Skis outside of tollhouse at the foot of Smugglers Notch by Marion Post Wolcott
8"x10" ($35) | 11"x14" ($75) | 16"x20" ($260)
In the realm of cozy cabin experiences that feel exponentially more enticing this time of year, the ski lodge reigns supreme. It’s a lifestyle thing, implying you not only have the time to take off on a mountainside outing and the money to fork over for the necessary equipment, but the skill to actually make your way down the mountain in one piece. And if you ask us (admittedly not expert winter sporters), the real reward of any alpine adventure awaits at the end—the promise of propping up your skis in satisfaction and defrosting by the fire in a snug chalet. Our new Vintage Edition from esteemed FSA-era photographer Marion Post-Wolcott will take you there, no lift pass needed.
Skis outside of tollhouse at the foot of Smugglers Notch nails our ideal après-ski ambiance, plus seasonally apropos outdoorsy inspo. This is a charmingly classic ski lodge scene, a seemingly small, shingled structure with a rustic wooden door and plenty of windows for partaking of the view. The slanted roof is rimmed in slender, glistening icicles, like diamonds around a grand dame’s neck. Post-Wolcott included a sliver of the picturesque panorama in her composition, at right. This contextualizes her subject while keeping the viewer firmly grounded beside the building, as if we’ve just schussed up ourselves. The clarity of the view and bright white tones suggest a sunny day, warm enough that you won’t freeze but cold enough that the snow isn’t slushy—quite possibly the perfect skiing conditions. A dozen or so sets of skis slump outside. Is this a midday break, a moment to thaw between runs while cupping a mug of hot cocoa? That you can’t see inside leaves just enough up to the imagination to totally enchant.
This is our second select from Post-Wolcott’s work documenting the ski life in Vermont’s Smuggler’s Notch (you may recall this reclined recreator), so named for its fantastically shady function at the turn of the 19th century. In 1807, then president Thomas Jefferson signed the Embargo Act into law, prohibiting American ships from trading in all foreign ports. The intention was to stick it to the UK and France, who were embroiled in the Napoleonic Wars and increasingly antagonistic to US neutrality. This posed a challenge for local Vermonters, who’d come to rely on their Canadian neighbors for trading. To get around the embargo, they began smuggling goods back and forth with Canada down through a natural pass in the mountains—“Smuggler’s Notch” got its name. The large caves in the Notch were well suited to makeshift supply storage. Those escaping slavery also used the Notch as a route to Canada. More than 100 years later, the Notch proved itself useful yet again, providing the perfect route for smuggling booze during Prohibition.
Prohibition ended just a few years prior to Post-Wolcott beginning the body of work today’s edition was plucked from. Capturing Smuggler’s Notch more than a decade before a ski resort would officially open, Post-Wolcott paints a picture of some rather intrepid skiers, many of whom were locals. These folks no doubt saw the special allure of the area’s winter terrain. Looking at our limited-edition print of Skis outside of tollhouse, it’s not too hard to imagine yourself part of the club, privy to powder-y snow, stunning vistas, fresh, undiscovered slopes, and—of course—the luxury of a warm lodge after a long ski run.
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