Toboggan Runs - A Lost Dartmouth Winter Carnival Event

Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
Michael Hinsley

This Weekend in Hanover and Dartmouth College Winter Carnival History

Since the original idea of a Winter Field Day was conceived by Fred Harris '10 in 1910, and expanded to include additional outdoor and social events in 1911, when the first Dartmouth College "Winter Carnival" was held. A number of these events have been discontinued, Ski jumping (see earlier post), The "Outdoor Evening", The Carnival Queen, Keg Jumping, Skijoring, (see earlier post) and Toboggan Runs.

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Winter Carnival was originally not about competition between schools or college social organizations but a way to get the students outside to experience and just enjoy the outdoors and to experience well WINTER!

The toboggan runs were described from the earliest descriptions of Winter Carnival reports. The activity seemed to play an important role in entertaining the many guests to the campus for the weekend. 

Why did the toboggan runs cease to be a part of Winter Carnival? Liability? The effort and expense to build the runs? I really do not know, but as a native of Hanover I remember sledding on the Golf Course and the 1972 Winter Carnival Sculpture in the center of the Green was a massive Castle with iced luge runs that you went down of food trays from Thayer Dining Hall. As a little kid these were great but if we look at the Toboggan runs created by the members of The Dartmouth Outing Club in 1924-1926, your realize that they were in fact just child's play. 

These toboggan runs were created by some motivated creative people who loved speed and had limited if any fear!! Video games??? Bah get out there, put your wonder bread plastic bag inside your boots and hang on!

Dartmouth Class of 1917 Toboggan Run. My best guess is this is headed down onto the Vale of Tempe

1924 Dartmouth Winter Carnival inside Memorial Stadium

1924 Dartmouth Winter Carnival Inside Memorial Stadium

The First All Campus Carnival held in 1925 featured a Castle on Occom Pond. The Castle created by H. Pennington Haile '24 was the center piece of activities on Occom Pond.

I know this image in grainy but look to the right of this image and notice the twin toboggan runs coming down from Occom Ridge Rd

1925 Winter Carnival Dual Toboggan Runs looking down from Occom Ridge Rd

This is where the Dartmouth Winter Carnival Polar Plunge on Occom Pond.

Looking south from The Dartmouth Outing Club House lawn over The "Outdoor Evening" Notice the glow of the Castle on the left rear and the electric lights running up the Toboggan Runs

The Dartmouth Winter Carnival Outdoor Evening on Occom Pond.

Check out the Twin Toboggan Runs on the left side of the image

1926 Dartmouth Winter Carnival Toboggan Runs. This year the Town closed the road for a week to allow the construction of the Toboggan runs. 1926 built on the success of the 1925 Toboggan runs. They also BUILT a 30' tall tower to help get the extra amount of speed needed to cross the pond hit the bank turns on the other side and head towards the Outing Club! Legendary... Bill Young.. Come on Man!

Rear of the above picture describing the Toboggan. Rauner Library has this and way more

1926 Dartmouth Winter Carnival Toboggan runs. Look at the upper part of the picture, the twin banked iced corners that shoot the sledder towards the Dartmouth Outing Club House are visible. ALso notice the difference in the construction of the 1926 vs the 1925 runs.

Rear of the above picture describing the Toboggan run

Dartmouth Winter Carnival Weekend is happening right now. There is still time to check out the activities. After the Carnival is over. Check out Rauner Library and see what other really cool history they are conserving. Also I understand liability concerns about skijumping, really I get it, but sledding even "iced toboggan runs", someone need to look into bring that back!!

Photo Credits to Dartmouth College Rauner Library

PS My mother never let us have Wonder Bread...

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