Hwy 40 Scenic Bypass
"new addition... modern design... large new ski hut... semi-rustic design... oiled pine walls ... ideally suited to skiers' requirements... central heating... Norden awaits the opening of the winter sports season." So advertised the Southern Pacific in December, 1939, its Snowball Express.
Sugar Bowl opened in December, 1939 and the Southern Pacific wanted to take advantage of the growing popularity of skiing and winter sports. It put $26,000 into a new station at Norden - inside a snowshed (right).
The train left the Ferry Building every evening and made an overnight trip to Donner Summit for the round trip cost of $4.50 (Pullman berths $1.35 extra). Dinner was 75 cents. When the train arrived in the morning passengers awoke refreshed and ready for a day's skiing at Norden, only fifteen minutes from Sugar Bowl. They were taken "by sleighs of the latest design pulled by tractors operating on a punctual and regular schedule." One Snowball Express car sold and rented ski equipment and toboggans at "city prices." Equipment could also be rented at the Norden Station.
Since there were not enough rooms on Donner Summit for all the people wanting to come, Southern Pacific parked some Pullman cars in Truckee where winter travelers could rent weekend berths. Wouldn't that have been fun?
A Good Story
Peter Picard was a long time ski instructor at Sugar Bowl after WW II. One of his early jobs was to meet the Snowball Express skiers and get them situated. He remembers so many novices coming off the trains excited about skiing, but almost totally unprepared. He sometimes spent the entire day fitting equipment. The Snowball Express did not last too long. The liability of skiers wandering the snowsheds was too much for S.P.