Mine hole will be closed
July 22, 2008
A state mining official said a recently discovered opening at the top of a historic mine shaft just off the Rail Trail will likely be closed with concrete and then topped with a clay liner.
Louis Amodt, who investigated the opening for the Utah Division of Oil, Gas & Mining, said the state must consult with the Army Corps of Engineers before the plans are finalized. He said the Corps of Engineers will decide whether the concrete and clay is an acceptable method for closing the opening.
He said the paperwork will likely take until mid-August, at the earliest, to clear. Amodt said he wants the opening closed "as soon as practical." He said permits must be obtained from the Corps of Engineers and the state Division of Water Resources. The permits will allow the crews to work in the stream channel where the opening was found.
Amodt has previously explained that the opening was at the bottom of a pond. Over the years, water eroded a clay and dirt seal. It failed, and the pond drained into what was found to be a mine shaft. He has estimated the mine shaft is at least 50 years old. A creek began flowing into the opening once the seal failed.
The discovery has drawn lots of interest from Parkites, and there have been frequent visitors to the site since the opening was publicized in early July. Crews have surrounded the opening with orange fencing. ‘Danger’ and ‘Keep Out’ signs have been posted.
The opening is just off the Rail Trail east of Prospector.
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Amodt warns against disobeying the signs. Since the publicity, Amodt said, he has found footprints approaching the opening. Caution tape at the site has been damaged.
The silver-mining industry dominated Park City in its early years, ending as skiing became the primary business in the latter decades of the 20th century. Mining-era relics, though, are common, and miles of underground tunnels remain. Hal Compton, a Park City historian, has said there was a mine, the Silver King Extension, once situated close to the site of the opening.
Utah State Parks and Recreation is responsible for the land where the opening was found through a longstanding agreement with Union Pacific. The railroad company allowed the state to open the Rail Trail on an old railroad bed, with Utah State Parks as the manager.
Laurie Backus, an official with Utah State Parks, cautions people not to approach the opening. She said she’s been told the mine shaft descends at a 45-degree angle, a steepness that she said would make it difficult for someone to stop themselves from falling further into the shaft.
"The water would force you down," she said, labeling it a "giant waterslide."
Backus said somebody can be prosecuted on trespassing charges if they climb over the fence surrounding the opening.
"We can’t have people going in there," she said.