Fred Henry Harris
Hall of Fame Class of 1957
Fred H. Harris was a lifelong devotee to the sport of skiing. He founded the Dartmouth Outing Club which had a great impact on the development of skiing in the eastern United States.
Fred Harris, born in Brattleboro, Vermont on September 8, 1887, was always interested in winter sports. While in high school he was active in figure skating until he met Frank Lawton who would introduce him to skiing. Together they explored the local hills and soon Fred Harris was an enthusiast. Shortly thereafter, he heard of the Montreal Ski Club and was fascinated with their Hagen skis, Huitfeld bindings and high boots, a far cry from his own homemade equipment. In 1907 he built a small jump in Brattleboro for his own use.
When Harris entered Dartmouth College, he brought his skis with him but found little company out of doors in winter. Students stayed inside, smoking pipes and playing cards. On December 7, 1909, while in his junior year, he wrote a letter to the college paper, The Dartmouth, proposing that a ski and snowshoe club be formed, laying out its objectives and hoping that Dartmouth might become the original branch of an organized college sport hitherto undeveloped by American colleges. Harris could not have imagined how that dream would so fully become a reality. On January 10, 1910, a few men met in Harris’ room, #4 Fayerweather Hall, and formed the Dartmouth Outing club, Fred Harris, president.
The Dartmouth Outing Club, and particularly its ski teams, dominated collegiate winter sports for many years. A number of its members were later elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame. Its winter carnivals were emulated far and wide.
Saranac Lake, in 1922, saw the founding of the U.S. Eastern Amateur Ski Association by six ski clubs including the Dartmouth Outing Club and Harris’ own Brattleboro, Vermont Outdoor Club. He became the USEASA’s first president. Harris was largely responsible for the construction of a 65-meter jump at Brattleboro, site of several national championships. In 1951, in recognition of his efforts, the Brattleboro club named its now improved jump the Harris Hill.
He became vice-president of the National Ski Association in 1928 and its treasurer from 1929 to 1931. He was an American representative to the FIS Congress in 1930 and a jump measurer at the 1932 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid. A promoter of junior jumping, Harris developed a 40 meter hill in Brattleboro for beginners. The Fred Harris Memorial Tournament continues to be held annually on Harris Hill.
Fred Henry Harris was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1957.
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