In November of 1946, “two ski lovers and sportsmen,” Otto Carpenter and Bob Burns, approached Mel Fletcher, president of the Snow Park Ski Club, seeking the group’s cooperation and support of a project to build a ski lift in “Frog Valley.” Believing that Burns and Carpenter had the fortitude and ambition to tangle with the weather and many obstacles ahead, Fletcher offered the club’s “full cooperation to Bob and Otto” and urged the citizens to support something which was good for the city, its businesses and general recreation. A month later the T-bar ski lift was in operation on Saturdays and Sundays at the head of Deer Valley.
Bob Burns and Otto Carpenter worked hard during the summer and fall months of 1947 to convert the T-bar to a 1,400-foot chairlift which opened on Christmas day. Local ski enthusiast could now enjoy the best of skiing without having to travel out of the city limits.
Thirty years later the 72-year-old Carpenter and 67-year-old Burns teamed up again to bring something good to the city: A place where Park City senior citizens could come together, talk, play cards, sew, and enjoy time with one another.
At the urging of station agent Fay Dearden, Union Pacific Railroad officials offered to give the Seniors the rustic 2,400 square-foot abandoned train station at Keetley, Utah. Built in 1923 as part of a 43-million-dollar Union Pacific program of improvements, the Keetley Depot served as the scale house and agent’s office on the company’s Ontario Branch. It connected a five-and-three-tenths-mile railroad line built between Park City and the mouth of the Ontario drain tunnel at an approximate cost of $400,000.
Carpenter and Burns, representing the Senior Citizens headed by former City Recorder Violet Terry, had found an ideal parcel of City owned ground at the 1400 block of Norfolk Avenue behind the fire station. They appeared before the City Council on May 6, 1976 asking for the piece of land.
The Park Record reported that the Council was very receptive to the proposal, but City Recorder Bruce Decker reminded the members that the property was very near the resort and was quite valuable.
Raising a finger, Otto Carpenter heatedly replied, “We know the ground is worth a lot of money, but we feel our Senior Citizens are every bit as important as the resort. It’s a road you’ll have to walk someday.”
Little more was said of the property’s value and Councilwoman Eleanor Bennett insisted on making the motion transferring the property, with details of the exact agreement between the City and the Seniors to follow. The motion carried unanimously.
City Attorney Carl Nemelka drew up an agreement providing for a 99-year lease at $1.00 per annum giving either party the right to terminate the contract at any time. The Senior Citizens declined to sign. The Seniors believed that “the city’s right to terminate the lease should be based on the condition that the building cease to serve in its projected capacity.” A settlement was soon reached.
Stay tuned for part two about the Senior Center! And make sure to visit the Museum and our current traveling exhibit on the Transcontinental Railroad, from which the Union Pacific extended to Park City, then out to Keetley