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Have you ever wondered how the trails at Snowshoe got their names?

Have you ever wondered how the trails at Snowshoe got their names?

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Many of the trail names used at Snowshoe are based on vocabulary from the industry that preceded skiing on Snowshoe Mountain, LOGGING. Logging was the dominant industry in the area during the early 1900s and Cheat Mountain (later renamed Snowshoe Mountain) was once home to the largest red spruce forest south of Maine and was extensively timbered by the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company.


The odd-sounding names of Snowshoe's ski trails are a testament to the logging industry that preceded the resort. Below are the names of some of Snowshoe's ski trails with their actual "logging" meanings:


Ballhooter - A worker who rolled logs down a hill to a skid road or landing.


Choker  - A loop of cable used in skidding logs.


CrossCut - A big-toothed two-man saw, usually 6 feet long to fell trees.


Cupp Run - A small stream named for the family that owned its valley years ago.


Flume - A device that aided in the movement of logs from the felled area to the water for further transportation out of the forest.


Gandy Dancer - A worker who lays and maintains railroad track.


Grab Hammer - A hammer with pointed ends, used to knock out "grabs" (a device of two iron hooks and chain used to fasten logs together in a trail) from the logs.


Heisler Way - The Heisler and Shay locomotives were two different types of gear-driven steam locomotives that ferried men and logs around the mountain.


Hootenanny - A dance, the old barn dances, and Saturday night parties by the loggers on their night out of the forest.


J-Hook - A hook in the form of a "J" that was used to pull logs to the flume.


Knot Bumper - A worker who cuts limbs from a felled tree.


Powder Monkey - The person responsible for the dynamite and explosives.


Shay’s Revenge  - Ephraim Shay invented the first geared locomotive, which achieved unheard-of-freedom of movement on rough, hilly, and sharply curved track.


Skidder  - A machine with winches for skidding logs from the stump to a landing beside a railroad.


Spruce  - Red spruce, the dominant evergreen tree on the highest ridges of West Virginia, and the name of the now-abandoned old pulp mill town just north of Snowshoe.


Timberline  - The height on a mountain above which no trees can grow.


Whiffle Tree  - A wooden piece used to hitch horses to a load.


Whistlepunk  - A man out in the woods who directs the man who runs the Skidder, usually by means of a battery-operated electric bell.


Widowmaker  - A felled tree that didn't fall, but got caught in the limbs of other trees.


Today, remnants of the lumbering era can still be seen on Cheat Mountain.  "Virtually every hollow, every stream, and every mountain has a railroad grade.  In some places, the railroad ties are still on the ground - mute testament to the energy of man, power of the dollar, and the complete destruction of the West Virginia forest ecosystem." 

By 1960, Cheat Mountain had been made virtually barren by aggressive logging. After the loggers left, the mountain slowly recovered its forest ecosystem. Cheat Mountain was renamed Snowshoe Mountain in 1973 when it was developed into a ski area. Over the past 50 years, the forests have completely recovered and today the area’s natural beauty attracts hundreds of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts every year. Snowshoe Resort has been part of Pocahontas County for over 44 years providing seasonal and year-round employment to West Virginia, offering the best in four-season mountain recreation.

Cited in this blog for historical information only:


Snowshoe Mountain Homes - Kirsten Boehmer

Logging the Virgin Forests of West Virginia by Andy Hiltz

Picture - e-WV Media File

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