Little Sweden, the historic snow-play area 22 miles east of Sonora, was demolished Friday.
Abandoned buildings at Little Sweden on Highway 108 east of Long Barn were demolished Friday. Amy Alonzo Rozak/Union Democrat, copyright 2012
The area was long ago abandoned but remained a popular Highway 108 stopping point for sledders. County officials deemed it a safety hazard.
Officials found the old restaurant building had one of the main walls ripped off by a four-wheel-drive vehicle and trash had been spread around outside, including broken glass, metal and nails. The site became an immediate health risk with the broken glass and metal.
“We had to do something,” Oliver said. “In the interest of public safety we had to move quickly.”
Oliver said county officials had to move quickly before it snows, to prevent people who go to Little Sweden from getting injured on unseen hazards under the snow.
The County Counsel’s Office deemed it as an immediate nuisance, Oliver said.
The Little Sweden site included a restaurant with a few sleeping rooms, a smaller house building and a detached structure with pit toilets, Oliver said.
The county hired a local contractor to clean the site up, including removal of the old tow rope and control station at the bottom of the hill, Oliver said.
The property owner, Donald Williams, who has a post office box in Mi-Wuk Village, was contacted and notified the structures would be demolished, Oliver said.
A summary abatement hearing with the county Board of Supervisors will determine if the county can reclaim the costs of the demolition from the owner, he said.
Oliver said he did not know what it was going to cost to demolish the site and did not return a request for the bid amount.
Over the years, it has been a nuisance for the California Highway Patrol, as there is no official snow play area there, but people park along Highway 108 illegally despite “No Parking” signs.
Little Sweden was the county’s first ski resort, built in 1921, and a rope tow was added by J.R. Mills in the late 1920s.
Mills eventually sold the land and lodge to five women, who sold it to Williams in 1976.
People will likely always go to that area for snow play, Oliver said.
“At least now, it’ll be a lot safer,” he said.