Interactive mine tunnel exhibit, photo courtesy of Park City Museum.

If you’ve ever thought the historic vibe in Park City’s Old Town district was no more than an artificial and cliché façade, it might be time to pay a visit to the Park City Museum and get schooled in a little Park City history.

Though I’m a self-proclaimed history foe, Park City’s evolution from a dying mining town to a thriving ski town is downright fascinating. As the silver
boom began to peter out in the early 20
th century, Park City was on the brink of ghost town status by the 1950s. Skiing and ski jumping had been a local pastime in the area for a few years, but it wasn’t until Treasure Mountain (now Park City Mountain Resort) installed a gondola and a couple of J-bar lifts to haul skiers uphill that the sport made an impact on the once whimsical town.

It’s safe to say that in the last 50 years, skiing and snowboarding has done a pretty good job of building a second legacy in Park City. And on the eve of the resort’s golden anniversary, the town of Park City isn’t about to forget its struggles and glory. This winter, you’ll find evidence of Park City’s humble beginnings throughout town, including a season-long exhibit at the Park City Museum called Mines to Moguls: 50 Years of Park City Skiing.

The interactive exhibit recounts the wave of strike-it-rich miners that descended upon Park City’s hillside and the residents’ eventual transition from silver mining to “snow mining.” A stroll through the museum brings alive the quirky (like the underground “chairlift” subway that utilized old mining tunnels), the groundbreaking (like setting a new standard for Super Pipes during the 2002 Winter Olympics) and many other traits that separate Park City from the rest of Utah’s modern history.


Park City skiers subway, photo courtesy of Park City Museum.

It’s not fair to give PCMR all the credit for turning Park City into a bonafide ski town, though—as Deer Valley, Canyons and ambitious ski bums have all played a part in that—but as the oldest resort in town, it certainly helped build the foundation for modern Park City.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Park City celebration without getting a little saucy. Local suds maker Wasatch Brewery has concocted a smooth American brown ale in celebration of Park City’s landmark year. The Golden Anniversary Ale, available at restaurants and grocery stores around town, is a toasty beer with soft chocolate malts, perfect for post-wintertime antics.


Golden Anniversary Ale, photo courtesy of Park City Mountain Resort.

Mines to Moguls is on display at the Park City Museum from Nov. 23–May 25, 2014. Admission to the museum is free on Dec. 12 as part of Locals Day. For all other days, admission is $10, adults; $8, seniors/students/military; $5, children; free, under 6. For more information on current exhibits, visit parkcityhistory.org.

Park City Museum
528 Main St., Park City
435-649-7457
Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Sun., 12 p.m.–6 p.m.