Park City Museum

Useful Information

Location: 528 Main Street, Park City, Utah 84060.
(40.644563, -111.496110)
Open: All year daily 10-17.
Closed Thanksgiving, 14-DEC, 15-DEC, 25-DEC.
Fee: Adults USD 15, Children (7-17) USD 5, Children (0-5) free, Seniors (65+) USD 11, Students USD 11, Military USD 11.
Classification: MineSilver Mine SubterraneaMining Museum
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided. V=130,000/a [2019]
Photography: allowed, no selfie stick, tripod or video
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography: John Boutwell (1912): Geology And Ore Deposits Of The Park City District, Utah, USGS Professional Paper 77. USGS. pp. 20, 136. pdf
Address: Park City Museum, 528 Main Street, Park City, Utah 84060, Tel: +1-435-649-7457.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1868 silver discovered in the mountains of Park City.
1870 first lead-silver mines established.
1872 mining entrepreneur George Hearst paid $27,000 for the Ontario Mine and became rich.
1929 mining prices started to decline during the Great Depression.
1981 Ontario mine the last to be closed.
1981 Park City Historical Society established.
1984 local historical exhibit in the old City Hall on Main Street opened.
1995 Park City Silver Mine Tour show mine opened to the public.
1996 redesign of entrance buildings completed.
1999 Park City Silver Mine Tour show mine closed.
2006 $8.9 million three-year restoration and expansion project for museum started.
2009 renovation completed and new museum opened.


The silver bearing veins are hydrothermal ores created by the heat of volcanoes about 35 Million years ago. The veins contain native silver, but primary ores are argentiferous galena, sphalerite, and tetrahedrite-tennantite with pyrite and quartz gangue.


The Park City Museum is dedicated to the local history, and as the mining history is quite important for the town it occupies a large section of the museum. There are models of the mines, of mining machinery and a cable car used for the ore transport. There is a small replica of a mine tunnel, a cage or mine elevator, and even a simulation of a blast. The most curious thing we found was an early attempt to start skiing by using a mine train to ride several kilometers into the mine and then up to the top of the mountain with the mine elevator. Of course the ride took one hour, was cold and wet, and not very popular. The Skier Subway was soon replaced by a more convenient ski lift.

A part of the exhibition is dedicated to the famous Silver King Mine. The story of this mine is really strange, and shows how close failure and success are in the mining business. This mine was already operational and also successful, when Solomon Spiro purchased the mine. He was a German Jewish emigrant who came to Park City in 1894. Working at his uncle's mercantile store, he saved some money and invested it in local mines. He planned an adit to drain water and facilitate the movement of ore out of the mines. But the project was ill-fated, and so he sold the tunnel to the nearby Silver King Mine. Soon after the purchase, the new owner discovered a silver lode in this adit, yielding three million dollars worth of high grade silver. The Silver King Mine became the premier mine in this area, and Solomon Spiro's name became known as synonym for a fortune missed. The owners of Silver King, the partners Thomas Kearns, David Keith, James Ivers, and A.B. Emery accumulated an enormous amount of wealth.

The Ontario Mine is located about 2 km south of Park City at the SR 224 leading to the Guardsman Pass. The mine ceased operations in 1981. It was once owned by George Hearst, William Randolph's father. During its operation it produced $400 million worth of silver. It provided work for many citizens of Park City, even with falling silver prices, until the town became a tourist destination. Today its economy is mainly based on the ski resort. The mine is also the site of the worst mining disaster in Park City’s history. An explosion at the adjoining Daly West Mine led to a gas leak that killed nine men in the Ontario shaft.

Park City Silver Mine Tour was an actual show mine, a visit to Ontario Mine. Tour groups used the mining elevator to travel down to the level 500 m below surface. When the show mine was opened in 1995, much of the mining machinery including the elevator and the tunnel for the tour were still in good shape. The operator even redesigned the entrance buildings with the help of some artists in 1996. In the first year 100,000 visitors took the tour. Nevertheless, the mine tours were stopped in 1999, and as always there was no info about the reason. In this case it was even worse, the venue vanished so silent, even the locals did not notice, and there was not a single article in a newspaper. We have now replaced the page about the show mine with this page about the museum, but it took years to find out what actually happened. It seems the massive numbers of visitors from the beginning were hard to maintain, but were necessary to keep profitable. The mining company which operated the show mine lost interest in the project and quietly closed it down.

More than 300 mines once operated in Park City, 20 historic mine structures still exist today. A few of them are now saved by the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History. They offer ski tours to several mining-related sites during winter and walking tours during summer. But there is no show mine with an underground tour anymore.