A Little Park City History
1868 In late October, soldiers climb over the mountains from Big Cottonwood Canyon to the Park City area and find silver. As the snow is swirling and a storm brewing, they mark the outcropping with a bandanna on a stick and return in the spring. The first mine is named Flagstaff. Park City will become known not only for its silver, but for lead, zinc and gold. The Flagstaff Mine is the first to ship ore from the area.
1869 The Transcontinental Railroad is completed at Promontory, Utah. Laid-off workers, including many Chinese, settle in Parley’s Park.
1870 Parley’s Park has a total population of 164.
1872 George and Rhoda Snyder name the area Parley’s Park City, soon shortened to Park City. The discovery of exceedingly rich silver ore (400 ounces to the ton) leads to the opening of the Ontario Mine and starts a boom town atmosphere in Park City. George Hearst, the father of William Randolph Hearst, and his partners buy the Ontario for $27,000. It will produce over $50 million in its lifetime.
1875 A free public school is established.
1880 The first issue of The Park Record rolls off the press. It will be published continuously from this date forward, expanding in the 1990s from one day per week to every Wednesday and Saturday.
1881 Park City is the third city in Utah to receive telephone service. The typhoid epidemic hits the area. The Catholic Church builds a frame church and names it St. Mary’s. Water in the mines is a continuing problem in spite of numerous underground pumps. The Cornish Pump, a machine 30 feet high with a 70-ton flywheel, is imported from Philadelphia by freight wagon. It pumps water from 1,000 feet below the surface in the Ontario Mine, taking out over 4 million gallons of water a day. Later, drain tunnels will replace pumps.
1882 The Ontario has competition as other discoveries of silver occur. Among the larger ones are the Crescent, the Anchor and the Mayflower.
Park City Becomes Official
1884 Park City is incorporated and City Hall is under construction (to be finished in 1885).
1889 The town’s population is over 5,000. The city is one of the first in the state to have electric lights.
1892 Silver King Mine is incorporated. It will prove to be one of Park City’s largest producers of silver.
1893 Because silver is no longer to be used to back currency, silver prices drop. Miners at the Silver King accept a pay cut from $1 to 50 cents, allowing the mine to continue operating while others remain closed. First drilling contest takes place. In 15 minutes Frank Ward sinks his drill 17.5 inches into the rock. Yearly contests continue to this day as part of Miner’s Day (Labor Day) festivities.
1894 The Silver Queen, Susanna Bransford Emery, is making $1,000 a day from her interest in the Silver King Mine.
1896 On statehood day, January 5, Park City has a population over 7,000.
1898 Park City population approaches 10,000. In June, 200 of the 350 structures, homes and businesses burn in the worst fire Park City has ever seen. Three quarters of the town is gone, 500 are homeless, $1 million in property is lost. Gone is the grand new opera house built at a cost of $30,000 and open less than three months. Seventeen volunteers leave to fight in the Spanish-American Way which forces the price of silver upward.
1899 The town is rebuilt in one and a half years! The new buildings are more substantial – many are built of brick and stone to withstand fire. George Wanning’s saloon is the first to be rebuilt.
1901 Silver King aerial tramway uses buckets to bring ore down to town, lowering transportation cost to 22 cents a ton from $1.50 per ton when hauled by horse and wagon. Dick Smith, a nineteen-year-old, received a “blistered bottom” from his mother after he climbed a tramway tower, inched hand-over-hand along the cable and climbed down the ladder of the next tower.
1902 The mines are going strong, with new companies, new buildings and equipment. William Tretheway is honored at a special banquet for his heroism in carrying a case of burning dynamite from the Silver King Mine. On July 15, 34 men from the Daly West Mine die in an explosion of a large underground store of dynamite, which also produces fatal fumes. Considered the worst mine disaster in Park City history, the event prompts adoption of a state law forbidding the underground storage of large amounts of explosives.
1904 The Miners Hospital is built for the sum of $5,000 raised by local businessmen and the Western Federation of Miners Local #144. Six thousand miners are treated for “Miner’s Con”, or silicosis, in the first year.
1906 One of the first skiers in the area, “Bud” Wright spends the winter on skis troubleshooting as a lineman for the telephone company between Alta, Brighton and Park City.
1907 Hard times befall the town, with cave-ins and flooded tunnels making mining a poor enterprise. The panic of 1907 affects the whole United States, causing a general recession. However, the economy improves by the end of 1908.
1916 Heavy snows cause fatal snow slides and the collapse of the famed Dewey Theatre (where the Mary G. Steiner Egyptian Theatre now stands) just hours after 300 patrons finish watching the evening movie.
The Great Experiment
1917 The prohibition of liquor called “the Great Experiment” begins in Utah, two years before the rest of the nation. Bootleggers abound; stills and home brewing are popular.
1918 The great influenza epidemic prompts a law requiring anyone on the streets to wear a thick gauze mask or be arrested. Consequently, the impact of the disease is less severe in this area.
1920 Skiing becomes more widespread as some workers take the mine train to the top of Thaynes Canyon for a ski trip to the bottom of the mountain, the same route which is used in 1964 for the Mine Train Ride which moves skiers up the mountain.
1921 There are 27 bars in Park City and, despite prohibition, a thirsty soul could buy a drink in all but one of them. Prohibition continues through 1932.
1929 The stock market crashes. Silver King stock plummets from $12.87 to $6.50 in one year.; Park Con from $2 to 27 cents. A rope tow is installed at Snow Park (now Deer Valley).
Skiing Starts with a Jump
1930 A ski jump is built on the Creole mine dump. Downhill skiers are few and skiing is mostly a spectator sport.
1931 Alf Engen sets a world record at Ecker Hill by jumping 247 feet. In all, Engen sets five world records at Ecker Hill.
1934 Ski jumper Calmar Andreasen, hampered by strong crosswinds and hardpacked snow, dies from a fall on Ecker Hill.
1936 The town’s first Winter Carnival is a success, with more than 500 skiers arriving in Deer Valley on the ski train – a four hour journey from Salt Lake City.
1940 Swedes and Finns carry mail over the mountains to Brighton and Alta using very long skis and usually only one pole to control speed.
1941 December 7th, Pearl Harbor is attacked. Subsequent gas rationing prohibits travel to the Ecker Hill site.
1946 The first lift is installed at Snow Park (now Deer Valley). Mining prices continue to drop.
Ghosts Inhabit Town
1949 On July 1, the mines shut down, putting 1,200 miners out of work.
1951 Park City is included in a book called “Ghost Towns of the West” indicating no population. There are actually 1,150 “ghosts” in town at this time.
1952 Some mines are opening as mineral prices rise.
1954 People are leaving town. Welsh, Driscoll and Buck’s department store closes after 50 years. The red light district is raided, not an uncommon event.
Skiing Gives Town a Lift
1958 United Park City Mines looks to diversify and starts a feasibility study to begin the Treasure Mountain Resort (now Park City Mountain Resort).
1963 Park City qualifies for a federal loan from the Area Redevelopment Agency. The government gives $1.25 million and, with other contributions, a total of $2 million is used to start Treasure Mountain Resort. A gondola, a chairlift and 2 J-bars are installed. A lift pass costs $3.50 and there are almost 50,000 skier days logged that first year.
1965 A mine train takes skiers into a Silver King Mine tunnel then up a shaft to the top of the mountain, but the trip proves too slow to be very popular. As word of the new ski area spreads, people start moving to Park City. Snow Park is open weekends.
1966 Sports Illustrated magazine includes Treasure Mountain Resort’s Pay Day run among the finest ski runs in the country.
1968 Park West Ski Area (now The Canyons) opens.
1969 Snow Park closes.
Art Hits Main Street
1970 First Park City Art Festival debuts on Main Street.
1976 Kimball Art Center, in the old Eley Garage at 638 Main Street, opens its doors with two galleries, a gift shop, and classrooms.
1978 On Valentine’s Day, Park City is without a working mine for the first time in over 100 years. Despite a rally in the early 80s, mining will be over by 1982. A skeleton crew keeps the water pumped out and the mines open in case the price of metals increases dramatically
1979 The Miners Hospital, threatened with demolition, is moved from its site near the base of the Park City Ski Area to the City Park for its new use as the City’s public library.
1980 KPCW, Summit County’s public radio, goes on the air.
1981 Deer Valley Resort opens at the site of the old Snow Park area. The United States Film and Video Festival, highlighting independent films, opens in January for the first season in Park City. The festival has since become the Sundance Film Festival.
1982 After extensive renovation on the old Miners Hospital, a human chain forms a “book brigade” to move the thousands of books in the collection at the original library on Main Street to its new location.
1984 There are 14 lifts at Park City Ski Area and a day pass is $26, with 500,000 skier days.
1986 TV45, Park City’s television station, begins broadcasting.
1990 The estimated year-round resident population is 5,000. Skier days for the three areas are over 850,000.
1993 Park City residents witness the heaviest snowfall in 10 years. The public library moves from the Miners Hospital into the old high school at 1255 Park Ave. The Utah Winter Sports Park (now The Olympic Park) opens.
1995 Salt Lake City is awarded the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. More than 40% of the events will be held in Park City at the Utah Olympic Park, Deer Valley, and Park City Mountain Resort.
2002 The Olympic Games are hosted by Utah, and Park City is the party epicenter of the Olympics!
Park City is ski town USA! The town is home to not only the United States Ski and Snowboard Association, but also the venue for America’s Opening, the first World Cup ski event of the season to be held in the USA.
Park City, Deer Valley and The Canyons are the three local ski resorts, with a vast number of runs and lifts to cater to all tastes and abilities. There is a cross country ski trail in town, while several companies run snowmobiling trips as well. Snowshoeing is also a popular activity
The Utah Olympic Park is located in Park City, and was the venue for a number of Olympic events, including jumping, luge, bobsled and skeleton. You can ride both the luge and bobsled, but remember to book long in advance.
Heliskiing and powder cat skiing are both offered.
Park City’s historic Main Street is a popular area to walk, shop, eat and drink, while the Factory Stores at Park City have over 50 of the country’s leading retailers.