This is the second Way We Were article covering the 60th Anniversary of Park City Mountain Resort.
“…On December 21, 1963, Park City, Utah… lays claim to its second bonanza of the century,” read the Park Record in the days leading up to Treasure Mountains resort’s grand opening to the public. “And with this Grand Opening will come a new, rich lode – one of recreation – to the storied mining community…”
The grand opening was just the beginning too. The resort was still building toward becoming one of the West’s premiere resorts. By December 21, only 60% of the cars on the gondola from the base to the angle station and then on up to the Summit House would be installed. The gondola itself was then the longest in the United States at 2.5 miles long, with 2,300 vertical feet in rise to the top of Pioneer Ridge. Riding all the way to the top took 20 minutes.
Over 18 miles of ski runs had been cut and at least 10 inches of snow covered them, making them skiable. Seth “Red” Droubay, VP and GM of United Park City Mines (UPCM) – Treasure Mountains’ owner – told the Park Record, “Since all skiing facilities are 98% ready, we wanted to be open to the public in time for the holiday season.” For its first season, the resort mostly just needed the rest of the gondola cars to arrive and to add finishing touches to some of the buildings. All in all, the resort planned $5 million more in development over the next five years, so that Treasure Mountains and Park City could truly be a resort destination.
Parkites also had a chance to see the new resort before it opened to the public. Approximately 500 residents, over one-third of Park City’s population at the time, rode the gondola all the way to the top and dined at the Summit House over the course of the day on December 17, 1963.
To even get to this point, the whole community had to invest. UPCM, which by then owned almost every old and currently operating mine in the Park City mining district, had to make the decision to reinvent themselves into recreation center managers. The community, too, had to buy in. Then, the project needed funding – approximately $2 million to get the project up and running. Luckily, through an unlikely friendship between Parkite and Salt Lake Tribune editor Jack Gallivan and President of the U.S. John F. Kennedy, an Area Redevelopment Administration loan that UPCM applied for bore fruit in the way of $1,232,000 – two-thirds of what was needed.
The timing, too, was just right. Skiing had become popular in the west, and in Utah, which had seen a couple of other resorts appear in the Salt Lake corridor. The Deseret News remarked that Treasure Mountains “will be a great boon to skiers in the region, as it will provide an additional place to ski and will absorb some of the blow from the skiing population explosion which has been ignited.”
Optimism reigned for the resort’s opening. It was already being hailed as “America’s most accessible ski resort,” since Park City sits just off a major highway. Another spot in the Deseret News exclaimed the new resort would become “truly a tourist and vacation bonanza for Utah and all America!” The resort was projected to provide 1,700 direct and indirect jobs and bring in one million guests each year (little did they know!), both of which were desperately needed after years of a declining mining industry.
In its closing words for their December 19, 1963 story on Treasure Mountains opening, the Park Record wrote: “Remember Dec. 21, 1963. It’ll be an historic event for Park City, Utah and the intermountain area.” After 60 years, it’s safe to say that statement is true.
Stay tuned for an article on the reception of Treasure Mountains’ opening days.
Happy Holidays from the Park City Museum! This year’s annual historic ornament, depicting the Silver King Mine headframe building, is still available – online or in-store.