Grab your pick and shovel, it’s time for a picnic
August 30, 2016
This past Friday, members of the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History preservation group made a trip up Park City Mountain to look in on two sites. The Silver King water tanks and the California Comstock Mill. The preservation effort officially got underway this spring, and co-chair Sally Elliott said she was impressed with the work that has been completed so far.
"I was amazed," she said.
Two of the three Silver King water tanks are still standing, with material from the third set aside under a tarp should it be needed. The roof of both remaining tanks has been shored up, and Elliott said they should be safe through the winter. The California Comstock, too, is in much better shape than it was even a few months ago.
There is still much work to be done, however, and many more sites still waiting to be preserved. This evening, Wednesday, Aug. 31, the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History have a plan to bolster their efforts: the Pick 'n' Shovel Picnic, a relaxed community get-together to be held from 5-7 p.m. at Town Lift Plaza.
"The party is the big thing," Elliott said. "It's been on the books for a while, it's just been a matter of getting it together."
Marianne Cone, an artist and former executive director of the Park City Historical Society, said she and Elliott toured the Plaza Monday morning to plan out what would go where. She said the Friends group has been hard at work over the past six weeks planning the picnic but, she added, they've gotten a lot of support as well.
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"We’ve got a lot of nice donations from local businesses," Cone said. "There’s a sausage company, Beltex Meats. Red Bicycle bread. Tandem Chocolates will have chocolate for us there. We love to make s'mores with her chocolate.
"All these local businesses pitched in, which is so great."
Elliott said the Friends are looking for support anywhere they can find it. Earlier this month, they set up a booth at a meeting of the Utah Mining Association, and she said they will be doing the same at a convention in September.
"We brought our storyboards and we got the whole list of participants, so we're going to hit them up," she said. "The mining industry people are thrilled [about the preservation effort]. They love something positive in the community that’s all about mining, about preserving mining heritage and telling a positive story."
Wednesday evening's picnic, Cone said, is just one step on a very long march toward preserving Park City's mining heritage.
"It’s really about getting people to sign up for memberships with the group," she said. "$50 gets you membership, and you can donate more, of course. It’s a nice get-together, and a nice kickoff. It’s not where the money is coming from, though, the big money."
Elliott said the Friends estimate they need $750,000 to do all the work they want to do, so she said the money they bring in from the picnic is "a drop in the bucket." But at this early stage, she added, making connections — adding more friends to the Friends — is equally important. Cone concurred.
"People tell people, too," she said. "So there may be a big donor we don’t know about who has been in mining."
Cone, who ran the Park City Museum from 1988-1998, said preservation has always been a priority in Park City, and she's glad to see the mining structures starting to get as much love and respect as the buildings in town.
"It’s remarkable how many buildings we’ve saved in Park City," she said. "A lot of towns say they have a historic district, but they have maybe five or six buildings. What we’ve done here is major."
Cone said cultural tourism — the idea of visiting a place for its history as much as for its entertainment — has grown in popularity over the years. She said she believes that is why Vail Resorts has been so enthusiastic about helping with the mining preservation effort. Park City Mountain Resort is unique for its mining history, she said, and it makes business sense to preserve that.
"It's an economic factor to save these buildings," she said. "It's not just nostalgia."
The Pick 'n' Shovel Picnic will be held at the Town Lift Plaza Wednesday, Aug. 31 from 5-7 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.ParkCityHistory.org/friends-of-ski-mountain-mining-history.
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