The Nansen Ski Jump in Milan, New Hampshire, has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Built in 1938, the 65-meter Nansen Ski Jump was the largest in the U.S. at the time, and it retains most of its original design. Officials said Wednesday it was placed on the register because of its architecture and its place in U.S. sports history.
For almost fifty years this was the largest ski jump in the eastern United States and the foremost jump in the country. Nansen Ski Jump was the site of major championship ski jumping competitions for many decades. In 1938, the first Olympic trials were held at the Nansen Ski Jump and Milan hosted the United States Ski Jumping National Championships in 1940, ‘57, ‘65, ‘72.
When it was constructed the Nansen Ski Jump was the largest ski tower in the world. The jump attracted some of the biggest names in ski jumping to the state’s North Country for decades. It was the site of 1938 US Olympic trials, World Cup competitions and four national championships. The jump was part of a planned bid by New Hampshire to host the 1944 Winter Olympics.
Located on Route 16 between Berlin and Milan, the jump is a monument to the region’s rich cultural heritage. Scandinavians who came to the area to work for paper mills brought their dedication to skiing and formed the Nansen Ski Club in 1882 (the oldest continuously operating ski club in the country). This club was instrumental in the creation of the “Big Nansen” jump that still stands today.
Construction of the Nansen Ski Jump was the result of cooperation between the Nansen Ski Club which offered technical and supervisory aid, the National Youth Administration which furnished the labor on the project and the City of Berlin which financed the erection of the tower.
The last jumper flew off it in 1985 and the ski jump officially closed in 1988. Over the past few decades, the site of the jump became overgrown and fell into a state of disrepair. Trees and brush grew in around the jump, landing and judge’s booth, obscuring views of the site from route 16 and discouraging public access. While the steel frame is still in good condition the boards on the runway had started to rot away along with the hillside staircase leading to the jump.
The jump was closed in 1988 and over the years this site became overgrown and dilapidated. In November 2011, a historical marker was placed to commemorate this ski jump and now an effort is underway to bring life back to this piece of New Hampshire's ski jumping history.
The Nansen Ski Jump Restoration Project is currently underway with a goal of restoring the site so visitors can view it as it once was. It started with brush clearing work in 2015 and since then much of the area surrounding the jump and landing area has been cleared in order to restore the landscape. In the summer of 2016 a crew started to rebuild the hillside staircase leading up to the jump and work was done to expose the terraced seating area below the landing. The process of re-decking the jump began in December 2016 and will be completed in January. For project updates visit the Nansen Ski Jump Restoration Project webpage.