Daly West head frame could become a new landmark in town
May 24, 2016
While some in the community were deeply saddened when the Daly West mine’s head frame, the stately relic that towered over one of upper Deer Valley’s ski runs, toppled to the ground, many others never knew it existed. These days, a year after its collapse, the once grand souvenir of Park City’s mining heritage lies on its side like a prehistoric skeleton while various entities argue over its fate.
Unfortunately, the Wasatch County entity that owns the property on which the awkward burden fell, does not have the resources – or motivation — to prop it back up. While there is a move among local history lovers to try to raise the funds needed to preserve it on its historic site, the investment needed to lift and secure the tower is substantial.
In the meantime, Park City has recently announced plans to renovate a portion of upper Main Street by converting the Brew Pub parking lot into a plaza complete with an event space, a parking structure, restrooms and public art. Perhaps the city should consider installing the Daly West Mine structure as the public art element for that project.
Alternatively, if it is too big for that site, other centrally located places like lower Park Avenue, Bonanza Park or the soon-to-be-redeveloped parking lots at Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort could be studied.
Historians will likely shudder at the notion of tampering with the tower’s authenticity, but there are some compelling reasons to at least study the possibility of moving it from its relatively obscure site to one where it can be celebrated by more of the town’s residents and visitors.
For one, the ground on which the tower stood for more than a century has been deemed unstable. Experts say the tower collapsed because mild winter temperatures combined with a wet spring caused the soil to become saturated. Given evidence that our winters, in general, are warming, that condition is likely to recur.
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But there is another, perhaps more appealing reason. Moving the tower to a more visible site could reinforce Park City’s unique reputation as a modern ski town with a rich historical backdrop. In time, the structure could become a landmark and a well-loved testament to a hardscrabble mining town that almost became a ghost town but instead turned into a vibrant city.