Alta isn’t just an excellent skiing, wedding and vacation destination with an annual snowfall of over 500 inches. It also has an interesting history and played an integral part in the creation of the modern day ski resort model. Although the area is now a favoured celebrity hangout and the Park City area annually hosts the famous Sundance Movie Festival, Alta began as a modest mining town and was almost a ghost town at one point.
The history of Utah’s famous Alta Resort Town
Alta began as a mining settlement in the 1880s with the first verified silver claim staked in 1865. Its name is a Spanish word meaning “upper or higher” possibly due to its mountain location. Central City was the name of the first settlement in the area, it only had a few small houses and businesses with a population under 200.
The town peaked in 1872 with 3000 residents, but declining silver values, land issues and inaccessible ore meant the population fell back down to 300 by 1880. Despite several discoveries by the Jacobsen Brothers in the Columbus Mine and the production of silver ore peaking, Alta became a ghost town with only six registered voters in the early 1930s.
Luckily, the mayor of Alta gave acres of land to the U.S Forest Service to develop a ski area in 1937. Norwegian skiing legend Alf Engen was hired to help develop the area, and Alta opened its first ski lift a year later. Its first ski lift was made a year later from pieces of an old aerial mining tram and was home to the second chairlift in American history.
They purchased 86,000 ski lifts in the second season and the first international competition was held in 1940. During World War II, paratroopers from the 10th Mountain Regiment trained on the slopes.
The resort was enlarged again in 1960 because of the growing popularity of skiing and tourists were attracted to Alta’s natural beauty. This unique town has continued to develop over the decades and still holds its place as one of the world’s best skiing destinations.
Interested in an Alta resort vacation? Come visit the Alta Peruvian Lodge
If you want to discover Alta’s interesting mining past and witness its beauty personally, why not come stay at the Alta Peruvian lodge. The classic hotel was built in 1948 and has a delightful mix of rustic charm and modern sophistication. It is perfectly situated right next to the mountain and within just a few minutes of the Alta’s visitor attractions. For more information contact the friendly Alta Peruvian Lodge staff.