Skiing at Locust Lawn, Danvers, Mass.

Fond memories by Sandy Nichols Ward

The New England Lost Ski Areas Project has inspired me to gather here some photos and stories about skiing at Locust Lawn. My family was heavily involved in clearing trails, constructing and running the rope-tows, and organizing the private recreational club, the Locust Lawn Club, that generated dues to pay expenses. We lived on adjacent land, so I practically grew up on the Locust Lawn property. I learned to ski there. At least I think so, though I have no memory of learning to ski. I just grew up there and always knew how to ski.

Photo of my father Nathan "Nick" Nichols
skiing with me in his arms

Photographer: John Nutter, 1943? [64K]

Both of my parents were avid skiiers and my father created and ran the ski tow at Locust Lawn. I've seen a photograph of me as a baby strapped onto a packboard on my father's back while he stands on skis. The photo above shows me in his arms as he skis down the ski slope at Locust Lawn. These photos were taken by John "Ace" Nutter and given to me at my father's memorial service a few years ago. He included some photos of "Oswald", our 1932 Model AB Ford, being used temporarily to run a ski tow at Russell's in Kearsage, N.H., but that's another story I had hoped Ace Nutter would tell. Unfortunately, he died early in 2001 before I had a chance to talk with him about NELSAP. Photos of my parents, Ace, and the tow at Russell's.

Photo of Nick skiing down trail through woods

Photo of Nick making fast turn

Photographer: John Nutter, 1941?

I remember short little skis with very curly front ends and a red section in the middle. They were strapped on over my rubber boots. I played around on them on a small slope (just a dip of a few feet, but big enough to challenge me then, as a pre-school child) not far from the Model T that was pulling the ski tow. My sister and I often played there at the top of the hill while our parents skied down the real slopes. Other children and adults were around. This was quite a gathering place for families.

Later, my father took me between his legs and brought me down the ski slope. My skis were guided by his skis. My hands were on the bar in front of me -- a horizontally-held ski pole. It was a very secure way to glide and turn down the big (to me) slope, inside my father's strong arms and legs. We came back up by rope tow in the same way, me inside his arms, my skis inside his.

Before long, of course, I was skiing independently down and up, down and up, with my friends. I remember my parents complaining that we ought to learn to turn left. We only turned right. Down the hill straight to the flat runout at bottom, right turn to catch the rope tow up, right turn at top to head down again. Who needs to turn left? 'Round and round we went. The adults had a hard time stopping us at the end of the day. We'd dash off for one more run. They would threaten to turn the tow off, but would usually keep it running for a few more rounds. If they turned it off, wežd have to climb back up to the top, where the cars were parked and the families waited for us. My family came on foot, or skis, because we lived so close. (The house we lived in for my first 14 years was at 120 Nichols Street, at the bottom of the hill. Then we built a larger house partway up the hill, even closer to the skiing: 121 Nichols St. People stopped by after skiing for hot mulled cider and socializing, games of ping pong in the cellar, etc. My parents had quite a wide circle of skiing friends, many of them friendships formed in college outing clubs.)

View from top of Locust Lawn, looking east, 1959.
Bare ground; rope tow in foreground.

Similar view with snow and skiers,
Robbie Lowd and my sister Jean Nichols. 1959.

Location of Locust Lawn? Here's a hand-drawn map on an old greeting card created by my father indicating locations of

The name "Locust Lawn" refers not only to the ski hill, but also to a 35-acre piece of property owned in my childhood by some of my great aunts and other relatives. For more about the Locust Lawn Club and its relation to this property, see History of Locust Lawn Club and Locust Lawn.

This webpage created by Sandy Nichols Ward, with much thanks to my cousin Stuart Brewster who, in December 2000, mailed me a copy of the newspaper article "Revisiting ski areas of the past: web site honors New England's onetime resorts" (Boston Globe 12/3/00).

That New England Lost Ski Areas Project (NELSAP) website listed over 300 lost ski areas , but failed to include Locust Lawn (as of 12/00). NELSAP was started by young people who enjoyed hiking over the places once occupied by ski slopes. I knew they could never "discover" Locust Lawn by that method. The entire Locust Lawn hill is also "lost" -- lowered drastically by earth-moving equipment during the summer of 1971 as Route 95 was constructed. The landscape dropped 300 feet! All trace of ski trails disappeared. But Locust Lawn lives on in my memory, and on the NELSAP website: Locust Lawn.

Revised: January 12, 2002.
Some links revised 3/1/04 as this page moved to new server.