Located on the Appalachian Highway straight between Canaan Valley and Davis – with a breathtaking view of the Canaan Valley State Park ski trails, White Grass Ski area and Timberline Mountain ski trails – is the new Snow Sports of West Virginia Museum.
Founded in 2018, the museum was started by individuals who have been involved in the creation and operation of the many ski resorts in West Virginia.
One of those individuals is Andrew Snyder, who, for decades, has lived and worked at Snowshoe Mountain Resort and Canaan Valley.
Snyder and the museum board collected and curated items from their personal collections and their friends’ to create the displays that show the history of snow sports in the state.
As the museum docent, Snyder takes visitors through the displays and gives a personal touch to the walk through resort history.
The walls of the display room are covered with framed brochures, advertisements and photographs from the 1950s through today, showing how the resorts in Pocahontas and Tucker counties grew through the years.
While Snowshoe Mountain Resort and Silver Creek Resort are well-known attractions in Pocahontas County, Snyder shared tidbits about lesser known ski trails and proposed resorts that never came to fruition.
“This was on the drawing board in Pocahontas County,” he said, pointing to a framed brochure. “I’m sure you’ve never heard of Laurel Creek. It was about four or five miles west of Snowshoe.”
Laurel Creek was the dream of Lewis Keller, Jr., of Palm Beach, Florida, who assembled the Laurel Creek Club and, along with his father, Lewis Keller, Sr., and a small group of investors, purchased the 4,000-acre Laurel Creek site in 1975.
The resort was to have two mountains with a total of 50 ski runs accessed by 13 lifts. Work on the proposed resort began in 1985, but it never opened.
Laurel Creek is one of many resorts on the list of “lost and forgotten” ski areas. Another resort – Tory – which was located in Randolph County, was the brain child of Dr. Thomas Brigham, who is the father of Snowshoe Mountain Resort.
Tory got further than Laurel Creek with trails actually cut into the mountain, but it, too, never opened.
Also located in Pocahontas County was the little known, temporary slope in Green Bank. Open for just 10 years, between 1965 and 1975, the slope was built for employees and visiting scientists at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
“My daughter found information online and sent an email to someone in Pocahontas County,” Snyder said. “They put her in touch with somebody who’s in public relations at Green Bank. That’s why it was built, because there were a lot of Europeans that came over to work at the observatory, and they discovered a natural abundance of snow.”
Of course, along with the information on the Pocahontas County resorts, the museum also has photos and history from the resorts in Tucker County – Canaan Valley State Park, Timberline, White Grass and Blackwater Falls State Park.
Along with the permanent displays, the center of the museum will have rotating exhibits. The current exhibit is “Cabin Mountain: Six Ski Areas from Driftland to Timberline.”
The museum also has historical objects on display, including one of the original snowmaking guns from Snowshoe Mountain Resort and a collection of skis.
Some of the skis are for sale to benefit the museum, while a large collection is just for show. Skis from the 1960s through today are included in the collection and were owned by skiers like Ted Ligety, who was a member of the United States Ski team and Olympic gold medalist.
In the main area of the museum is a collection of scrapbooks, copies of “Snowshoe News,” a newspaper published by Snowshoe Mountain Resort and more artifacts in a display case.
The museum wouldn’t exist without the people who put their blood, sweat and tears into the snow sports of West Virginia and to honor those people, the organization has a Hall of Fame.
The museum is open Thursdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit snowsportsmuseumwv.org