Public gets rare look inside the Spiro Tunnel
Even though it’s now abandoned from its mining activities, the Spiro Tunnel produces a constant flow of water and accounts for about 30% of Park City’s water supply. While it’s extremely important for very practical matters, Spiro Tunnel also plays an important part of Park City’s history.
After several years of renovation and $4 million, the locked gates to the entrance of the historic tunnel were opened for a few hours Tuesday evening, allowing a couple hundred people the once in a lifetime chance to walk into the Spiro Tunnel.
For the first 400 feet of the tunnel, the old mine cart rails have been removed and the walls and roof of the tunnel reinforced and sprayed with a liquid concrete, Shotcrete. Those willing to wait in line could walk back into the tunnel with tubed LED lighting leading the way. About half-way back, a second tunnel forks off to the left, which leads to the rear wall of the real estate office at the Silver Star development.
At the 400 foot mark, Water Quality Manager Michelle DeHaan explained the rushing water from the tunnel will eventually finds its way into the newly constructed water treatment pipeline.
“So, about 3000, gallons a minute are flowing into this new pipe,” DeHaan said, “that is coming underneath the floor here, and so it's collecting all the water that you see. And this other pipe actually goes back about, I want to say two and a half to three miles back where the bulkhead is you might have heard of before and there's a small dam back there holding back about 1000 gallons a minute, that's the second pipe here. And all this water is flowing underneath the floor where we're walking out the vault where we were standing a few minutes ago, and that water goes to the golf course ponds on the municipal course and there's a new pipe that's been added as well, that will be going to the 3Kings water treatment plant which will be starting up in the next year and a half to two years.”
With still a lot more renovation still to be done to the tunnel beyond 400 feet– and the need to maintain quality control of the water source, city officials say the tunnel won’t be opened to the public again for quite some time. The last time the public had access to the tunnel was back in the 1960s and 70s, when the tunnel was used as a skier subway, taking skiers and their equipment to the base of the Thaynes chairlift at Park City Mountain Resort.