Park City mining-era relic, collapsed, will soon be raised again in Deer Valley |

Park City mining-era relic, collapsed, will soon be raised again in Deer Valley

Efforts to put Daly West head frame upright seen as a triumph for preservation

The derrick-like head frame of the Daly West Mine in upper Deer Valley collapsed in the spring of 2015 and has been on the ground since then. The head frame, shown in the middle of August, is expected to be raised again soon in what will be an especially notable preservation success.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Park City history lovers will have cause to celebrate the silver-mining era weeks after the Miners Day celebrations on Monday that are an annual acknowledgment of the industry that once drove the local economy.

The derrick-like head frame of the Daly West Mine in upper Deer Valley is expected to be raised again later in the fall, more than six years after a collapse that was one of the most dramatic episodes involving a significant mining-era structure in years. The raising will be seen as one of the community’s preservation successes and be widely hailed as a key step in protecting the mining past.

The Daly West head frame stood for approximately 100 years. The 85-foot-tall head frame was highly visible off the Deer Valley Resort slopes. It was one of the most prominent mining-era structures in Park City, attracting interest from the preservation community as well as the many skiers, hikers and bicyclists who passed by over the years.

The hulking steel structure was left on its side since the collapse in the spring of 2015. It continued to draw attention even in its damaged state. There were no known witnesses to the collapse. Park City Building Department investigators at the time indicated the collapse was the result of factors like the soil saturation, the instability of the ground and the mild winter without a deep frost. The ground beneath the head frame gave way and two of the legs structurally failed as the structure collapsed.

There were quickly calls for the head frame to be put back up, but any restoration was repeatedly delayed as various parties considered options. A Wasatch County water provider, called the Jordanelle Special Service District, owned the Daly West location when it collapsed. The water provider, it was clear early on, would not fund a restoration. Then, in 2020, Deer Valley Resort acquired the sliver of land where the head frame is located for $35,000 with the intent that the head frame would be restored.

Deer Valley later reached an agreement with another entity with interests in upper Deer Valley, the Empire Pass Master Owners Association, to assist with the project. The head frame will remain on Deer Valley land while the association will be responsible for ongoing maintenance.

Steve Issowits, Deer Valley Resort’s vice president of real estate and resort planning, said in a prepared statement to The Park Record that the head frame is an “iconic artifact of Park City’s mining history.”

“It’s a unique ode to the legacy of these mountains,” he said. “Being able to come together with all these local entities to preserve it shows how important honoring our past and sharing the history of the land is to the community.”

Doug Ogilvy, the president of the Empire Pass Master Owners Association, said the head frame is tentatively scheduled to be put upright on Oct. 14. A new foundation is part of the work and heavy rains recently delayed some of the necessary concrete work. The crews also disassembled the bottom 40 feet of the head frame, which he described as “mangled” from the collapse, and are replacing some of the steel on that section of the structure.

The project also includes moving the head frame approximately 100 feet to the southwest of the original location, where the ground is better suited for a structure that weighs approximately 80,000 pounds. Ogilvy said two of the largest cranes available in Utah will be used to move the head frame onto the new location. He described that it has been disappointing to see “it laying on its side year after year.” The restoration will “bring it back to its rightful glory,” Ogilvy said.

Park City was founded as a silver-mining camp in the 19th century and remained a mining community for decades. The industry eventually crumbled as silver prices dropped, hollowing out Park City in the middle of the 20th century. The rise of the ski industry starting in the 1960s brought Park City out of the difficult economic times.

There are mining-era remnants scattered through places like Old Town and the mountains surrounding the historic neighborhood. Park City leaders and tourism boosters have for years promoted the mining history as setting the community apart from some of the competing mountain resorts. Preservation of the mining history has been important to the community during the skiing era, and the restoration of the Daly West head frame is an especially notable success.

“It’s kind of a triumph over gravity,” said Sally Elliott, a longtime Park City preservation supporter, adding, “It will be a triumph to see the Daly West rise again.”

Elliott is one of the chairs of a group that works under the umbrella of the Park City Museum called the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History. The group sees mining-era artifacts as helping tell the story of Park City’s history she said. Elliott said a fundraiser could be planned to benefit the Park City Museum and the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History to mark the restoration of the head frame.

“We didn’t accept defeat when the head frame fell,” she said. “We accepted it as a challenge.”

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