Utah February 10, 2017
How This Little Ghost Town In Utah Transformed Into Something Wonderful
When you think of Utah ghost towns, places like Grafton, Cisco and Frisco probably come to mind. With the exception of just a few, many of the Beehive State’s ghost towns were mining towns that boomed, then busted. Now they sit abandoned…their hope and promise nothing more now than dust in the wind and sagebrush. One Utah mining town managed to make an incredible comeback after being abandoned, and you might be really surprised to learn which town we’re talking about. Take a look!
Park City got its start as a mining town.
In 1868, soldiers were stationed in Utah to protect the U.S. mail and keep an eye on the Mormons. Colonel Patrick Connor sent his men out to prospect, hoping that they’d find some valuable minerals and bring some non-Mormons into the state. In October, they did. The following spring, the Flagstaff Mine was founded and began producing silver, lead, zinc and gold.
In 1872, a rich vein of silver was found, leading to the opening of the Ontario Mine. Park City started to really boom with the new mine. George Hearst purchased the mine for $27,000; it produced over $50 million while it was open.
By the 1880s, Park City was booming.
The first issue of The Park Record was printed in 1880. To this day, it’s the oldest continuing publication in the state of Utah. The city got telephone service, built the St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church and installed electric lights. Many new mines popped up. Park City was incorporated in 1884.
In 1892, the Silver King mine was founded, and became the largest producing mine in Park City’s history.
The mine created millionaires. Susanna Bransford Emery Holmes earned more than $1,000 a day from her interest in the mine.
On July 15, 1902, 34 miners died in the Daly West and Ontario mines when a cache of dynamite stored underground exploded.
Over the next few decades, the economy dealt Park City several blows, and it began to suffer.
By July of 1949, all the mines in Park City had closed.
More than 1,100 miners were out of work and Park City was considered a "ghost town," though around 1,500 people still lived there.
Though the town would have its ups and downs throughout the next few decades, people continued to move out.
Park City was still very much in danger of being abandoned forever.
Skiing had been popular in the area since the early days. The ski industry was responsible for keeping Park City from becoming completely abandoned.
In 1963, the city installed a gondola and chairlift, and the Park City Resort was born (though it was originally called Treasure Mountain Resort). Park West (now Canyons) was founded in 1968. Ski tourism was increasingly popular.
Today’s Park City is a wonderful blend of modern amenities and mining history.
64 of the preserved buildings on Main Street are on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1904, the Miners Hospital was built at the base of the resort for $5,000; the building was moved to City Park rather than demolish it.
This is just one example of Park City’s dedication to the preservation of its history.
People from all over the world visit Park City to ski, shop, hike, mountain bike and more.
The money generated here from tourism is significant; the Sundance Film Festival alone contributes an estimated $80 million to Utah’s economy every year.
Park City’s transformation from a dying mining town to a thriving tourist destination (and locals favorite) is truly remarkable.
What’s your favorite thing to see and do in Park City?
Park City turns into a
winter wonderland every winter. Take a look!