Park City mining-era buildings badly vandalized |

Park City mining-era buildings badly vandalized

Officials disheartened that pieces of history targeted

by Jay Hamburger

Graffiti vandals targeted at least four buildings dating from Park City's silver-mining era in recent weeks, all located in historically rich Empire Canyon, City Hall officials said.

The cases are especially notable since most of the graffiti was left on buildings that are seen as part of Park City's heritage. Park City was founded as a silver-mining camp in the 19th century and the industry drove the local economy through the middle of the 20th century, before a sharp drop in silver prices doomed the mines. The skiing era began shortly afterward. Empire Canyon was a critical location for the silver-mining industry, and numerous relics from the era remain standing.

The Park City Police Department was alerted to the graffiti on June 20, City Hall said in a statement released on Friday. Park City staffers visited the location after the initial case was reported and found additional graffiti as part of the investigation, the statement said, indicating there was new graffiti found on inside and outside walls.

Anya Grahn, the preservation planner at City Hall, said graffiti was found at the four mining-era sites and on a municipal water tank in Empire Canyon. The mining-era sites are:

  • a building known as a change house, which is where miners changed clothes before and after shifts
  • the Assay building, which once served as an office and a house
  • a power house
  • the Judge Mine ruins

    All of the locations are within less than one-half of a mile from each other, Grahn estimated. City Hall says the mining-era locations are on United Park City Mines land. United Park City Mines is the modern-day descendant of Park City's historic mining industry. It is under the umbrella of the Talisker corporate family.

    Grahn said the most recent vandalism involved graffiti, but there has been looting and other acts of vandalism at the locations over the years.

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    "I just think it's so disrespectful to those buildings. They belong to the past," Grahn said.

    Michelle Downard, the deputy building official and one of the staffers who investigated, said in a prepared statement the cases are "disheartening." She also said materials have been removed from the historic sites.

    "These structures are in varying degrees of decline, and it is troubling that people are entering the structures, damaging the materials and, at times, even salvaging wood from the historic structures to build camp fires," Downard said.

    There is an ongoing effort to ensure the mining-era relics that dot the Park City-area mountains do not fall into a further state of disrepair. There has been greater urgency since the 2015 collapse of the derrick-like headframe of the Daly West Mine in the upper reaches of Deer Valley. A group called the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History is heavily involved in the efforts.

    Sally Elliott, a co-chair of the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History, is unhappy with the graffiti, saying the perpetrators likely did not realize the importance since the locations appear to be derelict buildings. She wants additional education and awareness in the community about the mining-era locations. The other co-chair, Rory Murphy, said there are plans to attempt to remove the graffiti or paint over the vandalism this summer.

    "I'm absolutely horrified. Some people don't understand historic relics," Elliott said.

    Anybody with information may contact the Police Department at 615-5500 or the department's anonymous-tip line, 615-5847.