Satellite Ski Museum planned for Bethel

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Ski school at Mt. Abram

The Ski Museum of Maine is expanding.

Next spring the Museum plans to establish a satellite museum in Bethel, according to a press release. Like the museum’s primary site in Kingfield, the Bethel location will exhibit artifacts, photographs, artwork and documents taken from Maine’s rich alpine and nordic ski heritage.

The Oxford County region of Western Maine will be in the spotlight at the Bethel location, where exhibits will explore topics such as the Portland-to-Fryeburg snow trains of the 1930s, Maine’s first ski lift in 1936 and Maine’s pioneering double chairlift at Pleasant Mountain in 1954. Other themes will include the successful development of Sunday River and Mt. Abram – contrasted with the calamitous failure of Evergreen Valley, the release said.

On the Nordic side, the exhibit will feature the Chisholm Ski Club (by far Maine’s oldest) and its world-renowned competition trails at Black Mountain plus Bethel-area cross-country centers and shops – including those founded by the late Dave Carter, a Maine Ski Hall of Fame inductee, according to the release.

Norway and Paris were major centers of ski manufacturing between the early 1900s and the mid-1960s, and the museum will feature that history. For example, during World War II Paris Manufacturing Company produced skis for the U.S. Army’s famed 10th Mountain Division.

Sites along Bethel’s Main Street are presently being considered, and a committee has been tasked with selecting the location. Members include museum board members Wende Gray (chair), Jill Ducharme, Michele Varuolo-Cole, Leigh Breidenbach, Scott Andrews, Dave Irons and Phil Savignano plus executive director Bruce Miles. Sunday River Prime Time Ski Club member Terri Messer is also on the committee, the release said.

The team is working to acquire ski and snowboard-related artifacts, documents and histories from the region, developing displays of the historic collections and organizing events to raise funds for the new museum project.

The Bethel Historical Society has agreed to loan its 2009 Sunday River/Mt. Abram 50th Anniversary Exhibit, which was curated by Scott Andrews. Dave Irons, author of ‘Sunday River: Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future,’ is contributing many of his research materials.

Other contributors will include Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation (formerly known as Maine Handicapped Skiing), Chisholm Ski Club and Gould Academy.

Anyone who would like to contribute (or loan) items from personal collections is encouraged to contact Bruce Miles, the Museum’s executive director, at 265-2023 or via email at info@skimuseumofmaine.org.

Outreach programs

Planning is also underway for several fund-raising events and community outreach programs. The museum had a booth on the Bethel Common for Molly Ockett Days and will again have an exhibit at Harvest Fest on Saturday, Sept. 20. Members of the museum’s board of directors will be there to share Maine ski memories and provide information about the museum.

This winter a Ski Heritage Benefit, mirroring the museum’s Ski Heritage Classic that has been held at Sugarloaf for the last seven years, will be held at Sunday River, the release said. Sport Thoma Ski Shop will be lending its support by sponsoring a fashion show fund-raiser on Friday, Nov. 28 at The Bethel Inn, the annual New Year’s Day Ski Race at Carter’s XC Ski Center will be the site of the museum’s Great Ski and Sport Shop Raffle drawing. Mt. Abram plans to hold an event to benefit the museum.

Fireside Chats – narrated digital slideshows that illustrate the history of skiing in Maine – are planned for venues such as Sunday River’s GO-50 Week, the Road Scholar program, Bethel Chamber of Commerce, Oxford Hills Chamber, Bethel Historical Society and other regional civic and educational organizations. Seven different Fireside Chats are currently available, each of which lasts about 50 minutes. Those interested in hosting a Fireside Chat may contact the Ski Museum at info@skimuseumofmaine.org.

The Ski Museum of Maine looks forward to establishing a presence in Bethel that will forge new and closer relationships with ski and snowboard enthusiasts – as well as Maine history buffs – in the Oxford County region, the release said.

Ski school at Mt. Abram
Ski school at Mt. Abram

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