Thursday, January 16, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 125

Park City, Utah snowfall February 1909
This year has not been a good snow or ski year in Washington so far.  It is still winter and things may improve but for now something like the picture on the postcard above is not likely to happen here.  The card was purchased at the Park City, Utah museum and is one of those postcards made from a vintage photo as has been mentioned previously.  It shows a train engine with its coal car stuck on the Highline Spur.  The date of Feb 1909 and the place have been penciled in at the lower left of the card.   Park City is located in the Wasatch Back mountain area at about 7,000 feet of elevation.  Today it is a major tourist spot.

The photograph was taken after a record snowfall that occurred in Utah in 1909.   The two major railways that served this area at that time were the Union Pacific and the Denver & Rio Grande.  Trains like the one shown above were used in the mining town of Park City to haul the ore mined out and to bring in some supplies but this one got stuck in the snow during that February storm and everything, roads and rails, came to a stand still.   This is a steam driven engine fueled by coal or wood and using narrow gauge rails.  All the ore, supply and any passenger cars would have been attached beyond the coal car. 

A few years earlier in 1902 there was a mine explosion that resulted in the deaths of 34 miners and severely impacted the silver mining industry and the general economy of Park City.  In desperation the town turned to alternate means of stimulating the economy one of which was winter sports such as skiing and snowshoeing. 

In February 1909 when there was so much snow the local newspaper, The Park Record, ran a story stating that skiers were coming down Treasure Hill so fast it made the reporter gasp.  About 300 people watched a month later in March when the Swede-Finn Benevolent Aid Association held a Snowshoe race.   Many of the miners were Swedish or Finnish immigrants having some expertise in skiing, which made for an exciting race.   It is a little hard to imagine given the way modern skis are made and how they look today but in 1909 some of the skis were made from wooden barrel staves and simply strapped onto a boot or shoe. 

As early as the 1920s or about ten to fifteen years after the 1909 blizzard townsfolk started using the underground mine trains and shafts to gain access to the mountain for skiing.  The aerial trams that had been used during the mining operations to haul ore were converted to chair lifts.  In the 1960s a resort called Treasure Mountain was opened and ended up providing the necessary economic stimulus to keep the town going.  The card below shows skiers exiting the shaft in 1965 carrying their extra long skis.   The skis used in 2014 are much shorter.  

Skiers exiting mine tram

As late as 1935 Park City still did not have an efficient way to plow the snow off the streets during the winter.  The result was these huge snow banks shown on the two postcards below.

A creative and novel idea is this homemade toboggan, soapbox derby car or snowmobile pictured on the next card below.  These two boys were said to be the envy of many as they whizzed down the hills and streets.  It is unknown if the device was motor or pedal powered or worked just by gravity and ski power. 

For additional information, see:,_Utah

No comments:

Post a Comment