|The Morse Farm Ski Touring Center, Montpelier, VT|
Burr Morse is one of those classic, hard working Yankee entrepreneurs. He grew up on a 240-acre dairy farm in East Montpelier, VT. Like many Vermont farmers, the Morse family had a sugar house and made maple syrup every spring. Because the sugar house was adjacent to a main county road, and only a couple of miles from the state capital, it attracted visitors every spring. Seizing the opportunity, Burr established a store, snack bar and gift shop which soon became a destination for tourists in the spring for sugaring, the summer during school vacation and in the autumn for the foliage. With a wry smile, Burr Morse confesses, “I used to milk cows, now I milk the tourists.”
Although Burr never complained about the winter being slower than his three busy seasons, three local skiing enthusiasts put an end to his only slack time. In 2001 they raised the money to create a system of trails at the Morse Farm, and convinced Burr to establish a ski touring center. Morton Trails was hired to design a trail network, incorporating existing farm and logging roads, that would be safe and fun for skiers of all ability levels.
As soon as we had completed the preliminary design work, Burr and a dedicated group of local volunteers worked like crazy to get the trails ready for the winter. Blessed with bountiful snowfalls their opening season, they sold more season passes than projected, hosted weekly events, and earned rave reviews from Nordic enthusiasts throughout the region. The success of their first season allowed them to expand their trail network and upgrade their grooming equipment prior to their second season of operation.