When the Kancamagus Highway was being constructed between Lincoln and Conway in 1960-61, Sherman Adams, former New Hampshire governor and President Eisenhower's chief of staff, saw more than just a road. Over 100 square miles of wilderness would be opened up, and Adams knew there was a good ski mountain along the route.
Adams was no stranger to these parts. As a member of the Dartmouth Outing Club during his undergraduate studies, Sherm got to know the White Mountains. His endurance in these mountains was legendary - he once walked 75 miles from Littleton to Hanover in one day. During summer school vacations, he signed on with the Appalachian Mountain Club trail crew and helped locate, cut, and maintain the extensive AMC trail system throughout the White Mountains.
In 1923, Adams was hired as Lumber Operations Director for Lincoln's Parker-Young Company. He was responsible for maintaining a steady flow of wood for the Lincoln mill. That meant spending a lot of time outdoors. He couldn't have been happier.
In February, 1964, Adams strapped on snowshoes and revisited some of the area on Loon Mountain. With fairly gentle inclines suitable for intermediate skiers and only scattered glacial boulders, Loon Mountain was a well-sheltered, northeast-facing slope. Close to town and the soon-to-be-built Interstate highway, Adams believed this was a good location, and set out to find an expert who agreed with him.
Proving the feasibility of Adams' plan was up to Sel Hannah, former Olympic skier and fellow Dartmouth grad. Sel had planned over 100 ski areas across the United States. Hannah spent a week in the woods on Loon Mountain. He returned a positive verdict. It would "not be an Olympic mountain," he told Adams. "But the kids, mothers and fathers would love it."
After 2 years of preparation, Loon opened for business on December 27, 1966. Over 30,000 skier visits were recorded by season's end.
Two years later, Loon opened the East Basin, an area Hannah originally declared "too steep to ski in". With its own chairlift, this area could challenge even the most rugged experts, and established Loon's reputation for having something for any skier.
During the 1980s, Loon virtually doubled its size. More novice and intermediate terrain opened in the West Basin, along with additional expert trails on North Peak.
In 1983 Loon started a master development plan to expand to the adjacent South Peak. In 2005 Loon Mountain sold 324 acres of private land at the base of South Peak to Centex Destination Properties (CDP). CDP began developing private homesites and condominium units.
After 24 years, Sherman Adams' dream became reality. In December, 2007, Loon opened South Peak for skiing and riding, with 60 acres of new terrain and 2 new lifts. In the following years, Loon added several additional trails, including Rip Saw, Loon's first double-black diamond run. More terrain is slated for possible development in the future.
Sherman Adams died in 1986 at the age of 87. His legacy of hard work, quality conditions, and "skier first" service continues at Loon. Today, Loon Mountain offers New Hampshire's biggest skiing on 2,100 feet of vertical with 47 trails, 6 tree skiing areas, 6 terrain parks, superpipe and halfpipe.
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