My Favorite South Mountain Story

From Park Manager, Dan Gronseth

Nearly three decades ago as a Park Ranger, I met a woman in her early 90s who said she had been born and raised in South Mountain Park from the turn of the century until she was seven-years-old. It turns out she was born in a hospital in town, but lived in the park along Summit Road. Her father ran the Max-Delta Mine, which was a combination of several mining claims and eventually became a fairly large operation.

She showed me where the house stood, pointed out where the large mess hall had been and how they fed the workers from the mine. Miners were paid at the mess hall on a weekly basis and often went into town to spend some (or all) of their pay. One of the stops along the way would have likely been at Scorpion Gulch for a soda or snack, and maybe one would toss a coin into the wishing well with hopes of finding their fortune – or true love.

She was too young to remember a lot of her time in the park, but she knew the stories well from her father and older brother. One she told me was a time her father was with some investors giving them a tour of the mine. The elevator shaft went down on one side of the road, and most of the operations were on the other side. They would go down a story or two and make their way across the road underground. On the way down, her father’s hand got caught in the cable, pinching two of his fingers against the lift. He yelled at the men he was with to cut off his fingers, but they didn’t have the mettle to do it. He took his own knife with his free hand and cut off his fingers, enabling them to return back to the top and get proper care.

A few weeks later I received a few copies of photographs she had of the house and the mine from when she had lived there. Until that meeting, I had no idea there had been a proper house so deep within the park.