Park City mining-era relic will be put upright again, a momentous preservation win
Park City on Monday will not be celebrating Miners Day like the community normally would.
There will be no parade on Main Street. And miners will not test their mucking and drilling skills against each other in an annual competition at City Park. The continued spread of the novel coronavirus forced the cancellation of the celebration.
But people who are intrigued by Park City’s silver-mining heritage have a reason to celebrate at this time nonetheless. In recent weeks, a significant move was made that is designed to preserve one of Park City’s most prominent mining-era relics. The head frame of the Daly West Mine, located in the upper reaches of Deer Valley Resort, collapsed in May of 2015, leaving the hulking structure on the ground outside the Montage Deer Valley in what was one of the most dramatic mishaps involving a mining-era structure in years. The soil underneath two of the legs essentially gave way, leading to the collapse. Investigators at the time said the collapse was the result of several issues, including the saturation of the soil, the instability of the ground at the location and a mild winter without a deep frost.
In the five-plus years since the collapse, many in the influential preservation community wanted the derrick-like head frame put back up. There was limited progress, though, as various parties considered funding sources for a project like that. The Jordanelle Special Service District, a Wasatch County water supplier, held ownership at the time of the collapse. The district later sold the Daly West Mine land to Deer Valley Resort, which acquired the sliver of ground with the intention of protecting the history of the location.
A City Hall panel called the Historic Preservation Board recently approved the plans to restore the head frame to an upright position. The vote allows the 85-foot-tall head frame, made of steel and weighing 45 tons, to be moved slightly to the southwest of the historic location and then put upright again. The approximately 150-foot move will put the head frame in a location where the ground is better suited for the structure. It was a momentous vote even if it garnered limited attention.
Park City was founded in the 19th century as a silver-mining camp and the industry drove the economy for decades. Silver prices eventually dropped sharply, crushing the industry and leaving Park City in economic ruin in the decades before the launch of the ski industry.
There are numerous mining-era relics dotting the mountains surrounding Park City. Park City leaders and tourism officials over the years have come to see the mining heritage as something that sets the community apart from some of the other mountain resorts. There has been an organized effort over time to preserve much of the mining history, making the collapse of the Daly West Mine derrick especially discouraging for the community. The head frame dates to 1914, according to City Hall, and was built the year after a fire at the Daly West Mine. It was largely neglected in recent decades.
The homeowners association in Empire Pass, known as the Empire Pass Master Owners Association, and City Hall reached an agreement regarding historic preservation, and the work at the Daly West Mine location will be included in the broad work plan. The homeowners association is working in cooperation with Deer Valley Resort on the project. The estimated cost is a little more than $200,000. The funding will come from the homeowners association and City Hall.
“It was a source of frustration … to see this lying on its side, neglected for five years,” said Doug Ogilvy, the president of the Empire Pass Master Owners Association and a key figure in the discussions that led to the agreement to pursue the work.
He sees the head frame as one of the five most important mining-era locations in Park City, alongside spots like the building on the Park City Mountain Resort slopes that was once part of the Silver King Mine.
He said it is likely the work will not start until the summer of 2021. Some of the steel will be cut from the head frame and replaced with new steel. Extensive work is required on two of the legs that were badly damaged in the collapse. Bolts will be used instead of rivets. A new foundation will be created. Once the prep work is completed, two 120-foot cranes will be brought to the location. They will lift the head frame from where it is on the ground and move it to the new location. It will then be secured there. It will be put back at the same height as earlier.
“I think it’s exciting. Basically, for five years, this stumped everybody,” Ogilvy said, calling the Daly West Mine head frame a “monument to the history of Park City.”
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