Park City, Utah is a beautiful resort town, just thirty-two miles east of Salt Lake City. This city was not originally the resort town that it has become. Park City was begun as a mining town in the mid-nineteenth century.
Brigham Young was the historic president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon or LDS Church), who led the Mormon Pioneers into the state of Utah in the 1800s. After arriving in Utah, Brigham Young instructed church members to pursue agriculture and warned that the lure of precious metals would cause outside infiltration into the Utah Territory. Because of his warning, few members of the LDS Church looked for metals such as gold, silver and lead in the hills of Utah, even though there was a great market for these metals, and people were becoming rich by mining the hills of other western states.
In 1862, the US Army began bringing groups of soldiers into Utah to protect the federal mail route. Many of these soldiers were veterans of the Nevada and California gold fields. Because of their experience as miners, these soldiers saw the mountains of Utah and the promise of precious metals in the soil. They spent a good deal of their leisure time prospecting in the hills of the Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountains. They were successful in their search for precious metals. By 1868, many prospectors had entered the area near what is now known as Park City. They found rich beds of silver and lead in the land. In December of 1868, the first mining claim was filed in Park City. The area quickly became famous for the quantity of precious metal that lay in the ground. Many people came to the area to work the mines and many people became tremendously wealthy from the mining. In 1872, one of Park City's silver mines called the Ontario Mine was sold to George Hearst for $27,000. He ran the mine well and it went on to produce fifty million dollars in the following years.
Although Park City was a tremendously successful mining town, the history of the city is marked with difficult times. Park City suffered terrible fires in 1882 and then again in 1885. However, the worst disaster came on June 19, 1898. A horrible fire raged through the Park City commercial district. It was the greatest fire in the history of Utah. Main Street was destroyed. Losses were estimated at over one million dollars.
Approximately 200 business houses and dwellings perished. The city was left in ruins.
After the great fire of 1898, the people of Park City banded together and rebuilt their town. Several fine structures, including the Grand Opera House, City Hall, and the Park City Bank had perished in the blaze. The concerned citizens of the town worked together to rebuild these locations. Many structures were rebuilt quickly. Within the year of 1898, Park City had a new City Hall. Other parts of the city's reconstruction took longer, but all of the work was eventually completed.
By the 1920s, Park City was rebuilt completely. Many parts of the mining town were similar to the original construction, and many parts of the city were vastly improved over what they had been before the blaze of 1898. Buildings that had been wooden were rebuilt as brick or stone structures. Although Main Street and other sections of town were refurbished and new, the city still retained its look as a picturesque, nineteenth century mining town. This look is part of the attraction that draws visitors to Park City.
In time, the silver boom that made Park City such a wealthy community drew to a close. Soon after, the residents of the mountain town came to realize that their beautiful home was a great resource of recreational activities such as skiing and snowmobiling. There was still a fortune to be made capitalizing on the recreational activities in the mountains around Park City.
In 1963, the people of the city began capitalizing on this resource. They built a ski resort called Treasure Mountain Resort, which became a great success. Today, this resort still exists but it's now called Park City Mountain Resort. Over the years, two additional resorts were added to the city-Deer Valley Resort and The Canyons Resort-making Park City one of the few resort areas in the country that can boast three year-round resorts within five miles of each other.
Today, the Park City resorts offer over 8,800 acres of skiable terrain, 337 trails and 51 lifts. The convenience of so much of the West's finest ski terrain, convenient lodging and nightlife attracted many of the venues during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, and transformed Park City into the Games party headquarters. It has also helped strengthen Park City's position as one of the world's best destinations for people interested in fine skiing and riding.
Park City offers more than fine skiing for recreation. It has become a year-round recreational area. It is a wonderful destination for golfing, horseback riding, fly-fishing, mountain biking, hiking, and hunting. Park City is known as a perfect location for winter activities such as cross-country skiing, helicopter skiing, and snowmobiling. There are two sides to this city that make it one of the better places to visit in the state of Utah. Park City has the appearance of a picturesque, nineteenth-century mining town, and it is a modern alpine resort.