October is often when skiers begin to prepare for the upcoming season – planning trips, buying passes, looking over their gear, etc. It was no different in ski tourism’s early days in the 1960s, when publications would feature ski resorts and give reviews for skiers starting to plan their next vacation.
In October of 1967, Park City and its Treasure Mountains Resort was featured in Western Skier, which gave a few details of the town and the skiing available. The Park Record called the write-up “one of the most factual that has been written” on Park City.
The review begins by stating an “inevitable comparison” to Aspen just after WWII, but notes that any similarity between the towns ends with both having been historic mining locations. They continue, “instead of being neatly laid out in flat squares, the town is perched crazily along one hilly main street.” While we have obviously grown, the layout of our town (done by a planner from the east coast without taking the mountains into account) still is a bit crazy.
Our reviewer moves on to mention “the town is a wild mixture of new and restored buildings and deserted, ramshackle houses and stores.” While we have mostly eliminated any deserted properties, we still have a few ramshackle ones and much of our town’s charm is said to come from the interesting mixture of historic buildings and the modern ski resort look.
Perhaps the most interesting note to come in the review is its shortest sentence: “It’s uncrowded, inexpensive.” Some of you might like to laugh at that statement today. Ski Magazine’s review of Park City Mountain Resort from 2019 began instead, “It’s like Yogi Berra said, ‘Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.’ This is the paradox of Park City Mountain Resort, the largest ski resort in the United States. People indeed love it; no place is easier to get to and has everything you want for skiing and off-mountain activities, they say. And so they come, even during last year’s marginal snow year, with Park City drawing nearly one-third of all the skier visits in Utah.”
So while we have lost the 1967 charm of being a hidden gem, we have gained a reputation of an all-inclusive setting. But we’ve lost something else from 1967: the Skier Subway, which the reviewer mentions as “a good gimmick and something you’ll want to do once.” What they failed to mention was most people wanted to have the experience of riding a mine train through a dripping tunnel, waiting half a day to take an elevator cage up the Thaynes shaft, then freezing in the open air at the top only once. The skier subway opened on Saturday, January 9, 1965 but closed on July 1, 1967 when it became a year-round attraction as an underground mining museum experience. This lasted until 1976 when another company took over, who operated the underground ride until 1978, when it closed.
One thing that has remained true is the reviewer’s summation, “Here is atmosphere and history of the old west.” The Museum and Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History, along with the City and the resorts, have made great efforts in historic preservation in town and in the mountains along the ski slopes. The Daly West headframe is being put back up on October 14. And the Spiro Tunnel, which hosted the Skier Subway, has been preserved with new historic signage added.
For more information about historic preservation of mining structures or attending the Daly West headframe raising, visit https://parkcityhistory.org/mining/.