Truckee, once again, surviving an economic disaster
Special to the Sierra Sun
Small businesses are suffering across the country but we can do our part to help Truckee. Support our local restaurants by ordering takeout, shop locally online and wave to everyone who is practicing good social distancing.
Tahoe Silicon Mountain celebrated its 10th year of existence and the hosting of its first virtual Mountain Minds Monday. To view the entire “Positive Business Shifts During the Stay at Home Order” presentation go to: bit.ly/YouTubeTSM or look for it on Tahoe Truckee Media.
— Judy DePuy
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” A classic quote from writer and philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952).
Truckee has throughout its history been challenged with fires, changing industries, loss of population and more. We learned early on how to survive, have resilience and make our community prosper.
In 1862 Theodore Judah and the Central Pacific Railroad chose to come through Truckee. Not only did the Comstock mines need our timber and ice but the produce from Central valley could now be preserved and transported to distant markets. We also had the conditions to produce the best and first California Lager from Boca Brewery. We had a thriving, viable economy.
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As fate would have it we harvested the majority of our trees and mechanical refrigeration made our ice ponds obsolete. Boca brewery burned down in 1893 and was never rebuilt. Truckee could have been a shortlived train stop and disappear like the towns of Floriston and Boca did.
Instead, we learned to adapt to ever changing economic conditions and chose to embrace visitors.
Truckee’s Next Stop
The beautiful mountains, clean air, and lovely waters made Truckee ideal for bringing in tourists and the railroad made it easy for Truckee’s transition to a destination location.
Unexpected events are not new to this area. In the early to mid 1900s Truckee Old Jail’s second floor was used as a hospital since there was only one doctor in town. The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic required quarantining of all infected patients. Truckee’s population was decimated between the Spanish flu and World War I.
The recent COVID-19 outbreak requires looking at how our town does business. Tourism is very important to us but we can do more. Tahoe Silicon Mountain, a local nonprofit, reached out to the community to see what they were doing differently with the current stay-at-home order. Six companies and organizations responded and on April 13 Tahoe Silicon Mountain hosted a virtual conference on “Positive Business Shifts during the Stay at Home Order.” For them it clearly is not business as usual:
With schools closed, Truckee Unified School District needed a new approach on how to teach their students. Teachers and students had to quickly learn how go from physical classrooms to virtual classrooms while delivering the same level of quality education.
Tahoe Food Hub changed from a physical store to online ordering. To make it scale, they came up with two basic box choices of fresh local produce with additional items (dairy, meat) as options. Their continuing to offer food not only helps the recipients but also supports a strong local distribution network.
Tahoe Mountain Sports initially was an online store but then moved to storefront sales. They were able to reduce their inventory by realizing, in real time, the need people will have for outdoor sports and exercising-in-isolation gear. They moved back to online selling and are able to sell their demo gear now.
The shelter-in-place order truly affected Outdoor Adventure Club’s business model. Now no longer able to teach avalanche, rock climbing anchor and other classes in person they have switched to an online forum with different types of classes at different lengths and prices.
Sierra Business Development Center workload has increased significantly. They offer support to local businesses to help them keep their business open and work with them to survive through business closures by navigating the new Federal SBA loans.
And finally, Tahoe Truckee Media thrives in the virtual world. They operate Suddenlink Channels 6 and 18, cover public meetings on Channel 8 and deliver livestreaming for various organizations. They are looking to expand their business by instructing others on how to do virtual meetings better and move to a virtual model.
We still have the railroad, our beautiful mountains, a love for the environment and the wish to share our wonderful area with others. The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has all of us on edge. But as a town we are doing what our forefathers did … we are working together to save our community.
So let’s be more like Caleb Greenwood and not the Donner Party and adjust to the unexpected and changing predicament. Greenwood was a mountain man who successfully led hundreds of immigrants across the Sierra Nevada to California on what was to be called the Emigrant Trail. The Donner Party chose poorly and were not as successful.
Judy DePuy is an active member of the Truckee Donner Railroad and Donner Summit Historical Societies. She is a retired engineer, marketer and public relations person who is passionate about sharing the history of our area.
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