Alta, Utah

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Alta, Utah
Town
Alta Ski Area, February 2011
Alta Ski Area, February 2011
Location in Salt Lake County and the state of Utah.
Location in Salt Lake County and the state of Utah.
Location of Utah in the United States
Location of Utah in the United States
Coordinates: 40°34′51″N 111°38′14″W / 40.58083°N 111.63722°W / 40.58083; -111.63722Coordinates: 40°34′51″N 111°38′14″W / 40.58083°N 111.63722°W / 40.58083; -111.63722
CountryUnited States
StateUtah
CountySalt Lake
Settled1865
Incorporated1970
Named forSpanish for 'high'
Government
 • TypeMayor/Council
 • MayorHarris Sondak (2021)
Area
 • Total4.57 sq mi (11.8 km2)
 • Land4.56 sq mi (11.8 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.03 km2)
Elevation
8,560 ft (2,610 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total383
 • Estimate 
(2019)[2]
379
 • Density83.10/sq mi (32.09/km2)
Time zoneUTC-7 (MST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-6 (MDT)
ZIP code
84092
Area codes385, 801
FIPS code49-00650[3]
GNIS feature ID1437483[4]
Websitewww.townofalta.com

Alta is a town in eastern Salt Lake County, Utah, United States. It is part of the Salt Lake City, Utah Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 383 at the 2010 census, a slight increase from the 2000 figure of 370.

Alta is centered in the Alta Ski Area, a ski resort that has 500,000 annual visitors. It is known for its powder skiing[5] and its decision to not allow snowboarding.

History[edit]

The Emma Silver Mine and the City (c.1875)
Cecret Lake near Alta

Alta has been important to the development of skiing in Utah. 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.[6][7] 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 to Congressional hearings in Washington DC on the transaction.[8]

An incident that occurred in the town in 1873 was adapted by Rod Serling for the episode entitled "Mr. Garrity and the Graves" of his television series The Twilight Zone.

An 1878 fire and an 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 that he owned, Watson donated much of his land in Alta to the U.S. Forest Service, stipulating that the land be used 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. By the end of the twentieth century, up to 7,000 people per day could be found on the Alta slopes, and traffic in the Little Cottonwood Canyon was nearing gridlock proportions.[9]

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

During the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent government-mandated economic restrictions,[10] Alta briefly gained national attention when it was the only ski resort included in a detailed study of disease-transmission probabilities. The university-based study concluded that buses to the site could be made safe, traveling on ski lifts was safe, and queueing at ski lifts was safe. However, no amount of compensating factors could make indoor-dining at restaurants acceptably safe, and locker rooms could only be considered safe if occupants used "quiet voices".[11]

Geography[edit]

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) is land and 0.25% is water.

At 8,950 feet (2,730 m), Alta is one of the highest cities in Utah, and one of the highest in America.

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
197093
1980381309.7%
19903974.2%
2000370−6.8%
20103833.5%
2019 (est.)379[2]−1.0%
US Decennial Census[12][13][14]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 386 people in 156 households in the town. The racial makeup of the town was 93 percent white and 4 percent Hispanic or Latino.

The population was 67 percent male and 33 percent female. The population was 4.7 percent under the age of 18 and 2.6 percent was 65 or older.

Climate[edit]

Alta experiences a high altitude humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb), which borders on a subalpine climate (Dfc), due to its high elevation. Due to its proximity to the Great Salt Lake, the town receives very heavy snows, averaging over 507 inches (12.9 m) per year. During the very wet season of 1982/1983, Alta received as much as 900 inches (23 m) of snow, leading to record flooding of Wasatch streams as the snow melted during May and June that year.[15] Alta's total precipitation of 108.54 inches (2,756.9 mm) during 1983 is a record for a calendar year in any state of the Mountain West;[16] strangely Villanueva only 675 miles (1,086 km) away recorded only 0.91 inches (23.1 mm), which is a record low for New Mexico,[16] in that same year.

Climate data for Alta, Utah (Elevation 8,730' MSL)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 57
(14)
57
(14)
65
(18)
69
(21)
76
(24)
82
(28)
86
(30)
84
(29)
79
(26)
72
(22)
64
(18)
59
(15)
86
(30)
Average high °F (°C) 30.2
(−1.0)
31.2
(−0.4)
34.7
(1.5)
41.3
(5.2)
51.9
(11.1)
63.4
(17.4)
72.2
(22.3)
70.5
(21.4)
61.5
(16.4)
49.0
(9.4)
36.6
(2.6)
31.1
(−0.5)
47.8
(8.8)
Daily mean °F (°C) 21.6
(−5.8)
22.7
(−5.2)
26.0
(−3.3)
32.6
(0.3)
42.3
(5.7)
52.3
(11.3)
60.9
(16.1)
59.5
(15.3)
50.7
(10.4)
39.6
(4.2)
28.1
(−2.2)
22.7
(−5.2)
38.3
(3.5)
Average low °F (°C) 13.0
(−10.6)
14.1
(−9.9)
17.2
(−8.2)
23.8
(−4.6)
32.6
(0.3)
41.2
(5.1)
49.6
(9.8)
48.5
(9.2)
39.9
(4.4)
30.1
(−1.1)
19.5
(−6.9)
14.2
(−9.9)
28.6
(−1.9)
Record low °F (°C) −26
(−32)
−19
(−28)
−8
(−22)
1
(−17)
10
(−12)
20
(−7)
31
(−1)
30
(−1)
16
(−9)
−4
(−20)
−16
(−27)
−25
(−32)
−26
(−32)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 7.07
(180)
6.26
(159)
6.70
(170)
5.59
(142)
3.86
(98)
2.02
(51)
1.62
(41)
1.98
(50)
2.59
(66)
4.11
(104)
5.47
(139)
6.71
(170)
53.98
(1,370)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 82.7
(210)
75.3
(191)
80.1
(203)
60.4
(153)
26.8
(68)
4.8
(12)
0.0
(0.0)
0
(0)
4.3
(11)
30.6
(78)
62.8
(160)
80.0
(203)
507.8
(1,289)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch) 13 13 13 11 9 6 7 8 8 9 11 13 121
Source: Western Regional Climate Center[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2019 US Gazetteer Files". US Census Bureau. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". US Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  3. ^ "US Census website". US Census Bureau. Retrieved 31 January 2008.
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 25 October 2007. Retrieved 31 January 2008.
  5. ^ "The 11 Unspoken Rules of Powder Skiing". Outdoor Magazine. 17 January 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  6. ^ "Emma Mine". mineswindles.com.
  7. ^ "The Infamous Emma Mine: A British Interest in the Little Cottonwood District, Utah Territory". Utah Historical Quarterly, Vol. 23. 1955. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  8. ^ Dan Plazak, A Hole in the Ground with a Liar at the Top, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-87480-840-7, pp. 39-77.
  9. ^ "Governor considers gondola to solve canyon gridlock". Deseret News. 17 January 2021. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  10. ^ "How Will Covid-19 Change Utah's Ski Season?". ABC4 News, Salt Lake City UT. 18 November 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  11. ^ "Alta Mayor calls for quiet after study at resort shows how loud talking can spread coronavirus". Salt Lake Tribune. 16 December 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  13. ^ "US Census website". US Census Bureau. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  14. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 October 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Utah Battles Floods, Mud"; in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; June 3, 1983; p. 30
  16. ^ a b "Weather Extremes"
  17. ^ "Seasonal Temperature and Precipitation Information". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved April 6, 2013.

External links[edit]