Long wooden skis–cumbersome planks up to 12 feet long, with leather
straps to hold boots–were a typical sight in snowy Sierra mining camps
during the gold rush. Since then, wood and leather have given way to
lightweight fiberglass and plastics.
To appreciate current ski gear and conditions, take a break from
the slopes and visit the Auburn Ski Club’s Western America SkiSport
Museum. Built in 1969 and recently expanded to 6,500 square feet, it
houses a large collection of skis, boots, clothing, photographs, and
other memorabilia from the early California gold camps to the latest
Unique to the museum is a collection of ski films dating back to
1919. You can ask to see any of them in the theater. New this winter
are displays of medals, ski gear, pictures, and historic accounts of the
10th Mountain Division–American soldiers who fought on skis in World
War II–and the U.S. Ski Team.
The museum is 20 miles northwest of Lake Tahoe; from I-80, take the
Boreal Ridge ski area exit. Admission is free. November through May,
hours are noon to 4 Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 to 5 weekends. For
hours the rest of the year, call (916) 426-3313.