Alta, Utah

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Alta is a town in Salt Lake County, Utah, United States. It is part of the Salt Lake City, Utah Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 370 at the 2000 census, a slight decrease from the 1990 figure of 397.

Alta is also a ski resort that has 500,000 visitors a year. It is known for its powder skiing and its refusal to allow snowboarding.



Alta was founded about 1865 to house miners from the Emma mine, the Flagstaff mine, and other silver mines in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Sensationally rich silver ore in the Emma mine enabled its owners to sell the mine at an inflated price to British investors in 1871.[3] The subsequent exhaustion of the Emma ore body led to the recall of the American ambassador to Great Britain, who was a director of the company, and Congressional hearings in Washington.[4]

An 1878 fire and a 1885 avalanche destroyed most of the original mining town, though some mining activity persisted into the 20th century. By the 1930s, only one resident, George Watson, remained in the town. Facing back taxes on mining claims he owned, Watson donated much of the land in Alta to the U.S. Forest Service. Watson stipulated that the Forest Service use the land to construct a ski area. In 1935, Norwegian skiing legend Alf Engen was hired to help develop the area, and Alta opened its first ski lift in 1938.

Today, Alta is a small town, centered around the Alta Ski Area.


Alta is located at 40°34′51″N 111°38′14″W / 40.580916°N 111.637164°W / 40.580916; -111.637164 (40.580916, -111.637164).[5]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 4.1 square miles (10.5 km2), of which, 4.1 square miles (10.5 km2) of it is land and 0.25% is water.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 370 people, 67 households, and 36 families residing in the town. The population density was 91.4 people per square mile (35.3/km2). There were 242 housing units at an average density of 59.8/sq mi (23.1/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 94.86% White, 1.08% African American, 0.81% Native American, 0.54% Asian, 1.35% from other races, and 1.35% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.32% of the population.

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