Park City Underground fundraiser offers a peek inside the Ivers Tunnel
Money raised will help restore mining history
August 11, 2017
Park City Museum Executive Director Sandra Morrison hopes people will dig the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History's upcoming fundraiser aptly titled Park City Underground.
"We always talk about the different events and fundraisers that are held in this town, and we wanted to do something completely different," Morrison said of the event that will take place on Thursday, Aug. 24. "The one thing that many people would like to do is go underground, so we're going to give them the opportunity to do that."
During the fundraiser, attendees will be able to venture down the Ivers Tunnel, an offshoot of the Spiro Tunnel, located at the Silver Star Plaza.
The idea came from Rory Murphy, said Sally Elliott, whom, along with Murphy and Morrison, is on the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History steering committee.
"Rory is a (former) member of the Park City Planning Commission, which helped develop Silver Star as a historic renovation," Elliott said. "[The area] has won awards for the beautiful work he has done on the old Spiro Tunnel buildings."
During the mining heyday, the Ivers Tunnel led to the machine shop.
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"It was used to shuttle carts or engines that needed repair or to park carts that weren't being used," Elliott said.
The Spiro Tunnel was a development parcel in the Silver Star project that was sold to Alan Long, of Rising Star Realtors.
"Alan had the vision to make this parcel into his offices," Elliott said. "The offices are built in a very modern style, but replicative of the kind of architecture that existed during the mining days.
"Alan preserved the tunnel in all of its ancient glory. It's dirty. The tracks are there, and they are rusted over."
Long also lit the tunnel so people can see and walk down the tracks.
"It goes for a considerable distance, but I don't think people want to get dressed up in a high heels and formals and go hike down a dirty old mine," Elliott said. "But we are going to open it up and will take attendees' photos back in the tunnel."
In addition to tours of the tunnel, the fundraiser will feature a silent auction featuring two ski lift chairs for auction as well as a mine cart that was donated anonymously, Elliott said.
"It looks like it's about 5 feet long, 3 feet wide and 9 inches deep,” she said. “It also sits really low. I've never seen one like it."
The night will also feature presentations by former KPCW General Manager Larry Warren and United Park City Mines engineer and specialist Kerry Gee.
"Over the years, Larry has written and spoken much about Park City's mining history," Elliott said. "And Kerry still is involved with maintaining the tunnels and keeping everything safe underground. I think it will be an interesting evening."
The Silver Star Cafe will cater the event.
"Everyone, including the restaurant owners Jeff and Lisa Cilva Ward have been so generous," Elliott said. "The Silver Star Cafe is my favorite place to go eat outdoors in the summer and get an elegant lunch after we ski in the winter."
The money raised will help the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History's mission to restore and stabilize Park City's historic mining structures.
"This past summer we were able to obtain permits to stabilize the old King Con Tram's counterweight," Elliott said. "Anytime you stretch an overhead wire cable over a very long distance and put weight on it, it will sag. So you have to put a counterweight on the cable to keep it taut. Otherwise, the cable can slip off the rollers."
The King Con Tram used four big boxes of rocks that anchored the cable and tram.
"It's important to save this structure because mining technology of moving ore with overhead tram towers was a direct precursor to building ski lifts," Elliott explained. "While it's not as sophisticated as our ski lifts today, it was very directly related to them today."
Clark Martinez, who works under contract for Vail, is in charge of the project, Elliott said.
"Clark is going to try to reconstruct the rock boxes from my memory, so people can understand how it works," she said.
The tram is a protected landmark for Park City, which means Park City Municipal is also involved in overseeing the work.
"They are there to make sure it's carried out according to historical guidelines," Elliott said.
Other Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History projects include the stabilizing and preserving the King Con Mine's ore bin, the Thaynes Mine Hoist House and Conveyor gallery, the Jupiter Mine's ore bin, the Silver King Mine's Head Frame Building, and the California-Comstock Mine.
A lot of time and money is needed in order to carry out these projects, Elliott said.
"We came up with a $750,000 five-year plan, but I think it's going to take longer than five years and will probably cost nearly $1 million," she said.
This is why fundraisers such as Park City Underground are needed, Morrison said.
The tickets are $500 per person.
"All the money, 100 percent of the funds, raised will go towards the work we do on the historic mines and mine structures around town," she said.
Park City Underground, a fundraiser for the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History, will be held at 5:30 p.m. at Silver Star Plaza on Thursday, Aug. 24. Tickets are $500 a person and are available by visiting parkcityhistory.org.