Trees that threatened a piece of Park City's history are now history themselves.
The Park City Museum hired a firm called Low Stump Tree Service to remove trees that endangered the historic aerial tramway towers that climb a hillside close to the route of the Town Lift. The towers are among the most visible remaining relics of Park City's silver-mining heyday given the location, which stretches from Park Avenue to the Park City Mountain Resort slopes.
Sandra Morrison, the executive director of the Park City Museum, said aspen trees over the decades grew along the route, some of them in close proximity to the towers. The tallest of the trees were taller than the towers, she said, adding they were entwined in the towers as well. Some of the roots of the trees, meanwhile, damaged the tower foundations by pushing them upward, Morrison said.
"They represent that industrialization of the mining industry of Park City," she said.
According to Morrison, Park City was one of the first places in the U.S. to install an aerial tramway for the purposes of mining. Prior to the construction of the aerial tramway in Park City, ore would be brought from the mines in the mountains using a horse and wagon or a narrow gauge railroad called the Crescent Tramway, Morrison said.
The aerial tramway carried silver ore from the Silver King Mine to the Coalition Building, which sat on what is now modern-day Park Avenue. A railroad would then take the ore to a Salt Lake City smelter, Morrison said.
Morrison said approximately 20 of the 36 towers required tree removal. A structural engineer hired by the museum in 2005 recommended the trees be removed to protect the towers, she said. The museum was not immediately sure how many trees were removed. The work took place over the course of two days earlier in August.
The work cost approximately $36,000. The museum needs to raise another $10,000. Morrison said the museum hopes to secure the remaining funding through a grant from City Hall and from donations by Parkites. Low Stump Tree Service donated half the cost the work, she said.
Morrison said the museum in the fall plans to study whether the stone masonry foundations of the towers require repair and how to make the repairs should they be needed.
Park City leaders recently discussed the possibility of providing financial assistance. City Hall staffers are researching the topic. Park City Manager Diane Foster said this week staffers plan to outline options in a report that will be drafted in anticipation of a Park City Council meeting on Thursday.