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Preservation group says vandals are destroying Park City’s mining history

Leslie Thatcher
Silver King Hoist House.

The Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History group is asking the Park City Council for help fighting a reoccurring threat to preserving the area’s mining past.

Of more than 300 mines once in Park City, only 20 structures remain today. Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History’s goal is to preserve that mining legacy.

The 2023 record snowfall bent the roof of the Silver King Headframe, which is at the base of Bonanza lift on Park City Mountain. Brian Buck, the project manager, said the organization is working to save it, but vandalism is plaguing the project.

“We have hired an engineering firm to develop plans and specifications to arrest that collapse," he said. "But we can't do anything about the weather, and the vandalism that is also degrading that site at an increasing rate.”

Buck said vandals left graffiti inside and out in 2023 and a makeshift battering ram was used to knock down a thick wooden door.

Morgan Pierce, executive director of the Park City Historical Society, said the group had just capped a mining shaft with truckloads of concrete in October when vandals marred the fresh work.

“The vandals made it into the building before the concrete even dried that evening to mark the concrete for all eternity,” he said.

Park City Councilmember Tana Toly said safety is also an issue inside Silver King.

“It seems like it was a minefield in there, there was so many ways you didn't want to step and you could, you know, besides just like old nails and things like that, there's holes that go, you know, who knows where,” she said.

The Alliance Warehouse and Thaynes Mine structures have also experienced vandalism. The Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History group said security upgrades are expected by the summer of 2025.

Once the structures are repaired and vandalism is mitigated, the organization wants to work with Park City Municipal and the Chamber of Commerce to develop a “mining history hike.” Buck said the hike would connect to existing trails and include interpretive signs for people to go on a self-guided tour. There would also be the opportunity to have tours inside the historic buildings to learn about mining equipment and history in Park City.