In 1968, South Lake Tahoe was one of the nation’s hot spots for track and field after the U.S. Olympic Planning Commission chose Echo Summit over three other sites for the 1968 Olympic trials.
In order to adequately prepare the U.S. team for the Summer Games in Mexico City, the City of South Lake Tahoe built a track at 7,377 feet at the parking lot of Echo Summit Ski Area. The 400-meter oval track was nearly identical to the track in Mexico City and did well for the American Olympians who set 6 world records and won 24 medals – including 12 golds.
Olympians Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Al Oerter, Bob Seagren, Lee Evans, Bob Beamon, Bill Toomey and Dick Fosbury returned to South Shore a year later for the Indian Summer Games Invitational on the track that had been moved to South Tahoe Intermediate School (now South Tahoe Middle School).
Wear and tear and overall neglect finally took its toll on the famous track which was closed due to safety reasons.
Top photo: Tartan Track at Echo Summit Ski Area