Mine shaft collapse is reminder that history is slipping away
May 12, 2015
The collapse of the Daly West mine derrick, one of the last vestiges of one of Park City’s historic silver mines, is a sad reminder of the town’s vanishing past. The stately steel structure, now lying on its side near the Montage hotel in Deer Valley, looks a lot like a fossilized dinosaur skeleton.
Because of the relic’s remote location in Empire Pass, many Parkites may not have known the structure existed. However, the tower of rusted stairs capped with an impressive bullwheel charmed countless visitors as they skied by, prompting conversations about the town’s colorful past.
According to the owner of the mine shaft, the Jordanelle Special Service District, the site was slated for restoration but Mother Nature beat them to it. The rain-soaked ground gave way inside the shaft and causing the derrick to tumble. Fortunately no one was hurt, but seeing another landmark in ruins is heartbreaking.
Park City Mountain Resort’s and Deer Valley’s ski runs were once studded with fascinating remnants from the town’s silver mining heyday with guides offering tours to skiers with a penchant for history. Sadly, most of those sites have since been dismantled, bulldozed and buried.
There was an effort several years ago to stabilize and document some of those remaining sites, but the effort seemed to fall by the wayside. And it is not just the old mine relics that are in jeopardy. Today, there are real concerns about whether Park City is doing enough to preserve its historic district.
Recent plans to develop the Kimball Art Center site have reignited conversations about the difficult balance between historic preservation and economic viability. The collapse of the Daly West mine is a reminder that postponing decisions about how to save Park City’s dwindling inventory of authentic historic landmarks is tantamount to letting them go.
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In 1979, city leaders went through the arduous process of applying to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But since then, Park City has relaxed its efforts to preserve that valuable status. It’s time to shore up those commitments and protect what is left.