Dollar Mountain’s initial dawning transpired within the mind of one of the greatest visionaries of American History.  A man President John F. Kennedy spoke of as “holding more important positions, and transcending more pivotal epics of world events than any other figure in U.S. History.” Averell Harriman was born in 1891 and when he died in 1986 at the age of ninety-four, his life, possibly more than any other individual in U.S. history, is seen as a metaphor for an American narrative of the twentieth century.  The son of E.H. Harriman, railroad Barron, financial tycoon and one of the richest and most vilified men in America, Averell was heir to a fortune estimated at $100 million dollars.  However, aside from and in addition to his fortuitousness and his privileged aristocratic genesis, Averell was quite a remarkable figure.  From a business perspective, Averell was an international banker, early aviation pioneer, railroad executive and assembler of America’s largest merchant fleet, as well as one of the first Westerners to do business on a major scale in the Soviet Union.  Politically, Harriman was governor of New York and twice an unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate.  He served as an advisor to every Democratic president from Franklin Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter.


Ski Ability Levels: Match Colors to Your Skiing Ability.  CLICK ON NUMBER TO VIEW SKI RUN

1: First-time skier

2. Beginning wedge turn/ wedge to a stop

3. Advanced wedge turn/ can link wedge turns

4. Wedge Christie/ match skis at end of turn

5. Advanced Christie/ match skis before fall line

6. Beginning parallel/ turn both skis at same time

7. Intermediate parallel/ begin to carve turns

8. Dynamic parallel/ high level of carving

9. Advanced skiing/ speed in all conditions


1: Poverty Flats

2: Lower New Bowl

3: Cabin Practice Slope

4: Half Dollar Bowl

5: Hidden Valley

6: Graduation

7: Sepp’s Bowl

8: Old Bowl

9: Face of Dollar

10: Sheepherder

11: Half Dollar’s Worth

12: New Bowl

13: Lower Face of Dollar


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On the Diplomatic side, Harriman, during World War II, served as Washington’s Lend Lease administrator in London and ambassador to Moscow.  During the Vietnam conflict, he negotiated the neutralization of Laos, concluded a nuclear test ban treaty with Moscow, and was chief of the American delegation seeking peace with North Vietnam.  One might argue that, with so many accomplishments to his credit, Harriman’s development of Sun Valley is only a minor matter.  But Harriman had vision as well as immense ambition and would settle for nothing but the best; So when his ambitions were turned toward the creation of a destination ski resort in the American West, such a place would likely be at the forefront of the world skiing culture. 

In February of 1936, Washington Birthday, Harriman discovered Sun Valley.  In the development department Harriman sought the opinions’ of Count Schaffgotsch (discoverer of Sun Valley), John Morgan (an early day ski expert), Charlie Proctor (Dartmouth ski coach and member of 1928 American ski team), and Alf Engen (in the mid-1930s, America’s premier ski jumper) to select the sights where the skiing would take place.  Sights on Penny, Dollar, Proctor and Ruud mountains were quickly chosen.  In 1936, ski transportation up the mountains in the United States was a rarity, aside from an occasional rope-tow or J-Bar found back east, and the primary manner by which people traveled up the hillsides were by foot or on skies.  Like his million dollar lodge, Harriman was intent on building a skiing luxury in the Idaho wilderness that would rival or surpass anything which Europe had to offer and ski lifts could defiantly compliment that theme.  In March of 1936, Charlie Proctor was hired to teach the local Ketchum community the art of being ski guides as well as advise Harriman on locations where the lifts would soon be placed.  Several different methods of uphill transportation were considered, however it was a concept developed by a young Union Pacific engineer named Jim Curran which caught both Proctor’s and Harriman’s eyes.  In the summer of 1936, chair-lifts were rapidly located on both Proctor and Dollar mountains with a chair-lift, the following summer, being placed on the ski jumping hill of Ruud mountain.  At the time, few could envision the permanent consequences the Chair-lift would have on alpine skiing as well as alpine skiing instruction.  Today Sun Valley’s Dollar Mountain has the perfect practice terrain for beginners, intermediates and  advanced skiers; the perfect graduation to the world’s greatest ski mountain, BALDY.


Harriman Skiing on Dollar Mountain