History of Alta
Like Park City, Alta began as a mining town and quickly grew to a population exceeding 5000.
In the early 1850′s Mormon settlers began mining granite to build a temple. While mining granite they discovered a vein of silver ore. A military commander saw the opportunity and began attracting prospectors into the canyon. Fortunes were made and lost, Production of silver ore peaked, then steadily declined and after the dust settled, the town of Alta remained.
In 1904 there was a small resurgence of mining when more silver was found. A narrow gauge railway was built up to Tanner’s Flats to increase production. An aerial tram then joined Alta to the new trans atlantic railroad system that had recently been completed. Soon the railway extended all the way up the canyon. This was eventually shut down again when all of the silver ore had been strip mined.
Later, a young enterpriser named George Watson bought the aerial tram and started a sightseeing business up the canyon called the Alta Scenic Railway. As this business began making profits he bought up old mining claims, voted himself mayor, and eventually turned over all of his holdings to the US Forest Service.
Eventually a man named Joe Quinney, who was associated with the Salt Lake Winter Sports Association began negotiations to set up a ski hill in the Alta Town area.
The following summer trails were completed and the decades that followed have provided the ski world with a steady and gradual growth of Alta Ski Lifts often boasting the best snow on earth!