Rappahannock News

The storied past and recent revival of ski clubs in Rappahanno­ck

- If you have a story you'd like to share, please contact me at chrisdoxze­n@gmail. com.

Athread of lively remembranc­es recently cropped up on the popular Facebook page for Rappahanno­ck locals only, “You know you are from Rappahanno­ck when…,” a er administra­tor Dyanne Holt posted an article and photo of the former Rappahanno­ck Ski Resort.

The resort, also known as Skyline and Big Devil, went defunct in the early 70s. But the community’s rich memories of it live on.

Stephen Bailey ran li s and made snow, Dorothy Clater recalled. She lived and worked there. Betty Grove chimed into the thread saying, “The one and only time I ever tried to ski was there. My ankles (and butt) were sore for days! Someone mentioned Cassie Coates — I remember her from Sperryvill­e Elementary. If I'm correct, she had a cast (or maybe 2) from skiing.” Cassie Coates Robbins, the Fletchers, the Sisks, the Whartons, the Stuarts, Sam Snead and more shared fond remembranc­es.

John Timmons, one of the last employees on the payroll of the resort, said that a combinatio­n of forces that barreled through the early 70s forced the resort into bankruptcy. During that nal season, there were a series of freeze-thaw cycles with rain that forced Rappahanno­ck to completely cover the mountain seven times with man-made snow, going from bare ground each time to 90% coverage. That, coupled with the Mideast oil boycott, which stopped most Americans from driving for recreation since many couldn't a ord to buy gas, led to its demise.

According to Timmons, Rappahanno­ck started as a private ski club by and for U.S. senators, congressme­n and U.S. State Department employees, possibly during the 1950s, although the exact opening date remains unknown.

In recent weeks, a more modern ski club has been resurrecte­d in its place, but this time it’s not populated by federal o cials. Instead, Rappahanno­ck County Public Schools students are taking to the slopes.

Missy McCool, who happens to live on Old Ski Lodge Lane where her home was once a utility building for the resort, but has since been renovated into a lovely country property. Appropriat­ely, some of the equipment from the old is still lodged on the mountain including in McCool’s yard. Both her children, Fiona and Henry, are members of the schools’ ski club.

“The newly formed Rappahanno­ck Ski & Snowboard Club had its rst outing at Bryce [Resort in Basye]. Jimmy Deal was our bus driver — he was a member of the last ski club. It ended in ‘72 when the ski resort RappSki, my mountain, closed. It was a really fun time for 5th-12th graders,” McCool said.

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 ?? ?? e ski area operated near Washington until the early 1970s.
e ski area operated near Washington until the early 1970s.
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CHRIS’S CORNER | Chris Doxzen

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