By Joel Ash
Sitting high atop Snow Hill is our Special Place in the upper reaches of Eastman. There are relatively few folks living here and those who do have a wide range of interests and backgrounds. Certainly there are golfers amongst us, but the central focus for our residents is not the golf course, but skiing, hiking, and other nature-oriented activities, including those taking place on Eastman Lake. We are largely full-time residents with a smattering of “snowbirds” mixed in. As in all of Eastman, there are folks of all ages, and this mixed community suits us just fine. Those employed and those retired come together in our socials and community activities.
There is a limited number of street addresses in Snow Hill Special Place (SHSP) and most of them are reminiscent of ski trails: Summit Drive, Slalom Drive, Double Diamond Drive, Alpine Vista, Dartmouth Place, and Allen’s Drive. Since there is little room for new building, this is not likely to change. With the closing of the downhill ski amenity after the 1998-99 season, the old ski runs have remained open space and that is the way that most, if not all, Snow Hill residents would like to keep it— particularly old Trail 1 that is closest to housing.
The history of SHSP, centering on the Snow Hill Ski Area, is quite interesting and this is particularly so for those who have moved to Eastman subsequent to its closing. Soon after the Eastman Community Association (ECA) was formed in July 1971, a double chairlift was installed on the hill facing the southern shore of what was then called Eastman Pond, and ski operations commenced for the 1972- 73 season. Three trails sloped from the top of the lift to the side of the pond. Though technically a private ski area, lift tickets were sold to the general public over the years. Starting in the mid-1980s, many Members questioned the viability of continuing to operate the ski area and a survey indicated that 68% of residents did not use the amenity. In August 1999, ECA’s Recreation Committee recommended that the ski area be closed and the chairlift sold to Whaleback Mountain in Enfield. Shortly afterward, the ECA Board of Directors voted to implement this recommendation. Soon after that, some Members filed a lawsuit in hopes of overturning the decision, but the lawsuit was unsuccessful. The Snow Hill Ski Area was then permanently closed, the chairlift removed, and the hill essentially evolved to its present state of largely disuse. Today, use of the old ski area consists of folks occasionally hiking up or down the old ski trails and others occupying beach chairs at the top of the trails and appreciating a magnificent view of Eastman Lake and the mountains in the distance. On pleasant days, one often sees walkers and cyclists ascending and descending Road Round the Lake, the access road to Snow Hill. The climb can be challenging, especially for those not in good shape for such activity.
On winter days, particularly during snowfalls or shortly thereafter, all-wheel drive or a good set of snow tires are recommended to navigate Snow Hill Special Place. Despite the challenges of getting here, the living up here is truly wonderful and the Snow Hill Special Place is amongst the best that Eastman has to offer. I close with a new limerick:
Midst trees beneath Eastman sky blue,
Where the people who live there are few;
One or two turns to make,
Off of Road Round the Lake,
Special Place with a great mountain view.