Lost ski areas are one of the most interesting aspects of the ski industry. The research into this section of the ski business was popularized by Jeremy Davis of the New England Lost Ski Areas Project (NELSAP), who has written many books and articles about former ski areas in the Northeast. This has led to an enhanced interest in the exploration of the histories of these closed ski areas. In 2020, Ingrid P. Wicken published the book The Lost Ski Areas of Tahoe and Donner, which discusses which ski areas were left behind in Lake Tahoe’s still booming ski industry. This month, I got to read the book and explore the world of Lake Tahoe skiing.
The early portions of the book dive into the early history of skiing around Lake Tahoe, and the impact the Sierra Ski Club had on the regional growth of the sport. The rest of the book discusses the abandoned ski areas based on their regional location around Tahoe: North Lake Tahoe, Highway 50, and Highway 40. Many of the ski areas mentioned in the book closed to the continued growth of their competition, lower elevation and snowfall compared to the major players, and inability to innovate and expand at the right times.
My favorite section of the book was reading about the Powder Bowl-Deer Park ski area. The mountain was open from 1957 to 1984 and even had a triple chairlift. Due to the local competition of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows though, along with the inability to implement their bold master plan, the mountain was shut down and never reopened. Powder Bowl-Deer Park was eventually bought by Alpine Meadows, and as of the writing of the book in 2020, the base lodge still serves as an office building for Alpine Meadows. Another perk of this book is that it’s a quick read. It’s only 167 pages long and has many historical photos in each chapter. So if you’re passionate about California skiing or abandoned ski areas, I would recommend checking it out. Some of my favorite photos from the book are below.
Last year, the book won the 2021 ISHA Skade Award. The International Skiing History Association holds an award ceremony every year celebrating the best skiing books that came out. The Skade Award is “presented for an outstanding work on regional ski history or for an outstanding work published in book form that is focused in part on ski history.” The video presentation of the Skade Award is below.