Sunday, February 26, 2012

Historic Aerials

Jeremy Davis, founder of the New England Lost Ski Areas Project ( wrote:  "You'll like this... go to, and type in the address for Locust Lawn (or Conifer Hill Road, Danvers), there is imagery in good quality from 1950's-1960's, and you can fade it in to 2005 imagery and watch the highway pop up! Let me know what you think of the aerial imagery there."

Wow! What an amazing experience to "fly" down over the landscape of my past!   The aerial photos are somewhat blurry, and the copyright information printed across them gets in the way, but once you get oriented to the old neighborhood and begin to recognize a building here, a pond there... it is exciting to see this real evidence of remembered places.  The old barn!! Thanks, Jeremy.

Here are the dates available for Conifer Hill Drive, Danvers: 
1955  (low quality)  - before the Almy's shopping center was built, but my father's new factory (Nichols & Clark, Inc.) shows near Rte 1.
1969  best view of ski slope area E of the old barns; our new house at 121 Nichols St.
1971  (a summer view, leaves on trees)  Highway construction had removed barn & ski hill.
1978 Rte 95 now has cars on it. The pond by Nichols St is clearly visible.
1995 Office park had replaced our original home (120 Nichols St), and reduced pond size.
2001 (color, higher quality)The UNEX building (Nichols & Clark, Inc.) is still visible.
2005  (excellent quality) UNEX building has been replaced by a much larger building (Berry).

Technical notes: I first tried to access these aerial photos from my Mac, and was not successful. My husband tried with his PC, and found that it worked better after he installed the Microsoft Silverlight software (free, and downloadable from the Historicaerials site). I tried again, and yes, the Silverlight software helps the Mac, too. You must also search on a current address (Conifer Hill Dr, Danvers, MA) not an obsolete address (120 Nichols St). The 1955 view is not indexed with 1955 addresses.   

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Homemade ski tows

If you enjoyed reading my recent entry (or the February newspaper column) about ski lifts, perhaps you would also enjoy a blog entry I wrote four years ago about several of the ski tows my father designed and built.  He was creative and inventive, and he loved to ski.   See my February 2008 posting called "Ski tows."

You might also be interested in some much earlier postings I created for the New England Lost Ski Areas Project (NELSAP).  Long before I started writing columns for the Danvers Herald, I had submitted information about "Locust Lawn," our local ski hill, to NELSAP.  I also scanned old photos and created a personal webpage about skiing at Locust Lawn.   I had forgotten about that webpage until today when I looked again at the NELSAP site.  Under "Locust Lawn - Danvers MA"  it still links to my old page!    I haven't changed that page in 10 years; it looks terribly primitive by today's standards. Maybe someday I'll find time (ha!) to redo the presentation of those photos and memories.

We had such fun skiing on those local cow pasture slopes and riding up those homemade ski-tows!   It is worth remembering!   My experiences at Locust Lawn seem unique, but through NELSAP I've learned there were many, many other small ski operations serving different locales in New England.

Remarkably, NELSAP has been on the web for 13 years now. As of today, NELSAP lists 599 lost ski areas.  I imagine many of them also had locally-made ski lifts of one sort or another -- back in the good-old, do-it-yourself days.