The city was settled as a mining community in 1870, following the discovery of lead, gold, and silver in the area. The city became heavily populated to such an extent that many people thought it would replace Salt Lake City as the primary city in Utah. However, the mines penetrated the water table and were flooded, and the city nearly became a ghost town. Skiing began to come to the city in the 1950s, but the city did not recover until the 1970s, when growth finally came. Growth has accelerated in the last few decades, and it now stands as one of the most affluent and lively resort towns in the United States.

One of the few Utah towns established by non-Mormons, it once had 27 saloons lining the street, with an accompanying wager, apparently never won, that no one could take a drink at each one in a single night and end up standing. Getting a drink in this part of Utah was never a problem. Hence the town's slogan: "At the base of a 3100 ft vertical drop, you'll find an extraordinary place to land."

Once the site of the largest silver-mining camp in the country, the town was virtually destroyed by fire in 1898. Tragedy struck again in 1902 when 34 miners were killed in an explosion in the Day West Mine. The mining community never fully recovered. A collapse in silver prices and the economic consequences of the first world war exacerbated the town's decline. Half a century ago Park City was listed as one of the ghost towns of the west.

Skiing, however, helped drive the phantoms away. Particularly gung-ho is the terrain around Jupiter Peak, where, over the years, more than $400 million worth of silver ore was mined, creating the 23 millionaires, including George Hearst, founder of the news dynasty. Roger J. Traynor was born in Park City in 1900 and raised there; he went on to become Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court

As long ago as the 1920s, miners in Park City were using underground trains and shafts to gain access to the mountain for skiing. When the slopes opened to the public in 1963 as Treasure Mountain, skiers were transported nearly three miles into the mountain on the Spiro Tunnel mine train and then lifted 1800 ft (548 m) to the slopes on a mine hoist elevator. Aerial trams once used for hauling ore were converted into chairlifts. To this day, there are still more than 1000 miles (1609 km) of old silver-mine workings and tunnels beneath the slopes at Park City Mountain Resort and neighboring Deer Valley.

Park City might be a fairly nondescript-appearing town were it not for its colorful and evocative Main Street, where 64 Victorian buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Other relics from its past have been left near the slopes. Old mine buildings, mineshafts, and hoists, including the weathered remains of the Walker Webster Silver Mine and the water towers once used to hydrate one of the biggest mines, the Silver King, rear out of the snow to give the skiing a dash of history.

Mining Fast Facts:

From 1875 to 1982 Park City Produced:

  • 1.45 Million Ounces of GOLD

  • 253 Million Ounces of SILVER

  • 1.5 Billion Pounds of ZINC

  • 129 Million Pounds of COPPER

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