Of the 70 silver mines that once operated in Park City, about half are located within Park City Mountain Resort’s boundaries. Over the years, local history advocates Sally Elliott, Marianne Cone, and others have petitioned the resort’s various operators and owners to put up the capital and effort necessary to preserve mine-related structures. But their years-long efforts met with only meager success. In 1994 Cone raised funds to restore the Silver King water tanks (located along Silver Queen run). And then in 1997, Elliott, Cone, and others got United Park City Mines, then owner of the resort, to help fund mine-site interpretive signs.
But then in September 2014, a once-in-a-generation opportunity presented itself. Park City Mountain Resort’s ownership transferred to Vail Resorts, and Elliott wasted no time petitioning both the new operators and the city to finally do something about the rapidly deteriorating mine structures on the resort’s property. “I was very aggressive,” Elliott recalls. And her persistence paid off. In approving Vail Resorts’ $50 million capital improvement package for the resort, the city asked for a $50,000 donation to seed a mine structure preservation organization called Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History. Vail Resorts also agreed to survey the sites within the ski area boundary and support a five-year fundraising plan for restoration efforts through Epic Promise, the company’s philanthropic arm.
A few of the priority sites identified by preservationists include the Silver King Mine head frame building, the Jupiter Mine ore bin, and the California-Comstock Mine (pictured above). “These mining sites represent an experience not found at any other ski resort in the world,” says Bill Rock, Park City Mountain Resort chief operating officer.
Preservation work on the California-Comstock Mine, located in Thaynes Canyon on the Powerline Trail, begins in June. Clark Martinez, a fourth-generation Parkite, former miner, and now owner of The Xcavation Company, has been contracted to complete the long-awaited work. “It’s about keeping your foot on the gas,” says Elliott, “and outliving your enemies.”