Jacob City was born in 1865 when ore was discovered in a remote canyon between the present day cities of Ophir and Stockton. In Jacob Cities prime there was an estimated population of 300 people and the town was equipped with several goods stores, a school, a hotel, many saloons and gambling houses, and of course the miners cabins. By the early 1900's the town was abandoned after the mines began to dry up.
I have read several articles about this town, some saying it is now closed to public access, and others saying it is their favorite ATV trail. All the articles do have one thing in common, the road to Jacob City is very beautiful and the old town ruins are well worth seeing. So in July 2004 we loaded up our 4 wheelers and headed off to see for ourselves, or not which ever the case may be. We learned that there are two ways to access Jacob City, one from Stockton, and the other just off the main road to Ophir. We heard the route from Stockton was more scenic and longer, so wanting to get every minute we could on our bikes we choose this route. Once we arrived in Stockton we were easily able to locate the Jacob City road, considering Stockton is well, rather small. We turned off main street onto what we thought would probably be the center street in town due to the sign that said City Hall this way, we headed east and as it arched back south it passed the city park, which was what our directions had said to do. This road continues to twist and turn its way south-east until you come to a "Y". We knew we were there because we could see the road climb the steep side of the mountain, however there was a large sign that confused us a little, it said "no OHV's or ATV's allowed on either sides of both roads".
Our interpretation was that as long as we stayed on the road, and were not blazing trails or taking every side road we saw, that we should be okay but we wanted to be sure rather then make anyone angry, and jeopardize the access that was available, so we headed back to the town hall. We were greeted by two very friendly and informative ladies, they told us that our interpretation was correct. They reinforced that the road was open but you must stay on the main road at all times, which didn't leave any room for a staging area. One of the ladies informed us that there is a staging area up the road a little ways by some of the first mines, but that the road to get there is a steep single lane, and that her family has had to back down it, due to running into traffic.
Not wanting to back a truck and trailer down the loose shell rock that abounds, we opted with door number two, the Ophir route. Right after you leave the highway on the Ophir junction there is a nerve gas warning sign, and a road that heads off to the north. Take this road and you will find plenty of space to park and unload.
Alright so its off we go, we went about a mile up the road and began seeing tailings, so of course we had to investigate. At our first stop we found some old rails and a ore chute. The ore chute was in immaculate condition, minus the modern day graffiti that seems to go with everything these days. We also found a nice size gopher snake laying in the tailings, which we almost stepped on, so just an FYI this is there town and they are not the only species so keep your eyes open.
Back to the trail, it was a pretty good road for about the first two miles, and then disaster struck, well not disaster but what a rut. Right smack dab in the middle of the road is this large one foot wide by two foot deep rut. We attempted to scale both sides of the rut, but the sides were too steep and loose, so we were forced to criss cross the rut. Now someone who had gone before us had filled the rut in several spots with large rocks, but after several scary predicament's we opted to leave the bikes and hike. We were under the impression that it was only about a mile to Jacob City from were we were, wrong - it ended up being about two to two and a half miles, and the terrain was steep, loose, and treacherous. Now just for the record after the section of road that we choose to begin our hike on and one other smaller section that would be its match, the trail would have been easily passable on bikes, maybe next time I will throw a few more rocks in the hole, and try a little harder.
Now along the road there are sights to see at every turn if you take your time. There are barred up mines everywhere along with the tools, and relics of a previous life. When we finally reached Jacob City it was almost worth the incredible hike it took to get there. Just kidding it was very worth it if you like to relish the remains from those that have gone before us, but I do want to reiterate that it was one heck of a hike, so pack lots of water if your going on foot. When you get to Jacob City it is easy to see that you have made it, there are foundations, roofs, water tanks, chutes, rails, and mines everywhere. Due to the fact that there are mines everywhere be very careful as you explore because it is very dangerous, and keep in mind that you are standing on top of a network of tunnels.
We choose to take a break before heading back down, and after our jaunt I just could not imagine the strength, and determination that those old miners must of possessed to choose to live in this rugged terrain day in and day out. I was carrying a back pack, I could not imagine the effort that it took to get the supplies up this mountain to keep this town alive. As we made the trip down it was just as difficult as the trip up due to the loose shell rock that rolled under every step, and don't forget steep.
This was a very exciting fun day, I enjoyed all the sites and remains that I got to take in, I just may opt to take it a little slower next time. According to other articles on Jacob City the Stockton route is blocked with boulders approximately 1 mile from town so either way you may end up doing a little hiking. Just to put a time frame on it, we started our hike around noon and were back to the bikes by four thirty, and this was at a brisk pace both ways, so plan accordingly. We were only able to explore for about thirty minutes due to the late start that we got, so the other four hours were spent hiking. This town is a must see if you enjoy Utah's past. If you plan on visiting this site in the winter, the roads may be impassible due to deep snow. Whether you ride or walk pack plenty of water and give yourself a full day to explore and you wont be disappointed, have fun!
From Stockton Utah: Stockton is located just south of Tooele via highway 36. Once you reach Stockton look for the sign that says City Hall. Travel up this road for 2.1 miles and you will reach the dirt road that takes you to the city. Remember to stay on the main road as both sides of the road are marked No Trespassing. This road is very narrow and steep, 4X4 or ATV's are recommend.
From Ophir Canyon: Travel on highway 36 south out of Stockton to the highway 73 junction. Turn east on highway 73. When the road nears the mountains, you will see a sign showing the turn-off for Ophir. Once you turn off and start heading to Ophir you will see a nerve gas detector and a dirt road. This dirt road will take you to the mouth of the hidden canyon that Jacob City is located in. This is the shortest route and provides plenty of room to unload your ATV's.