Silver Fork Lodge History
The community of Silver Fork is nestled 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. By the late 1880’s the land around Silver Fork was being homesteaded by sheep and cattle herders.
Big Cottonwood Canyon was formed via a great upheaval of rock layers; the strains of silver and gold were very hard to follow consequently making mining in the canyon increasingly difficult. Thus, the last active mine in Big Cottonwood Canyon was closed in the 1950’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. Today it looks quite different than the original general store but it still has rustic charm and many details from the past. Dan Knopp bought Silver Fork Lodge and Restaurant from Jim and Avis Light in 1993 and he has spent much time and effort renovating the lodge. However, Dan has kept many of the original details of the lodge capturing the rich history and life of the area. Such as, you can still find the original wood beams from the Cardiff Fork Mine constructing the dining room ceiling, an old black and white photograph from the general store located in the cafe, glass tile from the 1940’s making up the original 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!