Silver Fork Lodge History
Silver Fork Lodge & Restaurant is nestled in the mountains of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, in the Silver Fork community. The community of Silver Fork is located at the mouth of the Silver Fork Canyon Drainage, 8,000 feet above sea level, in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
The community of Silver Fork has a rich history that dates back to the 1850’s when it was a large tent city for the miners and the sawmill workers. The tent city consisted of around 2,500 people, 8 saloons, stores and an LDS ward. The northwest corner of the Silver Fork Lodge and Restaurant was once a general store for the area.
This area was selected for its excellent wood supply and clear water source, hence the original name of the area Silver Springs. From 1850 to the 1870’s the sawmill’s worked to provide timber for Salt Lake City and the mines scattered throughout Big Cottonwood Canyon. Interestingly, all the shingles for the Salt Lake Tabernacle, nearly 600,000 pieces, were sawed by Nelson Wheeler Whipple in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The Walker brothers financed the Prince of Wales mine which was the principle mine up Silver Fork Canyon. South of the Big Cottonwood Creek was an assay smelter.
However, most of the silver ore was taken out on the Alta side in Little Cottonwood Canyon which was the bigger of the two canyons for mining. Due to the way this canyon was formed, by great upheaval of rock layers, following the strains of silver and gold was more difficult than its neighbor. Therefore, by the late 1880’s the land around Silver Fork was starting to be homesteaded by sheep and cattle herders. However, there were still some hold-outs well into the middle 1900’s. The last of the mines in the Cardiff Fork drainage closed in the 1950’s. The Maxfield mine operated into the 50’s and Roy Newman, “the blind minder”, operated his mine into the 1960’s.
In 1984 the federal government created the Twin Peaks Wilderness bordering Silver Fork on the south and the Mount Olympus Wilderness bordering Silver Fork to the North. Today the area in and around Silver Fork is a mecca for recreationalists and home to about 120 residents, two ski resorts, many trails and abundant wildlife.
The Silver Fork Lodge still stands in its original location. However, today it looks quite different than the original general store but it still has rustic charm and many details from the past. The current owner, Dan Knopp, bought Silver Fork Lodge and Restaurant from Jim and Avis Light in 1993, who had been running the lodge for the previous 25 years. Jim and Avis Light bought the lodge from Ethel and Ted Glines who built the dining room and lodge addition in the middle 1950’s.
After his purchase of Silver Fork Lodge & Restaurant, Dan Knopp, has spent much time and effort renovating the lodge while still maintaining details of its rich history. Such as, original wood beams from the Cardiff Fork Mine construct the dining room ceiling, an old sepia tone photograph from the general store is located in the cafe, glass tile from the 1940’s adorns the bar and many other treasures as you look around.
Continuing in the traditional mining spirit—come for breakfast and enjoy our sourdough pancakes made with our original starter – over 70 years old!