70th anniversary: Squaw Valley to toast origins on Saturday

Know & go

What: 70th anniversary champagne and cider toast

Where: Village Events Plaza, Squaw Valley

When: 3:45 p.m. Saturday

For 70 years skiers and riders have been taking to the slopes of Squaw Valley, pushing winter sports to the next level while making lifelong memories.

Last Sunday marked the 70th anniversary of Squaw Valley spinning its first chairlift, Squaw One, which, at that time, was the world’s longest double chairlift and the resort’s sole lift.

“I skied Squaw opening day, Nov. 24, 1949,” said Toot Joslin, owner of Truckee River Tub Co., in an email. “I was 4 years old, and I remember it. The entire trip came back to me deja vu, after I moved up here in 1976. I remember skiing down the Sunnyside between my Dad’s legs and the weeds were sticking up through the snow and hitting me in the face. Funny how we remember things.”

On opening day in 1949, rooms at Squaw Valley ranged from $1 to $6 per night, “with a limited number of more expensive rooms available,” according to the original opening day advertisement, which also tabbed the resort’s lone lift as one that, “opens up miles of unsurpassed skiing terrain. An infinite variety of slopes to please beginner or expert! Rope tows also in operation.”

“I remember skiing down the Sunnyside between my Dad’s legs and the weeds were sticking up through the snow and hitting me in the face. Funny how we remember things.”— Toot Joslinon opening day, Nov. 24, 1949

Opening day in 1949, according to recently revised book, “Tales from Two Valleys: Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows,” turned into a fiasco. Alex Cushing and his wife, Justine greeted guests in front of the fireplace in Bar One, while reportedly keeping it hidden that days before the resort was set to open, union workers had stopped construction on the lodge, which resulted in strikebreakers being brought in to finish the work, and Cushing working on the plumbing himself.

During opening night at Squaw Valley, the lodge was said to be without running water, and guests were relegated to only one working toilet.

“That night everything went wrong,” Cushing said in a Feb. 9, 1959 interview with Time magazine. “There was no dinner until 10 p.m. Only one toilet was working, and the waiting line for it snaked out into the lobby.”

One of Cushing’s daughters also reportedly tripped and broke her leg that night, and the family dog was run over by a guest.

Cushing pressed on and 70 years later, Squaw Valley has been developed into a world-class resort, featuring 29 lifts, more than 170 trails, and roughly 3,600 skiable acres.

With fresh powder from this week’s storm on the ground, Squaw Valley will honor its 70th anniversary with a champagne and sparkling cider toast on Saturday at 3:45 p.m. in the Village Events Plaza.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643.

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