Virtual presentation examines the Silver King Coalition Building’s role in Park City’s mining history
Talk will also revisit the 1981 blaze
David Hampshire remembers when the Silver King Coalition Building burned to the ground 40 years ago this July.
“At that time I was working for The Newspaper, a competitor to The Park Record, and not only did I cover the fire itself, but I also spent a day covering a trial of the guys who were convicted of setting the fire,” Hampshire said. “The heat was so intense that firefighters had to keep cool by turning the hoses on each other as well as nearby homes so they wouldn’t catch on fire. Luckily there was no loss of life.”
Hampshire will remember the 1981 fire as well as cover the Silver King Coalition Building’s 80-year history and importance in Park City in a virtual presentation, titled “Days of Ore: The Saga of the Silver King Coalition Building,” at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 29. The talk, which will be hosted by the Park City Museum and Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History, is free, but registration is required. To register, visit parkcityhistory.org.
Hampshire’s long-term relationship with the Silver King Coalition Building reaches back to 1978 when he first moved to town.
“When you drove up Park Avenue, before Deer Valley Drive was developed, there was this massive structure on the left hand side, and it was like, ‘Wow, what is this thing,’” Hampshire said. “I think anyone who came to town for the first time reacted the same way, because you couldn’t ignore that building, because it was 85 feet tall. And I had to find out what it was all about.”
Later that year, Hampshire wrote a history piece about the Coalition Building for the Park Record, a few months before he began working for The Newspaper, and has kept tabs on it ever since.
“One thing I realized was this was just a small cog in a big machine,” he said. “The workings up in the Silver King Mine up the mountain was the big cog, and not only was the mine up there with the headframe, you also had a mill and what they called the sampler, which took product to the mill.”
The sampler was connected to another station that loaded silver ore into a string of 80 buckets that would come down the hill via an aerial tram system to a loading station on Park Avenue, according to Hampshire.
“That’s what the Coalition building was,” he said. “It was a loading station where they transferred the ore into railroad cars. And it was quite a sophisticated system, designed to operate with very few people.”
The tram was built in 1900; before then, the ore would be transported to the Coalition building by horse and wagon, Hampshire said.
“Back then it was not uncommon to see these horses get run over by the wagons when they came down the steep canyon from the mine,” he said. “The wagons were so heavy, and if the drivers didn’t handle them right and keep the brakes on the wagons would get away and kill the horses.”
Throughout his years of research Hampshire, who became the editor of The Park Record when it merged with The Newspaper in 1983, has gotten to know people who were involved with the Silver King Mine.
“I remember people like Jim Ivers, who started as a mechanical engineer, before he became President of United Park City Mines,” he said. “He was a sweet guy, and I loved talking to him. He was very self-effacing and generous with his time, and I’d spent hours talking to him on several occasions.”
Another is Rich Martinez, who had worked in the mine machine shops for 50 years.
“Like with Jim Ivers, I spent hours and hours talking with Rich, and he gave me a lot of information and stories about the mines that I will use in my presentation.”
In addition, Hampshire has revisited the many articles about the Coalition Building he wrote for The Newspaper and The Park Record.
“One of the fun things about doing this piece for the museum was I got to go back to a lot of stuff I wrote 40 years ago and use large chunks of that verbatim without feeling the least bit guilty,” he said with a laugh.
When: 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 29
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