A Brief History of Snowbird and The Lodge

Long before skiers discovered the powder paradise that is Little Cottonwood Canyon, miners discovered their own treasure within the rugged confines of the glacial canyon.

The history of Little Cottonwood Canyon and the town of Alta dates back to the 19th Century, when a soldier in the U.S. Army first prospected for silver in 1869. The tiny minerals he stumbled upon quickly evolved into a massive industry attracting fortune-seekers who would otherwise never step foot in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

What the soldier had discovered will go down in history as one of the largest producers of silver ore in the Wasatch Mountains.

Known as the Emma Mine and the namesake for the Big Emma run in Snowbird's Gad Valley, the soldier's find eventually produced more than $3.8 million in silver.

At its peak, 8,000 people lived and worked in the narrow canyon, which boasted two smelters, 138 homes, hotels, boarding houses, stores and even a railroad. The entire town was later destroyed by a series of avalanches.

Snowbird was opened by Dick Bass and Ted Johnson in December of 1971 with three lifts, the Tram, the Lodge at Snowbird and the Snowbird Center.

The Inn (then called the Turamura) was constructed in 1972, the Cliff Lodge west wing in 1973-74, and the Iron Blosam in the fall of 1974. In June of 1974, after many years of dedication to the project, Johnson was ready for a well-deserved rest and wanted to spend more time with his family. He sold his interest in Snowbird to Bass.

In 2014, Bass sold the majority shares of Snowbird to Ian Cumming who was an original investor at The Inn.

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