The following is the fifth and final article in a series on Park City and Ketchum, Idaho.
By the early 1950s, the four largest mines in the Park City mining district flirted with insolvency. The Ontario, Silver King, Daly Judge, and Daly West (along with other struggling mines) were consolidated into one entity – United Park City Mines (UPCM). Besides the subsurface rights, UPCM controlled 20,000 acres on the surface. The company’s formation did little to arrest the decline of mining and Park City.
In 1957, during a UPCM Board of Directors meeting, Walker Wallace (his father was UPCM’s President) observed that the company needed to create new revenue streams to offset commodity market volatilities. Other board members supported his position – in particular Lamar Osika (UPCM Controller) and Jack Gallivan (second in command of the state’s dominant newspaper, the Salt Lake Tribune). Twenty years earlier Averell Harriman, CEO of the Union Pacific Railroad, demonstrated the economic potential of snow, sun, and mountains. His masterpiece, the Sun Valley Resort and its host town Ketchum, ID became magnets for the rich and famous. Blessed with the same endowments, local leaders contemplated a similar future for Park City. One little problem loomed: where to secure the funding. Five years later a close friendship would resolve this challenge.
Jack Gallivan eagerly anticipated the 1960 presidential sweepstakes. His close friend, John F. Kennedy (JFK) ran on the Democratic ticket against Richard Nixon, a Republican. This would be the first presidential campaign featuring televised debates (there would be four of them that election). Nixon enjoyed an enviable record as Dwight Eisenhower’s VP. His experience and credentials were formidable. JFK was not intimidated. His advantages: a sophisticated and glamorous wife, movie star good looks, a casual yet confident demeanor, and comfortability in front of the camera. He relished debating Nixon before network audiences predicted to approach 120 million viewers.
Jack watched all four of the debates. Unfortunately for Nixon, he was no match for his media savvy competitor. He looked haggard – the result of a grueling campaign schedule that visited all fifty states. In contrast, JFK appeared relaxed, handsome and confident. He looked directly into the cameras explaining his vision for a vibrant future America. One of his most important proposals was to create a federal agency to invest in chronically depressed regions. The election was hard fought by both sides; The outcome best described as a photo finish. Regarding the popular vote, Kennedy’s margin of victory was one of the closest in history – 49.7% compared to Nixon’s 49.5%. Less than 117,000 votes separated the victor from the vanquished. JFK became the 35th President of the U.S. at 43 – the youngest to do so and the first Roman Catholic. Jack Gallivan conveyed his congratulations. A White House luncheon awaited scheduling.
Honoring one of his campaign promises to invest Federal funds in distressed regions, JFK established the Area Redevelopment Administration. Park City qualified for consideration. In early 1962 UPCM applied for a loan. Their proposal: build a ski resort to diversify the local economy and provide work for unemployed miners. Coincidentally a White House luncheon was arranged for August 10th. Utah’s leading newspaper publishers would dine with the President. As the event drew to a close, JFK asked his good friend Jack, “was there anything he could do for him?” Without hesitation Jack mentioned UPCM’s application. Kennedy stated he’d look into it. Two weeks later the loan was approved, ushering in a new era for Park City.
The authors acknowledge the contributions of Larry Warren, Steve Leatham, Jim Hewitson, Peggy Fletcher, Keith Droste, Sandra Morrison, Connie Nelson (Alf Engen Museum), and Terry Olivia (Ketchum Regional Museum).
David Nicholas and Stuart Stanek are also giving a lecture on the similarities between Park City and Ketchum on April 3 from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Museum’s Education and Collections Center located at 2079 Sidewinder Drive.