Name that Ski Run

At each ski resort, trail names say a lot about the people, the culture and the history of the mountain. Deer Valley Resort is no exception. It has a rich mining history that began in Park City in the 1860s. The discovery of silver and gold ushered a mining boom that would last well into the middle of the 20th century, leaving a legacy of famous silver mines and mining claims behind. All had unique names and what better way to celebrate this heritage than by naming most of the ski runs and ski lifts after these landmarks?

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This is how, more than 35 years ago, Deer Valley Resort’s marketing team started spreading out a large map displaying all these claims, sifted through their names and began to match them with the proposed trails and lifts. Originally, all planned runs were numbered, all lifts letter-coded and each was matched with the name that would closely reflect its personality and character.

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Chuck English, director of mountain operations, explained, “Wizard was picked to indicate a more difficult run, Birdseye a more intermediate run, while Success was picked to signify a beginner run. Trainer (leading to Flagstaff Mountain) was a perfect choice for a learning area.” Chuck added “Some special features, like the big rock found on ‘Lost Boulder’ helped make that match, there were lots of elements to consider.”

This is how, for years, after the resort opened up and was expanded, management kept picking names from the mining claim map and pairing suggestions were passed on to Bob Wheaton, Deer Valley’s president and general manager, who in turn would submit them to the resort’s founders, Edgar and Polly Stern, for final approval.

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There were of course some exceptions to that list of names. In the early 90’s the “Hawkeye” trail was re-named “Stein’s Way”and “Hawkeye” became a trail off Flagstaff Mountain when the Northside chairlift opened in 1993. Other runs that didn’t receive mining claim names were “Race Course,” “Edgar’s Alley” and “Little Stick,” a made-up name for a short-cut to “Big Stick.” The Daly Chutes, were named after John Daly who owned the Daly mine. “Jordanelle” was named after the reservoir below. “Sunrise” off Bald Eagle mountain and “Sunset” off Bald Mountain are also not mining claims. 

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The naming of the “X-Files”, beyond Chute #10, tells another story altogether, as it was named by the staff cutting the trees over Empire Lodge. Explains Chuck:  “Initially, Deer Valley’s master plan named all the planned lifts with a code letter; for instance, Sultan was L, Wasatch J, Empire Y, Lady Morgan Z, and there was a planned X lift, never built as of yet, located from the bottom of Empire to the top of the X-Files, so this is how this pristine treed skiing section was named.”

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Nearby, around Lady Morgan chairlift, is a trail named “Pearl.” When that run was cut, someone thought it might be witty to name it “Easy Lady,” (which was actually a mining claim name from the area!) as a way of reminiscing the Park City’s Red Light district, known as “The Row,” that stood along Heber Avenue at the north side of what is today Deer Valley Drive. But the suggestion was quickly dropped as no one dared run it by the Mrs. Stern for approval. PolIy Stern, however, was asked to come up with a name for the “Supreme” trail on Empire. She instantly thought about one of her favorite horses named “Supreme Sensation,” and thought it would fit the run to perfection. However, the name was just too long to fit nicely on the sign, so “Sensation” came off and only “Supreme” remained. 

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Surprisingly, “Champion,” the run where World Cup Mogul competitions take place each season was also a mining claim and quite a fitting name. Same thing for “Homeward Bound” or “Ruins of Pompeii” that were also all mining claims; as for “Anchor Trees” the name came from the Anchor mine. The “Trump” trail off of “Ontario” was also a legitimate mine claim name; it bears absolutely no relation with the billionaire, presidential candidate! Interestingly, “Solid Muldoon,” also a mining claim, originated from an alleged “petrified human body” unearthed in 1877, somewhere in Colorado. The mineral figure, modeled after William Muldoon, a wrestler in those days, enjoyed some celebrity before it was revealed to be a hoax .

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Deer Crest saw a change in trail names shortly after the ski runs and lifts were taken over by Deer Valley. The original developer and his wife had named all the runs with names of their own, such as “Carol’s Cauldron,” among others. These were quickly replaced with mining claim names, with the exception of “Keetley,” in memory of a hamlet immersed under the Jordanelle Reservoir. Sometimes, very special considerations, such as some restricted space on the trail map, led to choosing very short names, like “Lily,” on Flagstaff Mountain!

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Since glades aren’t always named on trail maps, they were a little more loosely named. There’s a spot by the reservoir, off of Homeward Bound, called “Knuckles Knob”, named after a ski patroller. “DT Trees” by Square Deal were named after DT, a ski patrolman. It is the general shape of the area that helped name “Triangle Trees”.

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“Black Forest” between Edgar’s Alley and Stein’s Way originated from the Ski Patrol staff. When Mayflower was built, the trees between “Free Thinker” and “Narrow Gauge,” were called “Sherwood Forest,” and morphed into “Sherwin Forest” in honor of the late mountain host manager, Chris Sherwin. “Son of Rattler” was also named by the saw crew, while “China Closet,” located to the skier’s left of Daly Bowl, is a really delicate spot where snow can easily slide off – hence its name.

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There’s also a series of names like “Margus,” a treed area around Lady Morgan located between “Magnet” and “Argus,” there’s also “Kabob” for the trees situated between “Nabob” and “Keno,” and “Evercoon” to designate the aspen grove found between “Evergreen” and “Tycoon.”

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The use of mining claims didn’t stop at naming the trails, it has also served in naming Deer Valley’s chairlifts. The only exceptions that jump to mind would be “Burns,” “Carpenter” and “Jordanelle,” but all the other chairlifts have their name rooted in bona fide mining claims!

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Without making a play on words on the famous trail name “Know You Don’t,” you now know everything about the origin of Deer Valley’s ski runs and chairlift names. I suggest that you take full advantage of the off-season to study this material thoroughly, because come early December 2016, there might be a test! In the meantime, have a wonderful spring, summer and fall!

3 Responses

  1. Ole Retlev says:

    Kimberly at the top of Crown Point?

  2. Deer Valley says:

    Yes, the Kimberly ski run is at the top of the Crown Point chairlift.

  3. Michael O'Malley says:

    On the big mining claim map in the basement of the Park City Museum, you can see “Sunrize” and “Lilly.” I have my eye out for “Sunset.”

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