As the Sun Valley Lodge enters the second phase of its remodel and prepares to close after Labor Day, little slices of Sun Valley’s history are being packaged up and put into storage. One such gem is a photo of an antelope.
Those who have walked down the administrative corridor in the Sun Valley Lodge basement may have spotted the photo of an antelope peering its head into the Sun Valley Inn camera shop where Tillie Arnold is working. The plaque beneath reads “Annie the Antelope.” It’s a fun, whimsical photo, and one I’d always wondered about. So, when Annie was carried off, I took the opportunity to discover her story.
Annie the Antelope was the very first Sun Valley pet. Orphaned in 1939 near Challis, she and her siblings were ferried over Trail Creek to Sun Valley Resort. Publicity pictures of movie stars bottle feeding baby antelope soon littered the country’s newspapers, and the status of Annie and her family as Sun Valley mascots was set in stone.
As they grew, the antelope were allowed to roam the grounds of the resort unfettered by fences. Annie quickly emerged as the leader, and was known for trailing her crew in and out of Ketchum saloons, usually after a long day of shopping in the stores of the Sun Valley Village.
Annie’s brother, Andy, also helped Leif Odmark and his 1952 Olympic ski team train, by acting as a pacemaker for the skiers.
“They were so cute. They´d wander the grounds and everyone would pet and love them,” longtime Sun Valley resident Clayton Stewart once said. “Annie even had her picture taken nose to nose with a Pyrenees guard dog.”
Annie’s favorite sport was to entice dogs to chase her and then delight in outracing them when she kicked into her natural super speed. She once entertained the entire Lodge terrace by running across the lawn trailing a pint-sized Scottie, hardly higher than her hoof, in hot pursuit.
Sadly, in February 1941, Annie and her son, Runt, were killed after they ran into a car on the Sun Valley-Ketchum highway. Annie was three years old at the time of her death, and probably America’s most famous antelope.