Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Union Pacific Train Emerges from Snow in Sun Valley
Two youngsters try chugging down the slide before the Sheehans have had a chance to smooth it out and ice it down.
Saturday, February 13, 2021


You could go sledding at Penny Hill. Or Galena Lodge.

But why not grab your trey and take a spin on the Snowball Express.

Bellevue metal worker Mark Sheehan, his wife Lisa Phillips and son Sean Sheehan have completed their third rendition of one of Union Pacific’s locomotive engines in snow outside the Sun Valley Inn. The Inn was formerly known as the Challenger Inn in honor of Union Pacific Railroad, which built Sun Valley as America’s first destination ski resort in 1936.

Youngsters ponder climbing the steps to the slide.

After three days of sculpting and chipping blocks of snow off the slide, the Sheehans turned a hose on their train so it would ice up and become slick.

Trains have long been an important part of the Wood River Valley, shipping millions of dollars of galena ore out of the valley, bringing tourists in top hats to Guyer Hot Springs Resort and ferrying thousands of sheep out of the valley during the 1920s.

But it was the Snowball Express, which brought young skiers from Los Angeles, that has most captured the imagination. The party started the moment you stepped on the train, recounted one Sun Valley resident who got to experience it in the 1960s. It continued all the way to Idaho with non-stop dancing. And it ended only when the partygoers stepped off the train into ski boots.

Lisa Phillips, who also assisted with the sun sculpture in front of Sun Valley Lodge, throws a block of snow overboard.

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