The Johnsville Ski Bowl has been a historical landmark for the county since the 1860s.
According to oral history, the mining ore buckets that went up Gold Mountain acted as possibly the first ski lift in the world. The mountains in the area also became one of the first places in the Western Hemisphere for sport skiing such as longboarding — a tradition the community still celebrates.
Since the 1950s the hill was under the operation of the Plumas Ski Club, a private nonprofit organization. But the project encountered some thin ice because Plumas-Eureka State Park, within which the ski hill is situated, preferred to work with a public entity.
Recognizing the need to continue the project, the Eastern Plumas Recreation District stepped in three years ago with the primary purpose of taking over the ski hill project from the Plumas Ski Club.
EPRD obtained a 10-year operating agreement with the state park in 2011. After strong community fundraising, the district was also able to obtain a ski lift and two rope tows from Squaw Valley.
According to EPRD board member Dan Gallagher, the next step for the project is to raise enough funds to install the chairlift and the two surface lifts.
EPRD board member Jack Bridge said it will cost around $300,000 to install the chair lift alone, and without the support of the community, the installation will be a slow process.
There have been, and will be, many fundraisers for the Johnsville Ski Hill project, including concerts at Nakoma Golf Resort, the 20th annual SnowBall and the upcoming third annual Winter Fest located for the first time at the ski hill.
“There is a lot of stuff we want to do,” said Gallagher, “but right now Johnsville is front and center.”
The business plan for the ski hill is mainly to emphasize accessibility for youths and for families. According to Gallagher it will have beginning to intermediate runs, and when it is open EPRD will reach out to schools to install ski programs and youth events.
Gallagher also said the overall goal is to promote economic growth in the community by creating a destination ski area for tourists and families to enjoy. This will give the community an opportunity to wake up during the winter, and not have to shut down when the snow falls.
Bridge stated that it is going to have to be a very aggressive marketing promotion because most all of the funds are going to need to be donated by the community.
Both Gallagher and Bridge predict that the hill will be opening next winter. However, the amount of funds the project receives until then will determine how many of the three lifts will be operable.
For more information on the ski hill or to make a donation to the project visit skijohnsville.com.