Walking down Historic Main Street, with its cute shops, colorful historic buildings, clean sidewalks, and pleasant mountain air, it can be difficult to imagine what Park City looked like 100 years ago. Things were almost exactly the opposite. During the heyday of the mining era, Park City was not the picturesque mountain escape by any means; it was filthy and full of promiscuity. After long, hard, and hazardous days in the mines, miners flocked to Main Street to drown their worries at one of the dozens of local watering-holes. They weren't the only ones; mining towns drew all manner of depravity. Needless to say, petty crimes, drunkenness, prostitution, and general rowdiness were common and often resulted in a stint at Park City's territorial jail, a.k.a. the dungeon.
Built in 1885, the jail was nothing short of dreadful. Dark, dank, and cold, it offered no running water or electricity, just a dirt floor with a wood stove in the middle, its only creature comfort. When a concrete floor and toilet were added in 1906, the Park Record declared the jail was finally, "fit for human beings to live in." Behavior that earned you a trip to the jail included drunkenness, disturbing the peace, fighting, prostitution, petty larceny, and so forth. Mine union organizers and strikers were also known to be throw into jail from time to time during the early part of the 20th century when union activity peaked. In fact, in 1916 the insignia for the Industrial Workers of the World was burnt onto one of the cell walls using candle smoke by some unknown unionized miners. Generally, anyone charged with a more serious crime was sent to the Summit County jail in Coalville.
The jail housed its final prisoners, Neil Brown and Claude Hurley, in 1966. Incidentally, they were only kept there because they somehow managed two successful escapes from the contemporary Park City jail, after which the authorities opted to toss them in the "old historic dungeon." By that time "the dungeon" actually hadn't been used actively for a number of years.
Today, the dungeon is one of the biggest attractions at the Park City Museum, but according to Park City legends, the dungeon is haunted (at least if you believe what they say on the Ghost Tours). "We've heard stories from some visitors who say they’ve heard or seen something and some of our staff don’t like going in the jail when they’re alone or the lights are off," says Mahala Ruddell, the Research Coordinator of the museum. "I will say that at least 11 people died there. But people will probably just have to decide for themselves whether or not they believe its haunted."
You can step inside the jail for yourself and find out more about its unsavory history and the prisoners who were kept there by visiting the Park City Museum.