Located in Southern Lewis County, the Town of Turin is an outdoor lover's paradise, especially in the winter months. It's not a bustling metropolis, but up on the Tug Hill that great snowfall brings snowmobilers from all over the country and the skiing is some of the best in the state. And with great trails for hiking and ATVs, a picturesque golf course and lots of music, it's starting to draw warm weather visitors as well. In fact, the area as a whole is on its way back to recapturing the glory days of old. In this edition of Your Hometown, Brian Dwyer and photojournalist R.D. White braved the snow and cold to take us to the heart of the Tug Hill.
TURIN, N.Y. -- First settled by the Iroquois, up high on the Tug Hill, the Lewis County town of Turin was originally thought to be too wild and useless for settlement. The elevations and terrain too much.
But investors and capitalists from Europe had other ideas. Businesses started popping up around Mill Creek: Water power.
"Condensories, for instance, where they condensed milk and sealed it so it could last long periods of time. We had here cheese factories. We had a woolen mill. We had quite a variety of other industries," said Turin Village Trustee Bill Paczkowski.
One of the most famous settlers was Turin's first Sealer of Weights and Measures, Giles Doud. He's part of the lineage of Mamie Doud, the wife of President Dwight Eisenhower.
Paczkowski said, "Every little village or every little town has that kind of hidden history that people even in the village or town don't know about that are things to be proud of."
In fact, at one point, Turin was so popular there were actually more people here than the Village of Lowville, which is Lewis County's biggest community today.
"We even had the county fair here. Some of the pictures that are interesting in some of the publications about Turin show hot air balloons,” Paczkowski said. “It must have been an interesting place."
Now if you're thinking to yourself, 'Gosh, Turin sounds kind of familiar.' That might be because it is. Think back about seven years ago, the 2006 Olympic Games. Well they were held in Turin. Turin, Italy.
"It was built up as a real connection, even though there wasn't a direct connection and never has been to Turin. It's kind of one of those mysteries as to how we got our name," Paczkowski said.
But while Turin, New York and Turin, Italy may not have a connection, Turin and the Olympics do, thanks to Snow Ridge Ski Resort, the slopes where 1960 Olympic skier Renie Cox got her start.
"Renie little by little became outstanding at the races that were held here and nearby schools and New England eventually. She was one of those people that was gifted in skiing beyond what we were," Paczkowski said.
The folks in Turin, of course, know all about winter sports. Snow Ridge is not only one of the oldest ski areas, but is still one of the most popular in the state.
"The elevation and the steepness of the hills gives you a real challenge. I think that's why people like it. We also have a lot of skiing out in the back woods. When we get the powder, which a lot of places don't get, they come for it," said Michael Sabatini, Snow Ridge Ski Resort Manager.
And while it's not the same draw it once was, thanks in part to fake snow, on those good days when Snow Ridge and its 27 trails can draw thousands, it makes a huge impact on the community.
Paczkowski said, "Especially in these times, the economic times. To me, it's been a real boom to the area. I think people are realizing that now."
But as the seasons change, the fun doesn't melt away with the snow. In fact, Snow Ridge keeps the people coming with some huge summer concert festivals, including the massive moe.Down.
"Moe.Down is very successful for the whole area. It's renting room and the restaurants are all full and gas. Just having the traffic," Sabatini said.
"That's the type of thing that an area like this can promote as far as helping a community. People sometimes overlook that," Paczkowski said.
It's a festival that went away for a few years, but found its way back. A story that Turin hopes is someday written about itself.