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History of Snow Basin

Jami Balls

Following the slowing of World War I and the Great Depression, the 1930s experienced a phenomenal growth in skiing interest. Small resorts sprung up throughout Utah’s snow-packed mountains with the installation of primitive tows. This encouraged Weber County to develop the area of Wheeler Basin into a ski resort. Some badly deteriorated watershed lands were restored and the area was turned over to the U.S. Forest Service as a part of the Cache National Forest.

In 1938, A.G. Nord directed a program of rehabilitation and by mid-1940 a contest was held to rename the area. Snowbasin won the title and the Forest Service constructed a lodge in 1944. Assisted by the CCC and WPA, it also constructed a road into the basin. Delayed by World War II, it didn’t add its first legitimate chair lift or hold dedication and naming ceremonies until 1946. The resort instituted a ski school; Earl and Gladdis Miller owned and operated it for thirty-five years.

In 1957, Ogden City sold Snowbasin to S.S. Huntington of Colorado, a private developer, who continued its development as a resort. The area’s invigorating powder snow and magnificent mountain scenery attracted 2002 Salt Lake Olympic planners to designate it as a site for the alpine skiing events. Greater development of the area was necessary to accommodate the Winter Games. The addition of hotels, condominiums, ski lifts, lodges, and private residences would result in a city of nearly 8,000 people and pose pressure on the water supply and general environment as well as increasing canyon traffic. Therefore, debate continues over this issue, but the resort effectively continues to serve the needs of its skiers as it has done since the 1930s.

Sources: Frederick M. Huchel, History of Box Elder County: Richard C Roberts and Richard W. Sadler, History of Weber County; JDN, History Blazer August 1995; Snowbasin website www.snowbasin.com