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Pioneer Ski Area of America, Squaw Valley (No. 724 California Historical Landmark)

Historic Site or District

California Historical Landmarks Program

Historical Landmarks are sites, buildings, features, or events that are of statewide significance and have anthropological, cultural, military, political, architectural, economic, scientific or technical, religious, experimental, or other value. Historical Landmarks are eligible for registration if they meet at least one of the following criteria:

1) Is the first, last, only, or most significant of its type in the state or within a large geographic region

2) Is associated with an individual or group having a profound influence on the history of California

3) Is a prototype of, or an outstanding example of, a period, style, architectural movement or construction or is one of the more notable works or the best surviving work in a region of a pioneer architect, designer or master builder.

California’s Landmark Program began in the late 1800s with the formation of the Landmarks Club and the California Historical Landmarks League. In 1931, the program became official when legislation charged the Department of Natural Resources—and later the California State Chamber of Commerce—with registering and marking buildings of historical interest or landmarks. The Chamber of Commerce then created a committee of prestigious historians, including DeWitt Hutchings and Lawrence Hill, to evaluate potential landmark sites.

In 1948, Governor Earl Warren created the California Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee to increase the integrity and credibility of the program. Finally, this committee was changed to the California Historical Resources Commission in 1974. Information about registered landmarks numbered 770 onward is kept in the California Register of Historical Resources authoritative guide. Landmarks numbered 669 and below were registered prior to establishing specific standards, and may be added to the California Register when criteria for evaluating the properties are adopted.

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The Truckee and Lake Tahoe Region is where organized skiing began. California gold miners were actually the first people to compete on skis. in the By 1870, skiers were racing down the slopes at 100 miles per hour. Squaw Valley is a u-shaped valley in the Sierra Nevada that is located between Truckee and Tahoe City so the landscape naturally lends itself to becoming a popular ski slope.

The Valley’s first recorded history since the Native Americans roamed the landscape on their seasonal hunts for food, begins with the Gold Rush in 1849. Prospectors believed they found silver at the mouth of Squaw Valley. Hundreds of men rushed to the area. Unfortunately, the excitement over the silver discovery soon died when the silver ore was discovered to not be silver at all. The boom lasted a year from 1863-64. Residents of the Valley moved out of town to the Comstock Lode of Virginia City, Nevada.

Farming and logging became the primary activities until the Squaw Valley Development Company began acquiring land. These acquisitions led to the modern version of Squaw Valley.

The historical marker at the Pioneer Ski Area was placed in 1960 during VIII Olympic Winter Games to commemorate 100 years of skiing in California and the first televised Olympic Games. One hundred years later in 1960, one thousand competitors from 34 nations arrived in Squaw Valley to participate in the winter games. Squaw Valley first opened as a world class ski resort in 1949 and is one of North America's premier ski destinations. In 2010 Squaw Valley celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Winter Olympic Games.

The California Historical Landmark is located at the Squaw Valley Sports Center, at the northeast corner of the Blyth Olympics Arena Building on Squaw Valley Road in Squaw Valley.

Placer County

Placer is a Spanish word describing surface mining. Gold that had been “placed” in streams or on the ground through natural erosion was processed by planning, rocking, and similar techniques. Such mining efforts made Placer County residents some of the richest in California.

Time Period Represented


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