Community warmed by Winter carnival

2.5 miles from campus there is a recreation area owned by the city of Waterville. There, you will find multi-use trails, designed by one of the world’s leading Nordic trail designers and two-time Olympian, John Morton. The Quarry Road Recreation Area boasts a trail network of beauty and variety, including a world class cross country competition loop.

The town of Waterville gathers each year to celebrate the commencement of winter and raise money for the maintenance of the area. Sponsored by the Inland Hospital, the annual Winter Carnival brings people from all over town, no matter the weather (this year, the carnival on January 31 had temperatures in the teens). There were a variety of winter activities offered, including cross-country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, winter bike demonstrations and dog sled races. The 230-acres were buzzing with volunteers and other attendees. Director of the Waterville Public Works Department, Matt Skehan, told the Kennebec Journal that while this was the first year that organizers did not try to keep a formal head count of attendees, he estimates that somewhere between 800 and 1,000 people were present.

Volunteers proved their steely dedication by weathering the cold from as early as 7a.m. Some even stayed to work past their shift, proving that Waterville civilians really are tough and devoted to giving back to their community. In an interview with the Kennebec Journal, Suzanne Uhl-Melanson said that because she and her husband use the trails at Quarry Road so often, volunteering at the Winter Carnival is their way of giving back.

For those who didn’t make it to the carnival or who know little about the trails at Quarry Road Rec Area, they are  considered by many to be some of the finest cross country ski trails in the Northeast. To maintain this superiority, the area is intensely managed by the Parks & Recreation Department.

There is also significant assistance provided by the Friends of Quarry road, a nonprofit volunteer organization. Working collaboratively with the City of Waterville, Friends of Quarry Road raises money for the assistance in operations and upkeep  of the highly valued. trails

Opening in the 1930s, the Quarry Road site closed during World War II, but was reopened by none other than the Colby Outing Club in the late 1940s. Until the early 1970s, it was operated by the College as a lighted ski area with limited snowmaking, but was then closed again and abandoned. It was not until 2007 that a group of volunteers revived the site, opening a year-round recreation area.

This generation of owners and users of the trails share a passion for the great outdoors and encourage people to take advantage of all that Waterville has to offer. Between providing free transportation to events held at the site (including the Winter Carnival) to ensuring the grounds are well maintained year round, the Quarry Road Rec Area is today a wonderful meeting place for people all across the area, and will remain so for years to come.

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