W. Averell Harriman

Induction Year: 
Ski Pioneer

Averell Harriman (1891 - 1986)

Born in Arden, New York, Averell Harriman was a man of great influence on the world's diplomatic scene. Among other positions, Harriman served as U.S. Secretary of Commerce, U.S. Ambassador to both the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union (at different times), and he was the 48th Governor of New York.

Averell Harriman was also a man of great vision on the nation's recreational scene. Befitting those attributes is his primary legacy: Sun Valley Resort, the first ski area in the world to offer lift-served skiing, and the first destination winter resort in the United States. Harriman founded the stately and storied resort in 1936, primarily to increase ridership on the Union Pacific Railroad, where he served as chairman. Since his passing in 1986, Sun Valley has continued to thrive and remains one of the most majestic destination ski resorts in the world.

During his lifetime, the railroad magnate was recognized world-wide for his business acumen, his political prowess, and his philanthropic contributions. Here at the Museum, he will forever be known as the man who founded Sun Valley, and a member of the inaugural class of the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame.