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National Mining History Association conference tours Park City’s historic sites

Mining History Association members attend a conference in Park City.
Kristine Weller
Mining History Association members attend a conference in Park City.

The Mining History Association is hosting its 34th annual conference in Park City. The organization has wanted to visit Utah since it was founded over 40 years ago. 

The association holds a conference every year at historic mining locations. There are field trips, educational lectures, social events and an awards banquet. The organization has members from all over the country who are academics, historians, geologists and more.

Mark and Lynn Langenfeld from Wisconsin helped organize the conference. They said mining history is important to document and learn about because it touches every subject imaginable.

“There is social history involved, company towns, housing, labor economics, technology, women's role in mining history, labor technology, science, wartime,” Mark Langenfeld said.

Outgoing association president Dana Bennett agreed and said the role of women in mining history is interesting to follow. When people think of mining, she said an image of a grizzled prospector comes to mind. But, Bennett said there are wonderful stories about how women have been engaged in the building of mining communities and companies.

However, unless a town’s mining history was promoted as part of the city culture, Mark Langenfeld said their history is often lost. Park City is one historic mining area that has a storied mining history known for silver. In the late 1860s, a group of prospectors found several precious metal deposits in what is now Park City Mountain. According to the Park City Museum, the local silver mines were producing by 1871 and they soon fueled a booming economy and the town grew quickly.

During the conference, the Langenfelds said association members enjoyed excursions to local historic mining sites like the Silver King Coalition mine. Lynn Langenfeld said the chairlift ride on Town Lift up to the mine sites on Park City Mountain was a special treat.

“It was the first time we've used a chairlift to go up to any of the historic structures,” she said. “So that was kind of a fun thing for people who had never ridden a chairlift before.”

The Langenfelds thanked Park City’s Friends of Ski Mountian Mining History for its support in organizing events. The association also awarded Friends of Ski Mountian Mining History the Beselme-Orrell Heritage Award for its work preserving Park City’s mining past.