Wednesday, May 29th.
Ah Minnesota. We are 1500 miles from home and still you are all around us. We went for a walk along Main Street with a guide to explain some of the city’s history and stories behind the buildings.
With us on the walk was a Chinese-American woman from Orange County California who had spent five years in Minnesota in Winona, St. Cloud, and Minneapolis. There was a family. Senior woman was from Minnetonka, her father was one of the founders of LarsonAllen. LA is a firm of CPAs, big in the Midwest with a PA presence also. Son of senior woman was a grad of St. Mary’s in Winona. He, his wife and three sons now live in Wyoming. That was the group.
Park City is a town built on mining. Literally. The early town was quite small, mainly used for lumbering. When silver was discovered in the 1860s, the town grew more rapidly. At one time, there were about 30 mines in operation in the area. The town’s fortunes rose and fell based on the price and need for silver. After World War II, silver was a bust. So was the town.
The last mining company began a conversion to skiing as its main moneymaker. Growth was slow. Eventually in the late 1980s skiing began to have a major impact. There are currently three major ski slopes in the area. In fact, today there was an announcement that the Vail companies may be taking over one or more of the ski slopes.
Also, in the early 1980s, the Sundance Film Festival moved to Park City. That helped to spur explosive growth. Nowadays, over 40,000 people attend the film festival, a greater than five fold increase over its population of 7600.
The ski resorts lease the land, the silver mines are closed but the tunnels still exist under the slopes. Technically silver could still be mined but they seem to be doing quite well mining tourist pockets. No mine tours are offered now. The walk pointed out the ski lift in town is in the same location as the aerial lift which transported the ore down from the mountain to the train station in town for transfer to the smelters in Salt Lake City.
A historical review board is responsible to approve all new development in the older part of town. For us, that explained the variety and attractiveness of the exterior colors used in the downtown area.
Right now, the town of Park City is installing new curbs and heated sidewalks. This is being done during the “mud” season mentioned yesterday. We thought increased crowds would come after Memorial Day. Evidently, Fourth of July is when the summer season really begins. Thus, the major construction season runs from April 15 to July 4.
During the peak ski season, many of the retail shops and restaurants are open practically 24 hours per day, seven days per week. When the mud season arrives, many of these establishments close down for several weeks, some for two months. There are enough open establishments to satisfy the needs of these two travelers who shop very little.
Our afternoon adventure was not quite a dud, but did not meet our expectations. We went on a trip, sponsored by the time share, to the Homestead crater. The crater is is Midway, about a 30 minute drive away. This is a 55 foot tall, beehive shaped limestone rock.
Hollowed out naturally inside the crater is a pool, fed by a geothermal spring, which brings in 90 degree mineral water. A 110 foot tunnel has been cut through the rock to reach the pool inside the crater. The pool is deep enough (65 feet) for scuba diving. We did a soak in the pool, in an area where there is a deck. There is an open area used by the scuba divers where other users are required to wear life jackets. We passed on the open area.
But, we stopped at a local dairy on the way back and got ice cream at prices way below the rate charged in Park City.
Our evening entertainment, high culture people that we are, was going to be a showing of The Hobbit in the pool area. With numerous young kids and too much sunlight on the screen, we passed on the movie. Trip planning, laundry, and this blog took its place.
All in all, a slow day. Tomorrow will be further Park City exploration and a trip to Salt Lake City. In SLC we will go to Temple Square of the Mormons and watch a 90 minute evening preview performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Ed and Chris May 29th, 9 pm