Stratton Mountain Trivia – 1960 to 1979


The story of Stratton Mountain is the story of a handful of people who pursued their shared vision for a complete year-round resort community, something altogether new in a world of drive-in ski areas. 

Frank Snyder was a Connecticut businessman who had skied throughout Europe and the United States and wondered, “Why hasn’t anyone built a ski area …” when he first saw Stratton Mountain. Robert “Rainbow” Wright, a former ski racer who had served with the 10th Mountain Division, climbed to the summit, explored the contours and declared Stratton “perfect” for a ski area. From there it was meetings with landowners and lawmakers, architects and engineers, banks and investors, as the founding trio — Snyder, Vermont landowner and logger Tink Smith and Vermont Sen. Edward Janeway — forged ahead to make the vision a reality.  

Stratton officially opened on Dec. 29, 1961, with three lifts, eight trails and 22 inches of new snow. Snyder recruited Emo Henrich to head up the ski school and he brought the music and dancing of Austria with the Stratton Mountain Boys and Tyrolean Evenings.  

The 1960s brought new trails and lifts just about every year. Skiers welcomed the innovative snowmaking and grooming especially when Mother Nature was stingy. Hotel Tyrol and the Birkenhaus welcomed guests. The non-denominational Chapel of the Snows hosted its first weddings. Spring skiing was a time for picnics – with champagne. Big events made their debut as Stratton hosted the U.S. Challenger Cup, one of the first pro ski races, with athletes fresh from the Winter Olympics. Ski chalets kept popping up. The Arts Festival and Ski Ball set the stage for a social scene that would set Stratton apart in the decades to follow. 

By the 1970s, Stratton had cemented its reputation as a year-round resort community. First there was the Stratton Mountain School, a fully accredited alpine ski (and now Nordic and snowboard) academy that has since graduated 46 Olympians and more than 100 national team members. State-of-the-art medical care came to the mountain with The Carlos Otis Clinic, named for the Townsend physician and now staffed by physicians and orthopedists from leading Northeastern hospitals. The John Newcombe Tennis Center opened, there was cross-country skiing on the golf course and a series of events capped off by the 1978 World Cup races with the Mahre brothers sharing the podium. 

Today, Stratton Mountain stands as a legacy to the founding fathers and families, who are now sharing the traditions across four generations. And, perhaps more than ever, Stratton is a place to celebrate outdoor adventure, milestones and to create new rituals of your own. 

Thank you to Smith Optics for joining us in this edition of Stratton Mountain Trivia. Many will enter, few will win. For all your Smith Optics needs visit Head Case or First Run Ski Shop in the Stratton Village.