10th Mountain Division
'Tales of the 10th' Features Familiar Faces
MARTY BASCH, NH.com
September 1, 2006
Young eyes peer from faces in the black and white photographs. Wavy hair or piercing looks, they are faces of men in their youth during a time of war. From training on the slopes of Colorado to the battle with the Germans on Italy’s Riva Ridge, the photos are of the men of the 10th Mountain Division and the names are linked to skiing in the valley and beyond.
Names like Herbert Schneider, Thad Thorne, Nathan Morrell, Robert Morrell and Brad Boynton are among those that fill the pages of “Tales of the 10th: The Mountain Troops and American Skiing” ($20, New England Ski Museum) It is written by North Conway’s Jeffrey Leich, executive director of the New England Ski Museum.
“Hundreds of 10th veterans are influential in the ski business,” said Leich. “These guys were influential as well as hundreds of others.”
The book is a glimpse into World War II and the evolution of the 10th, how it attracted some of the best skiers of the time, how they trained in Camp Hale, how they fought and the impact these men had on postwar skiing and mountaineering.
Packed with photos and a bundle of stories, the book also provides a look into the history of war and skiing, from the a pair of Birkenbeiners skiing a two-year old Norwegian king Hakon Hakonsson to safety in 1205 to the ingenious Finns who battled the Russians in the Russian-Finnish War.
The Schneider name is synonymous with Mount Washington Valley skiing. Hannes Schneider, who’s likeness is captured in a Cranmore statue, was a World War I mountain trooper. Son, Herbert, who sports a mustache, crossed arms and a huge smile in one photo, was given a Bronze star for his participation in combat during World War II. After the war, he returned to North Conway, eventually running Cranmore’s Hannes Schneider Ski School and becoming part owner.
Thad Thorne was a platoon sergeant and spent much of the war in Luzon and then Japan. He spent more time in the Army, including a stint in the Korean War. In time, he served seven years as Wildcat’s first ski patrol director and then moved on to the development of Attitash, working his way along the ladder as operations manager, general manager and president. As a ski consultant, he aided in the plans for Loon and Wilderness in Dixville Notch.
A shot of Brad Boynton in Tuckerman Ravine graces the book’s pages. Before the war, Boynton was a ski instructor in Jackson, along with future 10th Division members like Bob Morrell and Arthur Ducette. Boynton was one of the founding members of the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation.
Bob Morrell started up Storyland in the late 1950’s while Nate Morrell continued to be active with the 10th after the war, serving for many years as chairman of the National Association of the 10th Mountain Division.
In one photo, the photographer is photographed. A lone skier schusses down the south slope of Homestake Peak in Colorado. The skier is Winston Pote, a U.S. Army Signal Corps photographer. He went on capture much of the New England skiing landscape, Tuckerman Ravine in particular, in his pictures.
Bob Monahan, who chose the training site at Camp Hale in Colorado, later went on to found the Mount Washington Observatory.
“One of the things that changed American skiing about the 10th was they took all these eastern skiers and put them in the Colorado Rockies in Camp Hale,” Leich said. “After the war, one could make a case, that without that the development of skiing in Colorado could have been slower.”
Looking ahead, a number of 10th veterans are expected for the Schneider Cup at Cranmore March 12 and 13. Leich is planning to orchestrate a book signing with them.
Also, research is underway for a spring exhibit at the New England Ski Museum focusing on the Civilian Conservation Corps and its trails. Seventy-five years ago the CCC began cutting trails and ski areas sprung up around many like Cannon and the Taft Trail, the Tecumseh Trail at Waterville Valley and Wildcat’s Wildcat.
Bits and Pieces
Bartlett, NH Tavern Fire, Apr 1879
THE BARTLETT FIRE.----Our Conway correspondent writes that the loss to Mr. N. T. Stillings of Bartlett, whose tavern stand and out-buildings were destroyed by fire on the 3d, is $5000, with no insurance. The loss will be a heavy one to Mr. S., whose popular tavern and stage lines were so well known among the pilgrims to "the Switzerland of America." The fire is thought to have originated from a defective chimney. The family of Mr. S, was away at the time of the fire.
The New Hampshire Patriot, Concord, NH 13 Apr 1879