With all of the talk about the soul of skiing lately, it reminded us that it’s beyond time to share some updates about the Johnsville Ski Bowl. While there’s no denying that Squaw and Alpine have a certain amount of soul, it’s hard to compete with what has been reported to be the birthplace of skiing in the United States. While it is well known that Badger Pass and Sugar Bowl started lift operations in the early 1930′s in the Sierra, people were riding lifts at Johnsville in the late 1800′s. Sure, those lifts were the same ore carts used to transport gold miners, but historians agree that they also served as the first lifts for the first organized ski hill in the United States. You can still find some people around Plumas County that rode those carts as kids for “snowshoeing”.
The more contemporary Johnsville Ski Bowl, consisting of a couple of Poma lifts and rope tows and the archetype ski lodge, is located about an hour north of Truckee. It served thousands of local families and school ski programs between the late 1950′s and the turn of the millennium. Sadly, if fell victim to a corporate takeover, followed by an ill-fated real estate deal in 2003.
A group of dedicated locals, including members of the Plumas Ski Club and the Eastern Plumas Recreation District, have been working for several years to re-open this important little resort. Not only does it represent the soul of skiing, it embodies the need for small feeder resorts that will ensure that skiing and riding is affordable for the working class for generations to come.
We’re not the first people to notice that corporate ownership of mountains is changing the nature of skiing and riding. While these changes were first documented in Downhill Slide in 2003, the national media has been covering the issue a lot this season. This article, published by NBC News just this week addresses many of the same concerns addressed locally by several different groups.
Several fundraisers have been held each year , including the Redstreake Ball and the Longboard Races, to help get the Johnsville resort open. The old Mainline lift was purchased from Squaw Valley and has sat in storage for a while, waiting for the nearly $300,00 needed to get the lift installed and the lodge back in a fully functioning state.
Fundraising efforts kicked into high gear this fall, when the Lost Sierra Hoedown came to Johnsville. Not only did the event raise a good chunk of money for the project, it also brought a regional awareness to the Johnsville Ski Bowl, and an awareness to the possibility of re-opening it as a community based ski & snowboard hill. The soul and passion of the skiers and boarders in the crowd for the three day event was ever present, as we previously reported here.
On November 18th, community volunteers took the first steps to install the base terminal for the old Mainline lift. The plan is to get the area in operation by the 2014-15 season. Clearly more donations of labor and cash will be needed to make it happen. To that end, the 2nd Annual Lost Sierra Hoedown is already on the calendar for September 19-21, 2014. The long board races and Redstreake Ball are also on schedule for this year too. Read more about the project at PlumasNews.com.
Newly announced last month was the opportunity to sponsor a chair or tower on the new lift. Chair sponsorships are $1000 and lift tower sponsorships are $10,000. All donations are tax deductible and are processed by the Plumas Community Foundation. Donations can be can be made by writing a check to the Ski Johnsville Fund and sending it to the Eastern Plumas Recreation District at P.O. Box 391, Graeagle, CA 96103.