Snowshoe Slope Name Origins

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If you’ve been to the Shoe, you’re probably baffled by the names of the slopes, lifts, and lodging units around the mountain. Names like Powder Monkey, Widowmaker, and Hootenany make you wonder just who it was that made up these strange names. We’re here to help set the record straight. But first, you’ll need some details on the Mountain’s history to make sense of these unique names.

The land on which Snowshoe now stands was previously home to loggers and railroaders. The time between 1901-1910 and 1945-1950 were periods of the most intense activity. A steep railroad up Cheat Mountain from Cass was graded in order to log the virgin forests on the mountain for the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company. A special 40-ton Shay locomotive was developed to tackle the steep grades of 5 to 10%. The Cheat River was also named because its wilderness reaches many miles downstream, and has cheated many a man of his life (the same was true for Cheat Mountain logging).

With the logging and railroading history, the developers of Snowshoe naturally turned to these memories when naming things throughout the resort.


A man who rolls logs down a hill to a skid road or landing.

Choker Trail


A loop of cable that is used in skidding logs with a steam skidder.


Typical big-toothed two-man saw used to cut trees, usually six feet long.

Cupp Run

A small stream named for the family that owned this valley years ago.

  • Cupp Run
  • Cupp Run
  • Cupp Run

This trail plays host to our annual Cupp Run Challenge.


A small locomotive.

Gandy Trail

Gandy Dancer

A man who lays and maintains railroad tracks.


The inclined plane up which is used to move the logs from the millpond into the mill.

Grab Hammer

Hammer with a pointed end or ends used to knock out grabs or couplers from logs.

Grab Hammer Trail


A small device that is used to hold a crosscut saw while sawing a log from the underside.

J Hook trail

J Hook

A special type of grab or coupler that’s used on steep slopes. This type of grab permits the skidding teams to step aside (jay-off), become disengaged, and stand while the logs continue down the slope.

Knot Bumper

A man who cuts limbs from a felled tree using a double-bit or poleax.

  • Knot bumper trail
  • Knot bumper slope


A shrub, once common along the creek of this same name of the Cass side of Cheat Mountain.

Powder Monkey Ski Trail

Powder Monkey

A dynamiter.


A machine with winches for skidding logs from the stump to a landing beside a railroad.

  • Skidder Slope
  • Preparing for Winter at Snowshoe


  1. Red Spruce is the dominant evergreen tree on the highest ridges in West Virginia. Very common in the forests of Eastern Canada.
  2. Spruce is the name of the now-abandoned pulp mill town just north of Snowshoe.

This trail plays host to our annual Berming Man competition.


A Shay or other geared railroad locomotive.

Tail Tree

In steam skidding, the tree at the end of the skid road to which the rigging used in skidding logs attaches.

Widow Maker

A broken limb hanging loose in the top of a tree.

  • Widow maker Ski Trail
  • Widow Maker Ski Trail
  • Widow Maker Ski Trail

Now that you know what some of our slopes are named after, you can drop this knowledge on your friends (or strangers) next time you’re making turns. We guarantee they’ll be impressed.

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