The historic Squaw Valley Homestead Ranch is a rare opportunity for discovery, inspiration and stewardship.
Held and safeguarded for decades by the Valley’s founding family, this extraordinary land embodies all of the elements which reflect the early mountaineering spirit of life in the Sierra Nevada. Protected and thoughtfully tended by the legendary Poulsen family since the early 1940’s, this is the most coveted landholding in Squaw Valley.
Spectacular big mountain views surround the land in all directions. The ranch is a mix of open meadow lush with grasses and wildflowers, dense stands of pine, and groves of aspen trees. The land is alive and diverse with year ‘round ponds and flowing water that attract riparian wildlife. The Washoe Indians summered on the property along Squaw Creek where a grinding stone remains and arrowheads have been discovered.
The custom-crafted main home is designed with the quality and detail of a true European chalet, with four bedrooms and four and a half baths. The large stone fireplaces, expansive windows, massive redwood beams and wrought iron accents give the home a timeless mountain feel, which creates a perfect rustic retreat from the world, or a staging area for a more substantial estate-level home.
Importantly, this exceptional 29.6 acre assemblage offers multiple development sites and opportunities for conservation, in addition to numerous options for the construction of a new residence for the owner, whether a family or corporate entity.
For those who seek a pristine private retreat from the world, but also want to be close to Tahoe’s recreation, arts and entertainment, this rare opportunity to craft and define the last and most significant landholding in the heart of Squaw Valley may never come again.
Wayne Poulsen, a legendary ski pioneer and visionary, is best known as the founder of Squaw Valley Ski Resort. As an eleven-year-old Boy Scout, Poulsen built his first pair of skis, throughout his teens he worked as a snow surveyor learning to skillfully navigate the snow covered Sierra. This began a life long passion that would influence the history of skiing in the Sierra Nevada in profound ways.
In the early 1930’s as a high school student on a fishing trip to Squaw Valley, Poulsen envisioned a dream to build a world-class ski area on the granite peaks above the breathtaking valley.
While waiting for his orders to serve as a flight instructor in the war, Poulsen worked as a ski instructor in Sun Valley, Idaho. He quickly fell in love with his first and only student, a New York socialite, Sandy Kunau. They were married in 1942 at the Santa Monica oceanfront home of famous Hollywood actress, Norma Shearer, beginning a deep and adventurous life long love affair.
In 1943 they purchased 640 acres from the Southern Pacific Railroad. Poulsen swept Sandy away from her upscale life in Manhattan and moved her into a tent in Squaw Valley, where they camped on the original homestead site along Squaw Creek. The couple summered here, bathing in the creek and eating fresh trout and venison.
On an early skiing expedition together, they hiked to the top of a mountain, where Wayne made a quick decent of the steep slope. Waiting at the base, he counted as Sandy traversed the slope, making kick turns in the trees, twenty-two of them. Wayne named the famous run, KT-22 after Sandy.
In 1948 Wayne partnered with Harvard graduate and lawyer, Alex Cushing and investor, Laurance Rockefeller. Wayne’s dream to create a world-class ski area began to take shape when together they founded Squaw Valley Development Company. Cushing was an aggressive developer, in contrast to Wayne’s conservative approach that respected and protected the mountain environment he loved. The Partnership ended just before opening day in 1949. The 1960 Winter Olympic Games brought Squaw Valley worldwide recognition and the realization of Wayne’s boyhood dream.
Wayne and Sandy went on to purchase approximately 2,000 acres of land, forming Squaw Valley Land and Livestock Company. They continued to build and shape the Squaw Valley community they loved.
In preparation for the 1960 Winter Olympic Games the IOC, USOC and the State of California had a plan to pave over part of the valley floor. Using all their personal resources, Wayne and Sandy fought to protect the iconic Squaw Valley meadow. They single-handedly blocked 150 acres of meadow from being paved over and used as the site of a sewage treatment plant.
Wayne and Sandy raised eight children, two of which represented the U.S. in the 1972 Winter Olympics, and one became All American. Wayne Poulsen was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame for skiing in 1974. He was elected to the US National Ski Hall of Fame in 1980. In 2004 Sandy and Wayne were awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Squaw Valley Institute. In 2005 Poulsen Peak was named to honor this legendary skier and his legacy.
With all the land in Squaw Valley to choose from, it is here that the founding family chose to live and build their dream home. Included in the acreage is the original campsite along the banks of Squaw Creek they called home as newlyweds.
SquawValleyHomestead.com | Historical photos courtesy of the Poulsen Family
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