Auburn: Après Ski in a Gold Rush Town

AUBURN IS FAMOUS FOR ITS gold mining history. What’s less known, is the city’s leading role in bringing skiing to the Sierra. The Auburn Ski Club was formed in 1928 by resident Wendell Robie. At Cisco Grove, the Auburn Ski Club built ski jumps, ski trails and a lodge (much of it now covered by I-80).

“Through creative publicity, the club was successful in convincing the state to keep Hwy. 40 open year-round,” says the Donner Summit Historical Society, paving the way for the ski industry.

Skiing expanded from small club-operated hills to ski areas with the opening of Sugar Bowl in 1939. Walt Disney was an original investor, and his name is stamped on the peak that was home to the state’s first chairlift.

Less than an hour from the major ski areas, Auburn is a popular option for skiers who want to reduce the drive time from the Bay Area. Downtown Auburn has been revitalized with a town square, complete with a fire pit and benches. Old Town Auburn is oozing with charm. It also has a year-round farmers market on Saturday mornings.

Downtown Auburn also is home to a new California Welcome Center at 1103 High Street, which issues “sno-park” permits for cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing and snow play.

The city is setting a gold standard for wining and dining. The restaurateur of Monkey Cat and the tre Pazzi trattoria comes from the San Francisco dining scene.

In Old Town, the owner of Carpe Vino restaurant—latin for “seize the wine”—is a respected wine connoisseur and offers a wine club.

“Auburn has enough good eats, from upscale to down home, to take up an entire weekend, with excellent wine to wash it down,” observes a reviewer in the San Francisco Chronicle, a critical culinary source.

Art galleries include Auburn Old Town Gallery and Placer Arts’ Art Gallery Building. The galleries regularly showcase local artwork.

SKI MUSEUM

The Western SkiSport Museum was founded in 1969 by the Auburn Ski Club. The museum was developed as an exhibition of western North American ski history.

Starting with California gold miners racing straight down the mountains at speeds of 80 mph on 14 foot “longboards,” western ski history is a fascinating part of western culture.

Today the Museum continues on a mission to collect, preserve and exhibit the history of winter ski sports in the western United States. Open Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. during the ski season.

For more information, visit AuburnSkiClub.com.
Castle Peak exit I-80
Soda Springs

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