One of the “Big Three”, the Silver King Mine was the second discovery that would make Park City one of the world’s most profitable mining camps of its era. Thomas Kearns urged David Keith to consolidate a number of claims on Treasure Hill in the 1880s. Terrific profits followed with which they were able to purchase surrounding claims. The five characters who came together to incorporate these claims in 1892 were among Park City’s most colorful and emblematic of all who symbolize our mining history.
Thomas Kearns became a United States Senator. He and David Keith built mansions on South Temple Street in Salt Lake City. Susannah Bransford Emery Holmes Delitch Engalitchev became Utah’s Silver Queen. W.V. Rice, the Judge and the Ivers families prospered mightily. Their stories are Utah’s legends.
The deteriorating Silver King Shaft House, at the base of Bonanza Lift, closed in 1953 when metal prices were too low to produce a profit. The historic building contains the shaft, headframe and hoisting works including with the powerful engines for lifting the cages. Below this building in Woodside Gulch lies the Silver King Mill. On the hillside to the northwest is the safe, encased in concrete to remind us of the original location of the Silver King Boarding house. In 1987, the historic boarding house was moved 500 vertical feet and 3,000 linear feet up the mountain and is now restored as the Mid-Mountain Lodge serving McConkey’s and Pioneer Lifts.
Below the Silver King Shaft House, Keith and Kearns build a state-of-the-art concentrator to process the ore. In 1901, they added an aerial tramway to carry the ore downhill to the D&RG Western railroad. The giant lower terminal soon became known as the “Coalition Building”. Here the concentrate was loaded on train cars for shipment to the smelter in Salt Lake City. The metal towers are still visible today, paralleling the Town Chairlift.
The Silver King Coalition used its profits to invest in and acquire other properties, eventually encompassing most of the property now incorporated into Park City Mountain’s skiable terrain and becoming fabulously wealthy. By 1914 the Silver King had distributed $14 million in dividends to its stock holders. Eventually, the Silver King Coalition acquired all of Thaynes Canyon, all of Walker Webster Gulch, all of Woodside Gulch and the Spiro Tunnel above the Park City Golf Course.
Saving the Silver King Water Tanks
While we have prioritized the mining structures you can see while skiing, from time to time a problem will crop up with the many mining structures you cannot ski close to on the mountain. These large water tanks are visible from the bottom of Bonanza lift (look up to your left) or when riding the Crescent chair at Park City Mountain. Originally there were three large water tanks but one collapsed around 2005. The other two tanks were damaged during the big snow year of 2016-17. Starting in 2018, we began to repair the collapsed walls and re-purpose the materials from the third water tank to repair the remaining two structures. The repairs required much needed interior support work to ensure they stay upright. Historically the amount of water housed inside provided outward pressure (much like a barrel). The project is slated for completion in 2020.
Engineering: Calder Richards Consulting Engineers
Construction: Lance Kincaid, Kincaid Construction
Status: In Progress
Cost To Date: $75,775
Estimated Cost to Complete: $45,000
Learn More By Reading These "Way We Were" Articles:
Building a Life from the Mine Up: The Life of David Keith by Sally Elliott
My Story: Mary Ferguson Keith by Sally Elliott
My Story: Susanna Bransford Emery Holmes Delitch Engalitcheff – Utah’s “Silver Queen” by Sally Elliott and Pat Pond
My Story: Albion Emery by Sally Elliott and Karl Lund
My story: Thomas Kearns by Sally Elliott
My story: Windsor Volney Rice by Sally Elliott
The King Mandates Insurance by Steve Leatham
Master Mechanic by Steve Leatham
A High Society Wedding by Mahala Ruddell, Research Coordinator
Eight-hour Day with No Cut in Pay by Mahala Ruddell, Research Coordinator
When the Cable Broke by Steve Leatham
From the Perspective of Tower 39 by David Nicholas and Steve Leatham