Canyon Blog had the honor and pleasure of assisting with the recrafting of Snowbird’s Peruvian tunnel over the past few months.
The tunnel itself was created over two summers to connect the Little Cottonwood side of Snowbird resort with its expanded terrain in Mineral Basin, itself named for the rich mining history in the upper reaches of American Fork Canyon. The tunnel has almost become a destination of its own given the fascinating items and their stories. It was bored over two summers through 600 feet of solid rock at a cost of $1.4 million and takes four minutes to traverse on the conveyor belt or magic carpet, as they’re known in the ski universe.
According to Dave Fields, Snowbird’s General Manager, “The Peruvian Tunnel and Cottonwood Heritage Center is a gateway to Mineral Basin as well as the fascinating Little Cottonwood Canyon mining history. The work presently being done is improving the experience for our year round guests who leave the tunnel more educated than when they entered.”
The major effort centers on removing some excess items. With so much history on display it’s a bit overwhelming to ride the conveyor belt or walk the tunnel in the summertime. The majority of the items originate from Little Cottonwood Canyon’s long history of mining. There are ore buckets from aerial trams as well as mine cars from various famous tunnels such as the Bay City, Flagstaff and Sell mines. Your correspondent has a fascination with all things mining and the tram buckets stand out in his mind because so much of the history of mining is subsurface and these buckets carried the hard mined ore above the ground for processing and further transportation to smelters down canyon.
Near the north entrance are artifacts from the equestrian history with bridles, harnesses and halters as well as wagon wheels recovered from Alta’s Albion Basin. This is complemented by more domestic items just past the tunnel’s midpoint that reveal how miners lived in the canyon including a stove, bedframe, lanterns and smaller items such as Prince Albert Tobacco cans.
Work is ongoing provided by volunteers from Snowbird’s ski patrol, Keith Hanson from the District 3 Water Department (who keeps all of us, including Snowbird, hydrated), and your loyal correspondent. Keith is the heart of the renovation efforts. One thing he makes very clear about the equipment on display is, “Much of it’s industrial mining gear, very rugged and it weighs a lot!” Canyon Blog can attest to that. Even something as small as a winch axle weighs 150 pounds. The mine cars can weigh as much as 1,000.
So, enjoy the photos and the fact that you didn’t have to collect or transport the subjects, then tune in again next month when Canyon Blog will reveal the surprise centerpiece and details from the Peruvian Tunnel dedication ceremony to be held April 3rd.