YOSEMITE, Calif. (KSEE) Yosemite National Park is many things: majestic, serene and full of wonder and splendor.
People from all over the world visit Yosemite, and back when the park first became a national park in 1890, most people who visited did so in the summer.
But in 1928, a man named Donald Tresidder had a unique idea.
“He went to Switzerland to St. Moritz and the Olympics,” said Yosemite National Park’s Scott Gediman. “He saw the Olympics and he got back to Yosemite and he said, ‘you know what, I’m gonna develop winter sports here in Yosemite.’ And he wanted Yosemite to become the ‘Switzerland of the west,’ is what he called it.”
Donald Tresidder was the president of the Yosemite Park and Curry Company. He would later become the president of Stanford University.
He was known as both an entrepreneur and a visionary, and the person who put in the official bid for Yosemite National Park to host the 1932 Winter Olympics.
“Yosemite Valley is what the official bid said. Yosemite Valley, California,” said Gediman. “Nothing in any of the archives talk about a reaction, whether people thought it was wonderful or people thought it was horrible.”
Either way, they knew hosting an Olympics was a real possibility.
“Where I’m standing now, up here at Curry Village was a toboggan run,” said Gediman. ” It was known as Ash Can Alley, where people would toboggan down 800 feet. There was an ice skating rink that’s no longer here that was built, and that was really a regulation skating rink.”
That rink hosted the Olympic Trials for speed skating leading up to the 1932 games. However, Lake Placid won the bid to host that year’s Winter Olympics, beating out both Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. It was the first Winter Olympics held in the United States.
“I don’t think we lost out because of the scenery or the location,” added Gediman. “It had to do with hotel rooms and the Games and infrastructure. Had Yosemite gotten the Olympics, I think there might have been more development, but overall, I don’t think it would have changed much.”