Building a Ski Shrine: Effort seeks to locate Tahoe skiing museum in Squaw Valley | SierraSun.com

Building a Ski Shrine: Effort seeks to locate Tahoe skiing museum in Squaw Valley

Andrew Cristancho
Sierra Sun

Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun Bill Clark, the executive director of the Auburn Ski Club, holds a 13-foot, 100-year-old longboard ski at the Western Ski Sport Museum on Donner Summit Sunday. The museum is planning on moving its collection to a new ski museum that is planned for Squaw Valley.

Organizers pushing a new museum to commemorate the area’s skiing history have assembled many pieces for a memorial to Tahoe snow sports “-skiing artifacts, seed money and support.

But fundraising and land are the two remaining hurdles that must be cleared before the Squaw Valley museum becomes a reality.

Last week the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association pledged $12,000 to the museum.

The money will be used to establish a nonprofit that will hire consulting firms, develop a public outreach program and seek more donors, according to Ron Treabess the resort association’s director of community partnerships and planning.

These efforts will precede the selection of a location for the museum and construction.

No official timeline is established yet, but Treabess estimated, if all goes well, Squaw Valley could have a new museum showcasing western ski history by 2012 or 2013.

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The planned nonprofit foundation will be a partnership between members of a subcommittee of the Squaw Valley Municipal Advisory Council, the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society, and principals at the Auburn Ski Club said the ski club’s Executive Director Bill Clark.

The ski club operates the 41-year-old Western Ski Sport Museum on Donner Summit. The board of directors for the club decided a couple of years ago that their museum needed more exposure to the general public, he said.

Although Donner Summit was an important area for local ski history, these days, during the winter months, visitors to the area spend more time avoiding adverse weather along the roadway than sightseeing, said Clark.

The museum does not enjoy the number of visitors he thinks the “world class” collection deserves, which is evidenced by the museum’s hours of operation ” only open to the general public during weekends in winter months.

“Our collection needs to get that year-round exposure,” he said.

The entire Donner Summit collection would move to the proposed Squaw Valley museum, he said.

Some of the oldest artifacts include a pair of wooden skis called long boards that date back to the 1850s, he said.

The museum would have two different components, Clark said. One component would celebrate the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympic games and a second component would showcase the region’s winter sports heritage, including not only California history but also the entire far Western region of the United States.

The group wants to capitalize on Tahoe Truckee’s little leveraged “heritage economy,” said Olympic history buff George Koster.

Many people in Europe take vacations based on the historical significance of a particular area, Koster said.

With many local communities formed, in part, as a result of the Sierra Nevada’s rich ski history, Koster envisions visitors and residents not only looking at exhibits but also experiencing the snow sport history of the Sierra Nevada. They could visit the museum and then ski former Olympic trails, he said.