Walt Schoenknecht’s Vision Was Far and Creative

When Mount Snow’s visionary founder, Walter Schoenknecht, stood atop Mount Pisgah in over a foot of freshly fallen snow back in autumn of 1949, he knew he had found the perfect place to build his dream ski resort.  Only a few years later, Walt had purchased the land around the base of the mountain from the family of Rueben Snow and subsequently renamed the mountain in his honor – which is where the name “Mount Snow” was derived from.

The Original Lift at Mt. Snow. Credit: Mt. Snow
The Original Lift at Mount Snow.
Credit: Mount Snow

On December 12, 1954, Mount Snow opened for the first time to skiers with two rope tows and two chairlifts that transported guests up to seven trails.  In only a few years since its debut, Walt had transformed the mountain into the premier winter playground of the East with expanded terrain and off-the-wall amenities for the time like a heated outdoor pool, an indoor skating rink and state-of-the-art chairlifts.

Schoenknecht’s boundless energy, ambition and creativity had many comparing him to another such pioneer of that day named Walt Disney.  And while not all of his ideas were perfect, including sending a proposal to the Atomic Energy Commission to detonate an atomic bomb at the base of the mountain to create more vertical, many of his initiatives became standard practice for the ski industry like snowmaking, modern lifts and off-mountain amenities.

Now 60- years later, Mount Snow carries on Walt’s pioneering spirit by being in the forefront of on-mountain technology and trends.  There is much to celebrate this Founders Day, as December 12 has become known at the southern Vermont resort, with the celebration continuing throughout the weekend.

Mount Snow is offering $12 lift tickets to ski and ride on Founders Day, which can only be purchased at least 24 hours in advance online.  There will be a comprehensive historical display in the Main Base Lodge, lift line giveaways, birthday cake for everyone, throwback parties, live music, scavenger hunts and more.  The resort is inviting everyone to wear their favorite retro ski gear to honor the styles of the past, and there is an “old school” bamboo gate ski race planned for Sunday, December 14 that will even have a straight ski category.

For more information about the Founders Day Weekend 60th anniversary celebration and to purchase $12 lift tickets for December 12, visit www.mountsnow.com/events/calendar/founders-day.

To learn more about Mount Snow’s history, visit www.mountsnow.com/the-mountain/our-history.


  1. hey mike, alp hof memories. wonder what russ and marilyn are up to now.

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