ALPINE — This summer marks the first time in the last 72 years that members of the Clinger family hasn’t opened and operated a resort catering to summer travelers in Alpine, Wyoming.
Karyn Clinger and her brother Michael are the end of the line of a famous Wyoming family that started the Flying Saddle Resort in 1949 and opened the Nordic Inn straight across Highway 89 in 1979.
"There are no heirs, just my brother and myself are what's left of the family," said Clinger about their decision to shutter the hotel and restaurant. "It was an emotional situation to come to that decision, but it had to be done."
She said all of the land the family once owned in the area has been sold except the 15 acres that include the resort and family home. The business, including Brenthoven's Restaurant, a gift shop, hotel with nine rooms and bar are permanently closed. The family will retain the remaining land and is planning to sell the buildings and have them moved to a new location.
‘It’s Hard For Us To Say Goodbye’
Brenthoven's Restaurant was known for its pumpkin soup and parmesan cod. It had five tables and would seat 18 adults. Brent Johnston, a concert pianist who once performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City, ran the restaurant for 35 years.
The Nordic Inn was a summer resort. It normally opened on July 1 and closed sometime around Oct. 1.
"We had a great business and a great following," Clinger said. "It is hard for us to say goodbye."
She said they have a perspective buyer for some of the buildings who is planning to move them south about 35 miles to the Afton area.
Michael is still taking care of the lawns and flower beds around the Nordic Inn. Karyn said her brother enjoys the work, and even though the business has been mothballed, it's not a reason to stop taking care of the grounds.
"Just because we are closed doesn't mean the property can't still be beautiful," she said.
‘We Loved It’
In the late 1940s the Clinger family owned most of the land on both sides of the highway on the edge of Alpine along the Snake River.
Wardell Clinger, a school teacher and former Wyoming gubernatorial candidate, started work on the Flying Saddle Resort in 1944.
Wardell's son Dallas returned to Wyoming after serving as a fighter pilot during World War II. Dallas flew with the famous Flying Tiger squadron fighting the Japanese over China in 1941-42. He recorded five kills, earning the title of ace.
Dallas took over the Flying Saddle and in 1949 moved the business across the road to the Nordic Inn in 1979. The original Flying Saddle burned in 1978.
"We were very hands-on, and we worked 17 hours a day for seven days a week all summer long," Karyn said. "We loved it, and when you love what you do you never work a day in your life."
John Thompson can be reached at: John@CowboyStateDaily.com