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75 Year Celebration of
Snowsport History
in the
Far West region!

Photos Are Here!


History of Skiing in Southern California

The war put a damper on skiing as many went off to war. After the war, many of the boys came home to start up new ski areas.

1940s

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1940 April The first San Gorgonio Downhill Race was held.
  Spring Walter Clemmons, President of Big Pines Ski Club and Sierra Club member, organized the Southern California section of the National Ski Patrol.
1941   John Elvrum purchased Snow Valley from the Arrowhead Springs Corporation. Elvrum operated Snow Valley until he sold the area in 1972.
1942 January 16 Dorothy McClung, member of the San Diego Ski Club, was named the first female member of the National Ski Patrol.
    Lynn Newcomb Sr. built the first chair lift in Southern California (the second in the state) at Mt. Waterman.
1944   The first commercial tow was installed at Camp Baldy (Mt. Baldy) near Snow Crest Resort on Movie Slope by Herb Leffler and Jim Chaffee. They named their enterprise Mt. Baldy Ski Tows.
1945   Green Valley Lake Snow Bowl was opened by Laurence Ferguson and Joe Fox.
1946 December The Regional Forester gave notice of proposed plans to develop San Gorgonio as a ski area. On June 18, 1947, following a 90-day scoping period, Chief Forester Lyle Watts announced that San Gorgonio would be preserved and a ski area would not be built at this time.
1947 March The first chairlift was built on Blue Ridge (later named Mountain High) by Frank Springer and Tom Triol. This was only the third chairlift in California and the fifth in the US.
     The Southern California Intercollegiate Ski Union (SCISU) was formed by UCLA, USC, Glendale College, Pasadena City College, LA City College, Pomona College and Muir College to stimulate the interest of Athletic departments to establish ski teams.
    Big Bear Lake Ski Club provided the first Ski Patrol in the area.
1948   The California Ski Association changes its name to Far West Ski Association to have a name more representative of the geographical area it encompasses -- California, Hawaii, and most of Nevada.
    Tommi Tyndall consolidated the Big Bear ski schools and ran them under the name Mill Creek Ski Schools (name was later changed to Big Bear Certified Ski School).
    Joseph "Sepp" Benedikter and John Steinmann established Holiday Hill (Mountain High East).
1949   The first ski lift (the 3,000' Lynn lift) in Big Bear was built by Judge Clifford Lynn on the hill just south of Big Bear Village. Cliff died before it was completed. Even though the judge died before its completion, the area expanded over the years and was evidentually renamed Snow Forest.
    Grindelwald Ski Club started the Ski Swap in a parking lot. The swap later moved to the Shrine Auditorium, then Century City and finally the LA Convention Center. Today it is run by Ski Dazzle.
    Tommi Tyndall started Southern California's first training program ski instructors using the Far West Ski Association teaching methods.
    Tommi Tyndall founded the Big Bear Winter Club and hosted its first Winter Carnival.

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