Daly West owner opts to leave collapsed derrick on ground
May 20, 2016
The Wasatch County water provider that owns the historic Daly West Mine shaft does not intend to return the collapsed derrick at the site to an upright position, an official with the provider said, a decision that leaves one of Park City’s most prominent mining-era locations in a state of uncertainty more than a year after the hulking piece of steel equipment crashed to the ground.
The Jordanelle Special Service District owns the shaft. It is located outside the Montage Deer Valley. The derrick, or head frame, that collapsed in May of 2015 was at the top of the shaft. The derrick was 85 feet tall when it was standing and was believed to have been built sometime after 1912, according to City Hall paperwork prepared as part of an inventory of historic sites.
Ron Phillips, the general manager of the Jordanelle Special Service District, said in an interview it would be too expensive to put the derrick upright again. He said the price would be "a big number," but he did not provide details. Phillips said the derrick is not integral to services provided by the Jordanelle Special Service District, leading to the decision not to put it upright.
"We have no incentive to pay that kind of money to put that head frame up. It’s not of any use to us," Phillips said, adding, "We have no need for the head frame to be on the property. We don’t have the kind of resources to put that up and maintain it for no reason."
Phillips said it would be difficult for the Jordanelle Special Service District’s leadership to justify the cost to ratepayers. Phillips, though, said the Jordanelle Special Service District would not object to another party funding the work that would be needed to put the derrick upright again. It is not clear whether another party or a consortium of groups is considering funding a restoration project at the site. There would almost certainly be several parties involved in talks of that nature, including City Hall and corporate interests.
The collapse of the derrick was one of the most dramatic events involving a mining-era site in Park City in years. Park City officials at the time blamed the saturation of the soil, the instability of the ground and a mild winter without a deep frost.
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Park City officials almost immediately began discussions about the site’s future with the desire that the derrick be put up again. Park City has for decades promoted its silver-mining history. It is something that City Hall leaders, the influential preservation community and tourism officials say sets the city apart from some of competing mountain resorts that do not have such a colorful past.
There are mining-era relics dotting the mountains surrounding Old Town. There have been signs posted at many of them describing the history of the site. The Daly West Mine derrick was for years reached by hiking or skiing to the site. An expansion of Deer Valley Resort and the development of Empire Pass made the Daly West Mine site widely accessible.
City Hall has been heavily involved in the discussions about the Daly West Mine site since the collapse. Matt Dias, the assistant city manager, said progress was made this spring. The head frame was removed from the shaft and the opening at the top has been capped with a mixture of concrete, foam and aggregate, he said.
Dias said the municipal government prefers the head frame be returned to an upright position at its historic location, but he acknowledged the Daly West Mine site is not under City Hall control. He said officials spoke to experts in mining, steel and civil engineering about the options.
Dias said rough estimates reached, potentially, to several hundred thousand dollars to put in new footings and a foundation, new bracing and the related engineering work that would be required to put the derrick upright again. He said sites like the Daly West Mine derrick "help tell the story of Park City to our guests and tourists."
"The historic structures are very important to the community and to the City Council," Dias said.