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Union Pacific Railroad's public relations dynamo, Steve Hannagan, named the lodge and its facilities "Sun Valley" to highlight what he saw as the favorable amount of sunshine received by the resort.

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Sun Valley, Idaho

Trail Creek West Condo

Within walking or skiing distance to Bald Mountain's River Run Quad lift 800-790-1504.

Sun Valley was the brainchild of W. Averell Harriman, chief executive of the Union Pacific Railroad and future governor of New York. The businessman in Harriman was looking for way to build passenger traffic to the West, and the avid skier in him wanted a venue that evoked the old world charm of the Swiss and Austrian Alps. To these ends he commissioned a young count, Felix Schaffgotsch to scour the country for the perfect site, and in 1936 (after the likes of Aspen, Yosemite and Mt. Rainier were passed up) Ketchum was "discovered". In just 7 months and at a cost of $1.5 million, four-story lodge was constructed on the former Brass Ranch lands, and ski runs were created on Dollar and Proctor Mountains. (Bald Mountain wasn�t even part of the original plans, as it was beyond the ski technology of the 1930's. Compare the current vertical drop of Baldy�s runs at 3,400 feet with Dollar's 628 feet.)

Public relations whiz Steve Hannagan, who had transformed a sand dune into Miami Beach, was hired to handle the resort�s marketing. It was he who named the lodge and its facilities Sun Valley, and who made opening night a gala event, attended by movie stars such as Errol Flynn and Clarke Gable. You can see many of their autographed black-and-white photos on the walls of the lodge today. Such was the success of the resort�s first season that by the second winter, the chalet-style Sun Valley Inn was completed. Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman and others came to play at the elegant, new winter resort. Paul Newman, Brooke Shields, Clint Eastwood and a host of other celebrities helped commemorate Sun Valley's 50th anniversary.

The chair lift was invented in the process of the resort's creation. Harriman decided his customers should be borne up the mountain in greater comfort and style than the usual towrope. He came up with the idea of a "chair lift" and instructed Union Pacific engineers to devise one. As it happened, engineer James Curran, had spent time in the tropics designing technology for hoisting bananas onto ships, and with some modification the chair lift was born.

Innovation has continued. The world's first ski school opened here, and the world's first child-sized cross-country tracks were designed here, making it easier for young skiers (3 and up) to maneuver their equipment in the terrain.

In 1964 Union Pacific sold the resort to the Janss Corporation. Since 1977, Sun Valley has been with the Little America group of hotels, under the ownership of one R. Earl Holding. Railroad access to the resort is no more. The tracks were transformed into the 30-mile recreational Wood River Trail system.

Sun Valley's natural beauty and outdoor recreation continue to be complimented by its sophisticated amenities, a combination that has matured into a vivacious, cultural lifestyle. The area has attracted a more stable population of talented, professionals, including medical experts and information technologists, as well as those in the arts and entertainment industry. Visitors and residents can enjoy shopping, dining and entertainment on a par with large cities.

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