HEBRON — The Hebron Historical Society recently hosted a presentation on the beginning of Maine’s ski industry.

Ski Museum of Maine Director Scott Andrews discussed the contribution made by Swedish immigrants.

In 1870, Gov. Joshua Chamberlain sent an emissary to Sweden to recruit immigrants to settle in northern Maine to revitalize the economy. Fifty-one Swedes settled the area of what’s now New Sweden and Stockholm, Ski Museum of Maine Director Scott Andrews said.

They brought with them a method of traveling on top of snow that involved attaching a long board runner to each foot, referred to as snowshoes. These shoes eventually started the ski sport industry in the state, Andrews said.

Such travel and transportation capabilities eventually evolved into the ski sporting industry. The Caribou Skee Club formed in 1890 and Poland Spring became the first “winter sports resort.” The Bethel Inn soon followed and Rumford held a winter carnival with ski jumping in 1927. In the 1930s, Rumford was the ski capital. Fryeburg soon became a notable rival by introducing the state’s first lift in the form of a rope tow. By 1941, there were a dozen lifts in Maine.

David Stonebraker, Hebron Academy archivist and historian, briefed attendees on the town’s own ski sites utilized by the academy. The students participated in cross country and ski jumping as early as the 1930s. The first of two rope tow lifts in Hebron was the Earl Brown ski lift, which was built in the 1950s on Ben Barrows Hill. The site has been inactive for decades.

The next meeting is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, at the Town Office, 351 Paris Road. Ann Gass will speak on the Maine Suffrage Movement. The public is invited.

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