Editorial: Historic mining relics must be preserved
September 4, 2015
Some of our most-photographed local celebrities have never been on skis or even in an indie film. But their images can still command top billing in venues ranging from swanky art galleries to Instagram. They are the iconic relics of Park City’s mining era: stately steel headframes, wooden water tanks and fragile skeletons of old mill sites.
These days, as Park City (the town and the resort) vaults into a high-tech future, those touchstones serve as reminders of the swift passage of time, the unpredictable winds of fortune and the relentless toll of mountain weather.
Many have already disappeared, leaving barely perceptible traces of their once-grand roles in the town’s silver-era heyday. And the numbers of the fallen are on the rise. In May, the headframe of the historic Daly West Mine, which posed like a prehistoric creature alongside one of Deer Valley’s ski runs, toppled to the ground.
Its demise was widely mourned, but neither the city nor the Jordanelle Special Service District, which owns the underlying mine shaft, have made a commitment to restore the beast to its upright glory.
Elsewhere in Park City, though, there is hope that several sites will get the respect they deserve. After years of neglect, the structures are getting renewed attention, thanks to an agreement between Vail Resorts and Park City Municipal.
As part of the city’s agreement with Vail’s predecessor, Powdr Corp., the resort agreed to chip in to stabilize several of the more-significant structures. Vail has pledged to honor that commitment and has set aside $50,000 for that purpose. But according to local preservationists, that is just a start. The Park City Museum is hoping to convince Vail to participate in five-year campaign to raise additional funds.
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Citizens should encourage Park City and Summit County officials to augment those funds and to encourage further preservation though whatever means possible, including regulations and financial incentives. Park City’s heritage is too precious to squander.