CONWAY — The “World’s Largest Ski Pole” is back in its rightful place in front of Olympia Sports Center (formerly home to Carroll Reed Ski Shop) at 2686 Main St. in North Conway Village.
Blown down in April 2018, the local landmark was removed by Eastern Slope Inn Resort/AMSCO (Attitash Mountain Service Co.) employees and taken to Cranmore Mountain Resort, where it was repaired by maintenance and lift crews over the past year.
The pole is located on property owned by the Tarberry Co., one of whose principals is Joe Berry of the Eastern Slope Inn.
The job of restoring the pole to its place of pride on Main Street was supervised by Rick Oaks, director of Cranmore Lifts, Attractions and Vehicles Maintenance Management.
Oaks oversaw the placement of the refurbished sign last Friday morning at the Shops at Norcross Circle with the help of lift operations supervisor Al Dubie.
U.S. Ski Hall of Famer Carroll P. Reed (1905-99) first installed the sign outside his store in 1955, according to his daughter, Stefi Reed Hastings of Fryeburg, Maine, who was among those present on June 14 for the reinstallation.
Though she was not present for the dedication of the pole Tuesday, her nephew, Stefan Karnopp of Kearsarge joined crews from the Eastern Slope Inn and Cranmore for a group photo. Also present was Mark Butterfield of the Gibson-Woodbury Foundation, whose house is next-door to the former Carroll Reed shop.
"I think Dad would be very pleased to see the sign back up," said Hastings, youngest (and sole survivor) of Carroll and Kay Reed's three daughters.
Oaks said putting up the ski pole was a fun project.
“The pole is still original — it just broke off at the base, because of all of the years in the ground with salt at the base,” said Oaks as he and Dubie completed their work last Friday.
“I built another base for it mounted in the ground. Then we used old photos from the Carroll Reed catalogs and the Reporter, showing the original," Oaks said.
"I tried to fashion a new ‘shield’ to look like the original sign, cutting a sheet of steel at our maintenance garage at Cranmore," he said.
Oaks said the pole is made of sheets of stainless steel wrapped and welded together. The top basket is made of copper. The shield is made of cut sheets of steel that were bent and molded. The core interior is a half-inch iron pipe, with the voids filled with concrete. The foundation is poured concrete.
The tip, or basket of the pole, is still original, Oaks said, noting that he had to straighten it out a bit.
Oaks said the new pole measures 18 feet, 9 inches — slightly shorter than its predecessor, as the mount used for the foundation is not as deep and the middle section was bent.
Oaks and Dubie were joined last Friday by Glenn Harmon, director of operations at Cranmore Mountain Resort, and Stefi Reed Hastings, daughter of the late Kay and Carroll Reed, of Carroll Reed Ski Shops.
The shops were founded in 1937 and when the Reeds sold it in 1969 was one of the leading ski and summer clothing shops in New England.
“After it came down, there was that Carroll Reed reunion at Cranmore last September,” said Harmon, whose mother worked at Carroll Reed for years.
“It was sort of a sad thing when it blew down. I grew up with the ski pole, so I started talking to my wife, Barbara, who is chief financial officer for the Eastern Slope Inn, and I told her that I think we can get Rick (Oaks) to do this," Harmon said.
"So, I sort of volunteered him — we started talking and we jumped in and said let’s get this moving,” said Harmon.
Cranmore President and General Manager Ben Wilcox said: “We are excited to have been able to offer our resources toward this restoration, because after all, we are recognized as the ‘No. 1 ski town in America,’ according to readers of USA Today, and this is part of our skiing heritage.”
Wilcox noted that he worked during his high school years as a mail delivery guy between the Carroll Reed shop in North Conway and the shipping center in Conway, now home to Selectman Carl Thibodeau’s businesses on Hobbs Street.
“Cranmore did a fantastic job, and they are to be commended. It looks beautiful,” said Sheila Duane, project manager for the Eastern Slope Inn.
Added Berry, “We do claim it to be the world’s largest ski pole, and it is part of the atmosphere of this ski town. It’s got a 60-year tradition, and what are we going to do, not put it back up?
"We owe a debt of gratitude to Glenn Harmon and his crew for showing the leadership to make it happen. It was a good example of our working partnership — we work very closely with Cranmore every chance we get.”
Hastings said her father commissioned the original back in 1955 as a way to attract business.
“I’m guessing that the ski pole was part of his desire to be different, to stand out,” said Hastings.
“My father always liked 'quirky' items for the shop and was great at making the shop different,” she said.
“Examples include having the large ice blocks framing the shop every winter; or the fashion shows at Cranmore with local models and then professional models from Boston — and yes, the models were on were on ice blocks."
She said the giant ski pole originally stood south of Carroll Reed's front doorway but was later moved to a spot on the sidewalk just north of the entry because it blocked the display window.
That's where the “World’s Largest Ski Pole” now stands.
"Now that it's back up, but a bit shorter, I think it might be more visible to people who may not have noticed it before," said Hastings.