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Club History

The Santa Rosa Ski Club began as the Santa Rosa Skating Club, formed by a group of ice skaters who met regularly at the old Grace Brothers Brewery alongside Santa Rosa Creek where the Hyatt Vineyard Creek hotel now stands.

During the winter of 1941-1942, sixteen members traveled as a group to Rainbow Tavern, on the west side of Donner Pass, to try out the rope tow they had set up on their property. The ski trip was so successful that members began to make regular excursions to Sugar Bowl, a trip that could take as many as eleven hours over two lane roads.


World War II put a halt to any regular ski outings to the Sierra Nevada. During the war, the ice rink burned down and in 1946, the club members reconvened with a focus solely on skiing. The club name was changed to Santa Rosa Ski Club. For many years, meetings were held at Mailer-Frey Hardware on Fourth Street.


Those long drives, combined with the cost of overnight accommodations, prompted discussion of acquiring a lodge for the club. In 1952, the decision was made to lease a small cabin near Rainbow Tavern for $75 per month. The quarter mile walk up to the cabin often required breaking a trail through two or three feet of freshly fallen snow. When more than eight or ten people were using the cabin, the bathtub and dining room table became beds. In these crude quarters, members began to talk about having their own lodge. A debate on the pros and cons of purchasing a lodge versus building a lodge became a regular dinner conversation.

With a solvent treasury and income accumulated from the dues of $1.00 coming in from about 100 members and party profits, the club decided to officially incorporate as a non-profit in 1954 as the Santa Rosa Ski Chalet Club Inc. At the same time, the town of Truckee was promoting the sale of $450 lots with the additional incentive of a rebate of 50% of the utility bills for the first six years of ownership.


In 1955, the club purchased the lot on Valley Road in Truckee for $450 and also bought a surplus military Quonset hut in Sebastopol for $360. The hut was dismantled and transported in pieces to Truckee, where weekend work parties began the reconstruction job.


In October 1956, the hut was fully enclosed but a few key support pieces were not yet installed. After a very severe, wet, early-season snowstorm hit the Sierras, members of that fall’s final work party arrived in Truckee only to find their new lodge caved in by heavy snow.

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The summer of 1957 began with clearing out the debris and preparing for construction of the lodge that exists today. Money to finance the purchase of materials came from proceed of parties and rummage sales. One event, held in Kenwood in the 1960’s made the society pages of the local paper thanks to some of the more daring men that dressed as ballerinas in ski boots. That single event raised $1300.


Membership certificates were sold to Chalet Club members, with the understanding that each certificate entitled the holder to half fare weekend at the lodge, when the lodge was available for use. Work credits were issued in the form of script, also good for a half fare weekend at the lodge.


Work parties in late 1959 finished the original lodge structure, including the upstairs bathrooms and dorms, kitchen, dining room and living room, with the large stone fireplace and radiant heat in the floors, financed through private loans from two members.


The lodge was finished and usable for the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley. This brought a high demand for accommodations in the area, and the new lodge’s 24 beds were rented out at $5 a night, which enabled repayment of the earlier membership loans.

The lodge was expanded in 1964 and 1965, creating the downstairs mud room and the men’s dorm upstairs increased sleeping capacity to 40 people.

During the period after the incorporation of the Chalet Club and the construction of the lodge, the Santa Rosa Ski Club remained an unincorporated organization that shared the use of the lodge with Chalet Club members. During this period, with about 85 members, the deck, barbecue and back stairs were built, and Ski Club members continued to have summer work parties to maintain the lodge.

By 1984, the Santa Rosa Ski Chalet Club Inc. decided that the legal position of the two entities, the Ski Club and the Chalet Club needed to be clarified. It was determined that actual ownership of the lodge was by holders of the Santa Rosa Chalet Club membership certificates that had been sold to partially finance the construction. Officers of the Chalet Club and the Ski Club decided that a lease agreement could perpetuate the use of the lodge by members of the two organizations. The lease required that the Ski Club be responsible for repairs, maintenance and all operating costs, while a $100 annual fee sealed the deal.


In 1999, the Santa Rosa Ski Club, now an organization, was issued additional membership certificates, giving the Ski Club a controlling interest in the Chalet Club and Lodge. The certificates are held by the club, and not by individual members.

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