Online history lecture digs up Daly West Mine’s success and tragedy
Geologist Brian Buck will share photos and research
Park City’s Daly West Mine, located near where the Montage Deer Valley now stands in Empire Canyon, was a premium example of lead and silver mining operations during its heyday in the mid- to late-1890s, says geologist Brian Buck.
“They had first-class equipment, an early application of percussion-air drilling and electric power,” Buck said. “And there was quite a bit of expansion that took place from 1895 to 1902.”
Buck will give his perspective of the Daly West Mine’s operations and historic significance to Park City in an online lecture facilitated by the Park City Museum. The lecture, which is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, will include a profile on the mine’s one-time owner John J. Daly, the 1902 explosion that caused more than 34 deaths, and modern-day efforts to preserve its head frame.
Registration for the free lecture is open by visiting parkcityhistory.org.
“The lecture will start with the geography and location of mines so people have that in their minds as I give the general history of the area,” said Buck, who holds a master’s degree in geological engineering from the University of Utah. “Then I will introduce this chap named John Daly, and talk about what he accomplished.”
Daly’s story, alone, is a fascinating rags-to-riches tale, according to Buck.
Daly was orphaned when he was 12, and completed only two years of formal schooling, but became a multimillionaire by the time he was in his 40s, he said.
“This guy moved to Park City and worked in the Ontario silver mine, where he envisioned the ore bodies extending off the Ontario property line to the north and south into Empire Canyon,” Buck said. “What’s interesting is that he had no geology background, but went with what he saw underground and put this picture together in his mind while he prospected above ground.”
With this vision, Daly created a mining empire in Empire Canyon with mines he developed himself and others he acquired.
Those include the Daly Mine, the Daly West Mine, the Little Bell and Quincy mines, Buck said.
“He also developed the Daly Judge Mining Company with the estate of John Judge, and then took over the Anchor Mining Company,” he said. “I just think that is a very interesting story.”
Recapping the mine’s 1902 powder magazine explosion is one of the more poignant parts of the lecture, Buck said.
The explosion itself killed two people, but the gas from the explosion ended up killing more than 34 people, he said.
“When the explosion happened, miners from town rushed to the Daly West head frame to go down to help their brothers and friends,” Buck said. “The tragedy of the story is how some of them were overcome by the gas and died as they were dropped into the mine.”
Buck will read clips from The Park Record, the Deseret News and other newspapers that covered the disaster.
“The narrative is quite touching,” he said. “I’ll also talk about the aftermath that included processions down Main Street that honored the dead.”
Buck will then bring the Daly West Mine saga into the modern day when he focuses on the mine’s head frame that was replaced in 1914 after the original burned down.
“The ‘new’ steel stood there for 100 years through all the changes that happened around it, including the construction of the Montage Deer Valley,” he said. “Then it fell down in 2015, and I will show pictures of it lying on its side.”
Buck will end the lecture with a segment about the collaboration among the Empire Pass Master Owners Association, Park City Municipal and Deer Valley Resort to forge a plan to rectify and stabilize the frame this year.
He is looking forward to shedding light on the mine and its historic significance in the world of mining, and in Park City.
“The story of the Daly West Mine is really the story of Park City,” he said. “If you’re interested in mining history and fascinating mining characters, there is no place like Park City.”
When: 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 6
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