The history of Park City dates back to the mid 19th Century when silver was discovered in 1868.
At the time, Utah was still a territory presided over by Mormon leader Brigham Young whose followers settled the Salt Lake valley. Wary of Young's increasing influence and reported obstruction of federal officials, President Buchanan sent troops to the new territory to keep an eye on the Mormons. Some of the soldiers camped out in what became known as Park City. In their spare time they prospected for precious metals and one day discovered a rich vein of silver. Many of them deserted and soon the great silver rush was on. More than 400 million dollars of silver was extracted from the mountains which became honeycombed with 1200 miles of tunnels. William Randolph Hearst's father bankrolled his son's publishing empire with profits he earned from the mines. At its height, Park City boasted the richest silver mine in the world.
The village quickly grew into a small city attracting 10,000 residents -- which is more than we have today.
Main Street was the epicenter of the hell raising mining town which featured more than 50 saloons, several boarding houses, China Town, and a red light district presided over by Mother Urban. Undaunted by her 250 pounds and a wooden leg, Mother Urban knew how to keep the miners in town while quietly paying her fines during monthly raids.
As a result, the Mormon Church frowned on their members visiting Park City and instead encouraged them to stick to agriculture and avoid "sin city."
Most of the town burned down more than once but was always quickly rebuilt. The Main Street siren that can still be heard at 10 O’clock every night was installed as a fire warning but soon became known to every kid as a "curfew call." After World War Two when the demand for silver waned, mining dried up and the little boom town nearly went bust. The average price for a lot and home dwindled to 500 dollars. When the mines closed in the early 1960's, Park City became a virtual ghost town.
But it was not to be.
Armed with a one point two million dollar federal loan, the last surviving mining company discovered "white gold" -- skiing! Park City soon became the World Cup opening venue and eventually the alpine heart of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Old Town -- where it all began -- is where the renaissance continues today. More information can be found at parkcityhistory.org.