Editor's Note: Editor's Note: The following is a verbatim transcription of a chapter from Spalding's Winter Sports by James A. Cruikshank, published in 1917 and part of the Ray Ruge Collection at the Hudson River Maritime Museum. Many thanks to volunteer Adam Kaplan for transcribing this booklet.
There is no reason why the average country club of the northern part of the United States or Canada should close up shop and hibernate during the winter. Some few pioneering clubs have already demonstrated that there is as much interest in sports of the winter as in those of the summer, and they are keeping open house all the year round. Some of the methods which are employed to interest the membership and provide what that membership desires in the way winter pastimes may be of value to other organizations.
A toboggan slide will interest a very large proportion of the membership and can generally be managed on such a basis as to pay for itself, or at least for its maintenance. This has been the experience of the famous Ardsley Country Club, Ardsley, N.Y., which even went to the extreme of bringing to its club a recognized tobogganing expert of Canada, who directed the construction of its slide, and manages the rental of the toboggans and the maintenance of the slide. Almost any hilly country is adapted to the erection of a toboggan slide, and with a slight artificial stand with which to create initial impetus, a fine slide can be arranged. In small towns and sparsely settled communities it is often possible to arrange with the authorities for the use of one of the roads for certain hours or certain days, and with the placing of watchers at cross roads some of the magnificent sport which Switzerland enjoys in the way of coasting ought to be possible.
The Lake Placid Club in the Adirondacks starts its toboggan slide from the roof of the golf house, which offers a suggestion other clubs may care to follow. Wooden troughs can be erected to carry the slide across brooks or gulleys, then the natural resources of the ground and the snow utilized again. The famous Swiss runs are first banked with snow and then water, which is piped all along the run, is sprayed upon the snow banks. There is tremendous side thrust to a heavily loaded toboggan or bob-sled going at great speed around a curve, and the construction of the slide should be strong and safe.
The construction of an ice rink is easy where there is either a small brook nearby or water piped to the vicinity. Tennis courts are often used as the foundation of ice rinks, and serve admirably, but the water must be drawn off at the first approach of spring or the field will remain soft for an uncomfortably long time. The better plan is to have a special field for the ice rink, lay clay foundation and make side walls of 8 or 10 inches in height. When the first cold weather comes spray the field with a fine rose spray flung high in the air so that it freezes immediately upon touching the ground. Do not flood any skating field unless you want shell ice, at least not in the vicinity of New York or any place of similar average temperature. Of course, where there is a running brook, the building of a low dam, often merely 2 or 3 feet in height, will serve to back the water up over lowlands and provide a very satisfactory skating field during steady cold weather. A flood-gate should be put in the dam, however, so as to raise the level at any time, and thus create a new skating surface and get rid of the snow. It is most important that when snow has fallen on a skating field it must not be walked over, since the hardened footprints will remain and form annoying lumps, even after the balance of the snow has melted. It is much better to remove all snow as it falls, however, unless the size of the field is too large. Skating on ice which has been formed by spraying onto clay bottom may begin when 1 inch of ice has been formed. Where ice forms over water, the following thicknesses are necessary for various weights; 2 inches will sustain a man or properly spaced infantry; 4 inches will sustain a horse; 6 inches will sustain crowds in motion; 8 inches will sustain men, carriages, and horses; 15 inches will sustain passenger trains. Ice which is disintegrated by the action of salt water loses nearly 50 per cent. of its sustaining strength. It is now generally calculated that the large free skating coming into popularity in this country, and known as the International style, requires a rink of about 25 by 50 feet for a dozen persons.
James A. Cruikshank was an expert on outdoors sports during the first half of the 20th century. Born in Scotland but spending most of his life in New York, he was the editor of The American Angler magazine, Field and Stream, and wrote numerous articles for a wide variety of other magazines and newspapers throughout his career, including the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. He also published at least three books: Spalding’s Winter Sports (1913, 1917), Canoeing and Camping (1915), and Figure Skating for Women (1921, 1922). He also contributed a chapter on artificial lures to The Basses: Freshwater and Marine (1905). In addition to his writing, Cruikshank was involved in public speaking, doing talks on outdoor sports sometimes illustrated by motion pictures. An avid photographer, Cruikshank’s photos often featured in his illustrated lectures, his articles, and his books, as he encouraged readers to take their own cameras out-of-doors. He had a home in the Catskills as well as a home and offices in New York City, and in the 1930s he helped found the Hudson River Yachting Association. At one point, he managed the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink, and another in Rye, NY. His wife Alice was also an avid camper and hiker, and they often traveled together. In 1909, Alice went “viral” in newspapers around the country by being the first person to blaze a trail between Mount Field and Mount Wiley in the White Mountains of New Hampshire (James brought up the rear). James and Alice eventually moved to Drexel, PA and were vacationing in Lake Placid in July of 1957 when James died unexpectedly at the age of 88.
Tune in next week for the final chapter!
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