Main Street guided walking tours return this summer to open the door to Park City’s history
Park City Museum taking reservations
The Park City Museum invites guests and residents to enjoy the summer while learning about the town’s mining and skiing history when the historic Main Street guided walking tours restart on Monday.
The tours, which run about an hour and 15 minutes, give groups of up to 15 the chance to hear about the Great Fire of 1898 and how Park City transitioned from a mining town into a winter sports mecca, said Diane Knispel, Park City Museum education director.
“Our docents will lead the groups and tell the stories about the people who lived and worked here,” Knispel said. “They will also talk about the Main Street buildings, show historic photographs and compare them to the scenery today, so people will be able to see what has changed in more than 100 years.”
The museum hosts one tour Mondays through Fridays at 2 p.m., and participants should arrive at the designated meeting location 10 minutes early, Knispel said.
The meeting location will change depending on whether the Main Street Trolley is running, she said.
On days the trolley runs, the group will meet at the Park City Museum’s gift shop at 528 Main St. and ride the trolley to the top of Main Street. On the days the trolley isn’t running, which will usually be Mondays and Tuesdays, the group will meet in front of Grappa at the top of Main Street, Knipsel said.
“The best thing people can do is ask us where their group will meet when they call to make their reservations,” she said.
Once the groups get to the top of Main, docents will lead them down in a casual stroll, according to Knipsel.
“It’s like a stroll, with no vigorous walking, so people don’t need to be worried about the elevation,” she said.
The docents are trained with a script about Park City’s history, but the script is more like a guide, Knispel said.
“We encourage them to go off script and make each tour they lead their own, because that’s what we like,” she said. “They can do their own research or listen to other docents in order to add new things in their tours. That way if someone takes the tour on a Monday and then takes another tour on Tuesday they will hear different stories.”
Each tour group will cap at 15 for various reasons, Knispel said.
“First of all, we have to keep everyone on the sidewalk,” she said. “Secondly, we have found that if there are more than 15 people in a group, everyone has a hard time hearing the docents, and they also have a hard time seeing the photos.”
Private walking tours for groups of 12 are also available for families or groups of friends, as well, Knispel said.
“These tours are scheduled at different times so as to not interfere with the public tours,” she said.
Because of Park City’s Wild West history, the tours are designed for ages 13 and older, according to Knispel.
“Of course, it’s ultimately up to the parents to decide, but much of Park City’s history includes prostitution, bar brawls and violence,” she said.
Some of Knipsel’s favorite segments of the tour include the Egyptian Theatre and the Great Fire of 1898.
“Those two things are really fun to talk about, and they are a big part of what has made Park City what it is today,” she said.
Since the tours take place during the summer, participants should bring bottles of water and wear sunscreen.
“They should also wear comfortable walking shoes and maybe a hat,” Knispel said. “Masks aren’t required.”
The tours will be held rain or shine, although there are exceptions, she said.
“If there is a torrential downpour, we will call those who registered and let them know what we’ve decided,” Knispel said. “I think in the five-and-a-half years that I’ve been here, we have canceled maybe one tour because of rain.”
June 28 marks the first Historic Walking Tour since 2019, due to coronavirus pandemic concerns.
“It was a bummer last summer not doing them, and I’m thrilled to bring them back,” Knispel said. “I think they are a lot of fun for us, and they are a lot of fun for our visitors. We get to go outside, and we’re able to walk and talk about the history, buildings and people.”
When: 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays
Cost: $10 per person; $22 per person for the tour and museum admission
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