Early History of Mammoth

 

Mining was the key that unlocked the treasure chest of the Eastern Sierra. Vast deserts on three sides and an immense mountain barrier on the other kept white men away from the native Paiute, Shoshone, and Washoe settlements until relatively late in California's History. But the discovery of the Comstock Lode silver ore in 1858, east of Lake Tahoe, changed that overnight. Prospectors from the gold fields on the west side flooded east across the Sierra to the Comstock. Rich gold and silver discoveries at Aurora and Bodie fueled the rumors and dreams of many and kept them searching. Mining was the key that unlocked the treasure chest of the Eastern Sierra. Vast deserts on three sides and an immense mountain barrier on the other kept white men away from the native Paiute, Shoshone, and Washoe settlements until relatively late in California's History. But the discovery of the Comstock Lode silver ore in 1858, east of Lake Tahoe, changed that overnight. Prospectors from the gold fields on the west side flooded east across the Sierra to the Comstock. Rich gold and silver discoveries at Aurora and Bodie fueled the rumors and dreams of many and kept them searching. Four prospectors hunting for the Lost Cement Mine organized the Lakes Mining District on Mineral Hill near Lake Mary in 1877. The following year, General George Dodge of Civil War and Union Pacific fame bought the group of claims and organized the Mammoth Mining Co. News that the company was running four tunnels into Mineral Hill and constructing a tramway and 20-stamp mill, and rumor that this was the "largest bonanza outside Virginia City, "sparked a short-lived rush to the Mammoth gold mines. Over a thousand people flocked to Mammoth City the summer of 1878 and perhaps 1,500 the next. The riches and the bonanza never materialized and the Mammoth Mining Co. shut down its mill in 1880.Four prospectors hunting for the Lost Cement Mine organized the Lakes Mining District on Mineral Hill near Lake Mary in 1877. The following year, General George Dodge of Civil War and Union Pacific fame bought the group of claims and organized the Mammoth Mining Co. News that the company was running four tunnels into Mineral Hill and constructing a tramway and 20-stamp mill, and rumor that this was the "largest bonanza outside Virginia City, "sparked a short-lived rush to the Mammoth gold mines. Over a thousand people flocked to Mammoth City the summer of 1878 and perhaps 1,500 the next. The riches and the bonanza never materialized and the Mammoth Mining Co. shut down its mill in 1880.

1890's until now

 

In the 1890's a different breed of pioneer discovered Mammoth. They were looking for riches that lay in the enjoyment of the Eastern Sierra. Fishing, hunting, photography, camping, hiking, horseback riding were what drew the summer visitors to Mammoth and with them came the businesses to support them. Movies were even made in the meadow and the Lakes Basin.


The Village of Old Mammoth was born. Fords, Chevies, and you name it - vintage of 1914 on - made it through the desert, up the steep grades and into the meadow; a trip of two and one half days from Los Angeles. A hotel, store, garage, bakery, and post office were established, know as Mammoth Camp.
Tent camps were set up along the Mammoth Creek or in the nearby forest. Many of the visitors were Bishop families coming for the summer; others arrived from Los Angeles. Eventually the summer visitors built cabins along the creek and in the Lakes Basin.

Only a few caretakers stayed to protect the properties that were here during the winter. Those few received mail and supplies by dogsled. Mammoth became a quiet and remote area until the completion of a modern highway in 1937. The camping, hiking, fishing and dynamic beauty of the area made it a sportsman's paradise. The area developed quite a reputation as a summer retreat. Mammoth got its name from the mining era, Mammoth Mining Co.

In August 1984, the unincorporated village officially became the Town of Mammoth Lakes. Today the Town of Mammoth Lakes is home to over 7,000 year-round residents, swelling to nearly 35,000 on a busy weekend. Surrounded by public lands such as USFS and BLM lands, Mammoth Lakes is limited in its ability to expand beyond the original town site of approximately 2,500 acres.

The Town of Mammoth Lakes is privilege to have many quality public facilities including a very successful school system, a new college, a modern hospital, an airport, and plans for a performing arts center.

Resort History of Mammoth Lakes

The first ski lift to be built in the Mono County area was installed at McGee Mountain in the 1930's. It was positioned just off highway 395 and was easily accessible by car. There were other rope tows from Independence to Bridgeport, but McGee was the favorite of the time. McGee Mountain was just the beginning of something bigger to come. The early days of skiing were quite an adventure. The pioneers of skiing were a close-knit group of rugged individualists who shared a passion for their sport. They challenged the mountain just for the fun of it. One of the early pioneers was Dave McCoy. McCoy had visited the mountains above Independence as a boy and was impressed by the rugged beauty of the snow-clad peaks. As a member of the Eastern Sierra Club, McCoy helped to build the club's first portable rope tow. He did most of the maintenance work and kept it running. McCoy's passion for skiing kept him very active in the sport. He was an accomplished ski racer, who at the age of 22 was California State Champion.

In 1938, McCoy got a permit to operate McGee Mountain. He bought the lifts from the Eastern Sierra Ski Club for $85.00. During the winter of 1941, McCoy obtained a roving permit for this portable rope tow. He used his knowledge of the snow pack and set up his lift wherever the snow was the best. The best snow in the area was always on the northern exposure of Mammoth. McCoy knows Mammoth always got the most snow and that it lasted the longest of almost any mountain in the Sierra. Whenever the weather and road permitted, people skied on Mammoth. Over 250 skiers visited Mammoth on Thanksgiving Day 1941. The progression of skiing at Mammoth was stopped by the Second World War. Skiing essentially came to a halt in the Eastern Sierra.

Immediately after the war, McCoy installed his first permanent rope tow on Mammoth. At the time, a narrow, winding dirt road up to the rope tow wasn't plowed in the winter. Getting to the mountain was difficult. McCoy bought several World War II surplus over-snow vehicles called weasels and towed skiers up the road with ropes.

Just getting to the base was a big adventure. The Main Lodge, built in 1947, started as a small warming hut.

The U.S. Forest Service wanted people to build and develop more ski areas in California's Sierra Nevada range. They put Mammoth Mountain up for bid. No one bid on it, including McCoy, because he didn't have the money. Developers viewed Mammoth as being too risky. "They said Mammoth's elevation was too high, the mountain got too much snow and it was too far from major population area." The Forest Service awarded McCoy the permit by default on the condition that he start developing the mountain. He already had a thriving rope-tow business. Mammoth was hosting more skiers than any other California operation, including those with chairlifts.

McCoy followed his dream and went to work building Mammoth Mountain into a ski area where lots of people could come to have fun. He didn't do it for money, and never imagined it would grow as large as it has. He built Mammoth Mountain Ski Area for the fun of it, because he has a passion for winter sports and enjoys sharing this high-alpine playground. After building his first chairlift in 1955 McCoy went on to build one of the largest ski resorts in the country.
In 1986, he bought nearby June Mountain. Mammoth Mountain is a year-round resort. The summer Mountain Bike Park is a popular feature attracting mountain-bike enthusiasts from around the world to challenge its trails. There are over 50 miles of mountain bike trails laid out across the mountain and more planned.


Today, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area has 4 day lodges, 10 sport shops, 9 rental/repair shops, 1 on-hill snack bar, 3 food courts/cafeterias, ski & snowboard school, race department, lockers, hotel and condominium accommodations, 4 restaurants, 7 bars, child care and game room.
Lifts: 29 ski packs, 10 quads (9 high speed detachable) 7 triplets, 4 doubles, 3 gondolas, and 2 surface lifts (2 pomas) and 150 named trails.

In January 1996, Intrawest Corporation and Mammoth Mountain Ski area announced that Intrawest Corporation had purchased 33% of Mammoth and June Mountain ski operations, as well as all of the developable real estate owned by Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. In 1998, Intrawest increased their partnership interest to 58%. The development of three new village areas: The Village at Mammoth, Sierra Star, and Juniper Springs, had brought new developments to the resort. At The Village at Mammoth guests will find The Mountain Center and can access Canyon Lodge via the Village Gondola. Over the last several years, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area has upgraded Canyon Lodge, the McCoy Station at the mid-chalet, installed the Panorama Gondola at the Main Lodge, the Mill Café at the base of Stump Alley Express and much more.

December 21, 2005, Dave Mc Coy, founder and controlling shareholder of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area announced that Barry Sternlicht, Chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital had completed the purchase of the majority interest in Mammoth Mountain Ski Area for $365 million. Starwood Capital, which is headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut, has been an innovative leader in real estate investment since its inception in 1991. Over the next few years, millions of dollars will continue to be spent in the resort.