History of the Kirkwood Inn
Zachariah S. Kirkwood chose this lush alpine valley for his summer ranching operations and settled here in the late 1850s. In 1861, he began the construction of the log cabin we know today as the Kirkwood Inn. Opened in 1864, the Kirkwood Station (as it was then called) served as his headquarters and soon became a hostelry, post office, stagecoach depot which served many travelers throughout the Sierra in the late 1800s.
A hundred years later Kirkwood Mountain Resort founder Bud Klein brought his associates to share his vision for the Kirkwood valley as a family ski resort. The group arrived aboard a snow-cat during the winter of 1968 to survey the area and had planned to stay at the Kirkwood Inn, but first they had to find it. The Inn was buried under the abundant snowfall for which Kirkwood is well known. The survey team used poles to probe down into the snow eventually finding the chimney and digging their way in. They lived in the igloo-like building for eight days.
In 2004, the Kirkwood Inn celebrated its 140th year of friendly western hospitality, and remains one of the best watering holes and eateries in the High Sierra. The Inn sits at the intersection of Alpine, Amador and El Dorado county lines. The Alpine/Eldorado county line actually runs right through the old bar room. Rumor has it that during Prohibition, the bar was on wheels so it could be rolled across the county lines and out of the jurisdiction of the visiting sheriff. And the slot machines were hidden in the kitchen.
The Inn has preserved its rustic charm over the years, both inside and out with the painted wood sign, solid mahogany bar, dim lighting stone fireplace, timber furniture and turn-of-the-century log cabin design.
Visitors to the Kirkwood Inn today sense its history as they enter through the undersized doorway to experience the down-home atmosphere.