Engen Family Collections
By Kallin Glauser
Alf Engen was born in Norway on May 15, 1909, and in 1929, at age twenty, immigrated to the United States. Upon arrival, Alf didn't know English and survived his first year in the states only knowing “coffee” and “donut", as recollected in an oral history with his son, Alan Engen. Six months later Sverre, Alf’s younger brother, also immigrated to the United States, where together they settled in Chicago, Illinois and joined the American-Norwegian Athletic Club. The Engen brothers traveled with their club to Westby, Wisconsin, to participate in a ski jumping meet. With his first jump in the Westby Nordic event, Engen broke the world’s distance ski jump record, and was asked to join a group of professional jumpers that toured the North American Nordic circuit. With the construction of Becker Hill in 1930 in Ogden, Utah, the group of professional ski jumpers traveled out West to showcase their skills. Alf fell in love with the Wasatch Mountains, and permanently settled in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1931. Sverre also moved to Salt Lake City, where he was employed during the summers to improve the various ski hills in Ogden. After the two saved up enough money, they were able to send for their mother Martha Oen Engen, and their youngest brother Correy (Kaare), and the two immigrated to the United States in 1933. The Engens quickly gained a reputation for their world class skiing skills, particularly as ski jumpers, and between the three they have over 500 medals, trophies, and awards. In 1948, Engen and Walter Prager were co-coaches for the United States Olympic ski team, and both Sverre and Correy skied for the team. In 1949, Alf became the ski school director at Alta Ski Area, and served in that position for 40 years. Over the decades, the Engens have introduced thousands to skiing, and helped the West adopt a love for the sport. The Alf Engen Ski Museum preserves this rich heritage of ski history.
Selected finding aids and digital collections
Alan K. Engen Papers (finding aid, digital collection) - The Alan K. Engen papers (1840-2010) contain drafts and research for Engen's 1998 book For the Love of Skiing: A Visual History. Engen is the son of Alf and Evelyn Engen, Utah ski pioneers. He was a member of the University of Utah ski team, and had an extensive career as a competitive skier. Currently he is director of skiing at the Alta ski resort in Utah and president of the Alf Engen Ski Museum. The collection also includes material related to various aspects of Alf Engen's life, including articles, meeting minutes, press releases, pamphlets, correspondence, and business records relating to the Alf Engen Ski School, the Alf Engen Company, the Alf Engen Museum, Alta Ski Area, the Deseret News Ski School, and other ski-related topics.
Alan K. Engen photograph collection, 1860-2004 (finding aid, digital collection) - The Alan K. Engen photograph collection contains images documenting the history of skiing in Utah, including its origination, early skiers, and the development of ski jumping and ski competitions. Much of the collection focuses on the Engen brothers, Sverre, Alf, and Corey and their contributions to the development of skiing in Utah. Included are images documenting the development of ski resorts in Utah, including Alta, Brighton, Snow Basin, and Solitude.
Alf Engen Papers (finding aid, digital collection - selected items) - The Alf Engen papers (1915-1972) contain photocopied news clippings and mementos gathered by Alf Engen's mother concerning Engen's international Nordic and Alpine skiing careers. Some correspondence and certificates are also included. There are nine scrapbooks in the collection that cover his athletic career in his native Norway, as a champion soccer player and ski jumper, and as a United States, Olympic, and world champion ski jumper. The material within each scrapbook is organized chronologically, though several of the books overlap the same time period and are similar in content.
Alf Engen Ski Museum records, 1943-2015 (finding aid) - The Alf Engen Ski Museum records (1943-2015) consist of correspondence, administrative materials, design and construction materials, docent guides, newsletters, and media materials relating to the museum and the Alf Engen Ski Museum Foundation.