Burton Boards, convinced Stratton Mountain to let snowboarders have their day. In 1985, when ski patrols in Canada and around the United States were chasing down renegade snowboarders sneaking onto ski trails to get their fix, Stratton and Burton were hosting the first U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships. (In 1985, only 40 out of some 450 U.S. ski resorts allowed boarding.) Flashforward to 2020, when 7.56 million people in the U.S. snowboard, just over half of the 14.94 million people who hit the slopes on skis. Snowboarding is here to stay, and it’s in part because of Carpenter, the “godfather of snowboarding.” Sadly, this snowboarding legend, who lived and worked in the UpCountry, is no longer with us, having succumbed to cancer in November 2019. This issue, we pay tribute to Carpenter and a few other inventors and innovators from the Berkshires and Southern Vermont, like Clare Bousquet and Fred Harris, who helped change the course of snow sports. As we embark upon a new decade (and our fourth year of UpCountry), one can only dream of what absurd thing we’ll be chuckling about a few decades from now. Until then, we hope you’ll celebrate winter, in the here and now, with us. Jennifer Huberdeau, Editor email@example.com
Publisher Fredric D. Rutberg
Vice President Jordan Brechenser
Executive Editor Kevin Moran
Editor Jennifer L. Huberdeau
Proofreaders Margaret Button Tim Jamiolkowski Art Director Kimberly Kirchner
Regional Advertising Managers Berkshire County, Mass.: Kate Teutsch firstname.lastname@example.org
Bennington County, Vt.: Susan Plaisance
Windham County, Vt.: Jonathan Stafford email@example.com
UpCountry Magazine is a publication of New England Newspapers Inc.
On the Cover: A competitor soars during the 2019 Pepsi Challenge and U.S. Cup at the Harris Hill Ski Jump, in Brattleboro, Vt. Photo by Kristopher Radder. Story, page 50
4 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | January/February 2020
Susan Allen [“Funky, fun, eclectic and full of ‘Lebenslust,’” page 10] lives in Grafton. She was a reporter for the Associated Press and worked for former Govs. Howard Dean and Peter Shumlin.
Bernard A. Drew [“C.F. Bishop and the Autoneige,” page 52] has been an Our Berkshires columnist for The Berkshire Eagle since 1996. His latest book is “Well-Wheeled: How Cortlandt Field Bishop, Marguerite Westinghouse, Alden Sampson II and Gilded Age Lenox Cottagers Fueled the Brass Era of American Automobiling.”
James Gop [“You’ll never look at an evergreen the same way again,” page 22] is the chef, founder and creative mind behind Heirloom Fire. Born and raised in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, it was inevitable that the farms and forest would inspire him.
Noah Hoffenberg [“Get out there and start fat biking,” page 42] is a word-peddling mountain biker who spends all his time in the hills of Western Massachusetts, grousing among the porcupine and woodchucks.
Kevin O’Connor [“The little ski hill that could,” page 35] is a Vermont native and Brattleboro Reformer contributor.
Mike Walsh [“How a world-class athlete became a master distiller,” page 15] is a sports writer with The Berkshire Eagle, where he authors the bi-weekly Powder Report column. He’s a bordering-on-30 snowboarder with a degree from Marist College and a natural curiosity for the finer things in life. UpCountryOnline.com | 5
Explore this frozen ice castle in New Hampshire
By Jennifer Huberdeau NORTH WOODSTOCK, N.H.
Wish you could travel to Arendelle to visit Elsa’s castle made of ice? While a trip to the fictional icy home of Disney’s “Frozen” franchise isn’t possible, the next best thing, Ice Castles, is just a drive away, in North Woodstock. There, a glowing castle of ice awaits, with frozen thrones, towers and archways (all embedded with LED lights) that twinkle to music at night. Icecarved tunnels and slides wait to be climbed and explored. And what’s more? The popular tourist attraction, returning to New England for its sixth year, will add an enchanted forest walking path where guests will find ice sculptures and unique photo opportunities. Do we dare ask if it’s worth the trip? (It’s just over 2 hours from Brattleboro, and slightly over 31/2 hours from the heart of the Berkshires.) “Yes,” said Stephanie Martin, of Cheshire, Mass., who made the drive with family last year. “It was magical, charming, ice-cold and imaginative, like something out of a children's book.” UpCountryOnline.com | 7
IF YOU GO … What: Ice Castles Where: 24 Clark Farm Road, North Woodstock, N.H. When: Early January through late March (weather-dependent) Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 4 to 10:30 p.m. Friday; noon to 10:30 p.m. Saturday; closed on Sunday and Monday. Admission: Weekdays: $16.99, ages 12 and older; $11.99, ages 4 to 11. Friday and Saturday: $20.99, ages 12 and older; $14.95, ages 4 to 11
The New Hampshire Ice Castles experience is one of six sites in North America. Other locations can be found in Utah, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Alberta, Canada. While each property’s look is unique, the towering, walkthrough castles all share similar characteristics. According to Ice Castles, each castle is about 1 acre in size, takes two months to construct and requires about 25 million pounds of ice to construct. Each ice castle is built by hand, with construction teams of 20 to 40 artisans involved in the creation of a single location. And each castle is built using the same process — each day of construction involves PREVIOUS PAGE: In this January 2019 photo, Bruce McCafferty and his son, Dougie, pause while exploring the ice formations growing at Ice Castles in North Woodstock, N.H. Photo: The Associated Press ABOVE: In this January 2019 photo, McKenzie Lalumiere of Chelmsford, Mass., photographs Ice Castles in North Woodstock, N.H. Photo: The Associated Press RIGHT: Ice Castles New Hampshire returns to North Woodstock, N.H., for its sixth season. Photo provided by Ice Castles
growing 5,000 to 12,000 icicles (a proprietary process developed by Brent Christensen, lead artist and architect). But that’s where the similarities end. Each location’s appearance and end result is impacted by icicle placement, temperature, water volume and wind, resulting in an astonishing and ever-changing variety of ice formations. “We’re excited to see what Mother Nature helps us create this year,” Ryan Davis, Ice Castles CEO, said in a news release. “We look forward to bringing new winter experiences to New Hampshire and giving our guests even more unique ways to make winter memories together.” •
Funky, fun, eclectic and full of ‘Lebenslust’
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Wunderbar Biergarten brings global menu to Bellows Falls By Susan Allen BELLOWS FALLS, Vt.
“Wunderbar” is German for “wonderful.” Remy Walker and Alain Martinez added new meaning to the word, creating the Wunderbar Biergarten in the heart of downtown Bellows Falls that also is funky, fun, eclectic and full of “Lebenslust,” German for “zest for life.” “We both love music, we both love to dance,” said Martinez. They also like to dine out later into the evening, hear live music, and enjoy unique meals and cocktails with global flavors. Moving from Miami to Vermont on the recommendation of a friend living
in Grafton, “We had a hard time finding a place we like spending time.” So, they built that place. Working with that friend/ silent partner Gabriele Soyka to buy the brick building that formerly housed the Vermont Pretzel and Cookie Co. and J.J. Newberry’s five-and-dime store on Rockingham Street, near the Bellows Falls Opera House, they spent two years renovating the space to fit their unique vision. On one large exterior wall, they commissioned a friend to paint a mural — the face of a Bavarian-looking man sporting a long white beard and an Alpine hat — that had the town talking. Last year, Wunderbar
opened its doors to the public, and today it’s not uncommon to find every seat in the restaurant and bar taken. Some are families seated at the large communal Biergarten table, often chatting with the owners as they peruse the menu. Couples and friends sit in cozy corner sectionals or at two- and four-top tables, stopping by for cocktails and dinner before heading to the Opera House for a movie or play. The house cat curled up in a chair by the front door, always gets a pat. So, what makes the Wunderbar unique? Pretty much everything, from the eclectic look to the global menu, from the late-night hours to the
dancing and live entertainment. “The uniqueness reflects our uniqueness,” said Martinez, who will happily spend an hour pointing out the quirky pieces of decor that blend to give the Wunderbar a feeling of whimsy and intimacy. Diners sit among a sea of green plants, bringing the outdoor Biergarten motif indoors. Martinez and Martin handlaid porcelain tiles for a mockwood floor and used “found” wooden banisters and chair spindles to decorate the front of the bar. Framed pictures and artwork cover the walls, along with an old Bellows Falls Independent Order of Odd Fellows sign — a tribute to the club that once met upstairs.
PREVIOUS PAGE: Photo provided by Wunderbar. BELOW: Remy Walker and Alain Martinez, owners of Wunderbar, in Bellows Falls, clink glasses of beer. Brattleboro Reforer File Photo
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At Wunderbar, you’ll find drinks with alluring names like Pressure Drop, Almond Butter and Oh So Fancy. Photo provided by Wunderbar
One of the highlights of Wunderbar’s interior is a mural extending across two walls that Walker and Martinez drew using Sharpies, reflecting a map of Bellows Falls from 1886 and illustrating virtually every building, street and point of landscaping from that era. The restaurant and bar boasts a kitchen that stays open until 9:30 p.m. for the late diners. Regular Saturday night dances run until 1:30 a.m. In the past year, they have held a Latin Dance Party, Drag Cabarets, the Wundergroove Halloween Party, a Speakeasy Spectacular, poetry and author readings, even an afternoon embroidery workshop. Not to
mention plenty of live music. The age of the party crowd? Across the spectrum, with dancers in their young 20s through their 60s. “Who doesn’t like to dance?” Martinez said with a smile. Children are welcome (although not at the bar). Walker said one little 7-year-old regular tries to persuade them to turn on the disco music and mirror ball during the quieter dinner hour. When Walker says no; she’ll hunt down Martinez, and bingo! Sparkling mirror ball lights bounce off the walls and ceiling. “Our expectation was, it might take a while to catch on,” Martinez said of the scene.
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“But from the beginning, the late-night appeal of what we are doing has never been a challenge.” Nightlife is only part of Wunderbar’s appeal. The other is the global mix of food and drink. “Remy has always been keen to mixologize cocktails. He’s a chemist in that way,” said Martinez. “I’ve always been more food-centric.” Martinez’s Cuban and Moroccan heritage is reflected in the restaurant menu, along with flavors from across the world, most served tapas-style to be shared among friends. In addition to standards like spinach artichoke dip, tacos
and pork chops, those seeking more adventure can opt for choripan, arepa otono and bao buns with pork belly or duck. The menu entices with sauces and ingredients like chimichurri, burrata, sake and kimchi. “We bring those world favors, but pair them with local ingredients,” Walker said. The honey nut squash, for example, comes from Saxtons River and is mixed with black rice, Brussels sprouts, cranberries and curry. Prices for food range from $6 for choripan to $18 for the duck confit, with crispy duck fat potatoes and house kraut. Vermonters, it would seem, are ready to experiment. “They look at a menu item
Remy Walker and Alain Martinez, owners of Wunderbar, had a hard time finding the right place to hang out. So they built it. Brattleboro Reformer File Photo
that is essentially a South American snack food and they ask ‘What is that?’ The servers explain it, and it’s refreshing to see how adventurous people are with the food and the drinks,” said Martinez, who greets visitors at the door, and often moves among the tables checking on drinks and food. You’re more likely to find Walker behind the bar working his magic on drinks with alluring names like Pressure Drop (Stoli vodka, meletti, dry vermouth and pear brandy), Almond Butter (El Jimador Reposado, Amaretto, apricot, lime, orgeat and maple), and Oh So Fancy (Rittenhouse Rye, Banhez Mezcal and Luxardo).
IF YOU GO ...
Wunderbar 22 Rockingham St. Bellows Falls, Vt. 802-489-0289 Wunderbarvt.com or facebook.com/wunderbarvt22 Call or check out the Wunderbar Facebook page for hours and upcoming events.
Drink prices range from $10 for a Jack Rose with grenadine to $13 for Oh So Fancy. Craft beer and wine also are available. The house favorite, hands down, is the Gee+Tee 2.0
— a generous shot of Vermont-made Barr Hill Gin, St. Germain tonic, floating juniper berries, rosemary and a fragrant cucumber shrub that makes an ideal stirrer. Walker regularly
changes the drinks menu, but when he pulled the Gee+Tee off the menu, “people were literally in tears,” Martinez said. So, the Gee+Tee is a mainstay. What’s next for this unique couple and the Wunderbar? Walker said they are considering ideas for the roughly 4,000 square feet of upstairs space in the building, perhaps creating mixed-use options for artist studios and offices. “After that, who knows,” he said. The future is, as they say, a Wild Card. Which, in Wunderbar lingo, translates to Singani, sloe gin, Fernet Branca, absinthe, lemon, vanilla extract and club soda. Very unique.• UpCountryOnline.com | 13
How a world-class athlete became a master distiller
Ski Bum Rumâ€™s Ryan Max Riley once skied the slopes as part of the U.S. Ski Team UpCountryOnline.com | 15
By Mike Walsh NORTH ADAMS, Mass.
The pretty butterfly with dirty blond hair has no idea how close she came to not having the opportunity to meet the handsome stranger dressed loosely in a chicken suit. Chances are good that neither one knew exactly where they were, or who the gentleman behind the bar mixing drinks was, either. It’s Saturday night in North Adams, Halloween weekend actually, and Ryan Max Ri-
ley is whipping up Blackberry Brambles and Old Fashioneds as quickly as his skilled hands will move. With every concoction, Riley dips in a clean spoon and tastes his creation before handing it over to the costumed customer. Ryan Max Riley is a bit of a perfectionist, but he is a bit of a lot of things. For one, he is a two-time national champion in men’s moguls who spent seven years on the U.S. Ski Team. For another, he’s a self-employed master distiller who
founded his own small business around his Ski Bum Rum. “After [skiing on the World Cup] I had this plan of moving to Switzerland and finding an uninhabited hut in the Alps and living there with a goat, and being like a ski guide,” Riley said, jokingly — but only kind of — a week later in Pittsfield. To those who mosied over from the Greylock Works Halloween party down the hall, though, he’s just the guy with light, salt-and-pepper hair, a button-down and jeans serv-
ing them drinks at a one-room nook off the back end of their masquerade with a big smile. The two things of note are, one, the giant, floor-to-ceiling alembic pot still, shining in brilliant copper behind Riley, and two, the drinks he is making are ridiculously delicious. The chicken guy all but casts aside the Blue Moon can he came in with, while a certain reporter in a white tank top and gloriously thick Freddie Mercury moustache quickly sips a Bramble. I met Ryan briefly that night; with the Halloween party just beginning, it was going to be a long night for him. But it wasn’t the drinks or DJ down the hall that brought me to the renovated warehouse on State Road in the upper left corner of Massachusetts. What the butterflies and Spider-Men and Steves from “Stranger Things” don’t know about their Saturday night is the incredible story behind how that bartender came to be in that spot.
Riley’s resume, if it actually existed anywhere, is impressive to the point of near intimidation. For whatever it’s worth, a Wikipedia page — he claims that it is horribly out of date — lists an overwhelming curriculum vitae that precedes the wiry 40-year-old chatting with the barista at Dottie’s Coffee Shop about the seasonality of the shop’s beverages. Curriculum vitae is a term that seems befitting for a man whose academic history includes stops at Harvard, Yale and Oxford. He uses words like
PREVIOUS PAGE: Distiller Ryan Max Riley runs Ski Bum Rum Distillery in North Adams, which is located at Greylock Works. Berkshire Eagle File Photo LEFT: Photo by U.S. Ski & Snowboard
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Ryan Max Riley mixes a cocktail at Ski Bum Rum Distillery in North Adams. Its intimate space includes a cocktail bar and distillation equipment. Berkshire Eagle File Photo
terroir to describe his gin, and has traveled the world honing his old and new trade. It’s not hard to believe that the man whose side hustle is teaching a course on J.R.R. Tolkien at Williams College once persuaded his high school principal to let him attend classes one day a week while he skied the other four. Riley still managed straight A’s. But Ryan Max Riley isn’t some snooty academic. He’s a world-class athlete and master distiller. Riley is only recently a Berkshire County guy, but he has spent the past year immersing himself in the area fully. He grew up in Colorado and started skiing at age 11, and in short order his parents couldn’t drag him off the mountain. Eventually, they purchased a condo at a resort, and Riley would live there mostly on his own, eating SpaghettiOs, ordering pizza and fostering that goat-in-theAlps idea. This began a love of the ski lifestyle and the solitary meditation it provides. Eventually, Riley was sent to the Lowell Whiteman School (now Steamboat Mountain School), a prep school that allowed him to attend classes in the mornings and ski in the afternoons, with Fridays off to travel to weekend races. “I was such a student of the sport,” Riley says. “Notebook after notebook of my scribbled handwriting trying to figure out how to become a better skier. I’d watch slow-motion videos every night. So, I got really good and made it onto the U.S. Ski team right after I graduated.” At 15, he was the best skier
in Colorado for all age groups, earning himself a spot on the North American tour, which is the level below World Cup. He won that and punched his ticket to the big time. Riley’s first World Cup race was March 14, 1998, at Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria. The 18-year-old placed 13th in men’s moguls, an event won by Jonny Moseley. He spent the next seven years on the U.S. national team, winning a pair of national championships. He had no desire to go to college, instead craving the travel. But, a broken
back altered his perspective, and a better backup plan was needed. In 2002, he was accepted and started attending Harvard University, while still skiing moguls for the United States. “I had to fly a lot more than my teammates, back and forth every week or every other week,” he says. “I would drive to the World Cup in Mont Tremblant in Quebec, and Lake Placid, but beside that, it was flying. Every Monday you pretty much flew to another country.” The solo drives and flights just presented more solitude
for the guy who used to wear big, baggy jackets and ski pants so he could fit books in the pockets to read on chairlifts. Riley’s time on Team USA coincided with the founding of what is considered “new school” and freestyle skiing. Contemporaries like J.P. Auclair, who died in an avalanche in 2004, and J.F. Cousson are responsible for fostering the sport as we now know it. “I was right around the origin of that. These guys I would ski moguls with were the founders of new school,” UpCountryOnline.com | 17
says Riley, who calls Cousson the godfather of new school. “We spent summers together going to arcades and causing trouble, then we’d be skiing and J.F. would be trying these things like Misty Flips, and we didn’t even know what a Misty Flip was, it was crazy. “He’d just throw his body off a jump, do an upside-down 720, which seemed so dangerous. Then we started experimenting doing mute grabs and tail grabs and inverted maneuvers.” On the SkiBumRum.com website, there’s a Sierra Ski Times magazine cover of Riley doing an iron cross tail grab off a jump. It’s from January 1999, not long after Moseley’s 360 mute grab won Olympic gold at the Nagano Games in 1998. “It was such an exciting sport because we were sort of figuring out new tricks,” says Riley. “People were just figuring out how to do 360s with an iron cross. Now, it’s so basic, but hardly anybody could do that stuff. There was such possibility, it seemed like a really exciting moment in the sport with a lot of potential for doing things that nobody had ever been able to do before.” After his career as a professional skier came to a close in the mid-2000s, academic pursuits took hold for a time, and he collected degrees from Harvard and Oxford, while writing for the National Lampoon and making plans to tackle the Ph.D. program at Yale. Somewhere in there, he met a girl named Emily and shifted gears once more. Riley left Yale to start his own business, a micro distillery. What was once a pursuit of skiing excellence, then literary, became rum, and now, gin. “I’m a skier, so I wanted to make a rum specifically designed for winter cocktails,” he says. “I try to make my spiced rum smell and taste like Christmas. It’s really good in things like hot buttered rum, hot toddies and eggnog. It’s the perfect winter rum.”
Ryan Max Riley, center, on the podium at the 2004 U.S. National Championships in Heavenly, Calif. Photo by U.S. Ski & Snowboard
It took seven years for Riley to perfect his silver rum; much of that time was spent while opening the Ski Bum Rum distillery in his native Colorado. He also has since added an award-winning coconut rum made with real coconut and vanilla bean, and sugar cane he imports from Mauritius, a small island in the Indian Ocean. That kind of devotion is undoubtedly a holdover from the days of film study and notebooks full of diagrams from his time on the mountain. “You do a lot of studying and drills, but then you get it and it becomes second nature. It’s really crazy what skiers can do after they’ve mastered it. Without even thinking, I can fly down a double diamond hill
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of moguls, dangerously fast, and then do a backflip with a 720 upside-down, land it and the whole time I’m not really thinking. I just kind of do it, like a strange animal,” Riley says. He’s not bragging, but almost speaking stream-ofconscious in the third person. Skiing and distilling are topics he could talk about for hours, and you have to bear with him when the literary scholar pops in for an interlude. And does he think he is getting to that “upside-down 720” point with his distilling and cocktail mixing? “That’s exactly what it feels like, because it takes so long to figure out how to make outstanding silver rum. It’s the hardest thing you can possibly make. It’s like, in ancient
Greece, one of the best displays of artistic talent was just to draw a perfect circle by hand. If you could draw a perfect circle, it meant you were a great artist. I think of silver rum like that. If you can make a really good one, it means you’re so good at distilling and fermenting and blending that you can make anything else.” His first batch of gin was incredible, he says. His first batch of rum was far from it. Every batch, like each trip down a mogul field, he tweaks, in a constant effort to be better and better until he can operate on instinct. The gin experimentation started organically out of talking to local foragers. He realized he could make a local craft gin that would taste
Three cocktails available at Ski Bum Rum Distillery are from left, a Spicy Blackberry Bramble, an Old Fashioned and a Classic Daiquiri. Berkshire Eagle File Photo
unlike any other in the world. It also went somewhat hand in hand with Emily, now his wife, finishing her Ph.D. and getting a job as an English professor at a small school called Williams College in Northwestern Massachusetts. Three years in, Riley had to load his whole setup onto two big trucks and move across the country. He rushed to get everything in and set back up before his 40th birthday in May. They started serving in October, and The Distillery at Greylock Works, Forager Gin & Ski Bum Rum, is open every Friday and Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m. The transition certainly wasn’t seamless, but with it, Riley has refound parts of his youth.
“We really like this region, and we thought it was a good spot to move the business to because it is really similar to the Alps, where I wanted to move with my goat, and Colorado, where I grew up,” he says. “It’s really mountainous, great skiing, incredible hiking. The forests, I think, are so incredible, they’re really old; some of these trees have never been cut down and there’s such interesting things growing in there. I’m a big forager; I love wandering around the woods finding things to use in my gin.” Forager Gin is Riley ’s newest product, and he plans to make one for each season, using ingredients he finds on hikes, always sustainably and respectfully, and sometimes
with Emily and their St. Bernard. He is fascinated by the different trees he has found in New England, like black birch, for their aroma, and burdock root. “I try to make so many things that would be really enjoyable next to a fire, during the winter when the snow is falling,” he says. “That’s one of the images I have in mind when I design certain cocktails.” He has become part of a community with fellow foragers like Nicholas Moulton, executive chef at Mezze Bistro, and nearby Tourists’ Tracy Remelius. In this respect, he feels a kinship with Tolkien. “He is very important to environmentalists, he was way into trees and nature. He was
kind of anti-industrial like I am,” Riley says. “I was kind of upset that Denver is doing so well economically. I’m way more old-fashioned. I love the middle ages and crafts. That’s why I have a microdistillery, because I don’t want to build it for scale and sell it all over the country, and make it into something gigantic, like Bacardi. I just want to keep it small and focus on the craft and have it feel more like an alchemist's shop.” The bar inside Greylock Works does have that feel, with glass canisters of fresh ingredients — Riley forages in the morning and then adds ingredients to his gin that day — lining the top and a full glass storefront-style window into the hallway, where his miniature still sits for experimental batches. “The reason gin is so appealing is, it uses botanicals, and every region has its own botanicals and indigenous plants and foraging knowledge,” he says. “There’s terroir in gin. A gin made in the Berkshires doesn’t taste like a gin made anywhere else.” It’s a place that fits right into North Adams and the Berkshires as a whole, a place Riley embraces for its local feel. “It’s a really interesting, temporal effect; skiing here feels very much like skiing in Colorado when I was a kid,” he says. “Skiing in Colorado feels different now. I think it was a little bit better when I was a kid. It’s like that here right now. It’s not as corporate. It’s more about the skiing and the people and nature. “Less glitz and super-highspeed chairlifts and really expensive hamburgers.” Riley somewhat laments the big-business culture that has taken hold in Colorado, groaning at things like Ferraris in ski resort parking lots. “It ’s a totally different culture, and it’s not the one I remember,” he says. “This is more like what I grew up experiencing. It’s more off the UpCountryOnline.com | 19
beaten path. You don’t feel like the horses of capitalism surging around you all the time.” With that, Riley is looking forward to experiencing more of the Western Massachusetts and southern Vermont ski scene. He has taken a volunteer position with the ski patrol at Jiminy Peak, and Emily alerted him to the Mount Greylock Ski Club’s rope tows. He also is intrigued greatly by Magic Mountain in Londonderry, Vt. “It’s so uncorporate,” Riley says of Greylock. “That’s the kind of thing that can happen here in the Berkshires. It’s like what skiing would’ve been like 50 or 80 years ago. It’s that basic. All you really need for skiing is a really great hill and a way to get up it, like a rope, or you just hike up it. It shouldn’t be so expensive.” They remind him of his youth at places like Arapahoe Basin, where you could tailgate in the parking lot. “They’ve kept that original character. And that original character is all you need to enjoy skiing. When you start adding to that, you start detracting from the sport. If it’s just you, the slopes and your friends, and you didn’t have to pay a fortune for the pass and they’re not bombarding you with advertisements,” Riley says, thinking back on a World Cup stop in Japan, where they blasted a techno version of Beethoven’s Fur Elise on repeat. “It’s really distracting and artificial. I like the classic skiing. Skiing in its raw state. The sport in its purest sense. “What you should need to have an enjoyable life is just like a pair of skis and a couple of books.” And a well-made apres cocktail doesn’t hurt, either. •
Riley shows off his skills in Blackcomb, Canada, 1999. Photo provided by Ryan Riley
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Youâ€™ll never look at an evergreen tree the same way again 3 ways to use those dry tree needles
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By James Gop
The great outdoors of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont can provide us with wild foods that we can forage for our dinner plates. In the spring, we can find an abundance of ramps (wild leeks) for what seems like a fleeting moment. Summer gives way to many wild berries worth collecting, and autumn sees us scurrying through the woods for a diverse population of wild mushrooms and nuts. When the snow begins to fall, the wild edibles that are available for forage are greatly diminished. Available yearround, though I rely on them a little more in the winter, are the conifers. A particular favorite ingredient of mine is something that will actually be in many folksâ€™ living rooms over the winter, their Christmas tree.
The Nor way spruce, a common species selected for Christmas trees, actually has many uses in my culinary repertoire. Much like some food in the produce section, the needles need a little preparation to be enjoyable for consumption. Fresh off the tree, the needles will have a pronounced lemony flavor, followed by bitter piney notes. The reason the needles have a flavor that is reminiscent of lemon is that they are very high in vitamin C and can be made into a quick tea when hot water is poured over the needles, a trick prized in the survivalist community. A huge source of inspiration comes to me from spending time in the solitude of nature. The way the morning light breaks through the leaves on the trees, the contrast of
a strong set of roots crawling over a moss-covered stone or freshly fallen snow atop the deep emerald needles of a pine tree branch; these are all emotions and visuals that influence me for future dinner recipes. You can forage outside for a few branches of a spruce tree or wait for the retirement of your Christmas tree because, the drier the needles, the better they are to work with. If you can, sweep up the fallen needles that are inevitably released on to your floor and keep them in a zip-close bag until you are ready to use them. A simple, yet delicious, use for the needles and branches is using them to lightly add smoke to food. One of my favorite ways to use spruce is to shuck a dozen oysters and line them up on the grate of an outdoor grill. Next,
put the broken branches and needles in the bottom of the grill and ignite the spruce with a torch or match. Put the grate on top of the fire, quickly put the lid on and let the oysters smoke for about one to one and a half minutes. Transfer to a plate and top oysters with mignonette sauce or a squeeze of lemon and enjoy. If you find yourself with a large amount of extra needles, it might be a good idea to think about preserving them in a few different ways so that you can enjoy them at a later date. A neat trick to collect the dried needles from your Christmas tree without making a mess: Break the branches from the tree and gently put them into a pile. Working in batches, put a branch at a time into a garbage bag and shake
PREVIOUS PAGE: Alexandre Guimont/UnSplash ABOVE: Spruce oil is great in salad dressings, drizzled on a winter squash soup or really nice as a substitute for olive oil in baked goods, such as an olive oil cake or cookies. Photo provided by Heirloom Fire
UpCountryOnline.com | 23
A simple, yet delicious, use for the needles and branches is using them to lightly add smoke to food. Photo provided by Chellise Michael Photography/Heirloom Fire
until the needles fall off the branches. You will have to sort through some smaller twigs, but this will save you a lot of time. Another method of preservation for your spruce needles is to turn them into a syrup. Create a simple syrup by adding equal parts sugar and water to a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, dissolve the sugar and, once fully dissolved, remove from heat and let cool. To create a spruce simple syrup, put equal parts simple syrup and spruce needles into a blender and process on high speed until the needles are completely incorporated,
about three minutes. Strain the syrup to remove the spruce needle solids, transfer syrup to a mason jar and refrigerate until needed. The syrup is wonderful when used in cocktails as a replacement for plain simple syrup, brushed onto roast meats, like pork and duck, or brushed onto a sponge cake to be absorbed. Lastly, you can preserve your spruce needles in an oil form for many applications. Here, you will use equal parts vegetable or canola oil and spruce needles. Process the needles and oil in a blender on high speed until the needles
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are incorporated into the oil, about three minutes. Strain the spruce solids from the oil, transfer to a mason jar and keep refrigerated until ready to use. You can use your choice of oil, but here, I prefer to use vegetable or canola oil because they are both neutral in flavor and allow the spruce to have center stage. The spruce oil is great in salad dressings, drizzled on a winter squash soup or really nice as a substitute for olive oil in baked goods, such as an olive oil cake or cookies. As you finish the last of the Christmas cookies this
season and are ready to put the tree to bed, snap off a few branches and try one of these recipes; you will never look at your Christmas tree the same way again. ***Before using your tree in these recipes, please make sure it came from a pesticide-free source. ***When harvesting foods from the wild, always be absolutely certain of the identity. Wild mushrooms can be poisonous and deadly if not appropriately identified. If unsure, consult an expert.
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74 Slies Hill Road, Westminster, Vt. 2 Bed • 3 bath • 1,234 sq. ft. • Year built: 1969 • Lot: 1 acre • $189,900 Sweet and enchanting! This home has a fairy tale quality from your first look — nooks and crannies from the outset! Start with an oversized two car garage with a second floor for a workshop or bonus room... need storage? There is an open deck with a surprise covered nook, a back covered porch — grill in the rain — and lots of stone walk ways, gardens and local walking trails. Come inside to an open concept kitchen, dining and utility area featuring gleaming hardwood floors and lots of light. The first floor master bedroom has an en suite bath with jet tub and separate shower! There is a bonus three-quarter tiled bath for everyone else and the secondfloor guest bedroom has its own half bath! The cozy living room has french doors that lead to the back porch, and the dining area has a wood stove in it’s own little nook. This is such a sweet set up, you will light up when you see it, so come visit this unusual home and make it your own. $189,900
More information: Christine Lewis, CRS, CBR, GRI
Brattleboro Area Realty Cell: 802-380-2088 Office: 802-257-1335 Chris@BrattleboroAreaRealty.com
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4 Lakeridge Road, Guilford, Vt. 5 Bed • 3 Bath • 2,520 Sq. Ft. • Year built: 1900 • Lot: 20 Acres • $575,000
Come home to Vermont! Come home to nearly 20 acres of rolling gorgeous meadow, a bit of woodland and your own stream. The beautifully renovated home has a lovely open concept with tons of windows for light and air, gleaming hardwood floors and a view of the property from every room. The well thought-out kitchen with walk-in pantry is perfect for cooking while entertaining. Age in place with the first floor bedroom and en suite bath. The home has plenty of room for a big family or guests. The dynamic original barn with silo has been well cared for and has two floors of great storage or room for a studio. This is an amazing property with privacy and those sweet rolling meadows, pond and huge deck where you can relax and enjoy it all. $575,000 • MLS #4764869
Christine Lewis, CRS, CBR, GRI
Brattleboro Area Realty Cell: 802-380-2088 * Office: 802-257-1335 Chris@BrattleboroAreaRealty.com
UpCountryOnline.com | 29
260 Purple Mtn. Road, Dummerston, Vt. 4 bed • 3 bath • 4,524 sq. ft. • $649,000
Enjoy dramatic views and sunsets from this stunning contemporary home that sits atop a mountain on a private road. Sited to take advantage of the southwesterly exposure and private setting, this four-bedroom, three full bath home enjoys spectacular picture window views looking west over Mount Snow and the Green Mountains. Situated on 16+ acres, the home offers a sun-filled two-story great room featuring a custom built kitchen with black walnut cabinets and marble counters, and a dining and sitting area with tile floors and views of the valley and mountains from every window. The modern home includes a wood-beamed ceiling living room with stone chimney and wood-burning stove, a second floor loft sitting room and a finished basement. The entire second floor features a master bedroom with a private outside deck, a master bathroom, two guest bedrooms, another full bath and red oak flooring throughout. The property includes stone walls, fresh water springs, mature plantings and shrubs. Experience the best of Vermont. $649,000 • MLS #4710345
Experts in Southern Vermont Real Estate Since 1965 Brattleboro Office 119 Western Avenue Brattleboro, VT 05301 802-254-6400
Dover Office 118 Route 100 West Dover, VT 05356 802-464-8900
www.berkleyveller.com 30 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | January/February 2020
82 Look Road, Wilmington, Vt. 5 bed • 3.5 bath • 6198 sq. ft. • $530,000
Enjoy amazing proximity to Mount Snow ski resort, as well as nearby lakes and trails, with utter privacy. This tremendous home sits on 10 acres overlooking the ski trails, ridgelines and sunsets beyond, with amazing light and natural exposure thanks to the pastoral setting on a dead end road with easy access. This spacious home can fit your guests and then some. Amazing entertaining features include a vaulted great room with wood burning fireplace in stone hearth and natural woodwork, oversized windows to the views, a large kitchen open to the living areas, ample dining room and breakfast space and a comfortable den/tv parlor. The home boasts a jaw dropping master suite with spacious master bath and private fireplace, great size guest rooms, a full finished attic amazing for storage, wood floors throughout, a full finished basement with guest suite and a large family and billiard room, as well as a two-car attached garage and an unfinished caretaker quarters or in-law suite. The possibilities are endless for an discerning buyer. $530,000 • MLS # 4742503
Experts in Southern Vermont Real Estate Since 1965 Brattleboro Office 119 Western Avenue Brattleboro, VT 05301 802-254-6400
Dover Office 118 Route 100 West Dover, VT 05356 802-464-8900
www.berkleyveller.com Sponsored Content
UpCountryOnline.com | 31
191 Water St., Williamstown, Mass., 01267 413-458-0093 • BurnhamGold.com Licensed in MA & VT
336 Bulkley Street, Williamstown, Mass.
Originally part of Hopkins Memorial Forest, this property is rich in Williamstown history. Once home to the Memorial Forest’s farm manager, this house has gone through extensive renovations over time and is now the perfect combination of original history with modern flair and top of the line amenities. This property offers the perfect opportunity to live on Bulkley Street, one of Williamstown’s most sought after neighborhoods, offering complete privacy while being just around the corner from Williams College and the Williamstown Theater Festival yet so close to Hopkins Memorial Forest and great hiking trails. The home is complete with a beautiful kitchen with a Viking stove, double ovens, a wet bar and cathedral ceilings open to a family room and can be over looked by an above loft. With three fireplaces, the downstairs is the perfect space for entertaining, whether in the formal dining room, grand living room, cozy den or sprawling kitchen. The upstairs consists of a large master wing as well as three additional large bedrooms each with its own appointed bathroom and a lofted office space. The master suite includes a private study and his and her bathrooms as well as a large bedroom with a walk in closet. Completing the property is a hand hewn post and beam grand barn, a two car garage, gorgeous stone patios, and an enclosed screened in porch.
150 Torrey Woods Road, Williamstown, Mass. $1,250,000 Nestled in the tranquil hillside is this circa 1760s gentlemen’s horse farm. This estate offers graceful country living, quiet beauty and is rich in American
history, once part of a 700 acre dairy farm. The owners have lived and loved here for 47 years. Once inside you’ll find the antique patina of an era gone by as well
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as many modern amenities. A new addition built in 2001 offers an exquisite great room with a Field Stone floor to ceiling fireplace, french doors allowing for
brilliant light, wood floors, and more french doors to a Goshen Stone patio. Upstairs is a two bedroom en suite, private and inviting. A modern kitchen was built in 2017 with stainless steel appliances, and granite counter tops. There are five bedrooms, five bathrooms, an intimate formal dining room and formal living room with an antique era Beehive fireplace. A city man’ dream come true, with over 4,000 square feet of country living, a total of three en suites, upper and lower porches, patios, a five-stall horse barn, heated shop, storage areas, room for four vehicles, an outside 110’ x 50’ lighted riding ring and an in ground heated concrete pool with mature landscaping throughout the property. You will not want to leave once you arrive. Call today for your exclusive showing.
The little ski hill that could Brattleboro’s Living Memorial Park offers $5 lift tickets and 8 decades of tradition By Kevin O’Connor BRATTLEBORO, Vt.
The T-bar lift takes skiers and snowboarders up the hill at Living Memorial Park in Brattleboro. Brattleboro Reformer File Photo
Turn back history to January 1938 and you’ll see headlines as dark as storm clouds, be it about President Franklin Roosevelt focusing his State of the Union address on “a world of high tension and disorder” or Vermont ministers lamenting theaters breaking a longtime Sabbath rule by showing films on Sunday. “Those motion picture houses that do evade the law do not merit public patronage,” one cleric said. Bookended between the Great Depression and World War II, the era seemed inescapable. Then came news of a newfangled contraption — a “ski tow” — sprouting at a local hillside farm. “A 20-horsepower electric motor operating a one-inch, specially prepared, waterproofed rope will be capable of handling 20 persons at a time,” The Brattleboro Reformer reported, “drawing them up the slope at a speed of over 10 miles an hour.” UpCountryOnline.com | 35
Today, that once-modern miracle — it’s located at what’s now Living Memorial Park — is a throwback to a time when one could enjoy the outdoors with family and friends for the price of a magazine. Then again, thanks to a current volunteer effort by snow sports enthusiasts, you still can. Southern Vermont ski history dates back more than a century, to the 1890s, when author Rudyard Kipling, writing “The Jungle Book” and “Captains Courageous” in a hideaway home in the neighboring town of Dummerston, received a pair of downhill skis from friend Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the detective character Sherlock Holmes. Vermonter Fred Harris — he was a young contemporary of the airplane-inventing Wright brothers — advanced the sport to dizzying heights in 1922 by building Brattleboro’s Harris Hill ski jump, the only Olympic-size venue in New England and one of a mere six of its height in the nation. Fifteen years later, fellow locals Robert Billings, Elliot Barber, John Dunham and Floyd Messenger knew many were reluctant to climb a peak 30 stories high and leap off at speeds of up to 60 mph. As winter approached in 1937, they decided to build a community ski tow on a gentler Guilford Street slope. Their plan, featuring a 1,100-foot rope ascending on Model A Ford wheels affixed to poles, was one of the earlier lifts in New England after the 1934 debut of the nation’s first ski tow in Woodstock, Vt. The Reformer trumpeted the advance just before Thanksgiving 1937, but a lack of snow delayed the opening until January 1938, when locals could ski all day for 35 cents, or a half-day for a quarter. Nicholas Collins, a member of the National Ski Patrol for nearly three-quarters of a century before his death last year, grew up in a nearby house and was one of the first to feel
THIS PAGE: Skiers catch a ride on the T-bar lift. NEXT PAGE: Children compete in the 2018 Junior Olympics Downhill Ski Races at Living Memorial Park. Brattleboro Reformer File Photos
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the rope’s pull. “After the tow closed for the day, I would shovel snow into the ruts and then pack the towline with my skis,” the longest-serving patroller in the country recalled of his childhood. “They paid me in lift tickets, which was fine with me.” Operators added lights in 1939, allowing the tow to run three nights a week. The slope continued to welcome skiers during World War II and became part of Living Memorial Park in the 1950s, when the town purchased the land and replaced the rope with a T-bar lift. “At a time when the complexities and diversions of life have a tendency to separate
Ski for yourself Living Memorial Park Snow Sports operates its Brattleboro, Vt., ski lift most winter Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with hours and more specifics posted on its website, vtsnowsports.org. People interested in volunteering can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
families,” the Reformer editorialized at the time, “it is good to see one strong force at work bringing them together.” And so it went until 1995, when the town, facing a budget crunch, stopped operating the ski tow. Enter Living Memorial
Park Snow Sports, a grassroots group of volunteers who formed a nonprofit organization to reopen the lift in 1997. With Collins’ help, they overhauled the equipment and obtained a snowmaking system and grooming machine. The hill now hosts as many
Catching some air at Living Memorial Park. Brattleboro Reformer File Photo
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snowboarders as skiers, with an average of about 100 each weekend and several dozen more attending free (and, alas, already full) lessons. “No one complains about the $5 lift ticket and often people pay more in order to contribute to our expense,” notes the group’s website, vtsnowsports.org. “It’s great to see lines at the hill again and support from area businesses and individuals have proven that Brattleboro is proud of our little ski hill.” Make that the little ski hill that could.•
2020 UpCountry Ski Guide ALPINE SKIING
In Southern Vermont Bromley Mountain 3984 Vermont Route 11, Peru, Vt. 802-824-5522 Bromley.com
Killington Resort 4763 Killington Road, Killington, Vt. 800-734-9435 Killington.com
Magic Mountain 495 Magic Mountain Access, Londonderry, Vt.
Stratton Mountain Resort
39 Mount Snow Road, West Dover, Vt. 800-245-SNOW Mountsnow.com
5 Village Lodge Road, Stratton Mountain, Vt. 800-787-2886 Stratton.com
Okemo Mountain Resort 77 Okemo Ridge Road, Ludlow, Vt. 800-78-OKEMO Okemo.com
Pico Mountain 73 Alpine Drive, Mendon, Vt.
In Western Massachusetts Berkshire East Mountain Resort 66 Thunder Mountain Road, Charlemont, Mass. 413-339-6618 Berkshireeast.com
Bousquet Ski Area 101 Dan Fox Drive, Pittsfield, Mass. 413-442-8316 Bousquets.com
Catamount Mountain Resort Route 23, South Egremont, Mass. 413-528-1262 Catamountski.com
Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort 37 Corey Road, Hancock, Mass. 413-738-5500 Jiminypeak.com
Otis Ridge 159 Monterey Road, Otis, Mass. 413-269-4444 Otisridge.com
Ski Blandford 41 Nye Brook Road, Blandford, Mass. 413-848-2860 Skiblandford.com
Ski Butternut Skiers and snowboarders ascend the slope at Mount Snow in West Dover, Vt. Brattleboro Reformer File Photo
380 State Road, Great Barrington, Mass. 413-528-2000 Skibutternut.com
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In Western Massachusetts
In Southern Vermont
Brattleboro Outing Club
1986 Fred Snow Road, Becket, Mass. 413-623-0100 Canterbury-farms.com
Skiing at Brattleboro Country Club 58 Senator Gannett Drive, Brattleboro, Vt. 802-246-7843 (ski hut, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends and school vacations) Brattleborooutingclub.org
204 Prospect Access, Woodford, Vt. 802-442-2575 Prospectmountain.com
Hilltop Orchards 508 Canaan Road (Route 295), Richmond, Mass. 800-833-6274 Hilltoporchards.com
Maple Corner Farm 794 Beech Hill Road, Granville, Mass. 413-357-8829 Maplecornerfarm.com
Northfield Mountain Ski Center 99 Millers Falls Road, Northfield, Mass. 800-859-2960 (for mostcurrent conditions) Facebook.com/northfieldmountain
Notchview Route 9, Windsor, Mass. 413-684-0148 thetrustees.org
Grafton Trails and Outdoor Center 783 Townshend Road, Grafton, Vt. 802-843-2350 Graftoninnvermont.com/grafton-trails/
Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home 1005 Hildene Road, Manchester, Vt. Skiing is weather-dependent 800-578-1788 Hildene.org
Stratton Mountain Nordic Center Sun Bowl Road, Stratton, Vt. 802-297-4567 (weekends and holidays) Stratton.com
Timber Creek Cross Country Ski Center 13 Tanglewood Road, West Dover, Vt. 802-464-0999 Timbercreekxc.com
Viking Nordic Center 615 Little Pond Road, Londonderry, Vt. 802-824-3933 Vikingnordic.com
Okemo Valley Nordic Center
Wild Wings Ski Touring Center
77 Okemo Ridge Road, Ludlow, Vt. 800-78-OKEMO Okemo.com
246 Styles Lane, Peru, Vt. 802-824-6793 Wildwingsski.com
Sisters Liliana and Carlea Manley go cross country skiing at Notchview in Windsor, Mass. Berkshire Eagle File Photo
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Get out there and start fat biking 5 tips to get you started By Noah Hoffenberg PITTSFIELD, Mass.
One part mountain bike and one part zeppelin. Will it float or fly away? And does it bounce? It can only be one thing: a fat bike. All it takes is a quick glance at those chunky tires, checkered chevrons, beefy studs, and the draw is undeniable. There's no stopping you. You want to try fat biking, but you're still a bit nervous. You've ridden other bikes before, like hybrid bikes or 10-speeds, so this shouldn't be any different, right? UpCountry wanted to find out, so we went to the experts, Mitch Plaine, of Plaine's Bike Ski Snowboarding, and Chris Wilke, manager of Berkshire Bike and Board.
Likewise, at Berkshire Bike and Board, you'll find experts who are committed to getting you the right-fitting bike beneath your feet (and tush). Check with Plaine's and Berkshire Bike and Board for their next demo days, to try out some fat bikes in person.
“The fit is the most important thing with any bike, especially with a fat bike,” Plaine said. Some fat bikes will offer steel framing, while others are carbon fiber. The desired weight for a bike is dependent on the rider, in addition to the rider’s wallet.
Wilke also notes that one of the most important things to have on a fat bike in New England is some studded tires. “Here in the ortheast, because we
Are you a kick-the-tires kind or person? Do you want to try it out, or do you want to own? Want the shock absorption of front or rear shocks? At most bike shops, you'll find the answers to all these things. “You can certainly demo a bike; sometimes we do them at no charge,” Plaine said.
FEATURES TO LOOK FOR
Plaine said that with fat bikes, riders often get to choose between the three main aspects when selecting a bike: frame material, suspension and components. Pedals can be platform or with clips, based on the personal preference of the rider, although, he says, sales are split between the two.
DEMO, RENT OR BUY?
have so many freeze-thaw cycles, there ends up being quite a bit of ice. It’s very common to be riding in the snow and encounter a patch of ice,” Wilke says. Studs for tires sell from $20 to $100, while tires that come studded from the manufacturer cost about $75 to $250 per tire, says Wilke.
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WHAT TO WEAR “Like any active sport, you need to layer: base, midlayer and a wind break. Hands and feet are probably the most important” to protect to maintain comfort and safety, said Plaine; good winter cycling shoes are key for cold-weather rides, ideally to a minus-32-degree rating. Or, a bootie can be purchased that slides over a lighter-weight shoe to achieve warmth retention. Wilke says winter riding boots offer performance and warmth, and can use clips or go without. Regular shoes or boots quickly get gunked up with snow and ice, Wilke said. Winterspecific boots sell for $195 to $250. Quality gloves are vital as well, for warmth and protection from the wind. Wilke and Plaine recommend handlebar booties, which slip over the handlebars and offer a wind-free and warm area for your hands to do their braking and shifting work. “Because your hands are pretty high up on the bike, you don’t get a ton of blood flow there, unlike cross-country skiing,” Wilke said. You don’t want to have clunky mitts, and the handlebar booties allow the rider to wear a lighter glove underneath, for maximum mobility. These range in price from $85 to $130. A thin balaclava will add warmth and wicking for your face as you huff and puff in the cold, too.
THE DIFFERENCE IN FEEL SECRET PRO TIPS Wilke says winter riders these days are steering clear of backpack-style water bladders, and instead are opting for insulated water bottles. These won’t freeze up, nor will they be pressed against your back, which can leave it sweaty and cold.
If you do use a water bladder, blow the water back into the reservoir to keep its hose from freezing, Wilke said.
Also, perhaps the best-kept secret about fat bikes is that they are not solely a winter product.
“I like to preheat my water, so I’m not sipping cold water,” Wilke said. He adds some electrolyte mix, to stay warm and to energize. He also recommends a softer-style
And his trick to not eating frozen energy bars? “I always put my bar close to my chest [in an inner pocket], so it’s not rock-hard.”
“They’re year-round,” Plaine said. That means you can get rolling with your chunky tires just about anywhere, from the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail to the Cape Cod Canal. So, go get your bike on! •
From road bikes to cyclo bikes to mountain bikes to fat bikes, the tires make the bike, from their treads and size, and their interaction with their riding surface. People who ride a fat bike say one of the most “striking things about them is how stable it feels,” Plaine said. “It absorbs all the stumps and rocks. Even these urban riders get a kick out of city obstacles.” The tires can be inflated and deflated to handle different terrains, such as wet or dry, and to control the levels of the tires' shock absorption.
Photos provided by Metro Creative Connection
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Inventions and innovation on and off the slopes 6 inventions that helped changed the course of snow sports By Jennifer Huberdeau If you live, work or play in UpCountry territory, it should come as no surprise when we say that the Berkshires and Southern Vermont are home to some of the world’s foremost innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs. Their inventions and innovations have played a part in sending astronauts into space; harnessed alternating current; and helped many anglers secure the day’s catch. Many firsts in the snowsport industry — from skiing to snowboarding — have happened in Western Massachusetts and Vermont. It was here that some of the earliest artificial snow was made for ski slopes; the U.S. Ski Patrol was formed; and the first T-bar ski lift in the U.S. was installed (at Pico Peak). While we couldn’t list every inventor, entrepreneur or innovation, we’re highlighting six snow sport-related firsts of importance…
Jake Burton Carpenter and the snowboard All Jake Burton Carpenter wanted for Christmas in 1968 was a surfboard. He got a desk instead. “I bought a Snurfer for $10 and spent a lot of time at the
In this March 2002 file photo, Jake Burton Carpenter, owner of Burton Snowboards, shows an early model, right, and one of the newer snowboards, left, in his office in Burlington, Vt. Associated Press Photo
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Jake Burton Carpenter, the creator of Burton Snowboards, seen in this file photo taken in Stowe, Vt., in 2012, celebrates with Gov. Peter Shumlin (to his right) the signing of the bill that made skiing and snowboarding the official state sports of Vermont. Associated Press Photo
local sledding hill on Long Island with friends,” Carpenter, also known as Jake Burton, wrote in an autobiographical timeline he compiled. The timeline was published on the Burton Snowboards blog on Nov. 21, 2019. Carpenter, 65, died Nov. 20 after a battle with cancer. If Carpenter had received the requested surfboard, he might never have purchased the Snurfer and eventually become known as “the godfather of snowboarding.” The Snurfer, predecessor to the snowboard, was invented on Christmas Day 1965 in a garage in Muskegon, Mich., by Sherman Poppen. Poppen, who was trying to entertain his two young daughters and give his pregnant wife a
much-needed break, invented the Snurfer when he connected his wife’s skis together, creating a monoski you could surf on snow with. Like many great inventions, the Snurfer inspired many of its riders to improve upon it. Carpenter was one of those riders. He was convinced that surfing on snow could become a sport. By 1977, Carpenter had moved to Londonderry, Vt., and started Burton Boards out of a barn on a property where he was the live-in caretaker and tended to two horses in exchange for rent. “By night, I bartended at the Birkenhaus Inn. By day, I built makeshift snowboard prototypes and tested them in the back hills of southern Vermont,” Carpenter wrote in
the timeline. In January 1979, Carpenter showed up at the National Snurfing Contest in Muskegon with two of his Burton Boards. But his modifications disqualified him from participating in the standard division and instead, an “open division” was created just for Burton. The contest, run by Muskegon Community College, was underwritten that year by the JEM Corp. of Marion, Va., manufacturer of the Snurfer. “Since no one was aware other boards existed, the college has never designed eligibility requirements for riders,” the Bay Window Collegiate, the student newspaper, reported in January 1979. Carpenter won the open division and its prize money,
but more importantly, he made the sporting world aware of Burton Boards. “Anyone in the mono-ski business is familiar with the Snurfer and the college’s National Snurfing Contest,” Carpenter told the Collegiate. “I came to Muskegon because it is home to the entire sport and I wanted to see an actual competition.” Burton Boards monoskis, soon after to be known as snowboards, were, as the student newspaper reported, about 6 inches longer than the Snurfer, an inch or two wider and more flexible. And unlike the Snurfer, Carpenter’s boards included a “ski-like binding for the forward foot and a grip pad for the rear foot” and “two aluminum skegs on either side of UpCountryOnline.com | 45
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: An early tow rope is used at Bousquetâ€™s in Pittsfield, Mass. Berkshire Eagle File Photo Fred Harris, right, looks over plans with Alan Sargent. Brattleboro Reformer File Photo Blacksmith Walter C. Pritchard manufactured the jack jumper in his Adams, Mass., shop, starting a few years after his opening in 1914 until his retirement in 1953. Jack jumpers were shipped and sold around the country. North Adams Transcript File Photo
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the rear of the board” — all of which granted the rider greater control of the board. Burton Boards, now known as Burton Snowboards, moved from a barn in Londonderry to a barn in Manchester, Vt., in 1981. “The barn was the factory, the living room was the store, the basement was the warehouse and the bedroom was the office,” Burton wrote. “The phone rang around the clock with toll-free catalog inquiries.” But snowboarding couldn’t take off if ski areas continued to ban the sport from its slopes. Carpenter solved that problem in 1983, when he persuaded Stratton Mountain’s Ski Patrol to allow his crew on the ski lifts. That year, Stratton Mountain became the first major mountain resort in the country to allow snowboarding and would go on to open the first snowboarding school. And two years later, in 1985, Burton launched the U.S. Open Snowboarding Championship at Stratton. Today, Burton, located in Burlington, Vt., since 1992, is one of the largest snowboarding companies in the world.
Bertram, the Dartmouth College ski team’s first coach. According to the New England Historical Society, Bertram had told three New Yorkers about the Canadian tow rope during a stay at the White Cupboard Inn. The men were complaining to inn owners Elizabeth and Robert Royce about the price they were paying to lug their ski equipment uphill. The Royces thought the tow rope was such a good idea that they swept in and rented Gilbert’s Hill, a nearby sheep pasture, before Bertram could. They built the tow rope with pulleys, an 1,800-foot rope and a Model T Ford engine. Despite the tow rope breaking down frequently, it was considered a success. The next year, as the story goes, Bertram beat the couple to the punch and rented out Gilbert’s Hill before the Royces. Bertram worked out the issues with the tow rope, replacing the Ford engine with a more reliable one. A few years later, he moved the operation to a steeper hill, the beginning of the famous Suicide Six ski resort.
The first rope tow
Have you heard of the jack jump or jack jumper? It’s essentially a small bench connected to a single ski that you ride down a hill or mountain, depending on how brave you are. The origins of the jack jumper are clouded in mystery. Some say it was contrived by loggers in the mountains of Europe, where they are known as Skiblocks. Some say it was a children’s toy, created for winter recreation. The earliest examples seem to go back to the late 1800s. The earliest patent in North America was filed in 1914. There are claims that the jack jump was invented in North Adams, Mass., and other claims that it originated at Mount Snow. And there are those who say without a doubt it was invented by Walter C. Pritchard of Adams.
We’re stretching UpCountry’s northern borders to include Woodstock, Vt., where the first rope tow in the United States was located. Not only is it a great story — there’s a lot of drama — but Clarence “Clare” Bousquet traveled from Pittsfield, Mass., to Woodstock to view the rope tow and bring a version to his ski slopes on the other side of the Massachusetts border. This tow rope was not the first (that happened in Germany), nor was it the first in North America. The first on the continent, which the one in Woodstock was modeled after, was installed in Shawbridge, Quebec, in 1933. Bringing the tow rope to Vermont is said to have been the idea of Wallace “Bunny”
The Jack Jump
Clarence “Clare” Bousquet. Berkshire Eagle File Photo
“Some say the word ‘invented’ is a bit too strong,” Virginia Duval wrote in a 1979 article published by the North Adams Transcript. “But there is no doubt that Walter Pritchard was the prime producer of a piece of snow sledding equipment that was the rage in Adams all through the early and middle years of this century.” Pritchard, an Adams blacksmith, set up shop in 1913 after purchasing a building at the corner of East Maple and Depot streets. Pritchard made the contraptions, which came in three sizes, out of wood. Steel runners were attached to the bottom of the ski. Pritchard continued to make the jack jumps, which were shipped across the country until he retired and sold the business to Harry B. Sherman in 1953. A year later, Anthony Barbuto, of North Adams, bought the business and continued the tradition of making the jack jump until he became ill in 1978.
While these men were not the only ones to manufacture the jack jump, Pritchard and Barbuto were two of the most prolific. Pritchard’s jack jump is still found in attics, basements, garages and, in some cases, still in use. Today’s jack jumps are not really any more sophisticated than those put out by Pritchard; only the material differs. And the sport of gliding down the side of a mountain on a jack jump at high speed hasn’t disappeared either — the Jack Jump World Championships return to Mount Snow on March 1.
‘The man who put America on skis’ In Brattleboro, Vt., Fred Harris’ name is synonymous with ski jumping. He’s the designer of the Harris Hill Ski Jump and organizer of the Harris Hill Jumping Tournament in 1922. But Harris is more than the founder of UpCountryOnline.com | 47
Brattleboro’s ski jump. Before he set his sights on the ski jump, Harris was busy founding the Dartmouth Outing Club at Dartmouth College in 1910. He also would found the Brattleboro Outing Club and, in 1922, when the U.S. Eastern Amateur Ski Association was founded, he became its first president. He served as vice president of the National Ski Association in 1928, and its treasurer from 1929 to 1931. And when the Winter Olympics took place in Lake Placid, N.Y., in 1932 and at Squaw Valley in 1960, Harris was there, as an official. Harris just wasn’t a pioneer and organizer, he also is considered to be one of the first extreme skiers, “hiking to the top of and skiing down Whiteface Mountain in New York and Mount Washington in New Hampshire,” according to the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame.
Bousquet’s Rope Tow Gripper Clarence “Clare” Bousquet installed his ski area’s first tow rope in 1935. He had made the trip to Woodstock, Vt., the year before, to get a good look at the one running on Gilbert’s Hill. But, like many innovators and entrepreneurs, Bousquet noticed that there were problems with the tow rope. “In the springtime, when that manila rope got wet and heavy, the thing weighed a ton. On uncrowded days even very strong men couldn’t hold that heavy rope for the full [three to four minute] ride up the slope, even when lift attendants sprinkled resin on their hands to help hold onto the rope,” Paul Bousquet, Clare’s son told The Berkshire Sampler in March 1975. So, Clare Bousquet fashioned a solution and applied for a patent in 1939 (it was granted two years later) for the Bousquet Rope Tow Gripper, described in The Berkshire
Sampler as “a nutcracker-like instrument that attaches to a rope tow and to the skier’s belt and helps ease the strain of riding the lift.” The rope tow gripper was so popular, the Bousquets sold over 500,000 of them. And when tow grippers were outlawed by many states, the Bousquet version still was welcomed because it “automatically detaches from the tow rope if the skier falls or releases his grasp on the rope tow gripper.” And the Mount Greylock Ski Club, which spent a few years climbing Bousquet’s trails until opening its own in Williamstown, still uses the gripper today.
Night Skiing at Bousquet Credit often is given to the Snoqualmie Ski Bowl, later known as the Milwaukee Ski Bowl, as being the first to install lights for night skiing, in 1938. But, in 1936, Clare Bousquet, with the assistance of General Electric and Pittsfield Electric, put up the first lights on a ski slope. “Some skiing engineers from Pittsfield’s General Electric plant and Warren Sears and Win Gutman from Pittsfield Electric Co. decided that 25 days of skiing wasn’t enough, especially since they had to work during the day. So they put their heads together and decided that they could greatly increase their skiing time if they could figure out a way to light the ski slopes for night skiing and they did,” The Berkshire Sampler wrote in March 1975. Bousquet’s slopes first were lit on Christmas Eve in 1936. Pittsfield Electric installed seven clusters of 1,000 mercury vapor lights that were lent by GE. Night skiing took place three nights a week under a total of 7,000 watts of light — a small amount in comparison to today’s lighting systems, but a revolutionary amount at the time. •
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Bousquet’s Ski Tow Gripper is still used by the Mount Greylock Ski Club in Williamstown, Mass.. Clare Bousquet, who opened Bousquet’s Ski Area in Pittsfield, Mass., invented the tow gripper to make it easier to use a ski tow rope. Photos by Jennifer Huberdeau
10 events not to miss In Southern Vermont... Grafton Ice Bar 2020 Grafton Inn Grafton 802-843-2248, graftoninnvermont. com/event/ice-bar-2020 Jan. 11 You’ll want to bundle up for this chilly outdoor event featuring a bar literally made out of ice. Signature cocktails are served through ice sculptures at this 21-andolder event. In addition to cocktails, there will be beer and food trucks, music provided by a DJ and multiple bonfires to help you keep warm. The event runs from 4 to 8 p.m. General admission tickets include two drink vouchers. Limited VIP tickets include two drink vouchers, early access to the event at 3 p.m., access to a warming tent, and a swag bag of ice bar and Vermont products.
Candlelight Dinner Series Ye Olde Tavern Manchester Center 802-362-0611, yeoldetavern.net Jan. 14 and Feb. 11 Dine like it’s 1790! On the second Tuesday of the month, Ye Olde Tavern turns back time and turns off the lights. Experience what it was like to dine at the tavern just as its guests did at the turn of the 18th century — with the flicker of oil lamps, the roar of the fireplaces, and the sounds of classical music and conversation. Traditional New England comfort food and vintage cocktails make up the menu, which is served from 5 until 9 p.m. Reservations are suggested.
waters of Lake Paran during the annual Penguin Plunge or sip hot chocolate, build a snowman or enjoy a wagon ride. Activities include a chili festival, a book sale, cookie decorating, winter crafts for children, an indoor craft fair, a children’s carnival and more.
Harris Hill Ski Jump Brattleboro 802-254-4565, harrishillskijump.com Feb. 15-16 Feel the excitement rush through the crowd as competitors soar through the air after flying down the 90-meter Harris Hill Ski Jump. The Olympic-size venue is the only one of its size in New England and has been host to nine national championships since opening in 1922. On Saturday, jumpers
will compete in the Pepsi Challenge and U.S. Cup. The Fred Harris Memorial Tournament follows on Sunday. Gates open at 10 a.m. both days, with trial rounds at 11 a.m. Competition begins at noon on both days. Food vendors, a beer tent and event souvenirs will be available at the base of the jump.
64th Brattleboro Winter Carnival Brattleboro brattleborowintercarnival.org Feb. 15-23 The Brattleboro Winter Carnival, one of the oldest ongoing winter carnivals in the country, is celebrating its 64th year. The carnival, founded in 1957 by Fred Harris, one of the first “extreme skiers” and founder of the Harris Hill Ski Jump, was modeled after festivals in Quebec, Canada, and in New Hampshire. You won’t want to miss out on the week of fun, family-friendly activities. There’s something for everyone, from pancake breakfasts to sleigh rides and snowshoeing. Outdoor events include skating, skiing, snowmobile rides, snow sculpture contests, as well as the Junior Olympic downhill skiing and skating competitions. Be sure to attend the popular “Sugar on Snow Party,” where you’ll be served the timeless New England treat: thick maple syrup poured over snow. Other activities include a fishing derby, chili cook-off, a variety show and more.
WinterFest North Bennington bennington.com/winterfest Jan. 25 There’s so much to do and see at the annual WinterFest in the village of North Bennington. You can dive into the icy
Miko tows children for a sled ride during the Brattleboro Winter Carnival at Living Memorial Park. Brattleboro Reformer File Photo
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in the new year In the Berkshires... 10x10 Upstreet Arts Festival Pittsfield 413-499-9348, discoverpittsfield.com/10x10 Feb. 13-23 Where can you find new theater, art, comedy, dance and music in the middle of winter? The 10x10 Upstreet Arts Festival celebrates all that and more over the course of 11 days with annual events such as 10 Days of Play at the Berkshire Museum, the Berkshire Art Association’s 10x10 Real Art Party and the 10x10 New Plays at Barrington Stage Company.
Shakespeare’s Valentine Surprise Shakespeare and Company 413-637-3353, shakespeare.org Lenox Feb. 16-17 Looking for something unique to do with your valentine? Or just want a fun night out at the theater? Celebrate the magic and folly of love at Shakespeare’s Valentine Surprise. This annual show has a different theme each year, but traditionally includes company actors presenting scenes of some of the most famous lovers of all time – with plenty of surprises mixed in. Two performances only. Tickets: $25 for adults; $10 for students.
Family Sunset Ski & S’mores Notchview Windsor 413-684-0148, thetrustees.org Feb. 18 Enjoy a winter sunset at Notchview on snowshoes or skis followed by s’mores
North Adams Winterfest North Adams 413-664-6180, explorenorthadams.com Feb. 15 Winterfest returns to North Adams with all the usual goodness you’ve come to expect: horse-drawn carriage rides, free ice skating, ice carving, a campfire and s’mores, a winter carnival for kids, and a farmer and artisan market. And don’t forget to bring your appetite. The annual chowder cook-off once again will have local restaurants vying for the title of “best chowder” and the coveted “people’s choice” awards.
at the lodge. Sunset is expected to take place at 5:28 p.m., so be sure to arrive by 4 p.m. to get your rental equipment, afternoon ski pass and hit the trails before heading back to the lodge for 5:30 p.m. to enjoy s’mores around the bonfire. Preregistration is required. Cost is $12 for members; $20 for nonmembers; free for children. Price includes daily pass and s’mores. Rentals are available, but not included.
Snow falls as people roast marshmallows in a mid-street fire pit at Winterfest in North Adams. Berkshire Eagle File Photo
The Bolt (NE Rando Race Series) Mount Greylock/Greylock Glen Adams nerandorace.blogspot.com Feb. 22 Rando ski racing (short for randonnée) hearkens back to skiing’s early days, when skiers challenged the mountain both up and down, without the help of chairlifts or tow ropes. “The Bolt,” is one of eight events in the NE Rando Race Series, which includes “The Beast” at Berkshire East in Charlemont and “The Sun” at Bromley Mountain in Peru, Vt. Participants will meet at the Greylock Glen gazebo that morning and ascend the mountain with the aid of “skins” and ski back down. Trails included in this backcountry ski race include parts of the Thunderbolt and Bellows Pipe.
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C.F. Bishop and the Autoneige that conquered Berkshires’ snowy hills By Bernard A. Drew LENOX, Mass.
Most Gilded Age Berkshire cottagers scattered south or overseas in the cold months. Cortlandt Field Bishop, on the contrary, embraced snow. He named his last mansion Winter Palace, after all. Bishop (1870-1935) and his younger brother, David Wolfe Bishop Jr. (1875-1911), were handsome, sharp, educated, adventurous and energetic. David eventually established his primary residence in France. Cortlandt was sometimes in Europe, sometimes New York, often in Lenox. American automakers were in their infancies in the early 1900s. Early Duryeas, Appersons and Waverlys weren’t always reliable. Impatient cottagers who traveled abroad purchased motors and brought them back with them. The Bishops, in the vanguard of automobile enthusiasts, brought back from France the first motorized vehicles seen in Lenox — each had an 1898 De Dion-Bouton three-wheeler “run by a motor of one and 1.75-horsepower generated by benzine vapor exploded by an electric spark,” The Pittsfield Journal wrote. “There is a tank for the benzine in which 12 quarts can be stored. This capacity is capable of running the machine 100 miles over smooth roads or 75 miles over hilly and rough roads, such as abound about Lenox. The mobile will climb a 10 degree hill with great ra-
Cortlandt Field Bishop frequently traveled to Europe, where, among other interests, he published the Paris Times. Photo: Library of Congress
pidity. The motor is started by the pedals.” The Bishop siblings, heirs to real estate and tobacco fortunes, knew no obstacle in their enjoyment of life — except posted speed limits. They were a bane on the roads of Lenox. Soon, each had a 30-horsepower Panhard et Levassor runabout in the Lenox garage at the family estate, Interlaken. David liked to race his “White Ghost,” or his Société Mors, nicknamed “Red Devil.” David Bishop, the scorcher (a term for those who drove at high rates of speed, often recklessly), redeemed his reputation somewhat when, during a heavy snowstorm one Decem-
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ber, he “assisted the selectmen clearing and opening the roads yesterday, using his Panchard [sic] automobile which won the endurance race from New York to Buffalo last September,” the North Adams Transcript wrote. Cortlandt, an off-and-on force in Lenox all his life, was outspoken, strong-willed, often brash in the midst of his eccentricities. On one occasion, “after he had almost collided with Mrs. William [Emily Vanderbilt] Sloane as she drove for church, Mr. Sloane asked him reprovingly what would he have done, had he killed her? To which he promptly rejoined: ‘I would at once have written you out a check for $5,000,’”
neighbor Olive A. Colton recalled. Sloane didn’t appreciate Bishop’s humor. Though Bishop cherished ripping through the countryside in virile French machines and had not a few discussions with police and fines from judges, he was less a scorcher, more a quester and promoter. He sought to conquer all roads, all mountains, all deserts, in all nations, in all conditions. He explored Berkshire, Litchfield, Conn. and Bennington, Vt. back roads in various of his petrolettes. Cortlandt blended several estates to amass the largest land holding in Lenox — not to mention, he bought and sold apartment and office buildings in Manhattan; owned and merged the American Art Association and Anderson Galleries (now Parke-Bernet Galleries); and published the Paris Times (1924-1929). He organized the Aero Club of America’s first international balloon race in this country: contestants flew from Pittsfield in 1906. Bishop married Amy Bend (1870-1957) in 1899, and thus began her life on the road with her husband. In the vicinity of Naples, Italy, in 1902, they encountered hostile villagers, who attacked them with long and heavy clubs. Horseless Age wrote, “Both Mr. Bishop and his wife were somewhat severely bruised, and as the automobile was only traveling at the rate of 3 or 4 miles an hour, and no one was touched or imped-
ed in the tunnel, that unfortunate traveler cannot conceive the object of the assault.” Bishop admitted he took chances. “I wonder how I ever dared to go where we did with that car,” he said in 1923, referring to one of his early gasmobiles. “Often I would return home two or three days after starting out with farmers’ oxen dragging the car. I could tell you of a dozen houses near which we became stalled and had to spend the night.” Bishop made sure the press heard — and printed — accounts of his motorcar adventures. “Automobile trip in the Sahara Desert,” The New York Times headlined a story in 1904. “Lenox Man Drives a Motor Car in the Alps,” The Boston Globe touted the next year. Bishop conquered the Andes. He bested the American and Canadian Rockies. He had penetrated the deserts
of California and meandered the Sahara. He ascended Mount Greylock in wheeled vehicles — and had one teeter-near-the-precipice experience. He yearned to try a winter ascent. But he needed a real snow machine. Bishop returned from abroad in 1922 with “the first of a new type of motor pleasure cars built on the tank-type principle, which, he said, were being developed for the late Czar of Russia just before his downfall. The car carries five passengers and can climb over all obstructions, go through snowdrifts 20-feet high, skate on the ice and plow through sand hills at the rate of 10 miles an hour. On the open road 20 miles an hour is its speed, and, perfected under the French government, it is the first of its kind to be allowed to go out of France. Already, he said, 30 have been sent to Timbuktu, Africa, for use in the desert by the French Army. He proposes
to speed it down Broadway after the first heavy snowstorm,” The New York Times wrote. Bishop’s open-seat snowcat, essentially a Citroën roadster outfitted with tracks on the rear, skis on front, was called the Citroën-Kégresse-Hinstin K1 Autoneige (as distinct from the Autochenille, or caterpillar, made for dry off-road recreationists). Bishop imported his snowmobile ahead of the company establishing a retail presence in the United States. Bishop, by now, left the driving to his chauffeur, Felicien Harrer. Except for the French tractor. Bishop took the wheel in an early test, The Springfield Republican reported, “a run from ‘The Maples’ to Pittsfield, a distance of a little over 10 miles, over a badly-drifted and choppy road, with trucks and autos here and there around which the machine had to be driven. On good stretches, a speed of about 8 miles an hour was
struck, but could not be maintained because of the bad roads and obstacles.” French engineer Adolphe Kégresse had devised a halftrack vehicle in 1913 — a Rolls-Royce conversion — while in charge of Nicholas II’s garage. In 1920, Kégresse brought his concept to French automaker Andre Citroën, who was already making Mors and Citroën autos and would eventually absorb Panhard et Levassor. Citroën established a new firm, Société Citroën-Kégresse, to develop the ATVs in several sizes primarily for the military. The vehicles were sold in France, Russia, Belgium and Poland. Seen as ideal for “the Colonies,” a British subsidiary marketed the halftracks as personnel carriers. The U.S. Army used them during World War II. Ultimately, Citroën produced 5,800 tracked units in 20 models, 1921-1940. Bishop set his wintry sights on Lebanon Mountain. The
Cortlandt Field Bishop, of Lenox, was joyous to drive his Société Citroën-Kégresse-Hinstin K1 on- and off-road in the Berkshire and environs in winter. Berkshire Eagle File Photo
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vehicle “went over all right — into a snowbank — and there it stayed despite efforts to get it out,” The Berkshire Eagle reported with a silent snicker. “Its owner abandoned it and with his mechanic, William Schratz, walked five miles to the end of the West Pittsfield trolley line and took a car to this city, where another chauffeur waited with a touring car to take them to Lenox. At the Wendell Hotel, Mr. Bishop engaged George W. Drake, [Holt] tractor salesman, who has had a 10-ton demonstrator here for snow removal, to go out and get the ‘snow wagon.’ Drake agreed and he started, but two miles out his machine broke down and he was also forced to give it up and return. An impassable barrier of snow and ice barred his way.” The agent regretted that decision. Bishop was helpful to others who suffered mishaps on the road. Motoring in his “caterpillar tractor automobile of French make” in early spring 1923, he became a rum-runner’s “angel” when he encountered on the Lenox-Stockbridge Road near Highlawn “all the traffic blocked by a Marmon car which was stuck in a snow bank 12 feet high,” the Republican wrote. “A dozen men had been working in an effort to dig out the obstacle, Mr. Bishop’s offer to help was accepted and with the use of a rope from a nearby farmhouse he pulled out the red-faced rum-runner in a jiffy. The runner was south-bound from Pittsfield, where he said he had delivered 30 cases of high-grade whisky, some of which went to a club, and he was returning to New York for another load.” In December 1924, Bishop struck off for a 10-mile excursion on snow-covered dirt roads on October Mountain in the French tractor. “The road was a glare of ice and it was 15 below zero when he arrived at The Ant-
lers,” about 10 miles from Bishop’s Lenox home. “The road up the mountain from Lenoxdale was one vast sheet of ice, which could be negotiated only with a tractor. It was 12 below zero when he arrived in the open car at the home of Frank M. Chapel, superintendent of the state forest. The minimum temperature there earlier this morning was 16 below.” Daughter Beatrice and her young friends, meanwhile, lashed Eskimo dogs to sleds and explored the trails around Ananda Manor, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported. Bishop’s first machine proved to be underpowered. “The small caterpillar car he brought over from France three years ago was ... made by Citroen, who is a personal friend of Mr. Bishop’s,” a Berkshire Eagle reporter revealed in 1925. “It was designed for use in the desert of Sahara ... Mr. Bishop persuaded Mr. Citroen to let him try how this small car would work in the Berkshires. A pause here for an exclamation: Bishop knew Andre Citroën personally! The Eagle continued, “It had only a 10-horsepower motor which is very fast and gives much power for its size, but was manifestly insufficient for requirements here. Mr. Bishop found that it was so heavy for the size of its motor that when it sunk into pockets in deep snow it could not always extricate itself for lack of power.” So, Bishop ordered a second Autoneige, this one beefed up with an Italian-made, 100-horsepower Alfa Romeo race car engine. “It was at the personal request of Mr. Bishop that Mr. Citroen built this car, as Mr. Bishop stressed the fact that it would be of material benefit to test it under American conditions.” With the arrival of snow, Bishop and his new halftrack tackled the wilds of Becket as he searched for a state plow tractor reported lost. State
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troopers stopped him at one point, suspicious he might be a bootlegger. He and Harrer traveled as far as Danbury, Conn., where Bishop finally had enough and took the train to Pittsfield, his chauffeur left to bring home the French steed. Meanwhile, “Mrs. Cortlandt Field Bishop took a party of her guests out sleighing behind a pair of blooded horses and one could hear the bells jingling as the horses pranced over the snowbound hills,” was one report.
The millionaire tackled his favorite troublesome road: Jacob’s Ladder. With very deep snow, he set out for Springfield in his “tractor-snowshoe automobile,” according to a Springfield Republican reporter who had a little trouble distinguishing skis from snowshoes. That left only Greylock. Bishop surely made an assault on Massachusetts’ highest peak in the Citroën. But, any published account has been elusive. We’d like to think he made it. •
When his first Autoneige proved underpowered, Bishop persuaded French automaker Andre CitroĂŤn to modify another vehicle with a more powerful Alfa Romeo engine. Still, deep snow at his Lenox estate in 1926 obliged him to ask for a human push. Photo provided by Lenox Library
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FROM THE ARCHIVES
Beulah Osgood, dressed in the latest winter fashion, strikes out for some fun on a hillside near Barre, Vt. in 1918. File Photo
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