Our history makes us who we are.
Where do you begin when writing the history of the Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge? The history of a ski lodge in Alta, Utah, where history has always been critical to each and every decision made.
To start, you must first understand where the name Goldminer’s Daughter came from. As you probably know, before skiing Alta was a mining town; the Goldminer’s Daughter was one of many saloons in town. The original Goldminer’s Daughter Saloon stood in almost the exact location as the current Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge. The Goldminer’s Daughter Saloon is said to have embodied a similar atmosphere to the current lodge, cozy, down to earth, and unpretentious. The atmosphere of the Lodge was fashioned by Jim & Elfriede Shane, original owners of the Lodge, and continues to be extremely important to current lodge owners, Ross and Jenn.
Let’s start at the beginning:
In the late 40s, Jim Shane served as a weekend volunteer ski patroller at Brighton Ski Resort while attending university. Around this same time, Elfriede started skiing with the Wasatch Mountain Club.
In the early 50s, Jim moved over to Alta as a paid weekend patroller. Eventually, Jim decided to try his hand at ski instructing, so he became certified and taught for the Alf Engen Ski School. Jim’s position as a ski instructor allowed Jim & Elfriede access to a ski locker at the Alta Lodge. Jim quickly realized Alta was lacking a few “amenities.”
- When a skier was injured on the slopes, they were taken to the basement of the Alta lodge while waiting on transportation. It may not have been the best patient experience.
- The only public shelter / food & beverage service available to skiers was through the Watson’s Shelter. Everything they served was put in a machine and heated up, such as hot dogs, hamburgers, coffee and hot chocolate.
Jim realized there was a need, and the idea of the Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge was born mainly out of the need for a public shelter, which Jim had to take a trip to Washington D.C. to lobby the forest service to build. However, if you are going to build a public shelter, you should build a cafeteria and bathrooms and a ski shop. In the late 50s and early 60s if you worked in Alta, you lived in Alta. If you were going to have a cafeteria and bathrooms and a ski shop, you were going to need employee housing. There ended up being additional space, so why not have guests too? And, that is how the Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge was born.
As you may know, ideas need funding. Jim and Elfriede were able to borrow the initial investment from Jim’s father; with the help of some good friends they did most of the work themselves. Good friends, whose names you may recognize, like Harold Goodro and Jim McConkey. Harold, Jim McConkey, Junior Bounous and even Mike Weigele worked with Jim Shane to build the initial annex building.
The Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge opened to the public in 1962. The lodge started with a small building housing a ski shop, rental shop, cafeteria/dining room and 16 bedrooms with a community bath. The original building had six rooms for guests and 10 employees. Guestrooms, which included breakfast and dinner, were available for $10 a day. Within the first year or two Jim and Elfriede were able to repay Jim’s father.
The East Wing, constructed in 1968, included 33 spacious deluxe rooms with private baths including tub and shower, plus a café & restaurant, ski shop, ski and boot rentals and locker rentals.
Now, as you know, the people of Goldminer’s Daughter have always been a huge part of who we are. As you can imagine, we have some pretty interesting stories you may enjoy. During the early days, there was a particular couple employed at the lodge with a story we can’t help but share. The husband was in charge of the cafeteria and the employees’ dinner; the wife was the head housekeeper and the waitress for the dinner. She only had six rooms to clean, so it wasn’t as much work as you may think. However, this one day during the holidays the poor wife dumped a chicken in one of the guest’s lap. What did she do? She left, abandoned her position and ran upstairs. Once dinner was complete, and the dishes were done the couple was found loading their belongings into their car, never to be seen again. To complete the story, a 30-gallon drum was found in their room filled with canned food they had been collecting from the lodge. Now, how in the world they thought they would be able to get that container out of their room and into their car is beyond us, but they never did return to try!
Over the years, Jim & Elfriede ran the lodge from their heart. The employees and guests were family and every year promised yet another snow-filled family reunion. Summer letters were sent out to returning guests every August or September detailing improvements both at the Lodge and the Lift Company. Guests were encouraged to write for rates to “THE GOLDMINER’S DAUGHTER, ALTA, UT.”
On March 28, 1998, Jim Shane passed away from cancer. A celebration of life was held on the Goldminer’s Daughter deck on July 8. Elfriede continued to own and manage the lodge through 2000.
Jim and Elfriede often discussed how they would handle the sale of the lodge, when the time came. “We were both in agreement that the lodge should be sold to someone who understood the feel of both Alta and the Lodge and would continue to run the lodge in a similar way to ourselves,” writes Elfriede in 2002. When that time came in 2000, Ross and Jenn were two people who had worked for the lodge for a combined effort of over 35 years with experience in almost every department at the Lodge. Jenn’s first job at the Lodge was in housekeeping and Ross originally worked as a prep cook. Elfriede was comfortable that Jenn and Ross would continue to run the lodge in a way that was authentic and true.
And, they have done just that along with a renewed commitment to improvements and renovations at the lodge.
- In 2001, Goldminer’s Daughter found their home on the World Wide Web.
- In 2003, the lobby, including the front entry, ski shop and rental shops were remodeled to create a more relaxing comfortable experience for guests.
- In 2012, flat screen TVs were installed in all rooms.
- In 2013, 30% of the oldest rooms were invigorated with new paint and décor, the bar and café were painted and had new carpet installed.
Over the years, Jenn & Ross have continued to run the lodge the same way they learned from Jim and Elfriede. The lodge continues to enjoy a rustic, unpretentious, down to earth feel. The Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge is warm and friendly, with a contemporary rustic charm. These things will never change. It is our goal to continue to make improvements to the lodge, to stay with the times so to speak, but our priority, our duty instilled to us by Jim and Elfriede Shane is to continue to provide you with a home away from home for you to enjoy your ski vacations year, after year, after year.