The Snowball Express

IN THE 1930S, VISITORS TRAVELED from the Bay Area and Sacramento to Truckee on Southern Pacific railroad’s “Snowball Express.” Now our magazine calls the internet the “Snowball Express”—to spread the word about our region’s burgeoning food, wine and beer, and music and arts scene, with a “snowballing effect.”

This is one reason we also have a comprehensive website called SierraCulture.com—to provide news, information and features about the foothills and Tahoe-Truckee to visitors and readers, who also happen to include curious food, wine and travel writers from big-city publications, such as Esquire, Sunset and metro daily newspapers.

Our website includes all of our magazine articles, daily blog posts, restaurant reviews, photographs, maps, directories, videos and other features—totaling thousands of pages—for free. It is optimized for search and includes Google adwords campaigns to boost visibility. Our content also is promoted at SacBee.com, our region’s largest news and entertainment website.

We also have invested in a mobile friendly website—m.SierraCulture.com—that is integrated with Trip Advisor and Open Table, a real-time restaurant reservation service. Our mobile website is promoted at VisitCalifornia.com, the state’s tourism website. We will be integrating other features in 2015, such as “Locu” for restaurant menus—all for free.

National publications, in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, increasingly find their readers are demanding “insider’s guides” to food, wine and travel in rural areas, not just big cities—and our website helps guide them.

When you “Google” words such as “visit Grass Valley,” “Nevada City wineries,” “Spice restaurant Truckee,” “Lefty’s Grill Nevada City,” and so on, our magazine’s content appears in the first few listings.

Though the information is gathered “hyper-locally,” it often winds up in a national publication, thanks to the “snowball effect” of the internet. We see this happen all the time.

Examples range from a BBQ bison burger at Burger Me! in Truckee (which would end up being chosen “Best Burger” by Esquire magazine); Spice Indian restaurant in Truckee (on Sunset magazine’s “Favorite New Restaurants” in 2014); Nevada City (named one of the “best small towns” by major publications, such as Outside magazine); and travel itineraries to Grass Valley, Nevada City, Auburn and Truckee (featured in metro dailies, such as the San Jose Mercury News).

To be sure, the national publications do their own legwork, but the “Snowball Express” often helps bring what’s new in our region to their attention. We predict the trend will accelerate in the New Year, providing an economic boost and raising our region’s visibility.

(Photo: Douglas Hooper)

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