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Alta Historical Society Exhibit
The Alta Historical Society has an exhibit of old photographs, historical information, and mining memorabilia on permanent display at the Alta CommunityCenter/Library. The exhibit is open to the public during regular library hours or by appointment. Please call (801) 742-3522 for further information.
Original Collins Chair
The Collins Chair, the second chairlift in the United States, was built in 1938. The Winter Sports Association which ran the newly opened Alta ski area, made a deal with the Michigan-Utah Mines company to purchase the old aerial tram that had carried ore down Little Cottonwood Canyon in the early 1900s. The lift towers recruited to support the tram had been pulled from local mines where they had been used to brace the old mine shafts. On Sunday, January 15, 1939, the lift was used for the first time, carrying 350 people up the mountain. A single ride cost 25 cents; a full day cost $1.50. From January 1939 through April 1940, 86,000 skier lift rides were given by the Collins chair. Shortly thereafter the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce announced that the Denver-Rio Grande Railroad would invest $25,000 for further development of Alta as a ski area. Based on that commitment, Alta has gone on to become one of the premier ski areas in the world.
Goldminer's Daughter Lodge
In 1962 Jim and Elfriede Shane opened the Goldminer's Daughter Lodge for business. The original building has since been replaced by a larger and more modern structure.
In 1939, with a financial boost from the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, a new lodge was built in Alta, and called Alta Lodge. Alta Lodge opened for business November 29, 1940. By 1941 an eastern publisher James (J) Laughlin had taken over leasing the building, and began a lifelong relationship with Alta. J eventually bought the lodge from the railroad company and in turn sold it to Bill Levitt in 1959. Although he lived his later years on the east coast, he remained involved in the workings of Alta Ski Company until his death in 1997. The Levitt family still owns the business.
The Rustler Lodge was built in 1945 by Sverre Engen and Howard Stilwell. Several additions have been built in the years since.
The Snowpine Lodge is the only building in Alta today that can trace its beginnings to the mining days. The original building was first used as part of the Bay City mine and the converted to a general store and a U.S. Post Office back in the late 1870s. J.G. Stilwell, a manager of the Emma Mine, took over running the store in 1878. His son Howard, born in 1881, grew up in the Stilwell General Store, and took over running the store when his father died. Howard Stilwell ran the store until the stock market crash of 1929. He closed the doors and moved to California. In 1935 the old store was revived by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). They kept the original granite stone walls and timbers but renovated the rest of the structure, turning it into Alta's first public shelter for the skiers who were starting to frequent the new resort. At that time it was known as the Rock Shelter. The name Snowpine was given by Richard Ruckenbrod who, along with two associates, was given the first Forest Service permit to operate the shelter the winter of 1941-42. And so began its history as a facility for day, and then overnight guests, in Alta.
Old Town Site commemorative plaque
The Alta town site was established in 1871 as an outgrowth of Central City. The town site was located near the present Albion chairlift. Ten streets ran east/west, eleven streets ran north/south. A post office was established in Clasbey and Read's General Store, the largest building in town.
Bay City Mine Tunnel/ Emma Mine
Alta's notorious Emma Mine was discovered in 1868. Its silver-bearing vein faulted in 1873. Mine managers were accused of fraud until a Congressional investigation exonerated them. The Emma closed in 1918 having produced, by varying accounts, from $2,692,790 to $3,825,000.
Ore extraction in Alta was complicated by water in the mines. Water in this tunnel is now used by the town for culinary purposes.
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Albion Grill, Watson Shelter, and Alf's Restaurant
The three day lodges, open during only the winter season, house framed copies of the Alta Historical Society and Alta Ski Lifts history brochures. The public is welcome to review the exhibits during normal operating hours. Copies of the brochure can be obtained by calling (801)363-5105 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
and requesting a copy be mailed to you. Please include your name and mailing address.
Alta Peruvian Lodge
In 1947 the Alta Peruvian Lodge opened for business. The owner, Edwin Gibbs, had acquired two hospital barracks from Brigham City, over 100 miles to the north. The barracks were hauled all the way to Alta where they were put in place and hooked together. Though the original structure still stands, the Alta Peruvian Lodge has been updated and modernized throughout the years.