Park City History

Discover the rich history behind nearly 50 years of great skiing.

Our story begins 135 years ago when Army soldiers discovered rich silver veins in the mountain above what would become Park City. Since that time, Park City has been home to a colorful cast of characters, set among silver mines, saloons and eventually ski lifts.

1872: A Legendary City is Born.

Old picture of Park City

In 1868 prospecting Army soldiers discovered rich silver veins in the hills above what would become Park City. George Snyder, a Mormon polygamist, built a boarding house with his third wife Rhoda near the present Town Lift to profit from the mining trade. On the Fourth of July, 1872, early miners raised Rhoda's hand sewn American flag over the Snyder's log house. "We shall call this place Parley's Park City," George declared. Very soon the "Parley" (named for early settler Parley Pratt) was dropped and a new mining boom town had its name.

1901: Silver King Boarding House.

Silver King Boarding House

The Silver King Mine produced fortunes in silver and made several investors millionaires. Near the present Bonanza chairlift, the Silver King hoist building remains. The mine company also built a miner's dining hall with upstairs bedrooms and offices for its top management. In 1987, it was in disrepair and awaiting demolition when historic preservationists rallied to save it. The 144 ton building was jacked up and pushed uphill by a fleet of bulldozers and restored to its original grandeur. Mid-Mountain Lodge now serves meals again, this time to skiers and riders near the Pioneer Chair.

1920's Skiers hit the slopes.

Ski jumping photo

Early Park City miners used what were called "longboard snowshoes" as early as the 1880's for transportation to the mines, but by the 1920's, skiing was becoming a recreational sport. Scandinavian miners built a jump on the Creole Mine dump, (now the Creole ski run to the Town Lift), and held jumping tournaments. Park City's young adults formed the Park City Ski Club and guided kids and adults on ski tours on the hills that one day would become Park City Mountain Resort. As early as 1923 the Park Record newspaper was predicting skiing would make Park City "a mecca for winter sports."

1963: Opening Day at Treasure Mountain.

Park City Gondola

The last surviving mining company in Park City, United Park City Mines, turned to skiing with help from a federal loan meant to revive economically depressed rural towns. In Park City, the $1.2 million dollars bought a gondola, base and summit lodges, a chairlift, a J-bar, and a nine-hole golf course. The resort was called Treasure Mountain Resort. Mine company officials urged townspeople to hang on to their real estate because, they said, "it will be valuable some day." At the time, a town lot and house were worth about $500.

1965: The Skier's Subway.

The Skier's Subway

The Skier's Subway lift carried skiers like they were silver miners. Skiers climbed into modified mining trolleys and were pulled two and a half miles through the pitch dark Spiro Tunnel to the Thaynes Hoist, where they boarded the old mine elevator and were lifted 1,750 feet to the surface near the Thaynes chair lift. From there skiers could access the whole mountain. No other ski lift was like it in the world, but it ran just four winters. Although skiers thought it was memorable, they also found it slow, and some thought it was too creepy!

1985: Park City Rocks the World Cup.

World Cup at Park City Mountain Resort

In March 1985, Park City Ski Area held its first World Cup ski race on Willy's run when another resort cancelled. Craig Badami, the lively son of the then-resort owner, jumped at the chance. Badami pulled out all stops. He featured rock bands, street dances, speed skiers, skydivers, and - oh yes - world class ski racing. The first event drew 12,000 spectators - a North American record. Park City's spectacular staging of World Cups set a new standard on the circuit and earned Park City the permanent slot to open the World Cup season each November.

2002: "The Heart of the Olympics".

2002 Olympic Winter Games

The Eagle Race Arena at Park City Mountain Resort became a field of dreams for American athletes at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Park City Mountain Resort hosted four events, each averaging 15,700 ski and snowboard fans. The perfectly sculpted Eagle Superpipe showed America's snowboard dominance, with Kelly Clark's gold, and the American men's sweep by Ross Powers, Danny Kass, and J.J. Thomas. In parallel snowboard giant slalom, liver transplant recipient Chris Klug inspired the world with his bronze finish. Bode Miller came from behind in the men's giant slalom on CB's Run for the silver. Six of the ten U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team medals were won on the home mountain.

2013: A Season Half a Century in the Making.

50 year anniversary fireworks

Park City Mountain Resort celebrated its Golden Anniversary throughout the 2013-14 season with a series of parties, concerts and special guests. A ceremony at PayDay Lift opened a day–long celebration on December 21, 50 years to the day after the mountain first opened, that ended with a concert in the plaza and fireworks on the mountain. PCMR also helped make more history that season, hosting the final qualifying competitions — and the official naming ceremony — for the first-ever US Olympic Freeskiing team. Park City local, and longtime PCMR skier, Joss Christensen earned a spot on the team by winning one of the events before going on to win the first ever Olympic gold medal in Ski Slopestyle at the 2014 Sochi Games.

For an additional glimpse of exciting days past, including town history, skiing history and mining history please follow the links below. Many thanks to the Park Record, the Park City Museum, and the numerous individuals who donated photography for this project.

For more information, news, and events for the town of Park City visit the Park City Chamber / Bureau:
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