Community June 6, 2014

Sun Valley Magazine Through the Decades


The 1970s were far out, groovy and downright dyn-o-mite! They were also a bit of a drag and somewhat turbulent. The decade began with a war in Vietnam and ended with a hostage crisis in Iran. Earth Day and the Clean Air and Water Acts were created. Bell-bottoms and Sun Valley fan Diane Von Furstenberg’s “wrap dresses” ruled the fashion world. Disco dominated the airwaves and Woodsy Owl reminded us “To give a hoot. Don’t pollute!”

 // June 1975

As man evolves, so do his bicycles! Growing from the comfortable balloon-tire bikes (or what we now call “cruisers”) to sophisticated 3-speeds, then graduating to the more complicated 10-speeds and the original hardtail mountain bikes, ever since the power of pedaling began to really catch on locally in the 1970s, we’ve found ourselves having to rework our anatomy, as well as our vernacular, to accommodate new trends in cycling. Desensitized derrieres and the complex brake and derailleur systems became necessities to summit Galena or Trail Creek, but the beauty and joy of cycling around the Wood River Valley won’t be denied. The best time to ride remains the same; evenings, when the winds die down and the Valley settles in after another epic summer day.


Tennis Anyone? // 
September 1974

Paul Wilkins turned his small school of students into one of the largest tennis facilities in the world. The Sun Valley Tennis School opens offering the “Wilkins Way” of instruction, along with closed-circuit televisions, videotape replay, eight pitching machines and a stocked pro shop. Sun Valley’s stunning mountains offered a picturesque landscape to hold the camp, bringing in students as much for the lessons as for the vacation. The new development of the Wildflower condominiums offered scenic views of the courts as well as of Dollar and Bald Mountains. Bi-weekly tournaments, tennis exhibitions and movie screenings kept the camp booked solid.


Pow Wow Power
 // July 1975

Native Americans from across the West arrive in Sun Valley for the 27th Annual Shoshone Indian Shoot, a trap and skeet shooting competition and Pow Wow. The two-day event included a salute to departed braves, the Sun Dance Singles competition (100 shots at 16-yard targets) and a closing ceremony and supper at Trail Creek Cabin. The air around Sun Valley was filled with the beats of rhythmical drumming, smoke from peace pipes, and intonations from the High Chief and Council, all of whom were adorned in traditional Native American attire.



Dorothy Hamill is in the House! // August 1976

Olympic gold medalist Dorothy Hamill returns to Sun Valley to shoot a commercial for the hair care product, Clairol. Peggy Fleming, another Olympic gold medalist, headlines the Fourth of July ice show, flocked by national and international ice skating stars. (Earlier this year, the patriarch of Sun Valley’s skating scene, famed barrel jumper and Sun Valley Figure Skating Club founder, Herman Maricich, passed away at the age of 90.)




Arts and Crafts Festival
 // September 1974

The Sun Valley Center for the Arts puts on their first invitational annual Arts and Crafts Festival on the green of the Sun Valley Opera House. Sixty-seven artists of diverse media were invited from around the country to participate in the event, which included a number of awards for the artists. Notable award-winning locals included Barry Peterson for jewelry and Jan Lasseter for pen and ink design. The weekend sales grossed $10,500, 25% of which the artists donated back to the center. Mary Rolland takes responsibility for organizing the festival, laying down the foundation for an event that continues to be a substantial fundraiser for the Center. In 2013, the festival featured 130 artists, with overall sales reaching $487,000.






The 1980s were electric, rad, righteous and, like, totally tubular! Michael Jackson moonwalked, Ronald Reagan ruled the roost and Madonna lost her virginity (again). There was a new “Brat Pack” and the harsh realities of an AIDS epidemic. Mount St. Helens erupted. Cabbage Patch Kids and Atari dominated sales. People drove DeLoreans and Yugos and Halley’s Comet passed over the Wood River Valley.

Sailing Around the Sawtooths // 
Summer/Fall 1982

Originally invented in the late ’60s and first brought to the Gem State in the mid-’70s, windsurfing was booming both locally and nationally in the early ’80s. There were nearly as many registered sailboards in the Wood River Valley (around 100) as there were in Boise! Windsurfing was the fastest growing sport in the country and there were no better places to watch its burgeoning popularity than windy days on Magic Reservoir and the lakes of the Sawtooth Valley.

Pioneer Families // 
Summer 1985

Sun Valley Mag shines the spotlight on the families who helped make the Wood River Valley the magical place it is. From the sheepherding Breckenridge family, who spent the 20th century moving sheep over Galena Summit, to the Brass clan, whose potato fields were to become the future site of Sun Valley Lodge, to the Werry family, who purchased the Casino Club in 1936 and ensured that its authentic Idaho charm never faded away (The Casino’s original, hand-hewn wooden logs harvested from Bald Mountain still welcome guests!) to Roberta McKercher, Hailey’s unofficial matriarch, who dedicated her life to the betterment of the town and its events.

High Fashion in the ’80s
 // Summer 1986

The ’80s were a time for bold fashions, and Ketchum was no stranger to the latest trends. Local boutiques such as Panache and Alain Manoukian carried all the hottest designers to keep our natives fashion forward. The Kitzbuhel Collection offered its classic Tyrolean couture, while Silver Creek Outfitters offered brightly-colored synchilla alongside its expansive selection of hunting and fly fishing goods. Whether it was a casual Tahitian ensemble for Jazz on the Green or a more authentic deerskin Indian poncho to evoke the native spirit, the people of Sun Valley have always dressed to impress for every occasion.

Flood of ’83
 // Summer 1983

May of 1983 saw the Big Wood River record its highest water levels since the initiation of record keeping in 1915. Temperatures for the month soared upwards of 80°, causing an acceleration of snow runoff to propel levels well over the flood stage, reaching 7.95-feet above average on May 31. Residents of the South Valley were even able to kayak around their property as floodwaters surged. Basements were flooded while chunks of the landscape were swept downstream. On Warm Springs, the base of Baldy dealt with its own flood problems when the original ticket booth became an island surrounded by the raging runoff.


Mountain Biking
 // Summer 1983

Off-road cycling takes off in and around Sun Valley. Gone are the days of 10-speed lightweight bike domination. Beefy frames made to withstand the mountainous conditions that abound in the area rise up and riding the endless miles of dirt trails and roads becomes the rage. Once more people are reprogramming their bodies for their sport. The mountain bike movement allows for an upright position while riding and offers greater stability from a heavier frame, making this new style of cycling ideal for both mountain and town alike. The mountain bike starts to dominate the Sun Valley market, becoming the summer answer to cross-country and backcountry skiing.

Teeing Off in Sun Valley // 
Summer 1989

Sun Valley’s four top-notch golf courses drive in duffers and skilled strikers by the score. The luxury offered from all four courses was unrivaled at the time and all are within walking distance of Ketchum. The variety between the Warm Springs, Sun Valley, Elkhorn and Bigwood courses allowed golfers to experience varying levels of difficulty, and greens fee deals were as low as $10 a round. The devoted golfer could even tee off at all four in one day, driving the greens well into the Valley’s famously long summer days.





The 1990s were da bomb, they were fly, they were all that and a bag of chips! Nelson Mandela was freed. Al Gore “invented” the Internet and Bill Clinton smoked his political competition. Pixar reinvented animated films, Forrest Gump kept running, and grunge rock and gangsta rap ruled the airwaves, while Michael Jordan and his sneakers dominated the sports world. Jennifer Aniston’s hairdo and the Wonderbra were all the rage and the mountain biking boom took over Sun Valley.

A Community's Library
 // Summer 1990

In 1955, 17 women from Ketchum, Sun Valley and Triumph gathered in a local home with the intent of forming a privately funded, free public library. With only $17 and a tall dream, the women set out on their ambitious endeavor to benefit the community. Vowing not to take any loans with interest, the organization raised funds through a small thrift store, as well as fashion shows, bridge parties, and garden sales. Within the first four months, they opened a thrift store on Walnut Avenue in Ketchum, the beloved Gold Mine. In 1977, The Community Library underwent a massive expansion; breaking ground for the building that it still occupies to this day. By 1990, the 17 original founders of the library had been joined by 8,398 card-carrying members.


The Idaho Kid
 // Summer/Fall 1996

On October 31, 1885, The Wood River Times announced the birth of a “bouncing baby boy” named Ezra Pound. The Pound family left the bustling mining town of Hailey shortly thereafter for the East Coast, but Pound never lost his Idaho heritage. He would go on to become a world-famous poet and help lead the expatriate literary movement to Europe where he would befriend and mentor other prominent authors such as James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Coinciding with Pound’s motto of “Make it new,” he established two literary movements: the ideogrammic method of imagism as well as vorticism, a combination of cubism and futurism. Though Pound never returned to his birthplace, he often claimed his heritage, referring to himself as the “Idaho kid.”


Skate Mania // 
Summer/Fall 1998

Ketchum’s Skatepark is the place to be for young boarders, as well as roller-bladers and BMXers. The park, built on city land across from the Presbyterian Church, is maintained by the hundreds of participants who ride it daily. Local snowboard instructor and coach Andy Gilbert deserves most of the credit for the park’s creation. With skateboarders starting to take a bad rap locally, Gilbert organized a proposal for the Ketchum City Council to build a place for both local kids and visiting skateboarders to come together and be part of a community of skaters. Resources donated by local business owners and citizens helped to create the park, as well as an annual street fair—held across from the Board Bin—which raises funds for maintenance and additional features.

Saving Silver Creek
 // Summer/Fall 1994

“You’ll love it here … there’s a stream called Silver Creek,” Ernest Hemingway wrote to his then-17-year-old son, Jack. “Saw more big trout rising than have ever seen … We’ll fish it together next spring.” That would be Jack Hemingway’s first fishing trip to Silver Creek and would start a lifelong affair with the spring creek. “It was everything I thought it would be, except I couldn’t catch the trout,” he recalled. In 1976, Jack would team up with The Nature Conservancy to help preserve 480 acres around the fishery. By 1994, Silver Creek Preserve owned 825 acres, with 4,436 acres under conservation easements, and was attracting thousands of anglers annually from “Japan, France, Germany and every state in the nation,” according to longtime local guide Scott Schnebly.



Papa Hemingway // 
Summer/Fall 1999

1999 marks the centennial anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s birthday, and the Valley reflects on itself as the author’s favorite place,  “where,” he wrote, “a man can write and people will leave me alone.” Initially arriving in Sun Valley to write in solitude and to hunt and fish, it became the place where Hemingway would pen numerous novels and, tragically, take his own life in 1961. In an effort to diminish any potential traffic to his secluded hideaway, Hemingway noticeably neglected using the area as a setting for any of his novels. In the late ’40s, Hemingway would write in the mornings and hike the North Fork or Eagle Creek or hunt along Silver Creek in the afternoons. With the rise in popularity of the resort, he went on a 10-year hiatus before once more returning to Ketchum to work on “A Movable Feast.” Since his untimely death, the Wood River Valley has become a mecca for Hemingway enthusiasts, becoming the site for the 1996 Hemingway Society’s International Conference as well as a popular destination for his legion of fans.



Salmon River Revival
 // Summer/Fall 2011

The Northern Shoshoni refer to the Salmon River country as “Tom Agit Pha,” or Big Fish Water, and for good reason. The Pacific Ocean lies 900 miles from the headwaters of the Salmon River and every year steelhead make the cyclical journey from river to sea and back again, but they aren’t the only ones to make this incredible journey. From the original inhabitants like the Shoshoni and the Nez Perce Indians to the expedition by Lewis and Clark and countless whitewater rafting enthusiasts over the decades, the Salmon River has seen a large number of various explorers. In more modern times, the Smith family chartered revolutionary jet boats up and down the river, which overcame the popular nickname of “The River of No Return” and allowed state Senator Frank Church to experience the river and its famous Middle Fork section, which eventually led to establishing the 2.36-million-acre River of No Return Wilderness Area.


Fire in the Mountains
 // Summer/Fall 2002

Author Rick Slone hypothesizes the future danger of fires in the Wood River Valley. Slone depicts a scenario that would lead firefighters on an 18,000-acre chase down Indian Creek and up into Ohio Gulch and threaten the whole Valley. Slone’s predictions have proven to be fairly prophetic. The 2007 Castle Rock Fire burned over 48,000 acres, causing residents in Ketchum to evacuate and even threatened Bald Mountain. More than 1,600 firefighters worked tirelessly to control the fire, containing it after a 20-day fight. The Valley was rattled again by wildfire during last summer’s massive Beaver Creek Fire, which claimed almost 112,000 acres of the Sawtooth National Forest and was the nation’s #1 fire priority for several days.



Ranch Women // 
Summer/Fall 2002

“Know your land, and you will know yourself,” said Lyn DeNaeyer-Messers, a born-and-bred Idaho ranch woman. For women, life on the ranch is just as tough as—if not harder than—it is for the men. Everything is shared in this lifestyle. From rounding up cattle, cutting hay and feeding livestock, to birthing calves, no one is left behind. The most important job any ranch woman can take on is being in the know. Knowing how new tax laws will affect property taxes and their children’s birthrights, knowing about conservation easements, recreational diversification, exit plans and market demands. She is equal parts ranch-hand and businesswoman, living in a mostly solitary expanse of sagebrush and ridgelines. For most, the idea of it being a “man’s world” is nothing but a myth, as ranch women rope, ride and castrate calves alongside their male counterparts.



Wild Horses
 // Winter/Spring 2007

Horses have been a part of the American landscape for nearly 60 million years. Wild horses in the West interact in complex social structures, resembling tight-knit family units. Being nomadic, the horses have a truly symbiotic life with the planet, grazing to prevent overgrowth and then fertilizing as they roam. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is tasked with keeping the number of nomads healthy and controlled and performs an annual aerial census. When deemed necessary, a “gather” is held to round up the excess horses, bringing them to BLM facilities. From there, horses are either adopted, released back to the wild elsewhere, sent to sanctuaries or remain in BLM possession. 


Go Climb a Rock! // 
Summer/Fall 2006

Idaho offers a range of diverse rock formations, making it a destination climbing area. Much of the popularity of the sport comes from its noncompetitive nature, offering experiences for people of all ages and abilities. Climbing’s allure also lies in its benefits for mental clarification, requiring a mind free of all outside influences and utmost focus on the task at hand. Sites such as the City of Rocks, the Elephant’s Perch and spelunking in local lava caves rank high among world-class climbers. “The City” is now a National Historic Landmark with monolithic rocks that have been shaped over 25 million years.






This article appears in the Summer 2014 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.