DAYTON, MAINE, Maine — It may not officially be winter but ski season is well underway. The Maine Ski and Snowboard Museum is taking advantage of the season and hosting a series of presentations called The Cocoa Chronicles.
The museum's president and historian, Glenn Parkinson, will be hosting the second presentation in the series at Harris Farm in Dayton on Thursday. He will be taking viewers down a historical past of all things skiing made in Maine.
According to Parkinson, the first book about skiing in America was published by a Maine boatmaker who fell in love with the sport. In 1905, Theo Johnson wrote “The Winter Sport of Skiing” to encourage Mainers and Americans to get interested in the sport. Johnson's wife was from Sweden and introduced him to it, and he loved it so much he converted his boat-making company into a ski-building venture. The problem was not many Americans knew about skiing or were interested.
Parkinson said that had all changed by the 1920s. The sport's popularity was growing in large part because winter carnivals held in Portland, Bangor, and Lewiston were built around watching people ski jump.
Maine companies had a rich and storied history in creating some of the country's first skis and ski boots, too. G.H. Bass and Co. and Paris Manufacturing got into ski-making after noticing their Finnish workers glide to and from work on the wooden sticks. Eventually, L.L. Bean got into ski-making, and Tubbs produced equipment taken on North and South Pole expeditions.
Mainers have contributed quite a bit to the winter sport that so many enjoy, something Parkinson thinks few people realize.