Restoring a Maine-made ski jump
By Scott Andrews, director, Ski Museum of Maine
From the 1930s into the 1950s, the Winter Sports Engineering Service of Hussey Manufacturing Company of North Berwick helped develop ski facilities around New England and even farther afield. A set of four ski jumps at Belnap Recreation Area (today's Gunstock) in Gilford, New Hampshire, was one of the company's landmark projects during those years. Other Granite State projects included jumps in Durham, Hanover, Lebanon and Berlin (Milan).
The 70-meter ski jump at Belknap Recreation Area (today's Gunstock) was one of the landmark projects built by the Hussey Manufacturing Company during the 1930s. The date of this vintage photo is uncertain, but it is believed to be sometime in the 1950s or 1960s. Note the start house at the apex. (Photo courtesy Carol Anderson)
The largest of the four, a 70-meter jump, was named for Torger Tokle, a Norwegian immigrant who set the hill distance record shortly after arriving in the U.S. During World War II, Tokle served in the U.S. Army's famed 10th Mountain Division and was killed in action in Italy in 1945.
Most of the jumps built by Hussey (today's Hussey Seating Company) have been razed or are in severe states of disrepair.
That's about to change. Last year a history buff in Gilford took up the cause of repairing Gunstock's Torger Tokle jump with the ultimate aim of attracting national competitions to the area. Carol Anderson set up a non-profit organization and has enlisted interest and help from several key quarters, including Gunstock general manager Greg Goddard, the U.S. Ski Team, Hussey Seating Company and the Gunstock Nordic Ski Club. She obtained recognition for the jump on "Seven to Save," a statewide list of especially noteworthy restoration efforts. She has also extensively researched the history of the jump, which was originally funded by an agency of the U.S. government as an economic stimulus measure.
Carol Anderson, a history buff from Gilford, New Hampshire, is the point person for an effort to restore the 70-meter Torger Tokle ski jump pictured in the background. The jump was built by Hussey Manufacturing Company of North Berwick, beginning in the summer of 1935. (Scott Andrews photo)
A huge amount of work remains, beginning with raising the money needed, but Anderson dreams of the day when the Torger Tokle jump is totally repaired and once again hosts national competitions such as those in 1938 and 1975.
Although the landing zone has grown over and the wooden planking is totally rotted, the steel trestle of the Hussey-built Torger Tokle ski jump is in remarkably good condition. (Carol Anderson photo)
Anyone with information — such as photographs and old newspaper articles — is requested to send them to the Gunstock Mountain Historic Preservation Society, P.O. Box 1307, Laconia, N.H. 03247. The Ski Museum of Maine is keenly interested in this restoration and will periodically report on the progress on this page.
In a related matter, Peter Hussey a Museum director and retired top executive with Hussey Seating Company, has converted his father's vintage home movies of jumping competitions at Gunstock in the 1930s to digital video disc and donated copies to the Ski Museum of Maine and the New England Ski Museum. Peter Hussey has some personal connection with his company's former ski projects: During his college years in the mid-1950s he helped construct the jump at Lebanon.