Cranmore Mountain Resort is located in North Conway, New Hampshire. Currently, it is one of New Hampshire's most successful ski resorts.
It was founded in 1937 by a group of businessmen, led by Harvey Dow Gibson of Fryeburg, Maine, who wanted to establish North Conway as the ski capital of the world. Picking land on Lookout Mountain, they began the construction of a small ski resort there.
Cranmore probably would have faded into obscurity if it weren't for Hitler and the German annexation of Austria, where Hannes Schneider had created his ski school. Schneider was an outspoken critic of the Nazis, and they stripped him of his title in 1938. Gibson arranged for Schneider's release to the United States.
Schneider arrives in North Conway
Schneider and his entire family left the train and walked under an archway of ski poles, held by 150 schoolchildren enrolled in the Eastern Slope Ski Club Junior Program. After lunch, Schneider made his first turns at his new home. "Well, Herbert," Schneider said to his son, "It's not St. Anton, but we're going to love it here." From that moment on, Schneider and Gibson worked to build Cranmore into a premier ski resort destination.
(As legend has it, Schneider saw Mount Washington and said "Ah! The mountain!".)
Invented by George Morton of nearby Bartlett, the Skimobile opened in December 1938, only two years after the first chairlift in the world was installed. After visiting the chairlift installed at Belknap Mountain in Gilford, New Hampshire, Morton realized he disliked his feet dangling in the air as he rode. Drawing his inspiration from the San Francisco cable cars he had heard about, Morton decided to develop a ski lift that ran on tracks. Morton's son, Parker, had recently graduated from the Wentworth Institute in Boston, and his engineering training was critical for the lift's design. Morton and his son tinkered with a number of designs for their new lift. Originally, Morton planned the lift to allow skiers to ride the lift while wearing their skis, but he feared lines would grow too long. Morton's daughter began helping the development by sitting in different positions at the dining room table while carrying her skis. Finally, the design was completed, and the trestle was laid. The cars were built in Massachusetts and shipped to Conway for painting by the Mortons.
Following a hectic summer of trial and error in the Mortons' shop, 150 cars painted red, white and blue carried skiers halfway up Cranmore Mountain that first winter.
The Skimobile was a revolution. The 1,800-foot lift offered skiers unparalleled speed. On New Year's Day, 1939, it carried 1,065 passengers at a rate of approximately 255 skiers per hour.
Although the Skimobile arrived at Cranmore the winter before the Schneider family, the new lift was critical in implementing Schneider's first suggestion, which was to expand to the summit of the mountain. In 1939, a second trestle was added using timber felled from the New England Hurricane of 1938. The top to bottom Skimobile transported over 200 people to the summit of Cranmore Mountain on its first day.
The unique lift quickly became an attraction unto itself, and the resort began running the lift during the summer. The scenic rides continued until the Skimobile was finally laid to rest in 1988. The high-speed quad that replaced the Skimobile, the Skimobile Express, bears its name in reverence to Morton's invention.
YouTube video of the Skimobile in the 1960s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BD5OGCRFHd4
These days Cranmore Mountain has around 40 acres (16 ha) of skiable terrain with a vertical of 1,200 ft (370 m). There are 43 trails: 36% novice, 44% intermediate, and 20% expert. There are three terrain parks and 7 glades.
The ski area features trails and a hut (the Meister Hut) named after Schneider and Gibson.
Cranmore is also home to the Arctic Blast Tubing Park which offers lift serviced snow tubing during the winter operating season. In 2008 and going back 5 years, Cranmore has had more snow tubing visitors than any other operation in the state of New Hampshire as reported by Ski New Hampshire, an industry trade association.
Cranmore is located approximately 120 miles north of Boston and is accessible off of Route 16 in North Conway, NH.
1 High Speed Quad
2 Tubing Surface Lifts:
2 Magic Carpets:
1 Rope Tows: