Mining-era explosives unearthed in Empire Pass |

Mining-era explosives unearthed in Empire Pass

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

A construction crew in Empire Pass unearthed a cache of mining-era explosives Monday at the site of the Montage, forcing the temporary shutdown of the work and requiring the authorities to call in a bomb squad, restrict airspace and close nearby roads and trails.

A spokesman for Layton Construction, which is building the Montage on the slopes of Deer Valley Resort, said explosives crews will spend the rest of the week removing the ordnance, which was described at the scene by authorities as dynamite. Details of the removal plans were not immediately available.

The Montage site is close to where the Daly West silver mine once operated. Police Chief Wade Carpenter said the discovery was an "old mine vault." It was situated 830 feet outside Deer Valley Resort’s Empire lodge.

Phyllis Robinson, a spokesperson for City Hall, said the find was "not of recent vintage." She said between 200 and 225 people working on the Montage were ordered to leave the site.

The authorities restricted access on the upper reaches of Marsac Avenue close to the site, but Robinson said nobody was forced from their homes. Most of the houses in Empire Pass are vacation homes, and it is unlikely many people were in their homes at the time.

"How often do we find explosives? Rarely. How often do we work in dangerous situations? Frequently," said Alan Rindlisbacher, the spokesman for Layton Construction.

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He said the find is "highly unusual," but an occurrence like Monday’s is not unexpected. The silver-mining industry thrived in Park City for a century, ending in the 1980s, and the Daly West site played a significant role in the industry. Relics leftover from the silver-mining era dot Park City, with a number of them in Empire Canyon, the swath of land that links Empire Pass and Old Town.

A representative for The Athens Group, the Arizona developer building the Montage, was unsure when construction would restart. He declined to comment further.

Federal aviation officials closed airspace around the site to aircraft lower than 10,000 feet. News helicopters, however, hovered above as the bomb squad worked.

City Hall has closed numerous trails in the vicinity. They will not reopen until the removal operation is completed.

Trails affected are:

Mid Mountain Trail at the Park City Mountain Resort maintenance building and Empire Link trail.

Mid Mountain Trail approximately one quarter of a mile from the Montage site.

Empire Canyon trail starting at the Daly Avenue gate. The area is often called Daly Canyon.

Mid Mountain Trail at the S.R.224 intersection.

Mid Mountain Trail and the Tour de Suds intersection.

Mid Mountain Trail and the Team Big Bear intersection

Empire Link trail and the Empire Canyon access road.