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Snow Ridge marks 75 years of success

Megan Plete Postol
Staff Writer
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Posted 3/13/21

Snow Ridge Ski Resort is marking its 75th anniversary this winter season. Located at 4173 West Road in Turin, Snow Ridge has a deep history. The year was 1945. Around the globe, World War II was …

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Snow Ridge marks 75 years of success

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Snow Ridge Ski Resort is marking its 75th anniversary this winter season.

Located at 4173 West Road in Turin, Snow Ridge has a deep history. The year was 1945. Around the globe, World War II was coming to an end. Hitler had been defeated. The two atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in office and Harry S. Truman took his place. And in Upstate New York, Perry and Lawton Williams were turning their attention towards an entrepreneurial endeavor that would endure for seven decades and counting.

The Williams duo, along with their wives Ruth and Emily, were the founders of Snow Ridge Ski Resort. 

“Their vision created many firsts,” Historian and Co-Author of the book ‘White Magic: The Story of Snow Ridge Ski Area,’ Jerome Britton said. “The first ski chapel and Poma lift in the United States were at Snow ridge, along with many important safety protocols that were adopted nationally and internationally.”

Snow Ridge is located in the Tug Hill region on the eastern end of Lake Ontario. 

“Because of its location there was always an abundance of snow measured usually in feet not inches,” Britton said. “Long before snow making, Snow Ridge with its seven ski tows was able to draw crowds of well over 2000 people on the weekends.” 

When Snow Ridge first opened, there were two rope tows, a small chalet with the cafeteria, a first aid room and ski shop. For two dollars, a skier could purchase an all-day lift ticket and twenty five cents would get them one ride up the hill. As the years progressed the Williams families hired European ski instructors, built a chalet with a capacity for more than 400 people, cut more ski trails, and built an additional chalet. 

Snow Ridge’s popularity grew fast, and in 1957, 3000 skiers enjoyed the New Year’s weekend festivities at Snow Ridge. In 1958 Snow Ridge was the largest privately owned area in NYS, Britton said, and by the 1960’s the Snow Ridge
ski school was the largest in New York State. Also in the 1960’s, chair lifts and grooming equipment were added. 

Snow Ridge saw tremendous success in the first few decades. The Snow Ridge ski club even chartered flights, filled to capacity, to ski in the mountains of Europe. 

“We are in awe of the vision and enthusiasm that Perry, Lawt, Ruth and Emily created,” Britton said. “Each owner has added their own special touch and we have been able to enjoy this vital and cherished part of our community and our lives for 75 years.” 

For a tenure of 75 years, the ski area has changed hands only a few times. The Williams’ sold to Dr. Miller Harris and his wife Rosalie in 1973. Their son Peter Harris took ownership of the ski resort from his parents in 1987. In 2006, Peter Harris sold Snow Ridge to Russell Horn. Current owners Nic Mir and his mother Cyndy Sisto purchased Snow Ridge in 2015 and have operated it since. 

“We’ve added a new magic carpet lift to the learning center, making it easier for new skiers and boarders to learn the basics,” General Manager Nick Muir said. “It’s also allowed us to open our all new snow tubing park which is a blast for the whole family.” 

The team has strived to and continue to make improvements and upgrades to lifts, buildings, and equipment every season. 

“Our all-new Tavern230 patio is open for business with a cozy outdoor fire pit,” Mir said. “Events will make a slow return to the Ridge this Spring with some season ending fun and our TugMudDare Adventure Run planned for May 22. More projects are planned for this summer including construction of our mountain bike park, expansion of our campgrounds, upgrading the Little Mountain area, and more.

In the meantime, they are taking some time to mark the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Snow Ridge with a day full of winter fun.

“We’ll be celebrating the 75th on March 13 with a number of family friendly, COVID-safe activities,” Mir said. “Check out the website for all the details and information on our other fun March events.”

Many notable events have occurred at Snow Ridge over the years. The Korean Olympic ski team trained there for the 1980 Olympics. The long-honored Oneida Silversmith collegiate race was held every year beginning in 1955. 

“This was a very famous race and such notable skiers as Olympians Bill Johnson and Andrew Weibrecht and Tommy Vonn(he later married Olympian Lindsay Vonn) claimed victory on the “Silversmith” course,” Britton said. 

For a time, Snow Ridge hosted the Special Olympics. The soldiers of Fort Drum’s 10th Mountain division used to complete winter training at Snow Ridge.

Several Snow Ridge skiers have reached the pinnacle of Olympic caliber, Britton said. Most notably Renie Cox from Port Leyden, who skied on the 1960 Olympic ski team. She and her husband now own the very successful, high-end ski shops- Gorsuch Ltd. Some other skiers that have made a mark in the skiing industry were Red Wilcox, Rick Lounsbury, Jan Palmer, Stanley Evans, Terry and Ken Phelps Jr, and Henry Chrzanowski, who all started on the hills of Snow Ridge.

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