Boston insurance man Carroll Reed was injured while skiing the Wildcat Trail in 1934, and as he recovered read an article about European ski schools. He became determined to bring the concept to the U.S., and convinced the innkeepers of Jackson, NH to fund the costs of hiring a ski instructor to teach their guests to ski. Reed's ski school, the Eastern Slope Ski School, engaged Benno Rybizka of the highly respected Hannes Schneider Ski School of St. Anton, Austria for the winter of 1937.
In the winter of 1936, about the time that Carroll Reed was planning for his ski school, local notables including Dr. Harold Shedd, Noel Wellman and Chuck Emerson formed the Eastern Slope Ski Club to promote the area as a skiing destination, and to ensure that all local youths would be exposed to the new and growing sport. In the winter of 1939 the club started their Junior Program that allowed all local children to obtain ski equipment and take ski lessons; that program continues to serve all elementary school students in Conway today.
Harvey Gibson's new ski resort opened in the winter of 1937-38, with a rope tow originally built by Carroll Reed in Jackson serving as the lift. Lodging was provided at the Eastern Slope Inn in downtown North Conway, the almost-new former Hotel Randall that Gibson bought to pair with the ski hill. As time went on a new annex and cottages were added to the hotel, and refinements like the Swiss Orchestra, composed of members of the Swiss Orchestra that had performed at the Paris and New York World's Fairs, were added.
At a time when the few ski areas were found in New England had narrow, twisting trails, Gibson created wide swaths of open terrain suggestive of the alpine landscapes of Austria. A grant of $15,000 from the Works Progress Administration and assistance from the town of Conway were instrumental in clearing the roughly 200 acres of open slopes.
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