Vermont's skiing history goes back to the early years of the sport in New England, and thus in North America.

Think of ski trains. Think of Killington and Preston Smith, whose innovations ranged from the concept of ski weeks to the Graduated Length Method of teaching people how to ski. Think of Bing Crosby and White Christmas.

These and much more are enshrined in the Vermont Ski Museum.

The names of Vermont ski areas are legend, among them Stowe, Mount Snow, Stratton Mountain, Okemo, Killington, Jay Peak, Smugglers' Notch, Bolton Valley, Sugarbush, and Mad River Glen.

The first rope tow in the United States, powered by a Model T engine, hauled skiers up Clinton Gilbert's hilly pasture in Woodstock in 1934. "This ingenious contraption launched a new era in winter sports," states the historic marker at the spot.

Charles "Minnie" Dole and friends founded the National Ski Patrol at Stowe in 1938. Dole went on to persuade the Army to create the 10th Mountain Division, the famed mountain troops of World War II, and these troopers, in turn, recreated American skiing when they returned from war.

White Christmas, Paramount Pictures' 1954 romantic comedy built around the classic tune, follows Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Danny Kaye through a series of amusing misadventures set in a Vermont inn in the happy years after World War II. Two plots - will guy and girl finally hook up, and will it snow - are entwined over Irving Berlin's marvelous score.

Snow remains a major actor in the Vermont scene, where geography often means early winters, cold weather, and long seasons.

Check out the history that has played out over the decades against this backdrop of snowy mountains.

The museum's website states, "Since the Museum began collecting in 2002, the collection has more than doubled. There are currently over 5,200 items catalogued. This number does not account for the fact that most ski equipment comes in pairs, so most likely there are nearly 7,500 individual items preserved by the Vermont Ski Museum.

"Ski equipment includes about 275 pairs of boots, 400 pairs of skis, 100 pairs of poles, 55 pairs of climbing skins, and 60 loose bindings for both cross country and downhill skiing, and the carrying equipment - bags, boot trees, and ski racks.

"Mechanical equipment, the smallest collection at about 75, is large items necessary for the operations of ski areas such as snow making equipment, lifts, communication equipment, and race timing devices. Most of this is the first timing equipment, including the first electronic eye that starts and stops timing based on motion, used in Vermont, perhaps in the United States.

"Vermont Ski Areas collection contains location-specific items. There have been over 130 ski areas in Vermont; currently the Museum is trying to document the 110 areas defined as "lost" or closed. Items range from trail signs to ashtrays to chandeliers."

Memberships start at $50 a year.

More information. Or call 802-253-9911.