Way We Were: Field trip to the Silver King | ParkRecord.com

Way We Were: Field trip to the Silver King

Sandy Melville
Park City Museum researcher
A flat-rope hoisting machine at the Silver King Mine, similar to what the field-trippers would have seen in the underground Silver Hill Station.
Park City Museum, Jordanelle Special Service District Collection

During August of 1914, the 108th meeting of the American Institute of Mining Engineers was held in Salt Lake City at the Hotel Utah. Amid several days of technical papers and presentations on mining and metallurgical subjects, the organizers scheduled field trips to mine sites in Utah, including the world-famous Silver King Coalition facilities in Park City.

On Aug. 13, the start was made from the Denver and Rio Grande Western Depot in Salt Lake at 8 a.m. sharp. About 150 people boarded the special train, which reached Park City after two hours of delightful ride. A reporter along for the journey described the Rio Grande line to Park City as “indeed picturesque and every mile of the distance has its charm, from start to finish.”

At the Park City depot all kinds of conveyances were waiting to escort the party to the Silver King Coalition mine and mill. An inspection was made of the mill and the hoist, after which the visitors, both men and women, were lowered to the 500-foot level of the main shaft. (Obviously, liability laws were much different in 1914!) Mine cars attached to electric locomotives awaited them. Each car held three to four passengers and the party was taken to the great underground Silver Hill Station, a distance of about 2 miles. The reporter described this section of the mine as “dimly lighted,” and the sensation was of “being in another world altogether”.

The Silver Hill Station was one of the most unique underground stations in the country in 1914. The station is located about 8,500 feet from the portal of the Alliance tunnel and about 1,600 feet below the surface. There, a massive underground chamber was excavated to accommodate a 38 1/2-foot gallows frame, a double-drum hoist, a motor-generator plant, air compressors, and nearly everything else that one would find in a surface plant.

The Station was described by a reporter as “undoubtedly one of the wonders of the age when it comes to mining practice” and a “masterpiece of workmanship.” The Station was speedily converted to a banquet hall and a splendid luncheon was served. After the refreshments were served, the party again boarded underground trains for an exit trip out the portal of the Alliance tunnel.

Other mining facilities in Empire Canyon were inspected by the visitors, after which they boarded a special Rio Grande train at 3:15 p.m. for a run of one 1 hour and 35 minutes back to Salt Lake City. From there they boarded special cars to Saltair, where a dip in the Great Salt Lake was enjoyed followed by dinner in the Ship Café.

Park City Museum members will be taking a Hike through History “field trip” to the Silver King Coalition mine and mill, as well as other facilities, on Thursday, July 16. But all our adventures will be safely “above ground.” To become a member, please contact Sandra Morrison at smorrison@parkcityhistory.org.

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