Ski Tales: Anderson, 91, takes nostalgic train trip to Gore Mountain

When Frederica Anderson stepped off the train in North Creek last Friday, it was like a scene from t

When Frederica Anderson stepped off the train in North Creek last Friday, it was like a scene from the 1941 film, “Sun Valley Serenade.”

Thirty or so friends and admirerers were waiting on the platform to greet the Schenectady native.

During the 1930s and 1940s, And­erson was one of the best-known skiers on the slopes and trails of Gore Mountain, and it was obvious she hasn’t been forgotten.

“There’s Freddie,” someone shouted when the 91-year-old skiing legend appeared in the doorway.

This was indeed a memorable event for the Adirondack hamlet, as history had just repeated itself.

This was the first winter sports train to roll into North Creek since the early 1940s. Anderson was also on the first ski train that ran from Schenectady to North Creek in 1934. The Saratoga and North Creek Railway is calling this version the “Snow Train,” and it will run from Saratoga Springs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through the end of March.

After hugs all around, Anderson entertained those on the platform with stories about those good old days.

“I was 13 at the time, and there was a fiddle player on that first train,” she said. “I remember square dancing in the baggage car.”

“I remember when you skied in kilts,” said 85-year-old Milda Burns of nearby North River. Burns, who hadn’t seen Anderson since 1946 or 1947, was the first to arrive at the station that morning. She said she skied with Anderson at the North Creek Ski Bowl and watched her ski on the Garnet Trail at the top of Gore Mountain.

“She was an excellent skier — a very fast skier,” Burns said. “She always had a great following of skiers from the Schenectady Wintersports Club. The trail would be loaded with all of them, and they would be skiing down, one after another.”

A few minutes later, Anderson and others were watching a movie inside the Ski Museum located at the historic North Creek station.

“There you are, skiing in kilts,” somebody exclaimed.

Anderson pointed out a shot of Dot Hoyt Nebel, director of the North Creek Ski School during the 1940s. Anderson considers Nebel to be her mentor and the inspiration for starting the Schenectady Ski School that is now based at Maple Ski Ridge in Rotterdam.

The film, “Adirondack Hickorys,” was made by Anderson’s husband in 1946 as a promotion for skiing at North Creek.

One segment included shots of his wife skiing with her kilts and knee socks on the Garnet Trail as part of the Schenectady Wintersports Club’s annual “Skiers are Funny Day.”

Anderson said it helped to be fast when you rode those early trains — even before you skied.

“The whole objective when you got off the train was to get on a bus to ride up to the top of the mountain. If you didn’t get a seat on the bus, you wound up riding in an open truck,” she said. “All the vehicles in North Creek that could transport people were always lined up in the parking lot at the station to take skiers up to the top.”

Burns said locals from North Creek always turned out to greet the ski trains when they arrived in the morning, especially the trains from New York City.

“That was because those skiers stayed overnight at homes in town, and the people they were staying with came to pick them up,” she said.

Anderson said not all of the skiers from New York knew what they were getting into.

“I remember seeing a young woman in high heels, rubber overshoes and toe straps trying to go down a trail,” she said with a laugh. “She didn’t make out very well.”

While Anderson is internationally recognized as a great teacher of skiing, many people might not know she once was a ski coach.

Among those greeting her at the North Creek station was Larry Wilke, a 1949 graduate of the former Mont Pleasant High School in Schenectady.

“I was on the ski team at Mont Pleasant, which was coached by Ken Picotte,” Wilke said. “Freddie was one of the coaches of the Nott Terrace team, and we often trained together.”

Before heading up to Gore Mountain for some skiing, North Creek resident Dave Bulmer took Anderson to the renovated North Creek Ski Bowl to show her recent improvements there.

“I looked up at the old T-bar lift line which is now a chairlift, and I couldn’t believe how steep that looked,” she said. “I said there’s no way I would go up there now on a T-bar because the top section is so steep.”

Anderson added that she is anxious to return to North Creek when there is more snow so she can ski from the old Ski Bowl to the new Gore Mountain. The two were connected by a trail system last season.

She did get to ski some on this visit.

“I probably had a half-dozen or more nice runs on Jamboree, and that was all I needed,” she said. “My movement patterns were as good as ever, and I just felt wonderful on my skis.”

Anderson highly recommends the train ride from Saratoga Springs.

“It was absolutely delightful, just beautiful and elegant,” she said. “The track is so smooth, the scenery is just absolutely lovely and I can’t wait to do it again.”

For information on train tickets and ski packages on the Snow Train, call (877) 726-7245 or visit


Thanks to cold midweek weather and the wonder of snowguns, Royal Mountain at Caroga Lake will be 90 percent open this weekend with skiing and riding on all snowmaking trails.

Owner Jim Blaise said he expects to have a two-foot base on the snowmaking trails by the time lifts open on Saturday morning.

Royal Mountain is open weekends and on all school holidays. The area has 14 trails and three chairlifts, one serving the beginner slope.

Categories: Sports

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