Park City History Bits - February 27, 2014

May 5, 2014

Did you know one of the largest drug busts in Park City took place in 1915?

This is Bill Redeker with your weekly Park City History Bit.

In the late 1800’s, mining wasn’t a glamorous job – it was a dirty, dangerous and almost always a fatal occupation. Miners liked to drink and carouse to escape things going on in their lives. But alcohol wasn’t the only thing used to forget their troubles – the world’s oldest natural drug, opium, was also used.  

Opium dens were hidden since it was illegal to sell or use opium, and many legitimate businesses in Park City’s Chinatown were merely a front for opium parlors. 

One large opium bust happened on July 10, 1915 at a grocery store in Chinatown. Federal officers from Salt Lake City found nearly 50 pounds of powdered opium, large amounts of paraphernalia, and $2,500 in cash. 

The Park Record reported that an opium den was also found, fitted with four bunks for opium smokers to lounge on. The den was dug into the hillside and hidden by the living space of Chinese residents. Smokers bought small quantities of the drug smeared in the fold of a playing card.

This Park City History Bit is brought to you by the Park City Museum, and their newest exhibit, “Miners to Moguls: 50 Years of Park City Skiing”, and is sponsored by Julie Hopkins of Keller Williams Real Estate.