Tahoe Nugget #51:
Stars Shine on Sky Tavern
Skiers, snow boarders, and commuters on the Mount Rose Highway zip past it everyday without a clue, blind to the legacy of the Sky Tavern ski area. Few of them are aware that the "Tavern" represents the best of
what skiing, winter sports, and community are all about. The Sky Tavern blossomed as a work of passion, the love of skiing, when Reno residents Keston and Carlisle Ramsey opened the resort sixty years ago in
December 1945. Their goal was to promote the many benefits of skiing that they enjoyed: its physical exuberance, emotional release, and sense of pure freedom.
Sky Tavern opened as World War II ended, when
America's rich and famous were ready to take up skiing as a sport and lifestyle. The Tavern's lodge offered hearty meals, chilled cocktails, dancing to a jukebox, and as an added Nevada-style attraction, a small
gambling operation run by Bill Harrah. The resort had no electricity (power was supplied by a gasoline generator) and all day tickets cost $2.50. The history of Sky Tavern is replete with Hollywood legends and
colorful tales of yesteryear. Movie stars, prominent San Francisco socialites, and famous personalities flocked to the slopes at Sky Tavern in the years after World War II. Contemporary celebrities like Edward
Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb, and actresses Rita Hayworth and Ingrid Bergman, Joe DiMaggio, Robert Stack and others. [Pioneer radio journalist] Lowell Thomas skied here several times and made one of his
famous national broadcasts live from Sky Tavern." all found the Tavern experience exhilarating.
Over time newer, larger, and more modern ski resorts opened around Lake Tahoe, upstart places like Squaw Valley
in 1949 and Heavenly Valley in 1955. They all siphoned off the Tavern's elite clientele, as well as their bread and butter local adult skiers. In 1959 the Ramsey's sold the resort and eventually the City of Reno
purchased the 143-acre resort in 1968 for the exclusive use of teaching school children how to ski, and now snowboard too. The nonprofit program is visionary and unique in the nation. Sky Tavern, once a chic
destination resort is now home to a volunteer-based, nonprofit program that has enabled three generations of Nevada children and teenagers the opportunity to be all they can be.
Photo #1: Gary Cooper and wife
Rocky at Sky Tavern circa 1946
Photo #2: Sky Tavern children's ski program has taught thousands