Retired Powder Mountain crane gets new job lifting spirits

Tuesday , August 09, 2016 - 5:00 AM

POWDER MOUNTAIN — The old crane that erected the original ski lifts at Powder Mountain Ski Resort sat idle and forlorn for years near the top of the mountain. But a recent makeover transformed the rusted relic into a source of inspiration.

“It is one of the original machines that helped build the first lifts at Powder Mountain in the 1970s and '80s, and after numerous years of heavy lifting and moving, it was retired to a field, where it has sat motionless ever since,” said Marshall Birnbaum, art director for Summit, the collective that purchased Powder Mountain in 2013. “It’s such a great part of Powder Mountain’s history, and I thought it was kind of a shame that people just walked by it and didn’t realize it was there.” 

Now, thanks to artist/author Dallas Clayton and a local crew of participants, the crane has become a real head-turner.

Clayton, who lives in Southern California, wrote his first children’s book, “An Awesome Book!,” after the birth of his oldest son. His desire was to teach him to “dream big.” Turned down by several publishers, Clayton decided to self-publish the book and also posted it online for free viewing. But before long, he found himself shipping thousands of copies to people wanting to touch and turn its pages with their own children. 

According to Clayton’s website, www.dallasclayton.com, that experience led to reading tours, motivational speaking, and the writing and illustrating of more kids’ books, including “An Awesome Book of Thanks!” and “An Awesome Book of Love!,” and one aimed at adults, “It’s Never Too Late.”

In the summer of 2014, Birnbaum launched Summit’s Artist in Residence (AIR) program “to bring artists to Eden and show them a rural landscape where they can feel inspired.” He also hoped to build connections within the broader community.

“The real intent is to do things like Dallas, where everyone can benefit by meeting cool artists and seeing what Summit is about,” Birnbaum said, adding that painting the crane “grew organically”  from conversations and site visits with Clayton. The project coalesced over the recent July 4th weekend.

“Many local Utahns from Provo to Paradise came out to help contribute to the project,” Birnbaum said, including a Paradise teen named Donner, who chose to paint the following message to his mother: I LOVE MY MOM'S DESIRE TO HELP HER STUDENTS.

The crane also encourages passers-by to linger and “STAND HERE AND THINK ABOUT SOMEONE YOU LOVE,” and then “FIND SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY AND USE IT TO MAKE OTHERS HAPPY.”

Birnbaum described Clayton’s style as unique and approachable: “It’s easy to like, and it makes you happy. People of all ages can get inspired by his work.” 

With just a bit of bright paint and collective imagination, the old crane now serves to “help lift people’s spirits,” Birnbaum said, as well as “pay tribute to the past, but also to invite a new generation to come and take part in the development.”

Since 2013, Summit has installed roads and other infrastructure near the mountaintop in preparation to launch the first of eight phases of real estate development

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or cmckitrick@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.

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