Evan Floyd and Grand Targhee Ski Resort

My brother Mitch and I spent a week or two each summer in the late 1960's and early 1970's with my Grandparents -- Norma and Evan Floyd -- in Driggs, Idaho.    We were born in 1959 and 1960 and loved spending that time with my Mom's parents.  We would walk every day down to the Corner Drug (www.driggspharmacy.com) for trading cards, comic books, ice cream and penny candies.  Our grandmother, Norma, ran the Selective Service office at the county building and would invite us up for a visit.  Always included in the stay was a trip over the pass to Jackson, Wyoming to purchase bulk quantities of Black Cat firecrackers.

My grandfather, Evan, spent a lot of his time helping get Grand Targhee Ski Resort off the ground.  I fondly remember my brother and I riding up to the ski hill with him in his Ford Ranchero where he would have a meeting or check on something.

The ski hill runs a race each year for local elementary school students which is named after Grandpa - The Evan Floyd Memorial Race.

I ran across the below article from Valley Citizen in Driggs, Idaho which mentions my Grandfather.


You’ve come a long way baby
November 13, 2013 

Local ski hill was the idea of valley residents in the ‘60s 

As it celebrates it 45th season, Grand Targhee Resort continues its tradition of supporting the economy in Teton Valley. While many area residents feel a connection with their local ski hill, few know the resort was originally established with the support of farmers, ranchers and others who recognized that the valley needed more in order to survive.

“We must keep our young people in the valley,” Steve Meikle told the local newspaper in 1966. “They now have to seek work outside the valley, but if motels, restaurants and other business places were to locate in Teton Valley, our young people would stay here and work.”

Meikle was the vice president of the Teton Peaks Recreation Association, a nonprofit organization that eventually became Grand Targhee Resort Inc. The seed of an idea to establish a ski resort east of Driggs was originally planted by Evan Floyd and Wayne Cole, two men who directed the Area Redevelopment Administration after Teton Valley was made eligible for federal aid following its listing as an Economically Depressed Area.

A Rural Development Plan was established by the early 60s, and local support was widespread with names like Hillman, Kearsley, Kunz, Chambers, Christensen, Egbert, Penfold, Buxton, Jolley, Moulton and many others on committees to help securing funding to build the road from Alta up to Fred’s Mountain. 

By 1967, a full-page ad was taken out in the local paper in support of the initiative to establish a local ski hill. 

In huge bold letters, it read, “LET’S DEVELOP THE FUTURE OF TETON VALLEY, IDAHO.”

The ad listed ten benefits that Teton Valley residents would receive from developing a ski hill, including: local ownership, local control, increased employment, increased population, construction, improvement of business districts, raising the living standards, a benefit to the school system, increased land values and more recreation.”

“Targhee didn’t start out to be a destination resort,” said former general manager Larry Williamson on Tuesday. “But when farming shut down in the fall, nothing happened in this valley.”

When Williamson came to Teton Valley in the late ‘60s from California, he had been sent by Vangas, Inc., a propane company, to shut down operations locally and set up delivery from St. Anthony. The population of Teton Valley hovered around 2,000, and the propane marketer did not anticipate the valley would recover from a recent economic downturn.

But Williamson was made aware of the initiative to establish a ski hill to carry the local economy through hard times while creating recreation opportunities for residents. Vangas, Inc. stayed in Teton Valley and was purchased by Suburban Propane in 1971. By 1976, Williamson was the general manager of Grand Targhee Resort, a position he held for 30 years until 2006.

Williamson met his wife, Alice, on the ski hill in the early 70s. She had come from Oregon to work as a ski instructor, and she never left. Instrumental in establishing the Winter Sports Program at the resort with the local school districts, Alice is still helping to chronicle the history of Grand Targhee Resort at the Teton Valley Museum in Driggs, a community resource that is open to the public every Friday throughout the winter.

With just a little research at the Teton Valley Museum, it is easy to understand how Grand Targhee Resort was able to open for business on the day after Christmas in 1969. Lyndon B. Johnson was president of the United States; cantaloupes were five for a buck, and season ski passes at Grand Targhee were $75. Day passes were $4.75.

With 465 stockholders, a $600K loan from the Farmer’s Home Administration and $100K of local funding, Grand Targhee Resort, Inc. was ready to proceed with construction of a ski lift and lodge after a road had been built from Alta to the base of Fred’s Mountain. 

“Residents of Teton Valley are very optimistic about the favorable effects the ski area will have on the local economy,” the local newspaper reported in July of 1969. “Perhaps the development of this Teton Valley ski area will change the entire complexion of an economically depressed area into a growing prosperous winter and summer recreation area.”

The rest is history.

Celebrating its 45th season this winter, Grand Targhee Resort has enjoyed accolades in all ski industry magazines for everything from style to snow conditions. In Forbes this month, the resort was listed as the eighth best ski resort in the United States for 2014, close on the heels of names like Vail, Squaw, Snowbird and Alyeska.

Making strides to market itself independent of Teton Village (Jackson Hole Ski Resort was listed by Forbes as number one on its list), Grand Targhee is on the map, and it’s not likely that the resort will ever lose the momentum it has gained in recent years.

“Looking ahead, we want to drive more visitors to spend the night somewhere in Teton Valley, hopefully multiple night,” said Ken Rider, Grand Targhee Resort Sales and Marketing Director. “Everybody from Tony’s and Teton Thai to Snorkels benefits. It’s all about creating sustainable recreation.” 


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