Way We Were: What England Knew | ParkRecord.com

Way We Were: What England Knew

The Park City Museum is hosting a traveling exhibit “Viewed From Afar: European Prints of the American Frontier West, 1759-1908.”

Dalton Gackle, Park City Museum Research, Digital Services, and Social Media Coordinator
The Ontario Mine in 1881, the year it was listed on the London Stock Exchange. The Ontario was one of the most oft mentioned mines in English newspapers. Photo credit: Park City Historical Society & Museum, PCHS Photograph Collection

The Park City Museum is hosting a traveling exhibit, “Viewed From Afar: European Prints of the American Frontier West, 1759-1908.” 

The exhibit features 19th-century prints circulated to audiences in England, France, and Germany, eager to learn about the American West. Prints included indigenous peoples and western landscapes, which were completely foreign to Europeans. Some prints contained realistic imagery based on knowledge from western travelers, while others were total fiction – created to satisfy an insatiable demand for depictions of the American West. Eventually, with the telegram and news wire services, events in the American West were quickly transmitted across the Atlantic Ocean almost as they unfolded. This is how the world became familiar with Park City and its silver mines.

Possibly the first mention of Park City that made its way to England was through a reporter for the New York Times (NYT). Their report from Salt Lake City was transmitted across the Atlantic from the NYT to the Buckinghamshire Advertiser and Uxbridge Journal in September 1867. The NYT correspondent noted that a “gold excitement” sprung up in Parley’s Park on August 16, 1867, when “somebody picked up a piece of rock” that had “real colour,” resulting in a “stampede” of people to the area.

Undoubtedly, the news of Park City traveling to Europe mainly had to do with the mines. Mentions of the McHenry and Ontario Mines appeared in the Daily News (London) in 1880. The following year, the Ontario Silver Mine was listed on the London Stock Exchange for the first time.

Other early mentions of Park City in English newspapers referred to Englishmen and women who had emigrated here. The early 1880s were spotted with birth, death, and marriage notices of former English living in Park City. Sensational deaths were given much more detail than deaths by illness or mining accident. One prominent story mentioned the murder of John F. Turner, who had only been passing through Park City but was murdered by a companion traveler helping him drive a team hauling goods. Parkite Grace Fuelling’s murder made it to The People newspaper in London in 1892.

Papers in Cornwall, England, especially, were filled with mentions of Park City people who had come from there. These papers had dedicated sections to news about Cornish people abroad. They gave small bits about births, marriages, successes, and deaths. One Cornishmen met his unfortunate death by falling out of the elevator cage down a shaft in the S.I.C. Mine related to his hometown.

By 1888, Park City was well known for its silver mining. The Observer in London noted that the Park City mining district was “famous” and that the Ontario Mine was one of the “heaviest-producing and dividend-paying mines in the world.” Mines from bonanza status, like the Daly West, to moderate, like the Wabash, to small, like the Hanker, found mention in English papers too.

English newspapers reported on Park City news that made U.S. national headlines as well. Of course, the biggest news of that kind from Park City was the Daly West Disaster that killed over 30 men in the Daly West and Ontario Mines. Nearly 30 newspapers from all over England, Scotland, and Wales reported the news, which had been sent over the wire by Reuters.

While Park City was not a metropolis, it was known to the rest of the world because of its silver mining. Today, too, the world recognizes Park City, but for its snow and Sundance rather than its mineral output.

Viewed From Afar is on display at the Museum until August 21. The exhibit’s curator, Lee Silliman, will have a meet and greet at the Museum on June 30 from 2 to 4 p.m., followed by a lecture about the exhibit from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Museum’s Education and Collections Center at 2079 Sidewinder Dr. Register here.

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