What’s in a Picture?

Norway snowshoe races
Courtesy of the Norway Historical Society

The town of Norway’s snowshoe biz caught on in the late 1800s, when craftsmen like Mellie Dunham and H.H. Hosmer set up small concerns. Such was Dunham’s rep that famed arctic explorer Robert Peary ordered 60 pairs. During WWII, the military requisitioned snowshoes by the thousands from another local manufacturer. When Norway hosted the 1949 International Snowshoe Festival, a sign on a 16-foot-tall snowshoe welcomed visitors to the Snowshoe Town of America. But Norway faced a dilemma that year: how to throw a snowshoe fest without snow. Racers had come from around New England and Canada, and winter hadn’t cooperated. The solution? Truckloads of sawdust dumped on downtown streets so the (probably sneezy) races could proceed as planned. Norway’s snowshoe industry fizzled over the coming years — even the 16-footer disappeared — but the tradition wasn’t lost: seven years ago, the town started hosting an annual snowshoe festival (they haven’t used sawdust yet).

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