Shhh … it’s a secret. Okay, not really, but there are a few things about the Alta Peruvian Lodge — and Alta itself — you might not know. From our construction (which took place close to 70 years ago) to the hundreds of thousands of visitors Alta sees each year, here are some fun facts about our resort and home that are fun fodder for your next apris-ski chat.
1. Founded in 1865, Alta first served as an old mining town. The mining business boomed in the early 1870’s and a variety of settlements were established in the canyon area. In the late 1880s, an expansive fire and devastating avalanche destroyed most of the original town leaving Alta a ghost town.
2. Does the name George Watson sound familiar? Well if not, we’ll explain. Mr. Watson came to Utah in 1902 in search of fortune via mining. After those dreams were crushed, he acquired a bunch of land and declared himself the “Mayor” of Alta – perhaps being the only resident of Alta in the 1930s. The lore is that the self-proclaimed mayor owed the government back taxes and settled by deeding his mining claims over to the US; land which became forest service land and which is now part of the Alta Ski area. Drama!
3. You already know the story of how we were built, right? Quick recap – the Peruvian was constructed more than six decades ago, and originated as two World War II barracks. Edwin Gibbs, who headed up the construction, had the brilliant foresight to construct the lodge with a full fire sprinkler system! Considering the timing, this was well ahead of his time.
4. Upon completion of our construction, the Peruvian actually had a peaked roof. Over the years, owners learned that the peaked roof actually help snow accumulate, with potential risk of the roof collapsing. Updates were done by flattening the roof to prevent snow from build-up – giving the wind a better opportunity to blow snow off during storms.
4. If you have a queazy stomach, this one might not be for you. But here we go. The Peruvian was originally built with a septic tank nicknamed “Honey.” Back in the day, all sewage from the lodge was held here, located beneath the bottom level of the lodge – just slightly west of the lobby area. We’re not 100% sure when this was switched out – but rest assure friends, “Honey” no longer exists.
5. The Peruvian was purchased in 1970 by John Cahill and received a well-deserved facelift and upgrades to the facilities. Today, the Cahill family continues to own and operate by the lodge. Last fun fact – our longest running employee is our General Manager, Todd Collins. He’e been helping operate and manage the Peruvian for over two decades! Now, that’s what we call commitment.
If you have any “unknown” secrets of the Peruvian or the Alta area, let us know! We’d love to feature it on a future blog.