Christmas Valley is jolly year-round
December 24, 2007
Melissa Lanitis Gregory said it can be embarrassing mail-ordering items this time of year. She lives on St. Nick Way in Christmas Valley and said when someone asks for her address and she tells them, there always is a moment of silence during the transaction.
“I’m glad I don’t live on Elf Lane,” she said. “St. Nick is bad enough.”
But the yearly awkward phone calls are worth it for Gregory.
Christmas Valley reaches from Highway 50 to the end of South Upper Truckee Road, about 10 miles south of Lake Tahoe and is wedged between backcountry ski areas.
The area has easy access to many trails, such as the Tahoe Rim Trail and Holly Grade, the South Upper Truckee River and sledding hills, Gregory said.
But Christmas Valley didn’t always go by its holiday name.
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Shirley Taylor said Christmas Valley isn’t the true name of the area – Upper Lake Valley is – she said the name change came during the 1950s, when land developers moved in. They altered the name because it wasn’t a catchy sell phrase, she said.
Taylor’s great-grandfather, Carl Guisseppi Celio, established a homestead in 1863, and its present address is 2820 South Upper Truckee Road.
When the holdings were sold in the 1950s, her mother, Hazel Celio Taylor, bought 100 acres, which included the original homestead. The ranch still is intact today.
Many of the homes in the area were built in Stream Environment Zones (SEZ). At the time, it was legal to build on those properties, but now it’s not.
When Glenn and Lois Wooldridge bought their house on Egret Way more than 32 years ago, it was on an SEZ. If their house ever burned down, they wouldn’t be able to rebuild, Lois Wooldridge said.
Jim Stamates’ house on Blitzen Road was the first one built in Christmas Valley. He said he loves all the wildlife in the area because he is a wildlife photographer. He documented the first barred owl in Lake Tahoe in his backyard.
Christmas Valley is known for its snowfall. Lois Wooldridge said the area receives three times as much snow as South Lake Tahoe does. During one of the winters between 1982 and 1984, they had to shovel their roof 12 times. After dinner, the whole family would help shovel off the roof so it wouldn’t cave in.
“We could never get it cleared off. We dug trenches here and there, but 8 to 10 feet is too much,” Glenn Wooldridge said.
He said the mountains received 69 feet of snow that winter.
Gregory said her husband bought a top-of-the-line Honda snowblower and uses it whenever he can, even if only 3 inches of snow fall. “He loves his snowblower,” she said.
Residents also love how quiet the area is.
“It’s not right in the thick of it,” Gregory said.
Everyone mostly keeps to themselves, Lois Wooldridge said.
The only real noise the area receives is the slew of people leaving Kirkwood Mountain Resort in the evening. “We get the Kirkwood 500 at 5:30 p.m.,” Gregory said.
Not only does the snow fall in greater amounts, but the valley also has its own climate.
“It can be sunny in Meyers and then raining when you turn off 50,” Lois Wooldridge said.
Christmas Valley street names
• St. Nick Way
• Snowflake Drive
• Santa Claus Drive
• Reindeer Way
• Elf Lane
• Blitzen Road
• Sleigh Bell
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