One of North America and the world’s major resorts, Squaw Valley ‘s history as a ski resort dates back to the late 1940’s when the resort’s first chairlift was installed. A little over a decade later the resort’s meteoric rise saw it hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics. With more than 30 lifts, including North America’s first Funitel, serving 4000 skiable acres Squaw is definitely a world class resort.
In the later 1990s, and at the time still family-owned, Squaw created a resort village at its base, in partnership with Intrawest who then ran a dozen major North American resorts including Whistler.
The resort’s achievement in hosting the 1960s Olympics is still a topic of conversation more than fifty years on. It wasn’t just that the area succeeded in staging what was then the world’s largest games, with a thousand competitors from 34 nations, a little over a decade after Squaw’s inception, but that the resort actually won the bidding five years earlier, in 1955, when it was virtually unheard of outside California.
The first Games to be nationally televised and to house the athletes in their own Olympic village, the opening and closing ceremonies were orchestrated by Walt Disney and involved over 5,000 participants and the use of 1,285 musical instruments.
Squaw Valley’s history does go back a little further than the start of the ski industry in the area of course. The Washoe Native Americans were the original inhabitants, then the town of Claraville grew up in the 1860s where today the entrance to Squaw Valley stands. The valley’s popularity then was the result of silver being discovered in the area. The town’s population peaked at 1000 residents and, whilst ranchers, shepherds, miners and trappers came and went, it wasn’t until the Squaw Valley Development Corporation was established in 1948 that the area really took off.