Park City is home to two world-class ski resorts, Deer Valley and Park City Mountain, and draws visitors from across the globe year-round. Home to roughly 8,500 full-time residents, Park City hosts a wide range of annual events, is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, and offers a multitude of cultural experiences ranging from live music to local restaurants.
Long before Park City became a world-class mountain resort town and venue for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, it was famous for its silver mining. The area boasts a lively and colorful past. Founded by prospectors in the late 1860s, silver was mined here until the early 1970s. The mining company, Park City Consolidated Mines, entered into the ski business in 1963, when they built the first lifts on what was then called Treasure Mountain.
For more about Park City's past, please visit the Park City Historical Society and Museum website at parkcityhistory.org.
Park City's History
40,000 BC | Saber-toothed tigers hunt bison in what is now the Snyderville Basin.
1600 AD | Native American bands travel the high alpine valleys in search of game.
1776 | The Dominguez-Escalante expedition makes it as far as the Provo valley on their way to California before retreating back to Santa Fe.
1823 | Mountain man Jedediah Smith passes through the Kamas Valley on his way from Wyoming to California.
1847 | Brigham Young and the Mormon settlers pass near the north end of this valley on their way to Salt Lake.
1850 | Parley Pratt's toll road leads from Parley's Park (the present Park City) westerly into the Salt Lake Valley collecting $1,500 from travelers en route to the California gold fields.
1862 | Brigham Young's "City by the Salt Lake" is booming and Federal troops from California under Colonel Patrick Conner are sent to guard the U.S. Mail and watch over the "Saints", who might side with the Confederacy in the Civil War. Figuring that a strike (a find of valuable ore) would bring in outsiders and dilute the Mormon population, Colonel Conner sends soldiers out prospecting.
1863 | Utah's first mining claim is filed in Bingham Canyon west of Salt Lake Valley.
1868 | In late October, soldiers climb over the mountains from Big Cottonwood Canyon to the Park City area and find silver. As the snow is swirling and a storm brewing, they mark the outcropping with a bandanna on a stick and return in the spring. The first mine is named Flagstaff. Park City will become known not only for its silver, but for lead, zinc and gold. The Flagstaff Mine is the first to ship ore from the area.
1869 | The Transcontinental Railroad is completed at Promontory, Utah. Laid-off workers, including many Chinese, settle in Parley's Park.
1870 | Parley's Park has a total population of 164.
1872 | George and Rhoda Snyder name the area Parley's Park City, soon shortened to Park City. The discovery of exceedingly rich silver ore (400 ounces to the ton) leads to the opening of the Ontario Mine and starts a boom town atmosphere in Park City. George Hearst, the father of William Randolph Hearst, and his partners buy the Ontario for $27,000. It will produce over $50 million in its lifetime.
1875 | A free public school is established.
1880 | The first issue of The Park Record rolls off the press. It will be published continuously from this date forward, expanding in the 1990s from one day per week to every Wednesday and Saturday.
1881 | Park City is the third city in Utah to receive telephone service. The typhoid epidemic hits the area. The Catholic Church builds a frame church and names it St. Mary's. Water in the mines is a continuing problem in spite of numerous underground pumps. The Cornish Pump, a machine 30 feet high with a 70-ton flywheel, is imported from Philadelphia by freight wagon. It pumps water from 1,000 feet below the surface in the Ontario Mine, taking out over 4 million gallons of water a day. Later, drain tunnels will replace pumps.
1882 | The Ontario has competition as other discoveries of silver occur. Among the larger ones are the Crescent, the Anchor and the Mayflower.
1884 | Park City is incorporated and City Hall is under construction (to be finished in 1885).
1889 | The town's population is over 5,000. The city is one of the first in the state to have electric lights.
1892 | Silver King Mine is incorporated. It will prove to be one of Park City's largest producers of silver.
1893 | Because silver is no longer to be used to back currency, silver prices drop. Miners at the Silver King accept a pay cut from $1 to 50 cents, allowing the mine to continue operating while others remain closed. First drilling contest takes place. In 15 minutes Frank Ward sinks his drill 17.5 inches into the rock. Yearly contests continue to this day as part of Miner's Day (Labor Day) festivities.
1894 | The Silver Queen, Susanna Bransford Emery, is making $1,000 a day from her interest in the Silver King Mine.
1896 | On statehood day, January 5, Park City has a population over 7,000.
1898 | Park City population approaches 10,000. In June, 200 of the 350 structures, homes and businesses burn in the worst fire Park City has ever seen. Three quarters of the town is gone, 500 are homeless, $1 million in property is lost. Gone is the grand new opera house built at a cost of $30,000 and open less than three months. Seventeen volunteers leave to fight in the Spanish-American War which forces the price of silver upward.
1899 | The town is rebuilt in one and a half years! The new buildings are more substantial - many are built of brick and stone to withstand fire. George Wanning's saloon is the first to be rebuilt.
1901 | Silver King aerial tramway uses buckets to bring ore down to town, lowering transportation cost to 22 cents a ton from $1.50 per ton when hauled by horse and wagon. Dick Smith, a nineteen-year-old, received a "blistered bottom" from his mother after he climbed a tramway tower, inched hand-over-hand along the cable and climbed down the ladder of the next tower.
1902 | The mines are going strong, with new companies, new buildings and equipment. William Tretheway is honored at a special banquet for his heroism in carrying a case of burning dynamite from the Silver King Mine. On July 15th, 34 men from the Daly West Mine die in an explosion of a large underground store of dynamite, which also produces fatal fumes. Considered the worst mine disaster in Park City history, the event prompts adoption of a state law forbidding the underground storage of large amounts of explosives.
1904 | The Miners Hospital is built for the sum of $5,000 raised by local businessmen and the Western Federation of Miners Local #144. Six thousand miners are treated for "Miner's Con", or silicosis, in the first year.
1906 | One of the first skiers in the area, "Bud" Wright spends the winter on skis toubleshooting as a lineman for the telephone company between Alta, Brighton and Park City.
1907 | Hard times befall the town, with cave-ins and flooded tunnels making mining a poor enterprise. The panic of 1907 affects the whole United States, causing a general recession. However, the economy improves by the end of 1908.
1916 | Heavy snows cause fatal snowslides and the collapse of the famed Dewey Theatre (where the Mary G. Steiner Egyptian Theatre now stands) just hours after 300 patrons finish watching the evening movie.
1917 | The prohibition of liquor called "the Great Experiment" begins in Utah, two years before the rest of the nation. Bootleggers abound; stills and home brewing are popular.
1918 | The great influenza epidemic prompts a law requiring anyone on the streets to wear a thick gauze mask or be arrested. Consequently, the impact of the disease is less severe in this area.
1920 | Skiing becomes more widespread as some workers take the mine train to the top of Thaynes Canyon for a ski trip to the bottom of the mountain, the same route which is used in 1964 for the Mine Train Ride which moves skiers up the mountain.
1921 | There are 27 bars in Park City and, despite prohibition, a thirsty soul could buy a drink in all but one of them. Prohibition continues through 1932.
1929 | The stock market crashes. Silver King stock plummets from $12.87 to $6.50 in one year.; Park Con from $2 to 27 cents. A rope tow is installed at Snow Park (now Deer Valley).
1930 | A ski jump is built on the Creole mine dump. Downhill skiers are few and skiing is mostly a spectator sport.
1931 | Alf Engen sets a world record at Ecker Hill by jumping 247 feet. In all, Engen sets five world records at Ecker Hill.
1934 | Ski jumper Calmar Andreasen, hampered by strong crosswinds and hard packed snow, dies from a fall on Ecker Hill.
1936 | The town's first Winter Carnival is a success, with more than 500 skiers arriving in Deer Valley on the ski train - a four hour journey from Salt Lake City.
1940 | Swedes and Finns carry mail over the mountains to Brighton and Alta using very long skis and usually only one pole to control speed.
1941 | December 7th, Pearl Harbor is attacked. Subsequent gas rationing prohibits travel to the Ecker Hill site.
1946 | The first lift is installed at Snow Park (now Deer Valley). Mining prices continue to drop.
1949 | On July 1, the mines shut down, putting 1,200 miners out of work.
1951 | Park City is included in a book called "Ghost Towns of the West" indicating no population. There are actually 1,150 "ghosts" in town at this time.
1952 | Some mines are opening as mineral prices rise.
1954 | People are leaving town. Welsh, Driscoll and Buck's department store closes after 50 years. The red light district is raided, not an uncommon event.
1958 | United Park City Mines looks to diversify and starts a feasibility study to begin the Treasure Mountain Resort (now Park City Mountain Resort).
1963 | Park City qualifies for a federal loan from the Area Redevelopment Agency. The government gives $1.25 million and, with other contributions, a total of $2 million is used to start Treasure Mountain Resort. A gondola, a chairlift and 2 J-bars are installed. A lift pass costs $3.50 and there are almost 50,000 skier days logged that first year.
1965 | A mine train takes skiers into a Silver King Mine tunnel then up a shaft to the top of the mountain, but the trip proves too slow to be very popular. As word of the new ski area spreads, people start moving to Park City. Snow Park is open weekends.
1966 | Sports Illustrated magazine includes Treasure Mountain Resort's Payday run among the finest ski runs in the country.
1968 | Park West Ski Area (now The Canyons) opens.
1969 | Snow Park closes.
1970 | First Park City Art Festival debuts on Main Street.
1976 | Kimball Art Center, in the old Eley Garage at 638 Main Street, opens its doors with two galleries, a gift shop, and classrooms.
1978 | On Valentine's Day, Park City is without a working mine for the first time in over 100 years. Despite a rally in the early 80s, mining will be over by 1982. A skeleton crew keeps the water pumped out and the mines open in case the price of metals increases dramatically.
1979 | The Miners Hospital, threatened with demolition, is moved from its site near the base of the Park City Ski Area to the City Park for its new use as the City's public library.
1980 | KPCW, Summit County's public radio, goes on the air.
1981 | Deer Valley Resort opens at the site of the old Snow Park area. The United States Film and Video Festival, highlighting independent films, opens in January for the first season in Park City. The festival has since become the Sundance Film Festival.
1982 | After extensive renovation on the old Miners Hospital, a human chain forms a "book brigade" to move the thousands of books in the collection at the original library on Main Street to its new location.
1984 | There are 14 lifts at Park City Ski Area and a day pass is $26, with 500,000 skier days.
1986 | TV45, Park City's television station, begins broadcasting.
1990 | The estimated year-round resident population is 5,000. Skier days for the three areas are over 850,000.
1993 | Parkites witness the heaviest snowfall in 10 years. The public library moves from the Miners Hospital into the old high school at 1255 Park Ave. The Utah Winter Sports Park (now The Olympic Park) opens.
1995 | Salt Lake City is awarded the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. More than 40% of the events will be held in Park City at the Utah Olympic Park, Deer Valley, and Park City Mountain Resort.
1996 | lver Mine Adventure opens
1997 | The Canyon Resort (previously Park West Ski Area) opens.
1999 | Property known as Flagstaff Mountain, approximately 1,750 acres located in Deer Valley, is annexed into the corporate City limits.
2000 | Census reveals a population of 7,371 residents in Park City.
2002 | XIX Olympic Winter Games opened in Salt Lake City on February 8, 2002 and closed on February 24, 2002. Approximately 2,400 athletes from 77 nations participated in 78 events in 15 disciplines held throughout 165 sporting sessions. As a host venue city, Main Street was closed to vehicles and turned into a vibrant celebration area programmed with daily entertainment and activities. Main Street housed a technical center for the media, the NBC broadcast center, and sponsors. Deer Valley Resort hosted the slalom and freestyle skiing, Park City Mountain Resort the giant slalom and snowboarding and the Utah Olympic Park, bobsleigh, luge, skeleton, and ski jumping competitions. The Games were financially successful raising more money with fewer sponsors than any prior Olympic Games, which left the Organizing Committee with a surplus of $40 million at the conclusion of the Games. The surplus was used to create the Utah Athletic Foundation, which maintains and operates many of the remaining Olympic venues.
2006 | Ted Ligety, native of Park City, wins gold in the men’s combined alpine skiing event at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.
2007 | Park City receives America’s Prettiest Towns Award.
2009 | After raising nearly $9 million dollars, the Park City Museum is renovated and reopens to the public in an expanded space, with more exhibits, resources, and programs to offer the public.
2010 | Officials are surprised by little change in the census number over ten years with the population calculated at 7,558.
2013 | Park City is voted “Best Town in America” by Outsider Magazine.
2015 | After its acquisition of the Park City Mountain Resort from Powdr Corp. in 2014, Vail Resorts connects PCMR and Canyons via the Quicksilver Gondola to open North America’s largest ski resort.
2019 | Park City completed the purchase of 110 acres on Treasure Hill for $64 million and placed a conservation easement on the land. This ended a 30-year battle between residents and developers.