Historical society to show Poland Spring winter sports activities

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POLAND — The Poland Historical Society will present a collection of historic images of winter sports activity at the historic Poland Spring Resort. The event will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 28, in the Old School House Museum.

Most Poland residents are aware that the Poland Spring property was a popular destination for summer visitors. However, few recall that the area was also a target for winter recreation enthusiasts.

As the resort grew in popularity during the late 19th century, the proprietors sought out ways to grow their winter business — traditionally the “off-season” for Maine travel and tourism. Toward that end, members of the Ricker family made a grand tour of several renowned European winter resorts and returned home with many ideas to expand their own business.

Soon, they were aggressively organizing and marketing activities like downhill and cross country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing and mushing. A toboggan run was constructed, which extended over a quarter-mile from the crest of Ricker Hill down a steep slope to the frozen surface of Middle Range Pond. The ride was a popular activity for resort guests on extended stays — as well as recreational day-trippers from the surrounding area.

Although the grand hotel industry declined as automobiles became more commonplace in the 20th century, Poland Spring was still a popular spot for winter recreation well into the 1950s.

Time permitting, additional slides will be shown depicting time-lapse images from the continuing series on historic Poland homesteads.

Admission is free and refreshments will be available. Donations will benefit the Poland Historical Society.

Visitors to the Poland Spring Resort congregate near the ski ramp in this photo dated circa 1950. Poland Historical Society will present a collection of historic images of winter sports on April 28.

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