Harris Hill To Add Stairs, Adjustable Take-Off in 1922

When Brattleboro’s  ski jump was first built, there were no stairs! Ski jumpers and anyone else hoping to reach the top had to climb the hill.

This Vermont Phoenix article from Dec 15, 1922 explains the many improvements being made at the hill shortly after it was built. In addition to the stairs, the committee was planning to build a small building at the top of the hill for ski jumpers to sit and await their turn, plus add a really neat mechanical innovation to allow and encourage others to start their ski jumping careers with ease. The take-off of the jump was to be made adjustable, so beginners could simply slide down the hill before raising it a bit and trying to jump.

Interesting, too, to note that they had scheduled two events (January and February) for jumping, and that they were considering building a skating rink in town.

Here’s the full story:

Dec 15, 1922


Jan. 20 and Feb. 16-17 Decided Upon by Board

Underpass Built at the Take-Off House at Top of Course for Comfort of Jumpers and Stairway on Hill.

Extensive improvements are being made on the Outing Club ski jump which tend far toward making the local jump the best one of its kind in the East. Briefly, the new additions comprise the construction of an underpass just below the take off, the erection of a building at the very top of the hill and the building of a stairway from the bottom along the north side of the jump to the top.

The underpass has a two-fold purpose. It minimizes the mental hazard which is very often experienced by jumpers just as they are about to leave the take off, due to the large space which opens out beneath them as they shoot into the air, and it provides easy access from one side of the jump to the other, without causing observers to actually cross the track, thereby reducing danger to a minimum.

The building at the top of the course, now in the process of construction, will serve as a comfortable abode for the ski jumpers while they are awaiting their turn on the jump.

The stairway is perhaps the improvement that will be best appreciated by all, including the ski men, as it enables anyone to go from the bottom of the course to the top without the excessive fatigue that is always incident to such a movement on the ordinary ski course. Especially will it prove a boon to the ski jumpers themselves, who often have been tired out after they have scrambled up the long course over the rough terrain preparatory to making the next jump. The stairway is now under construction and is being built in a novel manner. Each rise is made by placing a board behind two stakes and the tread is made by packing solid earth from the board to the bottom of the next rise. At intervals along the stairway, landing places are being built which will also be of great advantage, both as resting places and as observing points.

Another extensive improvement in the course itself is that the lip of the take off has been so arranged that it can be lowered to be flush with the grade. A runner hereafter will be able to make a continuous run from the very top to the bottom without making a jump. Its value, therefore, lies in the fact that the course can be used for practice purposes by the jumpers before the actual jumps take place. In addition, ski enthusiasts who hitherto have refrained from trying out on the course because of the danger in making the jump from the take-off may now make several practice trials along a continuous gradual course which can be followed by a gradual raising of the lip of the take off in order that experience in making jumps may be acquired.

The improvements about the course are progressing very favorably under the direction of James E. Helyar, and from present indications the course will be in first-class shape and second to none in the whole eastern section of the country by the time that the winter carnivals take place.

These new additions and improvements were announced on Tuesday by Secretary C. Menzies Miller, following the meeting of the board of governors Monday afternoon of the office of Dr. George R. Anderson. Of great interest also to local persons is the announcement that the definite dates for the two ski jumps this winter are Jan. 20, 1023, which will take the form of an inter club tournament and cross-country run  and Feb. 16 and 17, when ski jumpers will attempt to break all records for the Eastern United States amateur ski jumping championship.

Following the ordinary routine business at Monday’s meeting, the board voted to lease the property of E. B. Burrows at Marlboro South Pond for one year. The cottage on the property will be put in good shape by the club and will be equipped with stoves, furniture and other appointments so as to make this spot an objective point for ski runners and snowshoe parties in the winter and for hikers in the summer The cottage is in an ideal location and will serve admirably for week-end campers.

There was considerable discussion among the members of the board regarding the advisability of establishing a skating rink in Brattleboro for the winter. No definite action in the matter was taken and the matter was tabled until Friday of this week, when another meeting is expected to be called by the secretary and when it is hoped Fred H. Harris , president of the club, will be present. Mr. Harris returned to Brattleboro Wednesday from Boston where he has been the past month recovering from an operation. 

Mr. and Mrs. Robert M. Currier of Canton street, Dedham, Mass.. were elected non-resident members at, Monday’s meeting.

Residents will be interested also in the announcement that steps are now being taken toward the formation of an organization that will bo known this season as either the United States Eastern Amateur Ski association or the American Amateur Ski association The new organization already has started to function. Temporary officers are working at the project and they assert that within a few years New England will become nationally known as the winter playground of the country. The clubs represented in the new organization are the Saranac Lake Ski club, the Snow Birds of Lake Placid club, the Dartmouth Outing club, the Norsemen Ski club, the Nansen Ski club and the Brattleboro Outing club. Fred H. Harris of the town has been appointed temporary president.

Get yourself a Harris Hill poster (or T-shirt, or magnet, or postcard…) at our shop at Zazzle.  https://www.zazzle.com/harris_hill_ski_jump_retro_poster-228526534902752435

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