Park City Miner’s Hospital
The Park city Mining District, Utah, from its beginnings in the 1860s, quickly rose to a place of prominence among the nation’s silver producers. Large corporate interests and entrepreneurs aided in developing the area into such a position. Of equal importance, however, was the labor force which provided the miners and various skilled positions necessary to operate the industry.
With miners came organized labor. Western metal miners banded together to form the Western Federation of Miners in 1893. In October 1901 Local No. 144 in Park City was formed. As all labor organizations, the Park City Union was formed by workers who sought, as a collective body, better wages, safe working conditions, and various benefits deemed necessary in the performance of their occupations. The early history of labor is marked by “reform;” that is, the attempt to redress grievances against mining companies and their modes of operating.
Health concerns ranked of paramount interest both to the miners and the community. Isolated from urban areas, Parkites had to be treated at Salt Lake City hospitals. Such a journey of approximately thirty miles induced many hardships, especially in winter months. Miners also objected to the automatic withdrawal of money from their pay which was sent to Salt Lake hospitals, where they felt treatment was not satisfactory.
Spurred by the union, a project was launched in December 1903 to fund a local hospital for the Park. The effort represented a significant form of mutual cooperation, in a social humanitarian field, between miners’ union and local residents. The union meeting in December resulted in a resolution being passed that called for the formation of a company by a committee appointed by the union. This company was to have a capital stock of $20,000 divided into 2,000 shares at the par value of $10.00 per share, with both union and non-union members able to subscribe. However, upon any future sale of the stocks, they were to be transferred only to the Park City Miners Union No. 144. The union acted only as a shareholder, the hospital to be run by the company.
The subscription proved a success as newspaper reports attested to the cooperation of individuals and business houses of the city. Mrs. Edza Nelson donated an acre of ground known as Nelson Hill, upon which to erect the building. This site, located just north of the city, was selected because of its distance both from city noises and dangers of fire, as well as the most suitable spot to insure the maximum of sunshine and fresh air.
Plans and specifications were prepared by Harry Campbell, contractor, and ground was broken in April 1904. Work progressed and by October 1, 1904, the hospital reached completion. Furniture and furnishings were received by various fraternal and social organizations and individuals, adding to the cooperative character of the venture. Dedication services were largely attended, with representatives of several religious denominations offering preservations, and highlighted by an address by Colonel William M. Ferry.
The Park City Miners Hospital now stands as a commercial property, but its significance lies in its place as a social humanitarian cooperative venture between a local of the Western Federation of Miners, a union characterized as radical in nature, and the Park City community. During the 1903-1904 period the W.F.M. embroiled itself in a turbulent strike in Colorado, suffering the stigma of radicalism, while at the same time initiation the building of a community hospital in Park City. Thus, the hospital aids in understanding the union’s complete efforts in the field of labor reform, as well as the cooperative effort necessary to attain its completion.