Snow and Ice – California’s Gold (812)

Sunny beaches and swaying palm trees are very much a part of what California is all about. So are snow and ice.

And to prove it, host Huell bundles up and travel to one of the coldest places in our state in search of historic snow and ice.

They find it first in a lake near Truckee in Nevada County. Today, ice is part of a readily-accessible and plentiful part of our daily lives. But not long ago the only ice available came from lakes and ponds where it was produced by the natural cold of winter, then hand-cut with giant saws and shipped to waiting customers.

On this particular adventure Huell meets up with historian Tom Macaulay who takes him to a frozen lake in the Sierra and actually demonstrates how ice was harvested years ago. It’s a fascinating look back in time to something most of us never knew existed — the California ice industry.

Then Huell jumps aboard a train for a ride from Sacramento to Reno, Nevada — a journey through some of the toughest and most scenic terrain in our state. During the winter months there is so much snow in this area that, years ago, the railroads had to construct “snow sheds” to cover and protect the tracks. These huge, wooden sheds covered almost the entire length of the track in the higher elevations of the Sierra and, literally, were responsible for keeping the trains running. Today, modern snow removal equipment has made the sheds obsolete, but Huell manages to find and walk through one of the last remaining portions of a historic wooden snow shed — a structure that is very much a part of California’s Gold.