The American West has a rich and colorful past. Park City’s heyday as a bustling mining town holds an important place in the annals of the western experience.
There’s silver in these hills! The discovery of rich silver veins in 1868 in the hills above what is today Park City, led to the founding of the town and its glory days as a silver mining town.
Like the great California Gold Rush, news spread attracting adventurous and enterprising individuals from all over the world. The town was a diverse and stalwart community — made up of miners, merchants, prostitutes, and hard working families with vision and drive. The many stories of the day describe people who were determined to succeed, who stayed focused despite struggles, dangerous conditions and significant setbacks.
Park City has experienced many changes over the years. At the height of the silver boom in the mid-1890s, the town was the largest silver-mining camp in the country with a population of nearly 9,000 individuals. But by 1898 the town was virtually destroyed by fire. Tragedy struck again in 1902 when 34 miners were killed in an explosion in the Day West Mine. The mining community would never fully recovered from these setbacks. As time went on declining silver prices, WWI and the Great Depression, meant the end of silver mining as a sustaining economy. By 1951 the population of the town had dwindled to just 1,150 people. At this point Park City was even listed in a book about ghost towns.
With their town hanging by a thread ‘Parkite’ miners proposed a ski resort to the state of Utah as a way to save the town. In 1963 the Treasure Mountain Resort opened in Park City for skiing and the town experienced a rebirth and what would eventually be a return to the Glory Days! Once again the Wasatch Mountains had provided a way to sustain the town.