Brighton has been a popular summer destination since the 1850s when Salt Lake City residents came to get out of the city heat and enjoy refreshing activities, but they didn't stay for the snowy winters. In the late 1800s Dan and Will Brighton made crude skis so they could move around on the snow.
About 40 years later, in the 1920s the Wasatch Mountain Club began skiing at Brighton because of its sumptuous snow. But there were no lifts in those days. Instead, groups would travel to Park City, climb up over the ridge tops just as the early travelers had done, and ski down into Brighton where they would spend a few days skiing, eating, drinking, dancing, playing bridge and getting very little sleep according to the accounts. Routes from Park City to Brighton became so popular that the club marked them with signposts displaying the club's insignia.
In the early years, lifts were all privately owned. In 1936, the Wasatch Mountain Club built the first rope tow at Brighton. The Alpine Ski Club built a J-bar, but it was a complicated contraption that didn't work very well. In 1938, K Smith, an avid skier with the Wasatch Mountain Club, built a 1,440 foot long T-bar lift that was very successful. Smith then went to Sun Valley to learn about a new fangled invention - chair lifts.