Built Capital: Mammoth Lakes, CA

For a community that is settled at roughly 7,000 feet elevation and is part of the Inyo National Forest which hosts over 800,000 acres of protected land, it seems impossible that there is any built capital at all in Mammoth Lakes, CA. Built capital consist of the permanent physical installations and facilities that help contribute to the productive capacity of a community. (Green & Haines, 2002). However, despite the challenges faced by the harsh natural terrain in the region, the Town of Mammoth has been able to create a strong community center filled with anything one could need in town. Grocery stores, local businesses, shopping centers, amazing local food, and an abundance of homes allow for comfortable living in this charming mountain town.

With a total of 12,329 housing units available and a population of 11,946 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014) and a town that is only 25 square miles there needs to be a significant amount of built capital to sustain the area. However, it wasn’t always the mecca of sports and outdoor recreation as we know it today. Mammoth became popular due to its mining town origin, driven by cowhands who traveled from Owens Valley for summer grazing, which influenced people to make the two-and-a-half-day trek from Los Angeles where they settled in as Mammoth Camp. They began their settlement in the early 1900’s with a post office, a hotel, a garage, and a bakery where supplies were delivered by dog sled. After the completion of the modern highway in 1937, “the camping, hiking, fishing and dynamic beauty of the area made it a sportsman’s paradise” where visitors flooded in and with them came businesses to support them. (City Concierge of Mammoth Lakes, n.d.).

Today, it is said that people come for the winter but stay for the summer in Mammoth Lakes. The area’s development exploded thanks to Dave McCoy who’s enthusiasm for the Mammoth regions impeccable mountain topography and love of skiing led him to create “first rope tow at Grays Meadow west of Independence prior to 1936 and then his progression to Bishop, McGee Mountain, and Mammoth Mountain” (City Concierge of Mammoth Lakes, n.d.). It is said that Mammoth is in the midst of a true renaissance with capital investments exceeding “$1 billion (U.S.) to create world class amenities, and new pedestrian village, and new on-mountain attractions that will launch Mammoth Lakes to become the #1 four-season premier mountain resort in North America” (City Concierge of Mammoth Lakes, n.d.). The original lodge was built in 1953 where people worked for free simply because of the love of the mountain. (McCoy, 2008) Then, progression turned to engineering a gondola that reached the summit of the mountain at 11,050 feet. With this came the expansion of the lodge in 1965 and more development towards the village that exists today. McCoy “acquired property in the town of Mammoth Lakes and practically gave it away to people who wanted to come and build a motel or a restaurant or whatever” (McCoy, 2008). His family helped start the hospital and the fire department and the schools and now they’ve built a college. Today, Mammoth is home to the one of the most advanced and popular ski villages in the world, consisting of 4 main lodges, gondola access, apartments, hotels, restaurants, a shopping center and large venue areas. Mammoth claims that one could live in the village all year round and have everything they ever need! Quite the extensive focus of built capital by a world class mountain.

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Works Cited

City Concierge of Mammoth Lakes. (n.d.). Mammoth Lakes History. Retrieved November 14, 2016, from City Concierge: http://www.cityconcierge.com/mammoth-lakes/community/history.asp

Green, G. P., & Haines, A. (n.d.). Asset Building and Community Development. Los Angeles, California: SAGE.

McCoy, D. (2008, December 1). How I Did It: Dave McCoy, Mammoth Mountain. Retrieved November 14, 2016, from Inc: http://www.inc.com/magazine/20081201/how-i-did-it-dave-mccoy-mammoth-mountain.html

U.S. Census Bureau. (2014). ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates. Retrieved November 14, 2016, from American Fact Finder: http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_5YR_DP05&prodType=table

U.S. Census Bureau. (2014). Selected Housing Characteristics. Retrieved November 14, 2016, from American Fact Finder: http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_5YR_DP04&prodType=table