Canadian Man Working to Preserve History of Jay Peak Ski Resort

By Bob Soden
Previously published, with permission, in the Kingdom Historical, Dec. 2002

All rights reserved by author

In 1961 I learned to ski at Jay Peak (Tom Emrich of Newport’s Jay Foto was my instructor) using the Natur Teknik method of Walter Foeger. From 1963 through 1968 I taught the technique. Learning to ski, and ski instructing changed my life. I loved the experience and the friendliness of the Vermonters I met at Jay.

When I recently [1997] visited Jay [Peak], there was no mention of that time, no photos of the pioneers of the area nor any memorabilia on display. I think that is a shame. I think what took place back then is interesting to many people, and is in our own interest to remember. After all, if we don’t remember our forebear[er]s, why will we be remembered by the people who come after us? An old Native American expression goes, “A people without a history [are] like the wind over the buffalo grass.” Like they were never there.

Shortly after my visit to Jay, Some people wanted to burn down the old school house in Montgomery Center. I had spent a few days there as a kid and had a special fondness for it. I thought it was beautiful and in good shape. I thought it should be preserved as a bike hostel, or town offices. I made a few motions to save it, but I felt I didn’t have the funds. I backed off. They burned it down. I will never forgive myself.

So with this Jay [Peak] history thing, I said to myself, you can’t do nothing again. And I haven’t. I’ve been [working] on a history of the development of the Jay Peak ski area ever since then, collecting old photos, trail signs, ski tickets, memorabilia, and stories. I still would like to [speak to] (or receive letters from) more people who worked there – in the kitchen and sport shops, selling tickets, teaching skiing, cutting trails, installing lifts, building chalets and condos, etc. [I hope shortly to be publishing a book on the history of the development of the Jay Peak ski area based on these researches and interviews].

And I still [am] looking for memorabilia and photos, old equipment and [ski] clothes, etc.. [A good deal] of it will go into the book, and afterwards I hope to establish a Jay Peak Ski Museum in Jay, Vermont [or elsewhere in the area]. All contributions will be acknowledged and credited. I will purchase some items, if necessary, but my funds are limited.

My main interest is in preserving this unique part of Northern Vermont’s history, and giving credit to as many people as I can who took part in the making of it. If you wish to [write] me, [my address is:]

Bob Soden,
c/o Jay Peak Historical Society,
4 Hutchins Bridge Rd.,
Montgomery Center, Vt., 05471.

Phone me at: 802-326-4526; 514-916-2186(c)
or email me at:
or check out my webpage at: www.jaypeakhistory.com