From Silver to Skis: A History of Alta, Utah, and Little Cottonwood Canyon, 1847-1966

Anthony W. Bowman


In this study the former mining town and present ski resort of Alta, Utah, and the Little Cottonwood Canyon (in which Alta is located) are treated as one unit of study. After a brief treatment of the natural setting, man's earliest activities in the region are traced through the winter of 1966. Activities which are examined include: exploring, trapping, logging, grazing, milling with the major emphasis upon quarrying, mining, skiing and settlement. Until 1864 the region was utilized for non-mining activities. By the 1870's, mining "boomed" and various settlements were established in the canyon. The most famous of these was Alta. Although not formally chartered, Alta was typical of frontier mining camps. Following the decline of mining, the area lay somewhat dormant until the advent of organized skiing in 1937. Now Alta's wealth is found in the snow that falls upon surrounding mountains and not in the silver that was mined from them.