Vintage winter scenes

A request: If you have a photo of what winter was like years ago, we’d like to see it and share it with our readers.

| 01 Dec 2023 | 09:56

Every picture tells a story, including the old ones in black and white or those in the reddish-brown monochrome of sepia tone.

We here at the newspaper recently rediscovered a series of vintage winter scenes provided to us over the years by readers and local historical societies.

We thought it would be a good idea to share them with you, and to request that you share with us any vintage winter or holiday photo you might have stashed in an old photo album.

If the photo is digitized, please email it to

Please include your name, the name of the photographer, where the picture was taken, when the photo was taken, the identity – if known – of people in the photo, plus whatever story you associate with the moment.

If the photo cannot be sent via email, please call Straus News at 845-469-9000 and ask for extension 325. One of our team members will help you digitize the photo or make a copy at our office.

Here are several stories to accompany these photos:

Norsemen Hill: ‘The closest thing we had to the Olympics’

In the 1930s and 1940s, Norsemen Hill in Salisbury Mills was a place where world-class ski jumpers competed in hopes of making it to the Olympics.

According to an Feb. 22, 2012, article in The Photo News, former resident Fedela diBenedetto Decker recalled what it was like for a kid growing during the Depression:

“The hill wasn’t too far from the old train trestle down in Salisbury. You’d probably have a hard time seeing it now because it’s all overgrown, but in those days, it was the biggest natural jump in the state.

“The men who jumped there were called the Norsemen Ski Club, and they’d come from all over the world to compete. Spectators came up on the train from New York City, and there’d be quite a crowd.

“We had no money to get in, but my brother Joe and I and the other kids would ski down to Salisbury Mills from Washingtonville and we’d get in for free because they’d use us to pat the snow smooth after each jump.

“What they did was run a rope from the seating scaffold, then between jumps a few of us would hold onto the rope and ski out onto the hill and use our own skis to pack the snow down where it had been kicked up by the last jumper. They gave us free hot dogs for doing it, too.

“I saw a skier jump 191 feet there, and I saw a famous Norseman named Torger Tokle jump there, too.

“It was the closest thing we had to the Olympics.”

The ‘Silver Streak’ toboggan run

An article by B. Edwin Siemenn, published by the Monroe Historical Society, describes how people would come to Monroe for winter sports:

“When you think of winter sports, Monroe is not the first location that comes to mind; however, from the early 1930’s until the days of WW II, Monroe was hailed as a ‘Winter Sports Land’ with hundreds of people traveling by train as well as auto to partake in skiing, tobogganing and ice skating.

“Central to the winter merriment was a one-eighth mile long toboggan slide known as the ‘Silver Streak.’ It was located on the westerly side of Bald Hill in what would eventually become Smith’s Clove Park.

“It consisted of a hand dug trench down the side of the longest slope and it was lined on either side by planks. In the wintertime when the toboggan chute was filled with hard packed snow it became quite an exciting attraction for its day, so much so, that it was the central attraction of Monroe’s winter follies and people traveled for miles just to try it out.”

Mount Peter: New York’s oldest ski area

A 2016 Warwick Advertiser article marked the 80th anniversary of the opening of Mount Peter:

“In 1936, R.H. Macy’s Department Store, which had purchased the mountain to promote its fashionable line of ski clothing, developed the ski area and, to the amazement and delight of the skiers at that time, soon introduced a rope tow powered by an automobile engine.

“Eventually lifts were installed and Mt. Peter Ski Area became the unique recreational attraction for the Town of Warwick that it is today.

“In the early days, skiers not only had to be pulled to the top with a rope tow but they also depended on daylight as well as Mother Nature providing all the snow necessary for a good season.

“By the 1960s, however, Mt. Peter offered skiers a double chair lift, night skiing and a warm ski lodge at the base of the mountain.

“In 1971, Don Sampson, the director at that time of the Mt. Peter Ski School, purchased the resort that he and his wife operated until they turned that task over to their daughters Rebecca and Amy.

“The Sampsons planted 17,000 pine trees, installed a second chair lift and a beginners tow rope, tripled the size of the base lodge, added a cozy pub, an office, a rental shop, increased lighting and snowmaking and built an outdoor pavilion. They’ve also added a high-speed lift and a tubing park.

“Described ‘The Friendly One,’ the ski area has long been a favorite of local residents who learned to ski there as toddlers and now drop off their own children for a safe day of winter sports.”