Mad River Glen first cranked up its now famous Single Chair on December 11, 1948. Roland Palmedo, the founder and an original investor at Stowe, envisioned a ski area where sport not profit would be the overriding concern. Roland believed that " …a ski area is not just a place of business, a mountain amusement park, as it were. Instead it is a winter community whose members, both skiers and area personnel, are dedicated to the enjoyment of the sport." Mad River Glen developed over the years with this vision of community as its foundation.
In 1972 a group led by Truxton Pratt purchased Mad River Glen, and his wife Betsy Pratt took over controlling interest of the Mad River Corporation upon his death in 1975. She worked hard to maintain Roland’s vision and acted as Mad River Glen steward protecting it from the many changes in the ski industry. When Betsy decided to sell the ski area she sold it to the only people she felt she could trust, Mad River Glen’s loyal skiers.
On December 5, 1995 a new era began when the Mad River Glen Cooperative was formed. Mad River Glen is now the only cooperatively owned ski area in America. In an age when the ski industry is consolidating and becoming homogenized, Mad River Glen bucks the trend by remaining independent and preserving a ski experience that exists nowhere else. Shareholders in the Mad River Glen Cooperative have come together to fulfill their mission; "…to preserve and protect the forests and mountain ecosystem of General Stark Mountain in order to provide skiing and other recreational access and to maintain the unique character of the area for present and future generations." The mountain is managed by the hired staff with direction and leadership provided by the Board of Trustees elected by the shareholders.
In April of 1998 the Mad River Glen Cooperative fulfilled its purchase agreement with the previous owner by selling its 1,667th share. Mad River Glen is now owned outright by its dedicated skiers. The fledgling Co-op enters the 50th Anniversary season riding high. Not only was the share sales goal met but three successful seasons under the Co-op allowed management to begin addressing capital needs. Mad River’s main double chair, "The Sunnyside Double," was replaced over the summer. "This project proves that the Co-op format can work for Mad River. Not only are we surviving, we are moving forward," said Marketing Director, Eric Friedman.
The Mad River Glen Cooperative continues to sell shares in an effort to broaden the base of support and to insure long-term viability for the area. Shares cost $1,750 each and are available on a 30-month installment plan. "This gives practically anyone with a job and a desire to help preserve Mad River Glen the chance to get involved. This is no country club," says Friedman.
Mad River Glen Through The Years
1947-48: Initial trails cut: Catamount, Lift Line, Fall Line, Canyon and Porcupine. November snows stop construction and the opening is postponed for a year.
1948-49: Trails improved, work tram, lift and StarkÂ’s Nest built. Opening ceremonies were held on December 11, 1948.
1949-50: No Stop No Fall and Easter Parade traditions begin.
1951-52: Father and Son Race moves to MRG from Stowe and evolves into the Family Tournament
1952-53: Jack Murphy becomes General Manager, Ken Quackenbush starts his career at MRG. Chalet 10 (little house across from Amateur Ski Club house) is built.
1953-54: Hartford Ski Club builds house at MRG
1954-55: Practice Hill Rope Tow is installed. MRG hosts the NCAA Downhill Championship Race. 68 new chairs are added to the 65 all ready on the Single Chair's line more than doubling the lifts capacity.
1955-56: The Base BoxÂ’s first addition (the east end) is built.
1957-58: McCullough Turnpike (current Route 17), the road over the mountain is finally completed.
1958-59: New tower is added at the bottom of the Single Chair. Beaver trail is cut. T Bar goes in on the Practice Slope. Sugarbush Valley ski area opens.
1959-60: First Ski Shop is built over the brook.
1960-61: First Tucker Snow Cat is purchased. The second Base Box addition (currently Gen. StarkÂ’s Pub) is completed. Trails were cut for proposed Sunnyside double chair.
1961-62: Sunnyside Double Chair opens. First Green & Gold Weekend. The infamous Parachute Race into Catamount Bowl.
1962-63: A new trail, Quacky, is added and named for Ken Quackenbush.
1963-64: Lower Antelope opens. Another 25 chairs are added to the Single Chair making it a total of 158 chairs on the line.
1964-65: Upper Antelope opens.
1965-66: The last season for the Bud Phillips Ski School
1966-67: Birdland Trails open. Rudi Maier Ski School opens. Touring trails open.
1967-68: Birdland Lift opens. 10th Annual Kandahar Race. Base BoxÂ’s third addition, the upstairs, is completed
1968-69: Birdcage Opens. Last season food and beverage are served at StarkÂ’s Nest. Saturday night movies!
1969-70: National Slalom held at MRG. Four tracked vehicles used on mountain.
1970-71: Junior Nationals held at MRG. VermontÂ’s Act 250 development law is passed ending land sales on the mountain. Tennis courts built at Mad River Barn.
1971-72: T Bar dismantled and replaced by new Double Chair Lift. Mad River Junior Racing Program starts.
1982-83: Sunnyside Double Chair drive replaced.
1986-87: Snowboards first allowed at MRG.
1991-92: Snowboard ban begins at MRG.
1995-96: Mad River Glen Cooperative purchases mountain an December 5, 1995 and the mountain opens with ceremony at the Single Chair on December 7.
1997-98: The Ice Storm of 1998 hits Mad River Glen, causing a great deal of damage to the mid-mountain forest. Clean-up crews and volunteers have the mountain re-opened within a week.
1998-99: Mad River Glen celebrates 50th Anniversary with a re-creation of the original opening day. Just like the original opening the Governor, Miss Vermont (both 1948 and 1998) and George Neill were in attendance. 50th Anniversary Gala held in January 1996. Sunnyside Double Chair is replaced.
1990-2000: The Co-op sells the 1,667th share to pay off its mortgage. The mountain is now owned outright by the Co-op.
2000-01: CallieÂ’s Corner Handle Tow Area is added and Stark's Nest is renovated. Over 325 inches of snow allows skiing to continue until April 29, 2001, the areaÂ’s latest closing date on record.
2005-06: The Mad River Glen Cooperative celebrates 10 years of skier ownership of the mountain.
2006-07: On Easter Sunday, April 8, the original Single Chair brought it's last skiers to the top of Gen. Stark Mountain. The last rider was long-time Mad River Glen GM, Ken Quackenbush. Fittingly the Single Chair was ushered out of service in a snowstorm that ended the season in a fabulous powder day.
2010: Mad River Glen submits application to be included in the National Register of Historic Places - Check out the informative application!
New England Ski Museum - Franconia, NH
Vermont Historical Society - History's Be All and End All in the State of Vermont
Vermont Ski Museum - Stowe, VT