Whatever Happened to the Silver Mine Adventure?

8 Comments

  1. I remember going with a group of youth from the Utah Boys Ranch in about 1997. It was such a cool experience being able to participate in the Park City Silver Mine Adventure. I remember being fascinated with the mine and the bits of history that seamed to be still and timeless as I learned the history of those who worked at the Ontario Mine, I remember going through the main entrance and being taken to the gift shop / exhibit as there were a few things to keep one’s mind busy. I remember a table with rocks where children could sift through and try to find small ingots of gold, then there was the animated manikin that told the story of the mine. Then there was a gym-like open area that we were taken to, as we were told to put on a yellow rain poncho with the “Park City Silver Mine Adventure” logo on it, and then we would go down some porch-like steps as we walked over to the shaft or elevator entrance directly ahead. I still remember the accordion doors that slid open to allow us into the elevator, and then we would descend down the shaft and into the main mining area for the tour. I remember it getting drafty as we made our descent. I also recall in the history being told that the shaft in the mine was so deep, that the distance from top to bottom was significantly larger than that of the empire state building, and the statue of liberty. It was said that both could fit inside the shaft because the descent was about 2,000 feet. That’s quite a distance. The descent I remember took maybe 5-10 minutes to get from top to bottom, so if you were bored, it would be good to have something to yak about. As we would reach the shaft floor, I remember the small train with cage cars that would take us past the walls where blast marks could be seen from where the miners worked. Then we would be taken to 2-3 rooms where heavy machinery would be situated. I remember one room called “the hoist room” where we were shown a large hoist (about 8 feet tall and 9 feet wide with a conveyor belt that was thick and possibly 2 feet wide) which went up or fed the conveyor belt through a deep shaft to the top of the outside tower at the top of the building that you could see when you first came to park for the exhibit. In fact, if you looked through the shaft, you could see a tiny dot of light. Kind of an eerie feeling doing so, but it was kinda cool. The hoist was described to us, but I don’t remember what exactly is was used for unfortunately. I want to say it was used for hauling the mined materials into rail cars to be processed at another facility somewhere, but I’m not certain. I think we were also informed regarding some of the unfortunate events that happened there too. A somber feeling could be felt while hearing of some of these terrible accidents. Probably since then I have always had a quiet reverence and respect for those who had the guts and the courage to work in such a dangerous location knowing full well that ominous dangers that loomed above them if something every went wrong. This is about all I can recall about the adventure there, but I do remember it being quite a fun and fascinating experience. I was really disappointed to hear of it’s closing however. It could have impacted so many lives if it were still open today. Anyway, Hope this is helpful information 🙂 – Robert

  2. Marissa Shives

    I remember going down on the elevator in 6th or 7th grade so ’00 it was still opened for tours…

  3. Robert Clontz

    I remember going there twice while in elementary on a field trips, once with my mom, one with my dad. Now that I’m a parent I wish I could take my son, that experience obviously made an impression. Really disappointing that he won’t be able to experience this adventure. Maybe someone will obtain the rights and funding to open this again.

  4. Ashley

    I remember going down to the mine! The elevator was pitch dark and the ride down seemed to last forever, I can still remember hearing water go ‘drip, drip, drip’ as you go down. It was so fascinating down there, I just remember really big tunnels and feeling so intimidated being so far down. You could also get your picture taken with a mining hat and poncho if I remember right. It’s a shame it’s closed, it was a great experience!

  5. Andrew Orr

    Yes!!! I remember this as a child! I was telling my wife about my experience of this as a kid and wanted to take our kids there and looked it up and found THIS!. I never knew it closed! This was such an impactful place on me and amazing place that kept my imagination going for years to come such an amazing local experience for many. Hopefully it returns!

  6. Benjamin Heward

    My father recorded in his journal taking the tour Monday, August 09, 1999… so it was open at least that long.

  7. Alan Rice

    I remember being in Salt Lake City a day before a conference I was to attend. I looked at a map (yes, believe it or not we used to use maps, back then, to see how to get places :-)) and decided to drive to Park City and work my way down to Provo and back to my hotel in Salt Lake City. As I was heading south out of Park City, I found the road closed due to snow. I was turning around in the Ontario Mine parking lot when I saw the mine entrance and decided to check it out. I went inside and was fascinated with the displays and decided to take a tour. I remember the guide taking us into a room, with us all sitting there in our mining gear, as she proceeded to tell us that this wasn’t a Disney exhibit. We all kind of chuckled and I kind of thought she was kidding. Then we were led to the cages that were to take us down some 1500 feet or so into the mine. As I noticed how they were loading the cars, my claustrophobia wanted to kick in, but I forced myself to get into one of the cages with others as they closed the doors. Somehow I managed to keep it all together and managed to make it to the bottom, I was so happy when they let us off. I remember the cavernous room, if you will, we came into, which helped relieve my fear. I resigned myself to thinking, well if there is a cave in, at least I would be buried very deep. Next was the cramped train ride we were crammed into, and the door was shut and latched on the outside! Now my fears peaked a little, but I didn’t have much time to think about it as the train speed back into the mine. When it stopped we were in a large room, if you will, and saw some men working, and the guide told us information about the mine. Then back on the train and back to the cages that were to take us back to the surface. I remember how they loaded the cages and who got off first, so I stepped aside and allowed others to board before me. Thankfully, my decision of which cage to enter paid off, and I was in the first group to exit the cages when we arrived at the starting point. I will never forget that experience and will always remember what a great experience it was.

  8. Paul Williams

    The article is a little offensive in that it really trivializes the purpose and history of the PCSMA. I was a founding tour guide and sales manager (and 4th generation Ontario employee) there from the grand opening in 1997 to early 1999. With the help of truly outstanding exhibits and many dedicated workers, we educated around 400,000 visitors on the history and intracies of one of the world’s greatest deep underground, hard rock mines. However, it was difficult to maintain high volume interest after the first year or so and therefore hard to stay profitable. After some real estate development breakthroughs, the mining company lost interest in the project and quietly closed it down. THAT is what happened to the PCSMA…

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