Killington’s original mountain man

Passing Date: 
Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Royal Biathrow, Killington Resort’s first employee, died October 25 at age 86.

Born and raised in Bridgewater, Vermont, Royal became a logger during high school and served in the Korean War. He married Norma Towne in 1954 and went to work for her father’s construction business, gaining the expertise needed to build a ski area.

“Royal was just a great guy—affable, fun, a hard worker, and a leader. He could run chainsaws, bulldozers and trucks. He knew how to dynamite, put things together, and solve problems. I put him in charge of crews from the very early days,” Killington founder Preston Leete Smith said.

When Smith couldn’t afford a crane to put up the Pomalift towers, Royal showed him the “gin pole” method. To pack snow, Royal rigged up wooden tracks and built rollers for a Case tractor—the area’s first “grooming machine.”

A construction supervisor in summer, Royal carved trails, roads and lift lines with a TD-14 bulldozer. He worked on the installation of the first snowmaking system and helped build every lift up until Bear Mountain. Winters, he operated lifts, supervised snow removal, cooked, groomed, and helped out wherever needed. He retired in 1980.

He leaves his wife, son Howard, daughter Nancy Wiles, four grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and a legacy of ski trails. —Karen Lorentz

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