MAMMOTH RESORT HISTORY
The first ski lift built in the Mono County area was
at McGee Mountain in the 1930's. It was 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.
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 Second World War stopped the progression
of skiing at Mammoth. Skiing essentially came to a halt in the Eastern
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 was
not 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.
Dave and his wife Roma (Carriere) were active in
the original Mammoth Mountain Ski Club and Winter Sports Association
and in the first ski events. Dave also managed the McGee Ski School.
In winter he moved portable rope tows here and there following the
snow. In 1941, he set up his first rope tow on Mammoth Mountain.
Just getting to the base was a big adventure. The Main Lodge, built
in 1947, started as a small warming hut. Dave built the first permanent
building on Mammoth Mountain, near the site of the first permanent
ski lift at the foot of the broad, beautiful north face - a skier's
This first ski lift was known, appropriately, as
Chair One. Today, Chair One (or Broadway Express) is a modern, high-speed,
detachable quad chair lift, which is on of 28 lifts on Mammoth Mountain.
With nearly 3,100 feet of vertical drop, 385 inches of average annual
snowfall, and 300 days per year of glorious California sunshine,
Mammoth offers snow sports enthusiasts a 3,500 acre (1,416 hectare)
winter wonderland to explore and challenge.
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 did not
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 begins 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 many people could come to
have fun. He did not do it for money, and never imagined it would
grow as large as it has. He built Mammoth 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 he country.
Today, Mammoth Mountain has 3 large day lodges,
30 lifts, 2 high speed gondolas, 5 hotel properties, 3 restaurants,
a large maintenance facility and some great plans for the future.
In 1986, he bought nearby June Mountain. Eventually, McCoy plans
to connect the two mountains, making it the largest "world-class"
Mammoth 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
With the 1996 partnership of the Intrawest Corporation with Mammoth
Mountain Ski area, the dreams are becoming a reality. The development
of three new village areas: The Village at Mammoth, Sierra Star,
and Juniper Springs has brought revitalization to the resort. Mammoth Mountain has already upgraded Canyon Lodge and
installed the Panorama Gondola at the Main Lodge. The addition
of the Mill Cafe has the capability of the mountain to provide a
quality food experience for visitors. The development of the new
Juniper Springs Lodge was the first new ski in/ski out accommodation
at the resort. Mammoth continues to grow and migrate to a modern fashionable ski resort. Dave McCoy finally decided to retire. He sold his share to Starwood Holdings. Mammoth
is now part of their brand which has made the resort even more of an exciting place to vacation. The town continues to thrive despite the economy, bad snow years and drops in real estate as the great outdoors is still everyone's favorite place to spend winter and summer.