The first discoveries of precious metals in the mountains around Salt Lake City appeared in the early 1860s. Colonel Patrick E. Connor of Fort Douglas instigated the search, encouraging his men to prospect with the purpose of bringing non-Mormons into the Utah Territory. The first recorded claim of the Park City Mining District was the Young American lode in December 1869. Clearly by the 1870s, production in that area had begun, perpetuated by the discovery of a large vein of silver ore in what would become the Ontario Mine. In its heyday, it was considered the greatest silver mine in the world.
The late 20th century Park City transformed into a recreational facility. The Park City Ski Area was opened and the old mines were open to tourists. In a 1990 poll, it ranked second among North American ski resorts, leaving a legacy that had produced by the early 1960s, a total value of $500 million in silver, gold, lead, and zinc.