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Park City, Utah, mining Part 2 - Unimaginable riches and the birth of a dynasty

Herbert Buden was an indebted 'one blanket prospector'and having been swindled out of various claims in Nevada, decided to try his luck elsewhere for one last time. Like many, he had heard of rich discoveries in the Utah Territory, so he saddled his horse and rode east, arriving in the summer of 1872. Before long, his luck changed. While exploring Ontario Canyon, near today's Park City, he struck a rock with his pick and sunlight caught the exposed metal ore. Old prospecting hand as he was, he recognised this as silver, and after quickly fashioning a stake to mark the spot, hurried back to Park City to make his claim. To turn the claim into a commercial asset, there was much more back-breaking digging to be done and he returned to the claim with a friend, James Kane and two fellow prospectors to dig out more ore bearing rock. As they dug, more and more of the shiny metal was exposed. Word began to get around, and it wasn't long until a mining entrepreneur arrived from Nevada, on the lookout for new opportunities. His name was George Hearst. He asked Buden how much he wanted for his find and Buden answered $75,000, a sum which Hearst wasn't prepared to pay. Eventually, after much haggling, Buden accepted an offer of $27,000 cash, and on August 27th 1872, Hearst took possession of the Ontario find. The proceeds of the sale were split between the four collaborators, with Buden keeping a bigger share for himself. This sale changed his life and may even have saved it, as he was fearfully dreading yet another prospecting failure. For many years to come in the bars of Park City, miners would debate exactly why Buden sold his claim for such a seemingly cheap price. It could be that he grasped the opportunity to clear his debts but also because he was a prospector and had no interest in developing a mine. During the first three years of operation, the Ontario Mine suffered huge losses thanks to the massive investment in essential infrastructure. To finance the deficit and save the business George Hearst sold his house and other assets. However, after this shaky start, the Ontario became a prolific producer of valuable ore well into the 20th century, yielding $50 million from silver and lead. Hearst also had significant shares in several other profitable mines. His son, William Randolph Hearst went on to create a publishing empire and the character in Orson Welles' Oscar winning film 'Citizen Kane' is said to be partially based on him

 

Posted by: Visit Park City
Posted on: 16/05/2020

Park City, Utah, mining Part 2 - Unimaginable riches and the birth of a dynasty - by Visit Park City

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