Today, Park City is a winter sports hub. Before the ski resorts we see today, Parkites could enjoy a few runs at Snow Park, a local spot with a tow rope. And before that many Parkites spectated or went ski jumping at Creole Hill just above Old Town or at Ecker Hill out near Kimball Junction.
One other favorite pastime, especially for the kids, was sledding. Park City had and still has some steep streets heading downhill both south to north and west to east. The most popular route was to sled down Woodside Avenue, which was not plowed in the winter into the 1960s. Sledders would start at the peak of upper Woodside around Third Street and sled all the way to Park City High School nine blocks away.
Designated sledding or “coasting” streets were set aside because kids were going to sled down them either way and town officials wanted to make sure they were safe from oncoming traffic. However, a couple of perpendicular streets to Woodside had cross traffic. In at least one instance, a sledder was hit and killed by a car crossing Woodside.
Patricia (Sundstrom) Welch remembered that it “was really traumatic for the town. Everybody’s kids was out sledding. For a young boy to be struck and killed it weighed pretty heavy on everybody at that time.” Her brother Albert Sundstrom added that the accident happened on “a road we used to cross. In those days, you’d have to get a run on the hill [to get up it in your car], so they didn’t slow down in order to get through.”
Traffic was light in Park City in the winter because it was so difficult to get somewhere and because there was little available parking with snow piled on the sides of streets. Most days, the kids took turns keeping watch at cross streets, giving the all-clear for their fellow sledders. As such, collisions between sledders and cars were rare.
Cars weren’t the only danger, however. Parkite Marie Horan remembered one year where there was little snow but a lot of ice. The regular sledders made the best of it, going down solo or in caravans, three or four kids to a sleigh, as she called them. On New Year’s Eve, ca. 1914-1916, when she was thirteen, she ended up stuck with her friend and her friend’s cousin from Provo, who hadn’t had any experience with the ice and ruts that had formed throughout the winter. Their sled of three was being controlled by that cousin. They got stuck in a rut and as Marie recalls, “all I remember was the telephone pole coming at me.” She ended up with a lot of stitches to cuts across her face, a crushed nose that the doctor tried his best to give structure back to, and skinned knees.
All in all, however, most kids went out every day and never had an issue. If they crashed or rolled over, there was snow underneath them and snowbanks on either side.
Another popular spot to go sledding, especially for the older kids, was to start at the Judge Mine and Mill in Walker Webster Gulch up Empire Canyon. Several Parkites have noted their memories of starting at the Judge Mill. Sledding from the Judge Mine would’ve likely sent the youngsters down through Daly Avenue. Other sledding spots included Snow Park, down Marsac Avenue, down King Road, down Empire Avenue, and sometimes down upper Park Avenue.
“A Fourth-Generation Native Watches Park City Grow Up.” Park Record. February 21, 1985.
“Parkites Old and New Trade Tales at Historical Society’s Reunion Picnic.” Park Record. September 6, 1984.
Bea Mayes. Way We Were. January 10, 2001.
“Town Marshal Clears the Roads for Park City’s Young’ Sleigh-Riders.” Park Record. November 21, 1985.
Park City Museum oral histories with the Sundstrom family, Marie Horan, Renee Wilde Adamson, Bruce Wallin, and Afton Williams.