A historical assessment of Snow King Mountain has deemed parts of the 76-year-old ski area to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. But the findings won’t hinder current development plans.
The study took into consideration buildings and even ski runs and chair lifts.
“The ski area continues to clearly communicate its historic winter recreational setting and landscape,” the report by Boise, Idaho, firm Preservation Solutions reads.
Expansion plans proposed by ski area investors triggered the assessment, which Preservation Solutions submitted to the Bridger-Teton National Forest in December.
Fifty years is the minimum age for structures and features to be eligible for historic designation. As a result Snow King Hotel, Snow King Sports and Events Center and the eastern base area didn’t qualify.
The eastern base is the location of a $2 million project to replace the Rafferty lift, built in 1978.
The findings won’t affect the Rafferty replacement, new ski runs to the east of the lift or a ropes course proposed by resort investors. Preservation Solutions architectural historian Kerry Davis wrote a report that said the projects won’t do any harm to historic resources.
The findings were sent to the Wyoming Historic Preservation Office and received approval from the state.
The ropes course, which is proposed for public land, wouldn’t have an adverse impact on the Town Hill’s historic significance “mostly because it’s going to be in the trees and not really visible from the majority of the ski runs,” said Brian Beadles of the state preservation office.
For future development, the board will review projects, Beadles said, and possibly help come up with mitigation plans if it’s decided development would detract from the ski area’s historic significance.
“It wouldn’t necessarily stop a project,” Beadles said. “We would just brainstorm ways to mitigate that adverse impact.”
Snow King General Manager Ryan Stanley said he concurs with the findings in the report. He doesn’t believe it will affect the plans investors have for the Town Hill.
“The reality is these things are not designed to curtail,” Stanley said. Rather, such assessments help with documentation, he said.
All told, the assessment involved examining 40 features on the ski hill. The study found that much of Snow King’s historical significance is tied to its role in the ascent of Jackson as a winter tourism destination.
“Originally an isolated ranching area visited as a side trip to Yellowstone, Jackson’s emergence as a ski town coincided with developments in transportation and nationwide patterns of increased popularity of skiing,” the study reads.
“Snow King played a critical role in the mid-20th century growth not only of Jackson, but development of the whole Jackson Hole valley as a major winter recreation hub,” it reads. “Places like Snow King literally both reflected and directly changed the development of towns like Jackson.”