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Alta ,Utah

Salt Lake County, Little Cottonwood Canyon

Back in the early years of Salt Lake City, the Mormon population suffered through the hot dry summers. To get away from it, the people would head up to the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon to enjoy the lake and cooler temperatures. In fact, the majority of the town was up there when the news came that the U S Army was marching on Utah. Move ahead a few years and suddenly the top of the mountain retreat had become a wild mining town. It started as a tent town named Central City and blossomed into a nice sized town complete with newspapers, saloons, hotels and all types of businesses. Legend of Alta is that it was the wildest town in the west. Over 100 men were killed in shootouts including one of the first claim owners, S.D. Woodhull. Strange thing is, more were killed in the winter by avalanches that frequent the area even today. In 1874, an avalanche 40 feet deep buried main street killing 60 men. It wasn't an easy town to live in.  At the peak of mining, the town had over 5000 inhabitants living there. Another risk living in Alta was fire. Two large fires damn near destroyed everything, one in 1873 and the other in 1878. Alta was also at the center of a controversy over a mine dispute. The Emma mine was a rich mine. So much so that a group of British buyers purchased the mine outright. It was mined for a wee bit then the ore disappeared. The plate shifting of the earth had taken the vein to the DEVIL knows where and it made the British mad. It almost turned into a war but cooler heads in London and Washington prevailed. I do know this story is true  because my grandfather has been in and saw where it ended. The story is the same with Alta as is with other mining towns. The ore ended and so did the town. By the 1930's, only one resident remained in the town. George Watson owed taxes and couldn't pay the bill. He sold out to the Forest Service with the stipulation that the area be turned into a ski area. In 1938, the first ski lift opened to the new resort. The rest is history.  Alta became a full fledged  town in 1970. It has a population of around 400 people today with another resort, Snowbird, built next to Alta. To visit today, you would never really know that it was a mining town once. My grandfather worked there and took these fotos in the early 20's I am thinking. I have never hiked the mountains around the town so I don't know if anything is left high on the mountain. For now, all we can do is admire what it once was through fotos! 

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