ONE-DAY TRIPS BY RAIL FROM SALT LAKE CITY.
PARLEYS CANYON AND PARK CITY.
An interesting trip from Salt Lake City is that by way of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad through Parleys Canyon to Park City. This trip has much of interest to almost every traveler, for the route follows for a distance the old Mormon trail by which many of the immigrants reached Salt Lake City, thus giving it a historic interest, and it ends at the mining town of Park City, one of the great gold, silver, and lead camps in the State.
The route lies south along the main line of the railroad to Roper, a distance of 2-1/2 miles from the station at Salt Lake City. Here the road turns to the east (left) and pursues a nearly direct course to the mouth of Parleys Canyon, so named in honor of Parley P. Pratt, the leader of the "First Immigration," or handcart companies. In crossing the valley the traveler may obtain a good idea of its productiveness, for here he sees all kinds of agricultural activitiestruck gardening, fruit growing, and live-stock raising. The area passed through is largely suburban, with comfortable bungalows embowered in shade. Just beyond the station of Sugar House is the State penitentiary, on the left.
From time to time in passing across this low land the traveler can see the terraces back of the city, the State Capitol, the University of Utah, and Fort Douglas. Parleys Canyon is the second one south of the fort and the next one south of Emigration Canyon.
The canyon is narrow and somewhat winding and in its lower part is rather rugged and rocky. The red sandstone and quartzite which form so conspicuous a feature of the Wasatch Range show on the left, but in a short distance they are cut through by the canyon, and then they make the great mountain slope on the right. The rock is resistant to weathering and stands out in great cliffs and ribs of red that cross the slope nearly at right angles. Farther up, the canyon is cut entirely in gray limestone and calcareous shale, and here the slopes are generally smooth and the canyon, though V-shaped, has not particularly steep walls. The canyon continues to widen and the surrounding hills to diminish in height until about a mile above the station of Dale the valley is very broad and shallow.
Here the creek forks and the railroad follows the south fork to its head. If the traveler will observe closely the slope north of the stream at the point where it divides he will see an old road winding up over the low ridge which separates it from Emigration Canyon. This road is the old Mormon trail. It crossed the high mountain that may be seen on the left, came down the north fork of the creek, and then crossed the divide to Emigration Canyon, in which it may still be seen at the point where it comes down to the creek. As the traveler who makes the journey from Salt Lake City to Park City has an opportunity to see some of the country crossed by the Mormon pioneers a more extended description of the route they followed and the reasons for so doing are given in the following footnote.85
The railroad climbs steadily and makes several loops in order to decrease the grade and finally arrives at the summit at the siding of Altus (6,900 feet), about 2,700 feet above the starting point at Salt Lake City. By several loops and curves it descends on the east to East Canyon Creek at Gogorza and then follows up that stream to Kimball. Although the original trail by which Brigham Young and his party of pioneers entered the valley of Great Salt Lake came up East Canyon Creek and crossed the crest of the mountains north of Altus at nearly its highest point, this trail was used only a short time, for three years later the incoming bands of Mormons, instead of following Weber River downstream from the mouth of Echo Canyon, turned up Weber River and were soon in the open valley where Coalville now stands. They continued up the Weber to Wanship, where they turned to the west, and after crossing a low, flat divide reached Parleys Park at Kimball. From this point their route practically followed that of the railroad, crossing the summit at Altus and continuing down Parleys Canyon to the Salt Lake Valley. Over this trail came the "handcart companies" of 1856 and most of the Mormon emigrants who entered the valley prior to the building of the Union Pacific Railroad.
The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad continues to the southeast from Kimball through a wide flat known as Parleys Park, crosses a divide so low that it is all but imperceptible, and then follows up one of the head branches of Weber River to Park City. Parleys Park is at so high an altitude that the ordinary crops can not be grown satisfactorily, so it is devoted almost exclusively to stock raising. It contains fine fields of hay and pasture, and the surrounding mountains afford ample range.
The Wasatch Mountains are noted for the brilliancy of their autumn coloring, and should the traveler pass this way in the early autumn, after the first week in September, he will doubtless see a riot of color on the mountain sides, the dwarf maples showing great streaks and splotches of the most vivid scarlet and the aspens rivaling them with a blaze of yellow.
The ores mined at Park City carry silver, gold, lead, zinc, and copper. At the end of 1920 the camp had produced 142,490,000 ounces of silver, gold valued at $4,603,000, 661,000 tons of lead, 37,000 tons of zinc, and 17,000 tons of copper. This was marketed for over $183,800,000. The ore occurs as vein fillings or in bedded layers in the sandstone and limestone of the Carboniferous system.
Last Updated: 16-Feb-2007