Park City's miners usually built their homes near the the canyons in which they worked. Poison Creek Cottage is a perfect example of this, located near the mouth of Ontario Canyon (named for the Ontario mine). Park City records show that the first part of the house was built in 1880. Like other miner's houses, it was a very simple affair, rectangular in design. The original house had only two rooms.
Over the years, the house was added on to. In the photo at right, circa 1920, you can see that a kitchen had been most clumsily added. Note the wall that the "112" sign touches. This wall was discovered, and retained, during the cottage's reconstruction. It is currently the inside wall of the bathroom.
Many years later, a bathroom was added to the house as well. And in the 1970's, a sunroom was added to the front of the house. The photo at right is additionally interesting in that it shows the denuded nature of Treasure Mountain at the time. Most of the trees were chopped down for either fuel or mine requirements.
Striking too, are what living conditions must have been like. The Ontario Mill, whose remnants you can see from the cottage's front porch, belched out unceasing clouds of toxic fumes. The noise, the pollution and the smell must have been unbelievable. Take a look at the photo on the back wall of the Park City Museum for a good feeling of what it must have been like to live here during this time. The photo, which is a montage of five or so photos, shows Sandridge enveloped in a cloud of smoke. Poison Creek Cottage can also be seen in this photo.
Poison Creek Cottage is named for the seasonal stream which runs immediately below the property. The stream used to be called Silver Creek and had an impressive collection of native Utah trout. But then mining operations so thoroughly polluted the stream that locals began to refer to it as Poison Creek (one of the processes to leach out silver from the ore used cyanide). There is a move currently afoot to rename the stream Silver Creek, but locals are having none of it. Poison Creek it is.
The "Gone With the Wind" Poster
Since miners were poor, they used anything they could find as insulation for their homes. Nylon stockings, newspapers from the 1920's, rags and sawdust were found in the walls during the remodeling of the cottage. One day, workers made a prized find: two "Gone With the Wind" posters, which had been unceremoniously nailed into the side wall of the kitchen and covered with a second layer of wood in an attempt to keep the wind and cold out. The posters had been there for over sixty years. We took them to a gallery in town and had them framed. Since then we have refused many offers to sell the posters, feeling that they represent an integral part of Poison Creek Cottage's history. The poster currently hangs in the guest bedroom.
No one knows exactly how Sandridge came to get its name. Some old-timers say it was because of the sandy ridge found near the Ontario Mill. Anyone who digs into the ground, however, will find this to be highly doubtful, as you are far more likely to encounter rocks than sand. Sandridge was an enclave of northern European and Scandinavian miners. Park City mining neighborhoods were highly segregated in the early days: the Irish lived in Daly Canyon, townspeople in the town itself, and the Chinese workers near China Bridge (immediately below Poison Creek Cottage and slightly downhill; where the China Bridge parking structure is found today).