Milepost #907

January 17, 2019

By Cindy Justice, Photo from ROWHS Collection

TITLE: SNOW VALLEY SKI RESORT: This week’s image is of the first steel-towered single chair lift in Southern California which was built in 1949 at Snow Valley Ski Resort. The picture, taken in the early 50s, is on display at the Mountain History Museum. Snow Valley, formerly called Fish Camp, was a primitive campsite at the headwaters of Deep Creek. From the turn of the century until the 1930s Fish Camp was a popular cross-country ski destination. In 1923 an 11-mile extension of the Rim of the World Highway, aptly named the Arctic Circle, made Fish Camp easily accessible to the influx of skiing enthusiasts from around the world such as Norwegian ski jumping champions the Engen brothers and Johnny Elvrum. Sverre Engen bought the food concession building at Fish Camp in 1937; that same year the Lake Arrowhead Corporation was granted a permit to build a 1,300-foot motorized rope tow lift. The ski lift, combined with an existing ski jump, increased business immensely. Engen decided that Fish Camp was no name for a ski resort so it was changed to Snow Valley. In 1939 the Arrowhead Springs Corporation bought the Snow Valley facilities from Engen. But before any improvements could be made the corporation went bankrupt. Johnny Elvrum bought the resort at auction in 1941. Elvrum began constructing new facilities and by 1949 he had completed the mile-long 144 chair ski lift pictured above. The Lodge at Snow Valley burned in 1949 and a new one was built in its place which is still open today. Elvrum operated Snow Valley until 1971, when he sold his interest to The Nordic Group, the company that still owns it today. Elvrum died in 2006 at age 97. Snow Valley, the oldest ski resort in Southern California, continues to be a huge tourist draw and asset to our mountain economy.

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