By Ann Robertson
Uncover long-buried secrets of century-old mining tunnels crisscrossing for miles beneath the Wild West terrain of a silver-mining town in the unique Park City Museum on Main Street.
Wander through museum galleries to see an 1870s Kimball Brothers stagecoach and a recreated Union Pacific railroad car where an introductory film on Park City’s silver-mining days may be viewed. The stage line and two railroads served the bustling community long ago as rich ore was scooped from the earth and hauled to smelters for processing.
A two-story, mini-model of a working silver mine occupies the museum’s back wall. Visitors can look into tiny shafts and tunnels “one thousand feet” beneath mountainous terrain.
In 1868, people from all walks of life hearing of incredible silver deposits rushed to this new location. Stories of untold riches spread near and far.
Tales are told of a fellow walking into town with a dime in his pocket looking for fame and fortune. Some folks claimed this fortunate soul rose from miner to manager to owner of several properties.
Because safety issues in early mining days were largely ignored, accidents befell many workers toiling far underground. Cave-ins in the dark, damp workings were frequent.
Hundreds of miners died of silicosis caused by inhaling crystalline silica dust. Fires wreaked havoc on flimsy wooden buildings; lives
were imperiled above and below the ground.
Silver and some lead, gold, and zinc were mined from 1868 until the 1980s with many periods of boom and bust. As the price of silver tumbled after World War II, a Park City ski resort was envisioned, planned and eventually built. Word spread of fabulous Utah powder.
Park City’s prosperous mining days are long gone; to find out more about the adventure of Park City’s history visit the museum to trace the fascinating past leading to the mountain town of today. The museum store carries wonderful wooden toys, children’s activity books, history books for all ages, sparkling agates and Park City souvenirs.