Ski history

While snowboarding traces its roots back to the 1960s, it shares the mountain with skiing. Students of snowboarding history may be interested in the history of skiing, since that activity is responsible for the development of much of what snowboarders experience today: lift-served terrain, grooming, ski patrol and many other facets of “ski” area management.


There are several ski-related museusm throughout the United States. Some focus on specific regions, others on just one state. Here are a few of them.

The U.S. National Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame
This organization is based in Michigan’s Upper Peninsular, a region that receives plenty of snow each winter thanks to Lake Superior, the world’s largest (by area) freshwater lake. The organization says that the U-P (as locals call it) is “the birthplace of organized skiing in the United States.” It has 20,000 square feet of space.

You can buy a variety of things from the Hall’s online store, including film of some of the first organized snowboard competitions. If you’re doing some serious research into the history of skiing and snowboarding, you’ll have to visit in person to see the library collection.

The New England Ski Museum
This museum is located at the base of Cannon Mountain in Franconia, New Hampshire. It has a collection of ski equipment through the years, publications, and other materials related to skiing and winter mountain sports.

The museum also has a collection of early snowboarders, including the Snurfer; the Winterstick, and some of the first snowboards with (what for the day passed as) bindings.

The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum
This museum is near the base of Vail Mountain. It chronicles the important pioneers of skiing in Colorado as well as the role of the Tenth Mountain Division in the development of alpine sports in the U.S. It items span 130 years of history.

The Alf Engen museum
This museum was launched in 1989 to tell the story of skiing in Utah. Coverage of snowboarding, at least on the museum’s web site, is thin.

Mammoth Ski Museum
The Mammoth Ski Museum is in Mammoth Lakes, California and chronicles the development of skiing and snowboarding in the Sierras. Its web site has no mention of snowboarding, however.

Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum
The Vermont Ski Museum has items of interest to snowboarders, too. See, for example, How Vermont shaped snowboarding.

Other resources

Skiing Heritage is a quarterly journal devoted to the history of skiing and produced by the International Skiing History Association.


Leave a Reply