Park City mining-era structure suffers a partial collapse
March 11, 2019
A large part of a building on the Park City Mountain Resort slopes that dates to the silver mining era collapsed on Sunday night, leaving the wreckage in plain view of skiers and snowboarders, in what is another dramatic loss of a relic from the early days of the community.
Sally Elliott, the co-chair of an organization dedicated to preserving the silver mining history, called the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History, said the partial collapse involved an outbuilding of the Silver King Mine complex. PCMR roped off the building, she said. It is located close to the Town Lift and the Bonanza lift at PCMR, a high-traffic spot on the slopes.
The Silver King Mine main building is one of the largest and most recognizable mining-era structures remaining in Park City. The building that partially collapsed is also a well-recognized part of the complex. It is part of the complex's machine shop. The Silver King Mine closed in the 1950s and the buildings have largely been left without major work or maintenance over the decades.
Elliott said the partial collapse was likely caused by "snow load and just a deteriorated building."
"The roof just collapsed and the sides fell out," she said.
Park City was founded as a silver-mining camp in the 19th century and the industry flourished during the first half of the 20th century. The mining companies built vast surface infrastructure at the location of the mines as well as elsewhere, including in the vicinity of what is now the Main Street core of Park City. As the industry faltered, the mining-era locations fell into disrepair over the ensuing decades. Some have been lost to fire while others have collapsed as a result of the weather or the lack of maintenance.
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"It means that we're running out of time. If we don't get them stabilized, we'll lose them all," Elliott said about the Park City area's mining-era structures.
Park City has long seen the mining-era heritage as something that sets the community apart from some of the competing mountain resorts. Tourism boosters and Park City's influential preservation community say the mining-era structures that dot the mountains and extend into the Main Street core provide skiers and other visitors with a sense of the history. The Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History operates under the umbrella of the Park City Historical Society and Museum, which itself is also heavily involved in preservation efforts.
The partial collapse of the building at the Silver King Mine complex is the most notable incident involving a remnant of the mining era since the collapse of the Daly West Mine derrick outside the Montage Deer Valley in the spring of 2015. The 85-foot-tall derrick was another of Park City's most recognizable mining-era relics.
Sandra Morrison, the executive director of the Park City Historical Society and Museum, said the Silver King Mine was a "fabulously wealthy" silver strike that operated until the 1950s, employing hundreds of miners. It was one of the three largest mining operations in Park City, alongside the Ontario Mine and the Daly West Mine, according to Morrison.
"A huge part of our economy, the same as the ski resort is today," Morrison said, noting Thomas Kearns, a U.S. senator, held part ownership in the Silver King Mine during the mining era.
Morrison said the mining-era relics distinguish Park City, describing that each structure contributes to the history of the community.
"Even losing the outbuildings is distressing," she said.
PCMR issued a prepared statement in response to an inquiry from The Park Record. It reads: "The safety of our guests and employees is our top priority. Due to the structural integrity of this building, the area surrounding it has been roped off all season. Stabilization efforts of certain historical mining buildings is underway and focuses on seven structures in particular. Prioritization has been determined in partnership with Park City Municipal and this particular structure is not within the stabilization plans. As Park City Mountain is not the owner of this building, we will be working with the owner on how to proceed."