On October 16, Sun Valley will jump, jive and wail for five days as the annual Jazz Jamboree, and all the live music, dancing and fun that comes with it, swings into town. There is no cooler place to be!
Jazz Jamboree swings back into town next week for the 24th music-filled year
People travel to Jazz HQ at the Sun Valley Lodge from all over the country for one of the most highly anticipated festivals around. Why? To listen to the music of more than 40 bands; to watch 260 shows on ten stages; to dance the night away after learning all the moves; to see old friends and make new ones; to take advantage of this spectacular time of year in this one-of-a-kind place. The fun is non-stop as enthusiasts choose from live jazz, Dixieland, Swing, Zydeco, and the Blues all day and all night, at all types of venues.
40 bands, 260 acts, 10 stages ... enough said!
This 24th installment of the Jazz Jamboree story has some special events. Free dance lessons and an amateur dance competition will get everyone moving.Come out to check out the All Star Big Band Bashes, a Marching Band Salute, a Pianist Showcase, even a Jazz Worship service. For a full schedule of what is available, click HERE.
The party kicks off with a free event and the entire community is invited to come out and tap their toes. At 7 p.m. on October 15, Meschiya Lake & Dem Lil’ Big Horns will get things rolling with their supercharged take on New Orleans style jazz. Opening for Lake (who incidentally was honored Best Female Performer at the 2011 Big Easy Music Awards) and her band will be the Wood River High School Dixie Band. The action takes place at the indoor Sun Valley indoor ice rink that is converted into a fantastic jazz club, replete with a sprung dance floor, for the duration of the Jamboree.
A Next Generation concert, scheduled for October 19 at 5 p.m. in the Limelight Room includes my favorite act at the Jazz Jamboree – the Whiffenpoofs of Yale. This all-male A capella group, founded in 1909, consisting of 14 seniors, is the world’s oldest, and perhaps best know, collegiate A cappella group. Every year, I take my children to see the Whiffenpoofs’ concert and their music and style always carry me back 20-plus years to my undergraduate years in New Haven. My children remain impressed that the Whiffs still perform in tails and I love seeing formal wear in the middle of the Idaho mountains. Performing with the Whiffenpoofs at this free event are Bill, Shelley & Westy and high school choirs.
Whether your taste runs to funky New Orleans grooves, big band swing, rhythm and blues, traditional jazz, sousaphones, lyrical standards, big band or almost any other permeation of this always-evolving music, you will find something to love at the Jazz Jamboree.
The Whiffenpoofs of Yale entertain fans of all ages in style at the Jazz Jamboree
Sun Valley invites all jazz enthusiasts to take advantage of special room packages during the Jazz Jamboree. Call 208.622.2030 or email email@example.com for rates reserved for festival participants and stay and play right in the middle of the action.
The 55th Wagon Days parade takes place tomorrow, Saturday Aug. 31 at 1 p.m. In honor of the event, The Valley Sun’s guest blogger Jennifer Tuohy digs into the history behind the centerpiece of the parade, The Big Hitch, also known as the Lewis Ore Wagons, the only wagons of their kind in existence today.
The 2013 Wagon Days poster by Ketchum photographer Steve Snyder showcases the majestic beauty of the Lewis Ore Wagons. Click on the poster to purchase a copy.
On August 15, 1958, Katherine Lewis rode down Ketchum’s Main Street as the Queen of the very first Wagon Days Parade. It was her 85th birthday, and the town she had called home for seven decades was honoring her in a way only this town could. Behind her snaked a line of seven unique ore wagons that had been pulled out of storage especially in honor of Ketchum’s grande dame.
As Kate, as she was known, watched the giant wagons rumble through town for the first time in over a decade her thoughts likely travelled back through the years to the story behind this remarkable sight. A story that began, as many stories of the Wild West do, with the quest for gold.
In May of 1879, David Ketchum arrived in Idaho’s Wood River Valley searching for metallic treasures in its mountains. Although he discovered the first lead and silver deposits in the area, Ketchum left a few months later. But many came behind him, chasing the same dream, and on August 2, 1880, the town of Ketchum was born.
One of those who followed in Ketchum’s footsteps was Issac Lewis. But he didn’t come just to mine, he came to build a community. Hailing from Butte, Montana, Lewis was a banker and a businessman and – as many businessmen did in those days – he saw an opportunity to create a community out of this town of dusty mining tents and dirty miners. He quickly invested in real estate, opened the town’s first drug store, helped build the Gueyer Hot Springs Resort, purchased the weekly newspaper, and constructed the town’s first bank. In his own words he “virtually made the town.” The effort Issac put into building Ketchum is still visible in the form of the First National Bank building which still stands on Main Street.
Issac’s son, Horace, soon joined him from Montana, along with his wife, Katherine. They settled on the brand new Lewis Ranch, which extended from just east of what is now Spruce Avenue in Ketchum to the mouth of Trail Creek Canyon. Horace, looking out at the daunting mountains surrounding his new home, spied another investment opportunity for his family: transporting the lead and silver from the valleys beyond into the new railroad-town of Ketchum.
The Lewis Ore Wagons remain a centerpiece of the valley's history. Alongside Bald Mountain they are one of the most recognizable features of the former mining town of Ketchum. Photo courtesy Sun Valley Resort.
In 1884 he formed the Ketchum & Challis Toll Road company to construct a road over the precipitous Trail Creek Summit and built a chain of massive wagons known as the Ketchum Fast Freight Line. A testament to human engineering and masterful animal husbandry, these giant wagons carried between 18,000 and 24,000 pounds of ore along a road no wider than a wagon. They careened around hairpin turns and teetered along sheer ledges on giant six-foot wheels, covering 12 to 14 miles per day. Built to withstand the stresses of traversing the summit loaded with ore, the wagons were daisy chained together and powered by a team of draft mules, chosen for their temperament, strength and stamina. This awesome combination of metal, wood and beast was masterfully controlled by a unique craftsman, the mule skinner. Using a jerk-line, a rein approximately 100 feet long attached to each member of the team, the mule skinner controlled as many as 20 mules at a time through a series of distinct whips and jerks.
This video demonstrates the skill of the mule skinner, showing how each mule in the team of up to twenty, must be commanded to perform a different task. (Not displaying? Click here.)
At the height of the mining activity in the Wood River, Big Lost, and Salmon River valleys the Ketchum Fast Freight Line employed 700 mules and 30 wagons to haul 700,000 pounds of ore to the Philadelphia Smelter on Warm Springs Road annually. There it was turned from raw ore into precious metal and shipped down the Oregon Short Line railroad.
Between 1880 and 1885 approximately $12 million worth of lead and silver left the valley. By 1902, when rail service to Mackay and Challis arrived, the Ketchum Fast Freight Line became obsolete and in 1909 the wagons were retired for good. Two years later Horace passed away.
For a couple years, the wagons sat sadly in a barn on the Lewis Ranch. Then, in 1911, Horace’s widow, Katherine, sold the ranch to Ernest Brass, moving down the road to a house in town. Her home is also still standing, currently occupied by the Elephant’s Perch sporting goods shop.
Kate Lewis's moved into this home in Ketchum in 1911. It is now the Elephant's Perch sporting goods store. Photo from Google Maps.
Connoisseurs of the history of Sun Valley Resort will have already made the connection in this story. That ranch between Ketchum and Trail Creek, which Kate sold to the Brass family, had a grander future in store.
For the next 20 years Ernest Brass and his large family struggled to get by. In January 1936, after losing half his herd to an appetite for the poisonous purple larkspur, Brass met a handsome foreigner named Count Felix Schaffgotsch. Schaffgotsch was on a scouting mission for Averell Harriman, searching for the perfect spot at the end of a railroad track on which the president of Union Pacific Railroad could build a luxurious ski lodge. Brass Ranch was that spot. In April, Ernest Brass sold his 3,888 acres to Union Pacific for $39,000. That December the Sun Valley Lodge opened its doors. Among the names on the guest list for opening night was Katherine Lewis.
The wagons on the other hand, were not invited to the party. Mining had long since been replaced in the valley’s economy by sheep, who had no need for breakneck rides down mountain sides. These giant emblems of Ketchum’s past sat in a rapidly crumbling barn along what is now Sun Valley Road until 1925 when one of the valley’s last teamsters, Sam Sanders, brought them out for the Fourth of July parade, and then one more time in 1940 for the Sun Valley Rodeo. For the next 15 years the wagons were left silent and forgotten. Then, in 1958, the city of Ketchum was looking for a way to honor its founding mother Kate Lewis’ 85th birthday. What better way to do that than to resurrect the source of her family’s fortunes, the Lewis Ore Wagons, and parade them through town, in what became known as the first Wagon Days parade.
In October 1958, two months after riding triumphantly through Ketchum, Kate Lewis passed away. Her nephew Palmer G Lewis, donated the wagons to the city on the condition that they be displayed once a year to commemorate Idaho’s mining heritage, and so the annual event that is Wagon Days was born.
In 1985 the wagons were given their very own home, a museum designed and built especially to house them, and allow them to be on display year round. The city has kept its promise to the Lewis family, and trots out these massive symbols of American history annually (barring wildfire and city politics) for the grand finale to the Wagon Days Parade. Held Labor Day weekend, the event has extended into a 5 day festival celebrating the area’s heritage, but the Saturday parade at 1 p.m. is still the centerpiece, and the Lewis Ore Wagons’ hair-raising trip down Sun Valley Road and around the corner onto Main Street is still the highlight. If she could see what “her town” has become, and the smiles of joy the parade brings to the thousands who gather to watch the largest non-motorized parade in the West, Kate would be so very proud.
Preserving this unique and irreplaceable relic of history is a costly effort. As the Lewis Ore Wagons near their 130th birthday, the Wagon Days Committee is looking to raise $10,000 to help maintain the wagons through an indiegogo campaign. Donate to the campaign here.
For a full schedule of events this Wagon Days’ weekend go here. For a list of the 100 unique wagons from across the West participating in the 2013 Wagon Days’ parade click here.
DATES: Starts Tuesday June 25th runs through Labor Day Weekend
Tuesday through Saturday 5:30 – 6:30pm
Join a member of our guiding team and learn to fly cast, or brush up on that double haul technique. With our new location in Sun Valley, we are now able to offer nightly casting clinics to all who are curious or just a little rusty. We offer nightly sessions Tuesday through Saturday on the lawn in front of the Sun Valley Lodge from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Equipment will be provided, but feel free to bring your own.
Sun Valley is the perfect place to focus on mind, body and soul
For years, I considered my lengthy summer sojourns to Sun Valley an opportunity to regroup: to think, to get fit and healthy and to change up my normal routine for the better. In other words, I always thought of my time here as ‘Spa Sun Valley.’ While many of my friends paid exorbitant prices at wellness retreats so that they could work out, eat well and get a little synthesis for the soul, I did everything they were doing and more, in my normal day-to-day activities. From mineral hot springs, to breathtaking hikes, from spa treatments to fresh, healthy food, Sun Valley’s clean air, sunshine and gorgeous scenery provided the ultimate reboot, addressing mind, body and soul.
And that was without the benefit of attending the annual Sun Valley Wellness Festival. This event, chosen by Travel to Wellness as one of the Top 12 wellness vacations in the world, returns to the Resort from May 23 – 27. It is my version of ‘Spa Sun Valley’ taken up a few notches! Whether you are traveling 10, 100 or 1000 miles to attend Wellness Festival events, you are sure to experience an eye opening and habit-altering reboot.
Hiking in the area provides a fresh vantage point
“Sun Valley has always been a destination for health and wellness,” said Nick Maricich, Sun Valley Wellness Chairman. “Since Sun Valley’s opening in 1937, people have come from all over the world for healing experiences in this pristine alpine environment. Whether it is skiing, fishing, hiking, golfing, bike riding or simply watching the sun rise over the Pioneer Mountains, being in Sun Valley encourages an openness to new ideas, a re-centering and re-framing of priorities. It is the Sun Valley Wellness Institute’s mission to build on these experiences and to help Sun Valley get the recognition it deserves as one of the top destinations in the world for all aspects of health and wellness.”
Energy guru Amory Lovins is a featured speaker at the Wellness Festival
The Memorial weekend Wellness Festival is the epicenter for this goal. For the mind, the Festival brings some of the most prominent speakers from many fields to the Sun Valley Inn. This year, one of the predominant questions asked by organizers is: What does energy have to do with wellness? The answer? Everything! Keynote speakers on this topic are global energy leaders Amory Lovins and James Woolsey. Their talk, to be held at the Sun Valley Inn Continental Room on Saturday, May 25, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., focuses on energy present and energy future. According to Festival organizers, “energy underpins our planet’s health and our personal health, from enabling alleviation of suffering from poverty, to providing clean air, to helping to ensure our national security. Energy is perhaps our greatest challenge, but also our greatest opportunity.”
During a break from Wellness Festival activities, the bike path awaits
Another part of the complete wellness picture, focusing on health and the body, is the Hands-On-Hall. Free to the public, everyone is encouraged to stop by the Inn for massage, healing touch, energy work, Tarot card readings and Henna body art that is particularly popular with the younger set (children are welcome).
To address the spirit, 16 workshops will be offered throughout the weekend focusing on topics as diverse as ‘Attuning to the Unseen World,’ ‘New Beginnings,’ ‘The Four Pillars of Health’ and ‘An Introduction to the Human Design System.’ These workshops are intimate and guaranteed to engage participants on a truly meaningful level. Please click here for tickets for all lectures and workshops and further information.
Trailheads to wonderful hikes lie just across Sun Valley Road from the Lodge, and spread north, south, east and west. Bikes are for rent at Pete Lane’s, located in the Village, and a bike path is readily accessible. Between lectures, workshops and inspiration at the Festival, take time to breathe the mountain air and let the Sun Valley sun work its magic. Take a break beside the scenic swan pond and let everything you have heard and seen sink in. Chat with friends in the Lobby Lounge. Grab a healthy bite at one of the Resort’s many restaurants.
The Resort's two outdoor hot pools are a great way to naturally relieve stress
To enjoy the full benefit of a wellness retreat, book a room at the Lodge or Inn at a special rate of $120 a night (please call 1-800-786-8259 for details and reservations). As a guest of the Resort, enjoy ‘Spa Sun Valley’ at its finest – soak in the relaxing outdoor hot pools, book a fortifying body treatment at the Salon and Spa, indulge in healthy food and wonderfully comfortable beds. All the Festival offers will be moments away.
You don’t need to go far for a world-class wellness experience. It is all right here.
Now that the snow on the Valley floor has melted into ever greening patches of grass, spring is officially in the air! Small buds are appearing on branches, stalks of flowers are beginning to take an experimental sniff in the warming air and children are itching to be outside.
Nothing goes together like children and springtime in Sun Valley (photos courtesy of Lisa Dirksmeier)
The two-year-old class from Sun Valley’s Community SchoolEarly Childhood Center scratched that itch this week with a special field trip to the nearby Sun Valley Lodge and the iconic and always fascinating swan pond. A perpetually interesting, constantly evolving neighbor to the school, the Sun Valley Resort is often a destination for these preschoolers. For them, there is nothing better than communing with the ducks and swans and fish.
One lucky duck gets lunch courtesy of a little student at Sun Valley's swan pond
Teacher Lisa Dirksmeier said, “Sun Valley’s cornucopia of magical, extraordinary offerings are a vital part of our life.” One grandfather, along for the trip, likened the Resort to the “land of make believe” as the children took their time navigating the long pathways that meander around the Village. Frequent stops included discussion of the construction equipment being used to beautify the property, appreciation of figure skaters taking advantage of a warm day on Sun Valley’s outdoor ice and pausing to listen to chiming bells and music.
While getting there was more than half the fun, the children were thrilled to arrive at the pond which graces the entry to the Lodge. A hefty supply of bread, crackers and cereal supplied a feast for the ducks and fish, with a few handfuls reaching the children’s mouths, as well. The little ones chatted with the animals, encouraging them to come back, come back, come back!
A trip to the playground and a picnic lunch rounded out the adventure and left, for Lisa, indelible memories. “I hope the children, while they may not remember this exact trip, will recollect a time of pure, uncomplicated joy,” she said, “a time when traveling was light and easy, and friends, two red wagons, some breadcrumbs and a lunchbox was all that was needed to create a magical afternoon.”
What's good for the goose is good for the gander ...
Arguably the most famous movie star to shoot a film in Sun Valley, Marilyn Monroe is pictured here at the North Fork store just north of Sun Valley, where she filmed scenes for Bus Stop.
From standing in as the mountains of Europe to being celebrated as a character in its own right, Sun Valley’s role as a favorite Hollywood shooting location often had as much to do with the stars’ and producers’ wish to ski there as it did its suitability for filming. Following the opening in December 1936, a total of 32 Hollywood movies have been shot in and around Sun Valley. Over 300 have been shot across the great state of Idaho (for that list click here), but for the sake of my sanity I focused the following chronological list solely on Hollywood movies shot in Sun Valley and its surrounding mountains. I also chose to excluded TV specials (such as Lucy Goes to Sun Valley and Raquel Welch’s variety show), promotional videos, documentaries, and independent movies shot in the southern Wood River Valley. I also left out the unique genre of Ski Films, which is a whole blog in itself – for another day perhaps. The resulting list reflects the birth, intense early passion, slow burn phase, and eventual break up of Sun Valley’s relationship with Hollywood location scouts (Shredder? Really?). Hey Hollywood, maybe it’s time to make up and give it another shot? Jennifer Tuohy
1937 I Met Him in Paris Claudette Colbert, Robert Young, Melvyn Douglas. Dir: Wesley Ruggles The first Hollywood flick to be shot in the newly-christened Sun Valley-area was filmed at Baker Creek in the Smoky Mountains, where a Swiss village, complete with its own grand lodge, was created. Filming began as soon as Sun Valley Lodge opened, with the stars staying in Sun Valley and the crew finding lesser accommodations in the town of Ketchum. (For more on I Met Him In Paris’ Sun Valley connection click here.)
1939 Stanley and Livingston Spencer Tracey, Walter Brennan, Nancy Kelly, Richard Greene Dir: Henry King, Otto Brower The head of Twentieth Century Fox, Darryl F. Zanuck (also responsible for Sun Valley Serenade), was a frequent guest at Sun Valley. He arranged for the opening sequences of this movie to be shot in the Boulder Mountains just north of town.
1938 Everything Happens at Night Sonja Henie, Ray Milland, Robert Cummings Dir: Irving Cummings Scenic shots of the area were used in this Swiss-set comedy/drama. Ice-skating star Sonja Henie wasn’t to come to Sun Valley until her next Hollywood movie in 1941.
1940 The Mortal Storm Margaret Sullivan, James Stewart, Robert Yong Dir: Frank Borzage Sun Valley’s mountains stood in for those of Austria in this WWII film.
This clip featuring the signature song of the movie, “It Happened in Sun Valley,” and showcases Sun Valley Lodge in all its 1940s glory. (Video not displaying? Click here.) While the principle sets for the movie were filmed in Hollywood, the skiing and scenery was all Sun Valley, earning this crowd-pleasing flick almost daily showings at the Sun Valley Opera House, straight through to today.
1941 A Woman’s Face Joan Crawford, Melvyn Douglas Dir: George Cukor Sun Valley just provided the snow for this melodrama.
1942 Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood No. 3 Hedda Hopper, Anna Boettiger, Ronald Colman, Gary Cooper, Martha Gelhorn, Ernest Hemingway Dir: Herbert Moulton
“Newsreel-style accounts of the Hollywood Dog Training School where Carl Spitz trains stars’ pets and dogs for films; a hunting party in Idaho with Ernest Hemingway hosting Gary Cooper, Anna Boettiger, poet Christopher LaFarge, and others.”
1942 Northern Pursuit Errol Flynn, Julie Bishop, Helmut Dantine Dir: Raoul Walsh
“A Canadian Mountie of German descent feigns disaffection with his homeland in hopes of infiltrating and thwarting a Nazi sabotage plot.” The landscape around Sun Valley stands in for the Arctic. Watch the trailer here.
This trailer for Duchess showcases Sun Valley Lodge and a snippet of Connie Haines singing the praises of Idaho. (Video not playing? Click here.)
1949 Mrs. Mike Dick Powell, Evelyn Keyes, J.M. Kerrigan Dir: Louis King A Canadian Mountie marries a Boston-bred heiress, uniquely unprepared for the hardships of life in the Great White North. Mrs. Mike nonetheless perseveres through minor inconveniences and major tragedies. Based on a true story and a bestselling book. Sun Valley pretends to be the “Great White North” in this biopic.
1948 That Wonderful Urge Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, Reginald Gardiner Dir: Robert B. Sinclair
“When an heiress finds out that the friendly young man she’s met at Sun Valley is really an investigative reporter, she ruins his career by falsely claiming they’re married.” Another Darryl F. Zanuck movie, shot in his favorite ski locale.
1952 The Wild North Stewart Granger, Wendell Corey, Cyd Charisse Dir: Andrew Marton Filmed in the Boulder Mountains, along Trail Creek and on Galena Summit.
1952 The Big Sky Kirk Douglas, Dewey Martin, Elizabeth Threatt Dir: Howard Hawks
Rock Hudson, Marcia Henderson, Steve Cochran Dir: Joseph Pevney
“In a small village in the icy wilderness of Alaska Captain Peter Keith has to defend himself against two especially mean villains, who are after his wife Dolores and a boatload of precious hides.” Background shooting took place in the mountains around Sun Valley.
1955 The Tall Men Clark Gable, Jane Russell, Robert Ryan Dir: Raoul Walsh Once again, Sun Valley provided the scenic snow shots for this flick.
1955 Storm Fear Jean Wallace, Cornel Wilde, Dan Duryea Dir: Cornel Wilde The movie was shot on location in Sun Valley.
1956 The Miracle of Todd-AO “A short film demonstrating the new 70mm widescreen Todd-AO system. After a prologue that shows all that the eye can see through the Todd-AO wide angle lens, we take a ride in a roller-coaster, fly over the canyons of the Grand Teton Mountains, ski in Sun Valley, and follow a motorcycle chase through the San Francisco.” Catch scenic shots of the Sawtooths and the Wood River Valley in this clip.
1956 Bus Stop Marilyn Monroe, Don Murray, Arthur O’Connell Dir: Joshua Logan “A naive but stubborn cowboy falls in love with a saloon singer and tries to take her away against her will to get married and live on his ranch in Montana.” The scenes of the couple stranded at a bus stop in a blizzard were shot at the North Fork store, north of Sun Valley, which still stands. Watch the trailer here.
1957 Ten North Frederick Gary Cooper, Diane Varsi, Suzy Parker Dir: Philip Dunne Location shots only for Sun Valley in this Cooper vehicle.
1965 Ski Party Frankie Avalon, Dwayne Hickman, Deborah Walley Dir: Alan Rafkin
Great shots of Baldy and Dollar mountains to be found in the trailer for this raucous ski flick. (Click here for the video.)
1977 The Deadly Triangle (TV movie) Dale Robinette, Taylor Lacher, Geoffrey Lewis Dir: Charles S. Dubin
“A former Olympic ski champion, now the sheriff of a ski-resort town, investigates the murder of the member of a skiing team that came to the resort to train.” Filmed entirely in Sun Valley.
1978 Crisis in Sun Valley (TV movie) Dale Robinette, Taylor Lacher, Bo Hopkins Dir: Paul Stanley
“Semi-follow up to “The Deadly Triangle” dealing with a sheriff and his deputy in a sleepy ski town involved with a group of urbanites planning a dangerous mountain climb as well as investigating sabotage in a condominium development.” Filmed entirely in Sun Valley
1980 Swan Song (TV movie) David Soul, Bo Brundin, Jill Eikenberry Dir: Jerry London
“A champion skier who pulled out of the Olympic games because of a mysterious illness decides to make a comeback.”
1980 Powder Heads David Ferry, Catherine Mary Stewart, William Samples Dir: John Anderson, Michael French
Filmed in Sun Valley, Edmonton and Jasper.
1985 Pale Rider Clint Eastwood, Michael Moriarty, Carrie Snodgress Dir: Clint Eastwood
Pale Rider revived the both classic Western and Hollywood’s romance with the majestic mountains surrounding Sun Valley. The film crew constructed an entire mining village in the Boulder Mountains, and the opening credits capture the drama of the Sawtooth Mountains. (Video not displaying? Click here)
2001 Hemingway, The Hunter of Death Albert Finney, Paul Guilfoyle, Fele Martinez Dir: Sergio Dow
“During the Kenyan struggle for independence from the British in the late 1950′s, a scientific safari led by Ernest Hemingway undertakes the ascent of Mount Kenya.” Filmed on location in Sun Valley and Kenya.
2001 Town & Country Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Nastassja Kinski Dir: Peter Chelsom The last big budget movie to be made in Sun Valley provides plenty of glimpses of town and slopes. Unfortunately, when the crews arrived there was no snow on the ground and several scenes were filmed with manmade snow. As luck would have it, a foot of the real white stuff arrived the next day, so some of the scenes were re-shot using the “natural” background. But the movie was cursed with bad luck from the get-go and went on to be one of the biggest box office disasters of all time.
2003 Shredder Scott Weinger, Lindsey McKeon, Juleach Weikel Dir: Greg Hudson The Tamarack Lodge on Sun Valley Road in Ketchum provides some interior scenes in this ski horror flick set in Kellog, Idaho.
Read the first post in the Sun Valley Movie History series “The Hollywood Connection” here. Coming next, a look at Sun Valley’s Hollywood Godfather, David O. Selznick.
This week the second annual Sun Valley Film Festival comes to town. In honor of the event and the enduring bond between Hollywood and Sun Valley it represents, The Valley Sun blog is running a series of movie history posts by guest blogger Jennifer Tuohy. For more on the festival, which runs March 14 through March 17, visit sunvalleyfilmfestival.org.
Gary Cooper and Claudette Colbert chat on the slopes of Sun Valley in the early '50s. The two were among the celebrities to visit Sun Valley in its opening season and, like many of their contemporaries, returned year after year to their favorite ski resort.
At 11 o’clock on a chilly Wednesday morning, a slender figure clad in a long camel hair coat dashed across the platform of Los Angeles’s Central Station and slipped onto the waiting train. Hidden beneath a ski cap, the irresistible eyes of Hollywood’s most famous leading lady, Greta Garbo, smiled mockingly back at the waiting photographers and newsmen, whom she had manage to evade.
It was December 30th, 1936, and the train was filled to overflowing with Hollywood’s elite on their way to ring in the New Year at a glamorous new winter wonderland nestled in the heart of Central Idaho. Once inside the special Union Pacific train, Ms. Garbo took her seat alongside the assembly of glittering stars and powerful men, including film noir femme fatale Joan Bennett, swashbuckler Errol Flynn, America’s sweetheart Claudette Colbert, Hitchcock heroine Madeleine Carroll, Gone with the Wind producer David O. Selznick and celebrated director George Cukor. As the “Sun Valley Special” pulled out of LA, beginning its 20-plus hour trek to the tiny town of Shoshone, Idaho, the passengers’ eventual destination was placed firmly on the map, and the special relationship between Hollywood and Sun Valley, America’s first destination ski resort, was born.
Of course, it was not by happy accident that this galaxy of stars had aligned itself to travel in style for a taste of America’s newest passion, skiing. It was the result of months of schmoozing and networking by three men, Averell Harriman, chairman of the Union Pacific Railroad company and founder of Sun Valley; Steve Hannagan, the larger-than-life publicity guru who sweetened the deal by promising stars they could write off their snowy vacation on their taxes if they posed for his photographers; and Count Felix Schaffgotsch, the charming Austrian nobleman who had found for Harriman a “St. Moritz in the Rockies.”
Although Sun Valley was originally envisioned by Harriman as a modest ski lodge for him and his wealthy East Coast buddies, the savvy Hannagan already had a handle on the power of celebrity. Having introduced the idea of the bathing beauty to the world with his enormously successful promotion of Miami Beach, America’s other destination vacation spot, Hannagan knew how important pretty pictures of celebrities cavorting on the slopes would be to the success of Sun Valley. So he convinced Harriman to tap his somewhat limited Hollywood connections to drum up interest in Sun Valley along the glamour-filled West Coast. Harriman sent his golden boy, Count Felix, off to California with specific instructions to gather as many celebrity bookings as possible.
“I am hopeful that we can get a big crowd from Hollywood,” Harriman said to Schaffgotsch on October 29, “and the kind that we want, if you are able to contact them and tell them the story in the vivid and enthusiastic way that you do.” Just a few days earlier he had dispatched letters to his connections, including Selznick, actor Gary Cooper and Hollywood heavy-hitters Samuel Goldwyn, Merian Cooper (King Kong producer), and Lewis Milestone (Oscar-winning director of All Quiet on the Western Front), in which he introduced the “Austrian boy who discovered Sun Valley,” and asked if they would “put him in touch with a few people who might be interested in hearing about [SunValley].”
Count Felix Schaffgotsch escorts actress Madeleine Carroll into the lodge in January 1937. At Harriman's request, the Count spent a week in Hollywood before the resort's opening charming stars and directors into booking rooms at Sun Valley.
Arriving in Los Angeles on a Friday night in November, the handsome Count proceeded to charm the pants off Hollywood society, securing large reservations from Selznick, Goldwyn and Cooper, as well as Paramount star Paulette Goddard and Charlie Chaplin, among others. However, it was a chance conversation that planted the seeds for another, now deep-rooted connection between Sun Valley and the world of filmmaking.
On November 20th, 1936, after a long week of schmoozing starlets and chatting-up producers, Schaffgotsch sat down at the desk of his Beverly Wilshire hotel room to relay his successes to Harriman. Alongside the list of celebrity bookings, he described a conversation from that day with some Paramount executives. “They want to shoot a picture under the name of St. Moritz,” he wrote. “It was supposed to be taken in Lake Placid. But as it stands now, I have the feeling they will do it in Ketchum … It certainly would be excellent publicity if the first American snow picture will be done there, the title of St. Moritz is not definite yet, and it would be a good breack[sic], if they would change it to Sun Valley.”
While a name change was in the picture’s future it was not in Sun Valley’s favor and Idaho’s mountains merely stood in for their Swiss counterparts. Indeed, the movie’s eventual name, I Met Him in Paris, so detracted from its shooting locale that many erroneously believe Sun Valley Serenade to be the area’s first claim to movie-making fame. While Serenade, shot in 1941, certainly put the resort on the map, its star, Norwegian figure skater Sonja Heine, never actually shot a scene there, due to something familiar to many Sun Valliants – un-cooperative skies.
I Met Him in Paris was a moderately successful, lighthearted romantic comedy directed by Wesley Ruggles; today its biggest claim to fame is ironically its shooting location. As soon as the Paramount scouts arrived in Ketchum one a sunny December day, they fell in love with the place. “Paramount location men I talked to in Hollywood have arrived with others yesterday,” Schaffgotsch reported to Harriman on December 8, 1936. “They are crazy about the place. Producer Ruggles coming today; it is very likely picture will be turned here during January.”
The picture’s star, Claudette Colbert, was duly dispatched to the grand opening of Sun Valley Lodge on December 21, and, when she returned a few weeks later to “turn” the film, the friends she subsequently made cemented a long-lasting relationship between the actress and Sun Valley. I Met Him In Paris was actually filmed seven miles up the road from the lodge on land owned by a local silver prospector, 28 year-old Gus Anderson (Anderson appears in the movie as a skating waiter who serves Colbert a drink). The production crew built an entire Tyrolean village set on his Baker Creek property, complete with a Swiss-style lodge with overhanging eaves and carved balustrades, a little church and a skating rink with an ice-bar. After filming was complete the Andersons moved into the lodge, which today stands on the west side of the southern end of Ketchum’s Main Street.
A postcard of The Challenger Inn, modeled on the sets built for the first movie to be shot in Sun Valley, Caludette Colbert's I Met Him In Paris.
The other legacy the movie left behind however, is far grander. During the filming Harriman was contemplating the building of a second hotel at Sun Valley. He instructed Gilbert Stanley Underwood, the architects of Sun Valley Lodge, to draw up some sketches but was disappointed with the results (it looked exactly like the hotel he already had). As soon as he saw the elaborate Swiss village at Baker Creek he knew he’d found his new hotel. He asked the movie’s art director, Ernst Fegte, to come up with a design for a hotel. He complied, producing a series of sketches depicting an idyllic Tyrolean village perfectly evoking the Austrian ski towns Sun Valley was modeled on. Harriman was delighted and demanded the sketches come to life. This proved to be slightly tricky however, as Fegte was far from a trained architect. But with some tweaking the Challenger Inn was born. Now called the Sun Valley Inn, the hotel boasts a variety of different facades, giving the illusion of a classic Austrian village street when inside it is all one building – lending a touch of Hollywood magic to the heart of Sun Valley.
Meet Roger Lloyd, one of Sun Valley's most charming ambassadors
With the busy Presidents’ week holiday right around the corner, Sun Valley Resort is expecting many guests from all over the country and world, arriving to enjoy this season’s amazing skiing and boarding, world renown cross-country, restaurants, shopping and nightlife. The first impression many visitors will get of this magical area is from Roger Lloyd of the Resort’s Guest Services. By the time guests have traveled the 20 minutes from the airport to the Sun Valley Lodge, a true insiders’ look at what makes this area so special will be theirs.
“I love that short drive to Sun Valley,” Roger smiled his signature wide smile. “It’s my opportunity to introduce everyone to Idaho, to Sun Valley. I chat with our guests about everything from recreational opportunities to the Lewis and Clark expedition.” He laughed, “I am full of interesting facts.”
There is almost no one who has come by his interesting facts more honestly than Roger. As a 35-year veteran with the Sun Valley Company, and a 42-year resident of the Wood River Valley, his jobs have included everything from helping to build Baldy and Dollar’s high speed quad chairlifts to lift maintenance to guest services. With brothers Jimmy and Mike (who is director of Sun Valley’s Ski Patrol), the Lloyd brothers boast 100 years with the company.
When Roger Lloyd picks you up at the airport, getting here is half the fun
Even once the airport shuttle pulls into the Lodge porte-cochèreand guests embark on what is sure to be a memorable vacation, Roger is always around to help answer questions, make recommendations and simply check in on how things are going. “I love it when people approach me in the Lodge lobby or around the resort and have questions,” he said. “Whenever possible, I also like to walk our guests to their rooms after they check in, so we can keep the conversation going and I can ensure that everything is to their liking.”
The great snow this year is making Roger’s job easy, according to him. “There are so many exciting things going on in Sun Valley right now. From the snow sports, to all the new menu choices at our Resort restaurants and the mountain day lodges, to the culture, shopping and entertainment, I am having no trouble at all recommending activities that I know will be well received. Ketchum and Hailey are hopping, too. It’s a great season here.”
When you arrive in Sun Valley, make sure to keep an eye out for Roger. He is one of the area’s greatest ambassadors.
“Whether it’s one of the movers and shakers in town for the Allen & Company conference each summer, a family that is bringing the third generation to Sun Valley, or a first-time visitor, we value each and every guest that comes through our doors and are thrilled to share our history, traditions and community with them,” Roger said.
And his favorite part of his job? “When a guest asks me to recommend a local realtor,” he laughed. “Then I know they will be coming back. And coming back. And coming back.”
Backstage at the Christmas Eve Ice Show, party scene girls are ready for their spotlight
It’s hard to remember the exact year, but two or three holidays ago, while I helped backstage at the highly anticipated Christmas Eve Ice Show, it started to snow. The grand production was well underway and dozens of talented skaters spun and leaped around Sun Valley’s famous outdoor ice rink (the largest year-round outdoor rink in the world). Spotlights captured the falling snowflakes as they began to land on the skater’s lashes and vintage costumes, on the hats and scarves of the full-to-capacity audience. Quickly, the pace of the storm increased, and thick, heavy flakes, that looked like they might have been created in Hollywood (cue the snow), began to fall in earnest. The skaters were veiled in the snowy mist, their jeweled dresses sparkled in the lights, skate blades cut through the accumulating powder. It had been a light early snow season that year and this gift on Christmas Eve was on everyone’s wish list.
Members of the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club practice until it's perfect
The Nutcracker on Ice is a tradition that always has an element of magic, whether it comes in the form of snowfall, the appearance of an Olympian among the local skaters, a shooting star streaming across a crisp Idaho holiday sky. It is a tradition that my family has embraced now for six years. As the mother of two figure skaters (and their little brother who always got the role of a mouse because I needed them all in the same place), I have enjoyed the pleasure of a behind-the-scenes perspective on this show – a favorite of guests and locals alike. When the girls were little, I volunteered backstage, as the “quick-change” helper. This meant I was supposed to assist the skaters out of one costume and into another for the next scene. Allow me to tell you, though, there is nothing “quick” about changing little girls who are in ice skates out of their party scene dresses and into a candy cane costume, but these nights were filled with camaraderie, high excitement and a great deal of fun.
Local skaters practicing with their props
Two years ago, I moved out of my role of backstage mom and watched the production in full for the first time. Seated shoulder-to-shoulder with the entire Wood River Valley and guests from all over the country and the world, I happily sipped cocoa, waved to friends and was amazed by the skaters I see every day performing the charming choreography professionally and flawlessly. They practice a lot and it shows. When the Sun Valley Carolers arrived by sleigh, setting the performance in motion, the large crowd collectively inhaled before bursting into appreciative applause.
From this vantage point in the bleachers (which are unreserved and first-come, first-served for this show), I was again able to enjoy the traditional torchlight parade featuring ski school instructors, torches held aloft, navigating the face of Dollar Mountain. As far back as 1987, my family drove up a nearby hill and watched this stunning parade of fire before we went home to open gifts. Oh, and did I mention the fireworks that follow? Spectacular! As much as I liked being in the skate house, taking in the entire experience from the vantage point of the audience was magical, indeed.
The children's cast for this Monday's performance
The Christmas Eve Ice Show is something that all members of the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club and local skating community look forward to each year as much as the audience does. As the children grow, so do their parts and responsibilities. My little girls of six years ago are now the big girls, helping the little ones navigate their first ice show. The show’s choreographer, Gia Guddat said she loves to watch the skaters grow from party scene girls, to Candyland sweets, to snow angels. And everyone involved enjoys performing for the huge audience, giving this gift to the community.
At 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the place to be in Sun Valley is on the Lodge Terrace enjoying cocoa and a snack, then onto the bleachers (bring a blanket to sit on and bundle up) to enjoy the sights and sounds of a Sun Valley Christmas on Ice. The show is sure to become a tradition for your family, too.
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!
My daughter's smile says it all at the end of last year's show. It is a wonderful night