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January 12, 2022

By Amanda Larch WV Living

One chilly February evening in 2018, a group of ski enthusiasts congregated at a pub in Davis to discuss the idea of opening a museum dedicated to the history of snow sports in the state. Thus, the Snow Sports Museum of West Virginia was born.

“It all began while talking to a lot of the longtime locals, and the group of us decided to get together and see if we were all serious about going through with it,” says Kim Williams, president of the museum. “Everybody thought it affirmative, so we got started.”

Williams then turned his attention to fundraising, and his goal was to secure all the funds needed for a year before committing. One way the museum has raised money is by hosting winter symposiums, the first of which took place during the 2018–19 ski season. They were able to raise $10,000 with only eight weeks of fundraising. The project gained momentum.

When scouting locations for the museum, the board decided Davis would be the perfect fit, as it was the first ski town south of the Mason Dixon line, Williams says. The museum shares a space with the Davis Depot and opened to the public on December 18, 2020.

“We have about 700 square feet and, for a beginning, that’s the perfect size for us, because when you start a museum or endeavor like this, you start small, slowly gathering memorabilia and items,” says Andy Snyder, executive director of the museum. “We’re starting to plan on a year from now, when our two-year lease is up, and figure out if we’re going to grow and move to another location.”

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the Snow Sports Museum relies on volunteers to man the museum, grants, and items donated or on loan. Artifacts, pictures, and stories are needed for exhibits, and many of the items on display have come from ski resorts or have been donated by the museum’s 14 board members. The space is organized by snow sports through the decades, from the 1950s to the early 2000s. The first exhibits in the museum honored some of the earliest skiing destinations in West Virginia, many no longer in operation—such as Weiss Knob and Cabin Mountain, also known as Driftland, established by the Ski Club of Washington, D.C.

This December, the museum will open its latest exhibit: an ode to the art of snowmaking and how it has contributed to the success of downhill alpine skiing across the country, Snyder says.

The museum staff instituted a West Virginia Snow Sports Hall of Fame class but postponed the induction ceremony because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many members of the inaugural class are or were ski operators, instructors, and innovators in West Virginia’s snow sports.

“All the founders of many of the ski resorts in the state—and people who do a lot of things for the industry—are in our first class,” Williams says. “A lot of those people are on our board of directors, too.”

Snyder says he enjoys seeing people of all ages experience the museum, especially those with fond memories of ski resorts from days gone by. “I enjoy watching people light up with excitement, whether they’re 80 years old and skied Driftland back in the ’50s, or delighted by the knickknacks and collectibles in our display cases like buttons, pins, and patches. It’s awesome to connect and engage in conversation with people who ski.”

The Snow Sports Museum of West Virginia is open Thursdays–Sundays. @snowsportsmuseumwv on Facebook

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