He ‘lived the history’
December 29, 2011
Carl Workman has seen Park City change firsthand for almost nine decades. Born in 1924 on Park Avenue in a red house a few doors up from what is now 7 Eleven, Workman was one of eight siblings. After making ends meet as a child during the Great Depression, serving as a World War II soldier and working in the Park City mines, Workman is now 87 years old and volunteers at the Park City Museum as a tour guide.
"I lived the history," Workman said. "I shoveled the walks of Main Street at 10 or 11 years old. It was my first job shoveling snow and delivering Park Record newspapers. I lived through the Depression. That’s what made you tough."
During the Depression, Workman said, all of his brothers and sisters had jobs. There were no unemployment benefits. People either worked or went hungry. As a young adolescent, Workman picked up 20 newspapers for 2 cents apiece and delivered them on foot to his customers. He sold the paper for 5 cents to make a profit. He also popped popcorn at the ‘Show House,’ which is now the Egyptian Theatre. A show cost about a dime, according to Workman, who said back then people were lucky to have spare change.
Workman’s grandfather was born in Salt Lake City and worked on freight trains. His father was born in Park City in 1886 and eventually worked as a blacksmith and miner. Workman said he remembers taking his father lunch and watching him panning for silver in Poison Creek.
Strolling through the Park City Museum during an interview with The Park Record, Workman recalled memories of Old Town Park City in the early 1940s. On the day he was drafted into the military for World War II, he posed for a photo at the top of Park Avenue in his military uniform.
Workman served in the Pacific Theater during the war where some of the toughest battles took place. At age 19, he fought on the island of Saipan, in the Mariana Islands. He spent his 21st birthday fighting in the Battle of Okinawa, located among the Ryukyu Islands, and spent four months in Japan as part of the occupying forces before coming back to the States.
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In 1947, Workman started his first job in the Park City mines. He traveled up and down Daly West Mine shaft bringing metals and ore from 2,100 feet below the surface. His second mining job was as a mucker, which required Workman to shovel rubble after new sections of the mine had been blown up with dynamite. The materials were then ground up and transferred to Salt Lake City to be processed. He also shoveled coal into tramway cars, which were channeled into a chute and onto a conveyor belt.
He kept his job in the mines for six years before getting a job in the oil industry in Colorado. Without additional education, Workman tutored himself by reading books and spending time in the field. For 25 years he worked for Western States Refining Company, which produced Beeline oil.
That company was eventually sold to Frontier Oil Refining Company, which Husky Oil bought before the company became what is now Flying J, he said. Workman left Flying J in 1986 at 62 years old and drove Sinclair Oil tankers and trucks for the remainder of his career before retiring when he was 81.
Workman helped his sister build a new farmhouse in the late 1950s on the property that sits on the corner of Old Ranch Road and State Road 224. He bought the land in 2005 after she passed away and lives there today.
"I lived it all," Workman said. "I helped build Park City. I was involved in everything and I’ve done about everything in the world."
Workman volunteers as a docent on Fridays at the Park City Museum, where visitors can catch a glimpse of his rich knowledge of Park City history.