The unique one-ski sit-down sled at left is an antique “jack jumper” from the 19th century. It looks like a stool bolted to a single ski – is one of two antique sliding toys recently donated to Vermont’s President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site by a local woman.
The jack-jumper was a fairly radical ride for it’s time according to museum officials who said there was no way to steer, except to shift your body and hang on. The jack-jumper is one of two early sleds donated by Miriam Herwig of Randolph Center that will be used in the Coolidge site’s educational programs to show what Vermont children did for winter fun before the advent of skiing and snowboarding.
The other sled, called a traverse (below, right), was made for multiple passengers and originally belonged to Charles Adams, a descendent of Luther Adams who built the first floating bridge in Brookfield, Vermont. More than eight feet long with pivoting wooden runners steered by a rope, the red wooden traverse was used at the Normal School in Randolph in the 1880s.
The jack jumper has traces of old red paint on the seat and pedestal and the initials “GHW” appear on the side of the pedestal, carved there by its original owner, George Woodward of Williamstown, who was a friend of Herwig’s father.
The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation maintains the village of Plymouth Notch much as it was when Calvin Coolidge was a boy and curates the largest collection of artifacts associated with President Coolidge and his family.
The President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site is open May 29 through October 17, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. The site office, located in the Aldrich House, is open most weekdays year-round and has exhibits especially designed for winter visitors.
The snow-covered hillsides surrounding the village are perfect for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, or even jack jumping.
For further information, call (802) 672-3773 or visit the state-owned historic sites online at www.HistoricVermont.org/sites