Mohawk Mountain: The Snow Story

How much of the Mohawk Mountain’s ski history do you know? For a small town, Cornwall has played a big role in helping ski areas cope with snow-stingy winters.

Mohawk Mountain — the centerpiece of Mohawk State Forest — has a rich history that is entwined with the history of those who have lived in and visited the place over the centuries. Traces of these pasts are still visible today.

We are excited to announce our next exhibit, Mohawk Mountain: The Snow Story, which opens Saturday, July 6th. Through photos and objects, the installation chronicles the history of the Mountain, from its beginnings, and naming, to its role as one of the first ski resorts in the Unites States to make its own snow. The show touches on many different stories, but focuses on three in particular: Alain C. White and his sister, May W. White whose gifts of land to the state would start the state’s park system; the young men in the Civilian Conservation Corp who from 1933-1941 were responsible for creating this recreation area; and ski-industry pioneer, Walter Schoenknecht who in the winter of 1950 layered shaved ice over the slopes of Mohawk Mountain, thus establishing the first attempt at making artificial snow for skiing.

EXHIBIT-RELATED PROGRAM: Recognizing Alain and May White — Just who were Alain and May White? Where did they come from? Why were they so generous? The Whites preserved nearly 9,000 acres of land that today includes, among others, the White Memorial Foundation, Mohawk State Forest and Mohawk Mountain State Park. Join Gerri Griswold, Director of Administration and Development at White Memorial for a beautiful presentation beginning with the Whites and their grand summer home Whitehall (in Litchfield) as it was in the late 1800s. Considered the founders of the state’s park system, their gifts were very far reaching … far beyond Litchfield. You’ll be amazed!

IMAGES (from top to bottom): Snowmaking at Mohawk Mountain Ski Area, Mohawk State Forest, Cornwall, ca. 1975; Walter Schoenknecht (center) at Mohawk Mountain makes skiable surface by chipping hundreds of blocks of ice, January 1950.

Highlights: 60 years of Collecting

When the Cornwall Historical Society opened its doors to the public in 1967, the occasion was an important moment for the community: it invited residents and visitors to a new way of experiencing and understanding Cornwall’s history. Donated and loaned items were displayed in an exhibition which aimed to shed light on the town’s history. Many of these items later formed the core of the Society’s permanent collection, which has since expanded to include unique manuscripts and original documents.

Spanning more than two centuries, our holdings reflect all facets of the town’s history from its earliest settlement in the mid-1700s to the present. The collection continues to grow—thanks to the generosity of donors—and new stories continue to surface.

To celebrate its founding and incorporation in 1964, the Society has assembled a small show titled Highlights: 60 Years of Collecting. The installation is a chance to showcase a few rarely seen treasures from our collection; included are paintings of Cornwall on loan from long time Cornwall resident, Joe Ellis.

IMAGES (from top to bottom): Cornwall Historical Society officers entertain members and friends at an Open House to celebrate the Society’s new quarters at 7 Pine Street, 1967; James Henry Moser (1854-1913), Cream Hill Lake, Cornwall, Conn., 1891, watercolor. Collection of the Cornwall Historical Society; Gift of Joe Ellis.