When Mormon loyalty to the United States was questioned during the Civil War, Colonel Patrick Connor and his Third California Infantry were ordered to Utah to establish Fort Douglas at Salt Lake City. With Connor's encouragement, the Californians spent much of their time prospecting for minerals in the Wasatch and other areas near the city.
In 1864, prospectors discovered silver, lead, and zinc deposits in the canyons and mountains southeast of Salt Lake City, particularly in Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood, and Parley's Canyons. By 1870 towns like Alta and Park City had sprung up and taken on the aspect of other mining towns found throughout the West. Alta at one time supported twenty-six saloons and six breweries, while the major portion of Park City's municipal revenues were received from saloon licenses and fines for prostitution.