Every Skier Should Have One: A lesson in industrial archaeology

The list of Vail Resorts' 50-odd registered trademarks does not include "unique mining-town ambience". Which is odd, because the company obviously regards mining history as a selling point. In one of its resorts, Keystone, the focus of the River Run development is a mock mine-lift winding tower; at another, Breckenridge, there is such a song-and-dance about its handful of 19th-century buildings that the reality - that it has as much resemblance to a mining town as Covent Garden does to a fruit-and-veg market - comes as a big disappointment.

You may find, like me, that it takes an effort to connect the filthy, brutal and short life of a miner with that of a tax lawyer in a Bogner skisuit, and that the mere fact that they have used the same mountain for different reasons at different times is not in itself instructive. But there is one ski resort that makes dramatic play of its mining heritage: Park City, Utah.

Utah's ski resorts - apart from Alta - are not widely known for their grittiness; rather, places such as Deer Valley have gained renown and No 1 ratings in US ski-magazine surveys for such things as their valet services and piste-grooming. (To be fair, Deer Valley does groom the snow beneath the ski-racks outside its restaurants.) So what Park City has done is quite shocking: it has simply left the detritus of its mining history - corrugated-iron sheds, conveyors, spoil heaps - on the ski slopes. That might not sound much; but it's amazingly atmospheric. And failure to tidy things up goes triumphantly against the US grain.

In time, these haunted structures will be converted into contemporary arts and crafts galleries. So best visit Park City - where, 40 years ago, the local mining company built the first ski lifts - before that happens. And do visit the museum while you're there.

Park City: 00 1435 649 8111; www.parkcitymountain.com

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