Special Collections, J Willard Marriott Library, U of U.
Some of Utah's first skiing fans line the finish of a race on City Hill at Snowbasin in the early 1940s.
Alta: Alta's history goes back much further than when it started its first lift in 1937. Before there were skiers, there were miners. It was back in 1864 that silver was discovered in the canyon by soldiers from Fort Douglas. In 1935, legendary skier/ski jumper Alf Engen stepped into what was then a dusty bowl and proclaimed that this would become one of the greatest ski areas in the world. Two years later, Alta opened with what was then the second operational chairlift in the world.

Brighton: Brighton's story started in 1936 when members of the Alpine Ski Club designed and built a "skier tow" out of half-inch wire rope and an old elevator drum. Brighton became the first tow-serviced ski area in Utah and was one of only a few operating in the nation. Two years later, in 1938, the group built a new T-Bar lift. Seven years after Alta introduced skiers to a chairlift, a group called Brighton Recreations built the first chairlift in Big Cottonwood Canyon in 1946. The single-chair lift accessed the terrain on Mount Millicent. In 1955, Brighton put in the first double chairlift.

Brian Head: The development of Brian Head Resort as a ski area began in 1964. The resort opened for business in January 1965 with a T-bar and warming house. It has been in continuous operation since. Over the years, it has added six chairlifts, two surface lifts and the Giant Steps and Navajo day lodges during the 1980s. To reflect the growing popularity of the area, the town of Brian Head was incorporated in 1975 to provide basic services and an infrastructure to support the growing ski resort. The resort added a lift-served, six-lane snow-tubing park to its offering in 1998.

Beaver Mountain: Beaver Mountain is probably one of the few resorts left in the country that is completely family owned. The area was founded by Harold "Harry" and Luella Seeholzer back in 1938, who, it was reported, "were looking for a fun winter recreation for their children and friends." A surface tow was soon installed, and Beaver Mountain became a labor of love for the family. Weekends, holidays and spare time were donated to working at the resort. There was little or no money coming in from the resort, so all those working at the time held full-time jobs elsewhere. Among their daily chores, family members side-slipped and boot-packed runs before guests arrived, since machine groomers had yet to be discovered.<

The Canyons: The resort, then called Park City West, opened in 1968 with three double-chair lifts and four rope tows and an uphill capacity of 3,300 skiers per hour. The name change to ParkWest came with the sale of the resort in 1975. Four years later, the resort opened the doors to the ski industry by being the first to allow telemark skiers on its slopes. In 1995, the resort was sold and once again the name was changed — to Wolf Mountain. This was also the year that the resort became the first in Park City to allow snowboarders. The real growth came in 1997, when the American Skiing Company purchased the resort and changed the name, again, to The Canyons.

Deer Valley: Deer Valley officially opened in 1981, but its history actually goes back into the 1940s. Bob Burns and Otto Carpenter opened Snow Park with a single "T-bar" on Deer Valley land, then added a chairlift back in 1949. The vision of Deer Valley belongs to Edgar Stern, who at one time was an owner in Park City Mountain Resort. Stern set out to build an upscale resort and did just that, introducing many new services other resorts have now adopted. These include fine dining, guest service attendants to help guests unload skis, limited lift ticket sales (no more than 6,000 tickets sold per day), parking lot shuttle, complimentary ski check and a state-licensed child care center.

Park City Mountain Resort: It was in the winter of 1963 that Treasure Mountain Ski Area — Park City Mountain Resort's precursor — opened, boasting America's longest gondola, a double chairlift and two J-bar tows. The lifts served 18 miles of skiing terrain and transformed Park City from a silver mining town gone bust to the beginning of the premiere resort it is today. The local newspaper proclaimed the event a "new rich lode — one of recreation — to the storied community of Park City which was the West's mining capital some 65 years ago." The resort was also one of the first in Utah to introduce the new high-speed lifts and was the first to have a six-passenger high-speed lift.

Powder Mountain: Frederick James Cobabe herded sheep on the summer ranges around Grand Targhee in Idaho. When Targhee became a national forest, he had to move to land around Powder Mountain. In 1948 Cobabe's son, Alvin, purchased the land. While riding horses in the 1950s, a friend suggested his high-mountain land would make a great ski area. He liked the idea and started to acquire adjacent land. By 1972, when Powder Mountain opened, Alvin Cobabe owned approximately 14,000 acres.

Snowbird: The resort opened in December 1971 with three lifts, the tram, the Snowbird Center and one lodge. Over the next three years it would add three lodges. In 1986, the resort renovated and expanded its main overnight center, the Cliff Lodge. In 1997, Snowbird entered the high-speed era by introducing the Gadzoom lift in Gad Valley. The next big step was to expand its skiable acres in 1999 with the opening of Mineral Basin on the back side of Bald Mountain.

Solitude: Story has it that while skiing one day at Alta, Robert Barrett was denied access to a restroom. So he built his own resort. He started construction in 1956, and the resort opened in 1957. After an exchange of owners, a former member of the Solitude ski patrol purchased the area and started it on the road to world recognition. Dave DeSeelhorst purchased the resort in the late 1970s and continued the process, making it the first resort in Utah to introduce skiers to the now-popular high-speed quad in 1989.

Snowbasin: The suggestion was to build a resort in Wheeler Basin, the current location of Snowbasin. More than 1,100 entries were submitted in a naming contest and Snowbasin was selected. Snowbasin officially opened in 1940 after the road was completed, with two rope tows up Becker Hill, site of the current Becker chairlift. After one change in ownership, Earl and Carol Holding purchased the troubled ski area in 1984, along with the Earl Miller Ski School. Holding turned the ski area around, making major improvements in lifts and slopes and lodges.

Sundance: It was back in 1901 that the family of S. Paul Stewart purchased the land where the ski resort is now located. They paid a whopping $2.50 per acre. Skiing started around 1946 when Raymond Stewart installed a rope tow and began calling the ski area Timp Haven. The resort was unique in the ski industry because it closed on Sunday. In 1957, Junior Bounous bought into the ski area and started a ski school. In 1963, Robert Redford built a home near the resort and took up an interest in getting into the ski business. He purchased the resort in 1968.

Wolf Mountain: The resort, formerly Nordic Valley, is both Utah's smallest and largest. All 110 skiable acres are lit up at night, which makes it Utah's largest night skiing/snowboarding operation. The first lift opened in 1971. A second started running in 1972. In 2005, Wolf Creek Resort, a nearby community of upscale condominium lodging, completed negotiations to buy the resort.