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Park City Mining

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This page was last updated on June 25, 2015.

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(The book, Treasure Mountain Home covers the history of Park City mining very well. It was first published in 1981, and as of August 2013, a revised edition is still available from the publisher, Dream Garden Press (Ken Sanders Books), call 801-521-3819.)

(The intent of the information presented here is to put a finer point on various aspects of transporting the ore from the mines, by indentifying dates and other information for items such as drain tunnels that became working and transportion tunnels, various aerial tramways, and loading stations used to load railroad cars, along with the railroad spurs themselves.)

Overview

Silver was discovered in the canyons and ridges south of Parleys Park as early as the mid 1860s, and the mining camp that grew up around the silver strikes took the name of Parley's Park City. The ore being mined was a combination of lead, silver and gold, known as galena, and smelting was required to separate the metals from each other. The first large shipment of galena was forty tons that were shipped by wagon to the railroad at Echo in 1871, where the ore was transferred to rail cars and taken by Union Pacific to Salt Lake City for smelting.

The largest mine was based on the Ontario Lode, established in July 1872. The Ontario claim was purchased in August 1872 by George Hearst and soon became the basis for his personal fortune, and the publishing empire of his son, William Randolph Hearst. Another large claim would later become the Silver King mine, owned by David Keith and Thomas Kearns.

Railroads

Transportation of the ore was by wagon until a railroad was built to Park City. It was actually a competition between the narrow gauge Utah Eastern Railway, and the standard gauge Summit County Railway. The narrow gauge company was a local and independent effort, but the standard gauge company was controlled by Union Pacific. Utah Eastern reached Park City in early December 1880, and the Summit County company completed its tracks into Park City six weeks later in mid January 1881, and at the same time the company was reorganized as the Echo & Park City Railway.

(Read more about the history of Union Pacific's Park City Branch)

With the completion of both lines into Park City, the two companies settled down to the business of moving coal, goods, and materials into Park City, and moving ores from the mines out. To remove its competition in the business of transporting coal from Coalville to Salt Lake City, and Park City ores to the smelters, in autumn 1883 Union Pacific secretly gained control of the Utah Eastern stock and bonds, circumventing the little company's special provisions of control by another railroad company. On December 20, 1883 Union Pacific suspended operation of the Utah Eastern, after completing a connection between the standard gauge Echo & Park City and the narrow gauge Utah Eastern at Coalville, thus providing direct access to the Home Coal Company's Weber coal mine, which furnished large amounts of coal to the Ontario Silver Mining Company in Park City. Union Pacific went into bankruptcy in 1893, taking its subsidiary companies with it, including the Echo & Park City Railway. In 1897, Union Pacific was reorganized and emerged from bankruptcy and in late December 1899, bought the Echo & Park City at foreclosure, merged the company into its own organization and began operating the Park City line as its Park City Branch.

Competition for Union Pacific's Park City Branch came in April 1890 with the completion of the Salt Lake & Eastern Railway, which built its route from Salt Lake City to Park City by way of Parleys Canyon. The Salt Lake & Eastern was a narrow gauge railroad was reorganized almost immediately as the Utah Central Railway. Moving the Park City ore was very good business, but the line between Park City and Salt Lake was limited by being a narrow gauge railroad. In the mid 1890s, work began to convert the line to standard gauge to allow larger cars and heavier trains. Unfortunately, this was at the same time as the Silver Panic of 1893, and the company's mining business collapsed as the demand for silver disappeared. Like so many of the western railroads built to serve mining districts, the Utah Eastern went into bankruptcy, and in 1897 was purchased by Rio Grande Western, which rebuilt the steep grades and sharp curves, and converted the line to standard gauge. The first standard gauge train arrived in Park City from Salt Lake on July 30, 1900.

At Park City itself, the railroads maintained loading ramps for the dumping of ores from wagons, and later trucks, directly into railroad cars. The railroad also served the Ontario mine directly, over jointly owned (with Rio Grande) tracks south through Deer Valley and up to the mine above Park City. The joint trackage veered east from the UP depot, and proceeded into Deer Valley about a half mile, where a switch back the took the tracks up the hill about three-quarter of a mile to the Ontario mine opening. This was known as the Ontario Spur, and was removed in 1923 with the completion of UP's Ontario Branch that served the drain tunnel opening at Keetley. In 1930, the Park City joint trackage was extended one and a half mile further into Deer Valley to the Park City Consolidated Mining Company's tipple. And in 1941, the Ontario Branch was extended 1.7 miles south to serve the Mayflower mine of the New Park Mining Company.

Park City Ores

The ore mined at Park City was a combination of silver, lead and zinc, generally known as galena ore. In the early years, silver was the most sought after ore, but as industrialization grew after the early 1900s, lead became more important, with zinc becoming important after World War I.

There have been two types of ore at Park City, and both of these types are divisible into milling and smelting ores. In one type of ores are the silver ores carrying a fair amount of gold but not very high in the base metals, such as those of the Ontario. The other type was the silver lead ores which also carry some silver and gold, enough in smelting grades to make them bonanzas.

It is this latter silver-lead class of ore that with some variations the Daly-Judge, Daly-West and Silver King Coalition were treating in their mills and producing concentrate.

There were also two classes of ore. The first class ore, known as smelting ore, could be shipped directly to the smelters, and was mainly a combination of the sulphides of lead, copper and iron with high silver value. The second class of ore, known as milling ore, required reduction at local mills to produce concentrate, which was then shipped to the smelters. This milling ore was made up of the sulphides of lead, iron and zinc.

Among the large producers the only mines that yielded ore carrying high values of zinc were the Daly West and Daly-Judge. The Daly-Judge ore was 8 to 10 per cent lead; 8 to 10 per cent zinc; and 6 to 10 per cent iron. Daly West ore was 4 to 6 per cent lead; 6 to 8 per cent zinc; and 4 to 6 per cent iron. In 1904 the Ontario milling ore carried an average of 6 per cent zinc.

At the end in the early 1970s, there were just two large mining companies in Park City; the United Park City Mines Company, and the New Park Mining Company. Both were the result of many mergers and consolidations. Some of the names involved in the United Park City Mines merger and consolidation include the Ontario, the Daly, the Daly-West, and the Daly-Judge, all of which were the basis, along with many smaller mines that formed the Park Utah Consolidated Mines Company in 1925. The other big name in the United Park City Mines merger was the Silver King Coalition Mines Company, formed in 1907 to settle a series of legal actions for mining claims on Treasure Hill. The New Park company came from companies with names such as Star of Utah, Park Galena, Naildriver, Wabash, and Park Bingham, along with Daly-Judge Extension.

New Park Mining Company -- Information about the second most successful mining company in the Park City district.

Park City Drain Tunnels -- Information about the drain tunnels that drained the Park City mines.

Park Utah Consolidated Mines Company -- Information about the Park Utah mines, formed in 1925 and merged with Silver King Coalition in 1953.

Silver King Coalition Mines Company -- Information about the Silver King mines, formed in 1907 and merged with Park Utah in 1953.

United Park City Mines Company -- Information about the United Park City mines, formed in 1953 by the merger of Silver King Coalition and Park Utah; includes information about the creation of the Park City ski resort.

Union Pacific's Park City Branch -- An expanded version of an article published as "Union Pacific's Park City (Utah) Branch" in The Streamliner, Volume 15, Number 2, Spring 2001.

Map

Park City Branches -- A Google Map of the rail lines in and around Park City, Utah; includes locations of the major mines, drain tunnel, and aerial tramways.

Sources

Treasure Mountain Home: Park City Revisited, by George A. Thompson and Fraser Buck

First edition, 1968, Deseret Book Company (5,000 copies)

Second edition, 226 pages (244 pages including front matter and index), October 1981, Dream Garden Press; ISBN-10: 0960440216; ISBN-13: 978-0960440214

Third edition, 141 pages, December 1993, Dream Garden Press; ISBN-10: 0942688899; ISBN-13: 978-0942688894

The book is still available direct from Dream Garden Press (Ken Sanders Books) as of August 2013, call 801-521-3819.

Online edition, preview edition with missing pages

From The Ground Up: The History of Mining In Utah, 2006, Utah State University, chapter on Park City, pages 318-341

Geology And Ore Deposits Of The Park City District, Utah, Department Of The Interior, United States Geological Survey, Professional Paper 77, 1912

Park City at UtahRails

(This information was first published in the UtahRails.net blog on June 23, 2013)

I first wrote about Union Pacific's Park City Branch in 2001, in an article for the Union Pacific Historical Society called "Union Pacific's Park City (Utah) Branch," published in their magazine The Streamliner, Volume 15, Number 2 (Spring 2001).

Due to space constraints, several paragraphs had to be cut. When I created a web page for the text of the article in early 2003, I put those missing paragraphs back in and included the footnotes that also were not part of the published article. A couple times over the past ten years, I've added more information as I came across it, or as others have shared with me.

About three months ago, while looking for something else, I came across a newspaper item from 1941, reporting that a new rail spur had been dedicated to serve the Mayflower mine, east of Park City.

Adding in that information from 1941, and looking to put it in context with the status of Park City's mines started a binge of research into the relationship between the railroad and the mines, from the 1900-1910 period, through to the creation of the Park City ski resort in 1970, and the end of mining in the district in 1985.

With an eye toward railroad operations, I started looking for the changes in the location where Park City ore was loaded into railroad cars. That news item from 1941 mentioned that the Mayflower mine was owned by New Park Mining Company, a name that I had not seen before. After many hours of online research, I began to get a clearer understanding of the changes in mining company mergers and consolidations that took place in Park City. These changes are covered in several new pages, as well as a new overall index page.

By use of the Utah Digital Newspapers Project, and the New York Times online archives, I've been able to read the newspaper coverage of events in Park City mining. And through Google Books, I have been able to find several books and collected periodicals that did a pretty good job covering the same events.

More Information

End of Lead Smelting -- Information about the end of lead, zinc, and silver smelting in Utah.

Daly West Mine at WesternMiningHistory.com -- Based on data by USGS. (Full list of all Summit County mines; Star of Utah and Mayflower not shown)

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