Sunday, November 20, 2011

Eureka, Utah November 19, 2011

Hoist outside of town

Directions: The town of Eureka, Utah, is located approximately 60 miles south of Tooele, Utah, off of UT 36.

History: Tintic Mining District- Began with the discovery of silver ore in the East Tintic Mountains by George Rush in 1868. A year later mines had sprung up all over the mountains. With the arrival of more and more people communities such as Eureka, Mammoth and Dividend were built. The district was relatively small- six miles long and two miles wide. The district mined gold, lead, zinc and copper ore well into the late 1950s. Up until 1914 the Tintic mines had produced over $143,215,800 worth of metal. Unlike other mining districts in the west, this district produced for decades. In November of 2011, I saw evidence of mines operating near Silver City and on the eastern side of the Tintic Mountains. (information from Elements Unearthed and

History of the town of Eureka: The boom town of Eureka would be known for its longevity. Mining operations started in 1870 and continued until 1957. The mines produced many metals including silver, copper, lead and gold. Today, the town is considered an EPA Superfund site. Recently, eighteen inches of soil has been removed because of the presence of lead.

The boom began with the discovery of silver ore above Eureka in 1870. Within a year a few buildings were built. Residents flooded in when John Beck discovered rich silver ore in the gulch directly outside the town. This mine- the Bullion-Beck- would be one of the richest producers in the region. From the beginning the town was known for its chaotic nature with streets everywhere and houses right next to mines and mills.

From its beginning Eureka had its share of heartache. In its early years typhoid and small pox killed many residents. A flash flood in 1890 wiped out many local businesses. In 1893 a fire burned over twenty buildings in town. As a result of the fire, residents built newer buildings out of stone. Even with the setbacks the town prospered.

At its climax the town was one of the quietest boom towns in the west. Gunfights were nonexistent because of an active police force. Eureka had department stores, theaters, hotels, schools and churches. Andrew Carnegie financed a large library which contained over 12,000 books and many mgagazines. Three newspapers also printed in town including the Eureka Chief and Eureka Response. Two railroads the D&RGW and the Union Pacific competed to transport ore from the mines.

Starting in 1930 the mines gradually closed due to a lack of water, high costs and lower metal prices. In 1957 the last mine closed down. Today, because of the high cost of metals mining activity has increased in the region; however, the town of Eureka is a shadow of its former self. (Information from: Utah Ghost Towns by Stephen Carr)

Company stores were important in many mining towns

The Silver Club in town
Falling down building

Another interesting building
Downtown Eureka today

Gutted building

Ruins outside of town

Old mine west of town

Eureka in its heyday

Drawing of mine near Eureka

Eureka Cemetery November 19, 2011

While touring America's boom towns, I learn alot by walking around cemeteries. For example, you really see the role that immigration played in not only the mining history 0f America but also the creation of America itself. Second, diseases such as Typhoid killed large numbers of people. Last, many young children did not live past two years old. The Eureka Cemetery is huge, a monument to the hardships in a western boomtown.

A child who didn't live past one year

Spanish speaking immigrant

Cemetery with surrounding countryside
Jose Arellano

Mammoth, Utah November 19, 2011

Directions: Mammoth is located two miles off of Utah 36 on a paved road. It is located approximately eight miles from the town of Eureka.

History: Mammoth began in 1873 with the discovery of a rich ore vein containing gold, silver, copper and bismuth by the Samuel and William McIntyre brothers. Within a couple of years a number of mines were producing including the Ajax, Black Jack and Mammoth. Prospectors rushed in and a town sprang up near the mines. From the beginning water was a problem and residents paid high prices for drinking water.

In 1890 two mills- the Mammoth near the townsite and the Sioux down the the canyon- were built by a man named Robinson. Wanting to garner as many prophets as possible, Robinson created a town in his name. The railroad was built into Robinson but not Mammoth angering the McIntyre brothers. As a result, they ran him out of town. From then on Mammoth would have an upper and lower town.

Business and mining activity was greatest in the early 1900s. Uppertown (Mammoth) would be the residential area while businesses were located in Robinson (lowertown). Robinson had a wide diversity of businesses including a general store, meat markets, a dry good store, stable, billiard hall, bookstore and four large hotels. One of the hotels would be remodeled as the Tintic Hospital. Just like most boomtowns Mammoth had a newspaper called the Mammoth Record.

In the early 1900s the mines in town were making an extraordinary amount of money which caused dissatisfaction with many of the miners. It was necessary to load the ore under armed guard because of the high price of the shipments. In fact one carload in 1907 carried over $107,000 worth of ore. The mines profits were well over $20 million. Miners disatisfied with their pay began "high grading" the ore- or pocketing high value ore when they left the mines. This led to a certain amount of organized crime in town.

The boom in Mammoth faded because of lower ore volumes and higher production costs. Today, the town has a number of old buildings and many relics from its past. It is a must stop for anyone interested in the history of the western United States. (Information from Utah Ghost Towns by Stephen Carr).

Ruins of the old mill in town

Old buildings in town
Old mine on the hillside

Stairs to nowhere

Picturesque abandoned structure

Monument to Tintic Hospital

Mill ruins at the bottom of the canyon

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Shafter Valley November 3, 2011

The Jeep in the ghost town of Shafter next to the Union Pacific

Directions: There are two ways to get to the ghost towns of Decoy and Shafter. First way, take I-80 west 22 miles until the Silverzone exit. Follow dirt road eight miles until Shafter. From Shafter take a rough dirt road south following the Nevada Northern south. Second way, take Rt. 93 south of Wendover, Nevada, approximately 38 miles. Turn onto dirt road at sign for Dolly Varden. Follow dirt road skirting the Dolly Varden Range until you reach the Nevada Northern. Follow unincorporated dirt road next to Nevada Northern.

The trip: I have been planning this trip for a while but I needed a vehicle with high clearance. The dirt road in the valley is extremely rough. The ruins in Decoy and Shafter are interesting to see and the views of the Goshute Range on the eastern side of the valley and Dolly Varden range on the western side are extraordinary. In the southern end of the valley I saw a herd of wild horses and antelope. Remember this is remote desert country carry extra water, full tank of gass, extra food and a good atlas. Mileage from start to finish was approx. 80 miles.

History: Decoy-Prior to 1917, Decoy was a siding which served a few dry farms nearby however, these farms would fail because of drought and rabbits. In 1917 the Decoy mining company started mining manganese ore eight miles to the east. From 1917 to 1918 4,500 tons of ore were shipped on the railroad. The mines folded after three years. At its heighth Decoy had a loading platform and a small population associated with the railroad.

Shafter was a small railroad community on the Western Pacific and the Nevada Northern. In 1909 forty people lived in town and businesses sprang up. Both railroads also had section houses and maintenance buildings in town. A school opened in 1909 and did not close until 1933. In 1950 Shafter started to decline as businesses moved away. By 1957 all businesses had closed. Today, there is very little left of either community. (Information from: Old Heart of Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining camps of Elko County by Shawn Hall)

Signal tower on Nevada Northern south of Shafter
The Jeep in Nevada desert

Abandoned tracks to the south of Decoy

Foundation in Decoy

Remnants of loading platform in Decoy with Goshutes in background

Cool pic of NNR tracks and Nevada scenery
The siding at Decoy
Old crossing gate

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Leave No Trace

I have noticed a disturbing trend with my explorations throughout the west in the last couple of years. This includes trash in places, erosion caused by cutting switchbacks, and multiple trails from SUVs or ATVs. I am not advocating a loss in freedom. What I am seeking is better awareness with environmental ethics. In this post I will remind readers about Leave No Trace principles.

What are the major concepts involved with Leave No Trace?

1) Plan Ahead and Prepare

2) Travel and camp on durable surfaces

3) Dispose of waste properly (pack it in pack it out)

4) Leave what you find

5) Minimize campfire impacts

6) Respect wildlife

7) Be considerate of other visitors

Thanks to the Boy Scouts of America for the information.

Whether you are a hunter, ATV rider or hiker, it is important to practice Leave No Trace. If you engage in Off-road driving it is your responsibility to stay on existing trails and roads.