The Ski Museum of Maine isn’t just for skiers. Even visitors who’ve never hit the slopes savor this run through iconic Maine history. The terrain takes in Swedish immigrants who brought skiing here, the state’s winter Olympians, ski areas (past and present) from the “Crown of Maine” to the coast, and Maine-made skis and boots.

Not coincidentally, the downtown Kingfield museum is several miles from one of Maine’s largest ski resorts, Sugarloaf. Indeed, it’s above Sugarloaf Sports Outlet, subleasing from the resort for $1 annually. Maine ski areas large and small support the museum, founded by three Sugarloaf Ski Club members in 1995 to “celebrate, preserve and share the history and heritage of Maine skiing.”

After collecting artifacts and memorabilia, the museum opened in Farmington in 2006, moving to Kingfield three years later. Renovated in 2017, the Ski Museum is strong out of the gate for the 2019-2020 winter season, adding weekend hours, another fund-raising ski race and new satellite exhibits (see box).

An exhibit at the Ski Museum of Maine has a writeup on snowboard cross champion Seth Wescott, who grew up in Farmington, and displays his Olympic suit — googles, helmet, shirt and pants — from the 2006 games in Turin, Italy. A #1 Olympic bib from the 1952 games in Oslo, Norway, worn by Rumford-area cross-country skier Wendall “Chummy” Broomhall is also on display.

At its Kingfield base, the whitewashed wood-paneled walls and vaulted tin ceiling offset dark floorboards, a contrast evocative of evergreens alongside Maine ski trails deep with snow. Attractive, well-lit exhibits line the walls of the former dance hall. The newest and largest, “Maine Olympians — From the Pine Tree State to the World Stage,” centers the room. Installed in 2018, the exhibit proudly notes that Mainers have participated in every Winter Olympics — as athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers — since 1948.

The exhibit has a writeup on snowboard cross champion Seth Wescott, who grew up in Farmington, and displays his Olympic suit — googles, helmet, shirt and pants — from the 2006 games (Turin, Italy). He won gold, repeating that at the 2010 Olympics (Vancouver, Canada). A #1 Olympic bib from the 1952 games (Oslo, Norway) was worn by Rumford-area cross-country skier Wendall “Chummy” Broomhall, also a 1948 Olympics (St. Moritz, Switzerland) competitor.

Like many members of Rumford’s Chisolm Ski Club, Broomhall was an Olympic volunteer, assisting at the Squaw Valley, CA (1960), Lake Placid, NY (1980) and Salt Lake City (2002) games. He served as a course and race official and designed cross-country trails for Squaw Valley and Lake Placid. Closer to home he was instrumental in developing Rumford’s Black Mountain of Maine, which offers downhill and Nordic skiing — and like other locales around the state had a ski jump back in the day.

In Aroostook County’s New Sweden, founded in 1870, Swedish newcomers to Maine cross-country skied as transportation. By the 1920s, skiing was a recreational sport. On pace with national trends, Maine ski clubs opened ski areas, winter carnivals drew huge crowds, and “snow trains” whisked city folk to the mountains. By the 1960s, large ski resort development was taking off.

Along the museum’s northern wall, the “Mountains of Maine” exhibit trails through Maine ski areas. There are lots of great photos, ski area pamphlets from yesteryear, and a map showing 78 “Lost” and 34 “Open” ski areas (the latter includes Nordic centers) from York to Fort Kent. Until seeing the map, many Maine visitors didn’t know their town once had a ski slope.

The museum has a replica ski shop and shows “From Tree to Skis” (also on skimuseumofmaine.org), with 1930s footage of Paris Manufacturing Co. producing wooden skis in South Paris. Other shuttered ski makers are also showcased on the “Made in Maine” wall, which includes a G.H. Bass & Co. ski boot display. Like Paris Manufacturing’s skis, Wilton-made Bass ski boots equipped the Army’s 10th Mountain Division during World War II.

One corner of the museum has a display on the Mountain Division, whose 200-plus Mainers included future-Olympian Broomhall. In the “Children’s Corner,” antique ski figurines and toys await. Onsite and online, the museum sells books as well as reproductions of fun vintage ski posters from its displays.

Mary Ruoff, a Belfast freelance writer, updated the “Inland Maine” chapter of Fodor’s “New England” travel guide.


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