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The Incredible Story of How J.F.K. Helped Turn Park City From Ghost Town to Ski Town

By the 1950's, the mining boom of the early 20th century had come and gone, and Park City was crumbling and virtually abandoned. Post-World War II prices of the metals mined in Park City plummeted, businesses were shuttered as the mines closed, and Park City was added to a registry of ghost towns. Three men, however, had a vision to reinvent Park City's economy and bring the town back to life: by building a year-round outdoor recreation destination. But they needed money. Enter: President John F. Kennedy.

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President John F. Kennedy Hosts Utah Publishers at White House Luncheon in 1962 (photo: Park City Museum & Historical Society)

A loan application to the federal Area Redevelopment Association for Park City's revitalization had been gathering dust for months in Washington, DC when, in August of 1962, the president hosted a group of Utah newspaper publishers for lunch in the White House. At the end of the meal, Kennedy asked the group how he could help them. Jack Gallivan, then publisher of the Salt Lake Tribune, told the president of the new vision for Park City and the languishing loan application and, in an interview with local documentary filmmaker Larry Warren, recalls the president turning and personally instructing White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger to make sure the $1.4 million loan was approved. Soon after, a route for the resort's iconic gondola was being surveyed and the resort was on its way.

Park City Mountain Resort opened as Treasure Mountains Resort on December 21, 1963 - nearly a month to the day after JFK was assassinated. Today we, along with so many others, think back on that fateful day in Dallas 50 years ago when President Kennedy was killed - forever grateful for what he and his administration did to help create Park City Mountain Resort and transform the town of Park City, Utah.

Watch the story of President Kennedy green-lighting the loan, as told to local documentarian Larry Warren by Jack Gallivan, in this clip:

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