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Loan backed by JFK led to Park City Mountain Resort


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PARK CITY — In the year before his death, President John F. Kennedy pushed through a federal loan approving a Ski resort in Park City now known as Park City Mountain Resort. It breathed new life into the struggling town and is credited for saving the community.

Larry Warren, a Park City historian and author said Park City was nearly wiped off the map by the 1950s.

"The reputation of Park City was terrible and the condition of Park City was terrible in those days," Warren said.

When the mining industry dried up so did the city's revenue.

"So many people were leaving town at that time Park City even got listed in a ghost town guide book," Warren said.

Three mining officials hatched a plan to help the struggling town by transitioning it into a year-round recreational resort. However, historians said Park City didn't have the money to cover the costs. The officials applied for a $1.2 million Federal Loan. The ARA loan program had recently been established to help lower-income communities rebuild.

For months, the application from the small Utah town sat gathering dust in Washington D.C. Then, in August of 1962, President Kennedy invited a group of Utah publishers to the White House for lunch, including a man named Jack Gallivan.

"And at the end, JFK asked 'Is there anything I can do for you folks in Utah?' " Warren said.

Warren remembers hearing what happened next from Gallivan himself.

"Well Mr. President, there is a loan that has been languishing in the bureaucracy that we want to use to start a ski resort," Warren said. "JFK turned to his Press Secretary and said a few simple words, 'Take care of that.' "

Two weeks later construction began on "Treasure Mountains Resort" — which would later become Park City Mountain Resort.

"We will always be grateful for what he did," said Any Miller, a Park City Mountain Resort representative. "The whole town of Park City will because it really began the renaissance of Park City to what it is today."

"It's kind of a fun piece of history," Warren said. "A man that was so revered by so many had such a personal role in a town he never even got to visit."

The resort opened one month after JFK was assassinated. First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson attended the resort dedication.

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Ashley Kewish

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