Mining preservation effort officially underway
After years of preparation and negotiation, it’s official: the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History launched to the public Friday at a press conference at Park City Mountain’s Legacy Lodge, marking the beginning of a five-year preservation and restoration effort organizers hope will secure the long-term future of Park City’s historic mining structures.
Bill Rock, chief operating officer of Park City Mountain Resort, said Vail Resorts was committed at the outset to being a partner in the project.
"We are blessed to have on our ski resort some really amazing relics of Park City’s past," he said. "And we have very passionate partners in the community who have helped us create this new entity so we can raise money over the next five years to stabilize and preserve these tremendous structures."
The goal of the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History is straightforward. Of the mines which once operated in Park City, about half are within the boundaries of Park City Mountain Resort and many vestiges of the town’s turn-of-the-century heyday are in need of repair or they may be permanently lost.
"Our main objective in this group is to raise funds," Rock said. "We are starting a five-year fundraising campaign to stabilize and preserve these historic structures. We’ve already pledged $50,000 for this summer to work on the California-Comstock Mine."
There are seven priority projects identified by the group, including the California-Comstock, the Silver King Mine head frame building, and the Thaynes Mine hoist house and conveyor gallery, just to name a few.
Rock also announced a fundraising channel that will be a direct benefit to skiers and snowboarders.
"This group will also create a Miners Club, where folks can join for $500-$1,000 and get benefits like first tracks skiing, insider tours, and things like that, all to help raise money so we can preserve these structures," he said. "This is going to be a really exciting time."
Sally Elliott, co-chair of the new group and a historian in her own right, described the launch of the preservation effort as nothing less than a dream come true. She said it is something she has championed for the entirety of her 30 years in Park City. She thanked for Vail Resorts for taking a leadership role.
"Vail gets it," she said. "Thank you so much for understanding what the community loves about skiing in Park City and being willing to shell out money and help us raise more money to make it happen. So from the bottom of my heart, before I start crying, thank you."
Sandra Morrison, executive director of the Park City Historical Society and Museum, said Park City’s mining heritage is what makes the area unique and she is glad to see so much enthusiasm around preserving it.
"The structures, they are these immense structures that represent our past and they’re what make skiing in Park City so unique."
Local developer Rory Murphy served as vice president of United Park City Mines for 11 years, though he said he was speaking as a member of the business community when he said the preservation effort is about more than just keeping old buildings around to appreciate.
"What makes Park City unique is our mining past," he said. "We continue to compete for tourist dollars throughout the West and throughout North America, and we have to continue to differentiate ourselves. So economically it’s very important to us."
Murphy said Park City has done a "marvelous job" of preserving the residential and commercial aspects of the town’s mining history. Now, he said, it is time the same effort goes into preserving its industrial history.
"What we need to work on, and one of the things that unfortunately has been something that has been not as well maintained, are the industrial buildings that fuel this entire beautiful town that we have and attract people from all over the world," he said.
Bruce Erickson, Park City’s planning director, said more than a year of negotiating went into the partnership made official Friday. All that work, he said, was worth the effort.
"Preservation is not just keeping our old things," he said. "It’s our way of life, and part of our industry and why guests come to town, and most importantly, it’s how we tell our story for the future. So not only are we preserving the past, we are telling our story to the future. We are not done yet. We are going to keep this going."
For more information on the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History, visit SkiMiningHistory.org.
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Each of the Park City area’s state legislators have a lot more than just ski resorts and restaurants on their mind – try roads, natural gas and a state university as well.