In Our Back Yard: Eureka Tintic Mining District

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r One of the richest mining districts in the world and its wealth of history are just down the road. Southbound on I-15 to US Highway 6 at Santaquin will take to Eureka in about 35 miles. The name is a Greek word meaning “I have found it” and total mineral value from extracted Gold, Silver, Copper, Lead, and Zinc totaled $12,053,440,596 between 1869 and 1947. That is right, that’s 12 billion dollars. That is an incredible amount of money and required an enormous amount of human labor for tunneling and mining. There were approximately 120 large and small mines in the Eureka Tintic Mining District.  At one time Eureka was the 9th largest town in Utah with a population of almost 4,000 people as the financial and business center of the area. J.C. Penney opened his second store in Eureka; it was initially called the Golden Rule Store. Outlying from Eureka were the mining camps and town sites of Fitchville, Silver City, Mammoth, Knightville, Dividend, and Homansville. All of which makes this area a fascinating place to visit for its history and ghost town character.

As you drive into Eureka you will notice the many historic and long abandoned buildings along both sides of the street. Your first stop should be the Orrin Porter Rockwell cabin on the right side of the road with picnic tables and a good sized parking lot. Across the street is the Tintic Historical Society Museum. For a little museum, it has a huge collection of mining and western artifacts. They also have an informative pamphlet titled Eureka City Historic Walking Tour which describes some of the historic buildings in town. Eureka was placed on the National Historic Places Registry in 1979.

After this initial orientation to the Eureka Tintic Mining District, there are several graded gravel county roads that are suitable for automobiles to explore the area further. If you go east back out of town you will find a long-closed lumber company on the right. Just beyond the lumber company is a dirt road to the right that heads uphill out of Eureka. At the top of that hill, you can see the famous Humbug Mine on your right. It gets its name from Jessie Knight prospecting and someone told him he wouldn’t find anything, to which he said humbug and subsequently found one of the highest grade silver ore deposits ever discovered. On the left side of the road are the remaining foundations of the company town of Knightville, including a school. Continuing on the road provides a spectacular view of Mount Nebo and the valley below as it winds past numerous mines on the hillsides. This road will eventually connect with US Highway 6.

Before it connects to Highway 6 you will come to a “Y” junction, and the fork to the right has a large sign that states Private Property – No Trespassing. The road is actually a county road open to the public, but the property on both sides of the road is private land that must be respected.

If you take the fork to the right it will eventually take you to the town sites of Mammoth and Silver City before it connects with US Highway 6 Just west of Eureka. You will have made a big loop around the mountain behind Eureka to see a lot of the extensive mining activity Tintic Mining District.

You may want to get something to eat before you head back home and Eureka has two restaurants, one at each end of town. On the west end of town on the east side of the highway is Porters Place which has relocated to Eureka from years of operating in the City of Lehi. Porters Place offers steaks and seafood in addition to outstanding hamburgers. On the east end of town, across from the high school is B’s Hangout with an extensive sandwich menu.

If you want to see the fun come out onto the streets of Eureka and a small town parade. Mark your calendar for the Tintic Silver Jubilee 2018 to be held Friday and Saturday, August 17 and 18.

Chris Baird
Chris Baird
Chris is a family man with a beautiful wife and four kids. Three Girls, One Boy. He enjoys playing basketball, being outdoors, and the old normal.

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