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75 Year Celebration of
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History of Diamond Peak, Nevada

by Dr. Duane Vandenbusche

The North Shore remained the private (mainly summer) playground of the famous, the wealthy and the adventuresome throughout the next several decades as more casinos- Biltmore, Bal Tabarin, the Northshore Club, the Crystal Bay Club- and minor residential development occurred. It wasn't untile the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley that the Lake Tahoe region ws put on the map in a big way. About this time, old US Highway 40 became a little more than a scenic back road when Interstate 80, linking Sacramento with Reno, became a reality and the masses were welcomed year-round to Lake Tahoe.

In the late 1920's, casino gambling was introduced to the North Shore of Lake Tahoe and visitors began to make the trek into the mountains to play at the newly opened Cal Neva Lodge in Crystal Bay.

In the late 1920's, casino gambling was introduced to the North Shore of Lake Tahoe and visitors began to make the trek into the mountains to play at the newly opened Cal Neva Lodge in Crystal Bay.

The North Shore remained the private (mainly summer) playground of the famous, the wealthy and the adventuresome throughout the next several decades as more casinos- Biltmore, Bal Tabarin, the Northshore Club, the Crystal Bay Club- and minor residential development occurred. It wasn't untile the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley that the Lake Tahoe region ws put on the map in a big way. About this time, old US Highway 40 became a little more than a scenic back road when Interstate 80, linking Sacramento with Reno, became a reality and the masses were welcomed year-round to Lake Tahoe.

It was also at this most opportune moment that a farsighted entrepreneur from Oklahoma by the name of Art Wood, with his associate Harold Tiller, envisioned the creation of a master planned vacation resort on the northeastern shore of Lake Tahoe. This incredibly fortuitous vision became a reality in 1959 and 1960, when Wood formed the Crystal Bay Development Company and bought some 9,000 acres of land from Captain George Whittell, the San Francisco real estate magnate, for $5.3 million.

From then on and throughout the 1960's, Incline Village evolved fairly dramatically as a master planned community.

Ski Incline, now known as Diamond Peak Ski Resort, was one of Art Wood's cornerstone recreation amenities in his master-planned "Pebble Beach" of the Sierra, Incline Village. Wood's brainchild was nurtured and developed to reality in 1966 by Luggi Foeger, the renowned Austrian-born ski resort consultant whom Wood hired to design and build the resort.

When Foeger joined Wood's team, Ski Incline was sited way above the Mt. Rose highway. Upon inspection of that site, all Foeger could do was laugh, and say, "You people don't understand skiers, nor skiing. The business of skiing is to provide a fun, pleasurable experience in the wintertime for the whole family. And if you take a housewife on top of a cliff and ask her to ski that, I'll leave it to your imagination to hear her reply." Besides the terrain, the initial location faced south. Wood, not being a skier, didn't realize that a ski resort needed a northerly exposure.

Foeger studied the Incline area from all angles: by plane, by snowmobile and his favorite- by foot - with his dogs. He found a better spot, the present location of Diamond Peak just above the northeastern shore of Lake Tahoe in Incline Village.

Art Wood put his faith in Foeger and committed $2 million to build Ski Incline. And while everyone in the ski industry predicted failure, Foeger's vision turned out to be sharper and more profound than that of his detractors: he had the incredible foresight to design his new ski area to include equipment to make snow! With the installation of snowmaking techniques and technology, Ski Incline became the first resort in the West to employ this wonderful insurance policy against Mother Nature's stinginess. Time and again, during drought and late snow years, these systems have enabled the resort to create its quality ski experience for our residents and guests… they were also a model for other ski areas to emulate!

When Ski Incline debuted in November 1966 (a scant four months after construction began) it had three chair lifts, a T-bar, and snowmaking. In 1968, two more lifts were installed, followed by another lift several years later.

As the ski industry grew and more and larger resorts sprang up throughout the Lake Tahoe region, little Ski Incline continued to serve its community admirably. During this time, proud members of the community enjoyed skiing at the resort, but at the same time they often wondered "what the heck's up there?" referring to the terrain just northeast of Ski Incline.

The upper mountain, which was not developed, "was magical and had to be experienced by all," said former Ski Incline General Manager Jurgen Wetzstein. "We used to say the view from the top (now Diamond Peak) is one of the most spectacular views in the world. To the east, you have pure desert and Washoe Valley at your feet; to the north, you see some magnificent mountains; and to the south and west are the fabulous views of Lake Tahoe," says Wetzstein.

In 1985 after many debates, the community was finally convinced that it was time to make this view of Lake Tahoe accessible to all who visited and skied in Incline Village. After painstaking research, more than a hundred public meetings, and numerous reports, an expansion plan was developed and received the community's blessings. During the summer of 1987, Ski Incline embarked on this first phase of a ten-year master plan.

By December of that year, the resort had doubled its skiable terrain, added a mile-long quad chair lift to the top of the Peak, expanded its grooming and ski shuttle fleet, built a Child Ski Center, and constructed an on-mountain maintenance facility.

Because its skiing terrain changed so dramatically with the addition of mostly advanced runs, the resort's name was changed to "Diamond Peak at Ski Incline," alluding to the industry's "black diamond" symbol for expert ski terrain.The following year, the resort's snowmaking system was expanded to the upper mountain, giving the resort snowmaking capabilities on over 50 percent of its terrain.

As time passed, the name "Diamond Peak" stuck and "Ski Incline" was retired to the history books.

Since the expansion to the upper mountain, they have continued to refresh and rejuvenate Diamond Peak (formerly Ski Incline). New quad chairs have replaced 30-year-old lifts; the snowmaking system has been upgraded, expanded and automated; buildings have been expanded and renovated; and the resort has remained in the forefront of industry technological developments and modern guest service techniques.

And while much of Ski Incline's makeover is now complete, the master plan envisions still more for this outstanding facility to meet the community's and our guests' changing needs and tastes: an expansion and face-lift of Snowflake Lodge: a new base area "Guest Services" facility; and a mountain-top "Twin Lakes Warming Hut."

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About the Author -- Dr. Duane Vandenbushe has been teaching History at Western State College since 1962. His many interesting books and videos on the Gunnison Country's history can be found in local bookstores.

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