You probably know of Park City as one of the most popular ski destinations in the country, but it started out as a simple mining town. Its rich and storied history offers an incredible glimpse into the incredible resilience and determination of our inhabitants – and of all Americans. Even today, Park City residents work hard and are committed to making their own dreams come true, all while providing the perfect place for visitors to escape to. Here’s a look at Park City’s fascinating journey.
The first Americans to find Deer Valley were soldiers stationed nearby in Salt Lake City. Those who clambered over the mountain from Big Cottonwood Canyon in 1868 saw the presence of silver and marked the spot where they would dig the first of the area’s many mines. The Transcontinental Railroad, completed in 1870, brought in more prospectors set on striking it rich, and the area quickly grew.
Silver Mining Boom
The town of Park City was incorporated in 1884, with a population that rose to more than 5,000 by 1889. Over the next few decades, the population steadily continued to increase, with a booming economy created by the rich ore found in the Ontario, Crescent, Anchor, Silver King, Daly, and Mayflower mines. George Hearst, father of William Randolph Hearst, bought the Ontario Mine for $30,000. It produced over $50 million during its lifetime.
In 1898, a massive fire burned down 200 of the town’s 350 buildings, leaving three quarters of the town destroyed. This was soon followed by a horrific underground mining explosion in 1902 that killed dozens of workers. By 1907, numerous cave-ins and multiple flooded tunnels plagued the mines. Residents did, however, manage to drown their sorrows despite the arrival of Prohibition. 26 bars in Park City stalwartly continued to serve alcohol.
Ghost Town Days
Ore prices continue to dropped steeply and steadily, and by 1949 most of the once busy mines had been shut down, putting miners out of work – and sending them elsewhere. By 1951 the once booming mine town of Park City had become a virtual Ghost Town, with a population reduced to just 1,150. The city itself was hanging on by a thread.
Transition To Ski Town
In 1963, Park City received a federal loan from the Federal Area Redevelopment Agency, and the new Treasure Mountain Resort opened for skiing complete with gondola, chairlift, and 2 J-bars. Word spread, and people finally began moving back to the area. In 1966, Sports Illustrated featured Treasure Mountain Resort's PayDay ski run among the best in the country. Deer Valley Resort opened in 1981, and winter recreation continued to grow. By 1982, mining ore had disappeared entirely. When Salt Lake City was chosen as the site of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, over 40% of the events were held in Park City’s Utah Olympic Park. This brought international fame and marked the city as a world-class ski destination.
Today, you can still find traces of Park City’s mining history in many of the names used to mark ski runs and chairlifts. And at Stein Eriksen Lodge, https://www.steinlodge.com/ you will find a perfect home base to not only enjoy skiing and the many other popular winter sports available, but the wealth of culture the city now has to offer as well.