Mercur Ghost Town

Submitted By Dj Nebula Of SLC - Back To Utah Historical Sites

Mercur, formerly know as Lewiston, is located on the south side of the Oquirrh Mountains. It was founded in the 1800s as a mining town. During the 1860s, a few hardy prospectors eked out an existence by mining in Lewiston Canyon. Results were meager. The thought was if there were a few good nuggets here and there, there must more and better deposits somewhere in the canyon.

Persistence paid off as good deposits were found. Gradually, as the word spread, miners came to town to work the gold mines and soon a real boom developed. When the boom died in 1880, Lewiston died with it. Now came a rebirth. A lone prospector came to the deserted town looking for a deposit of gold. What he discovered was evidence of quicksilver, a vein of cinnabar. He named his claim by his word for mercury, Mercur. Assayed, the ore showed a good content of gold worth more than the mercury. Efforts to get the gold out of the rock proved to too expensive. The town, now named Mercur, died once again.

Next came a group of men with financial resources dedicated to finding a way to extract the gold from the rock. They succeeded and Mercur rose again to be a boomtown. During the early part of 1896, a fire nearly destroyed the entire town. Mercur was soon rebuilt and was again destroyed by fire in 1902. Again rebuilt, the current boom lasted until 1913 when deposits seemed to be failing. By 1925, Mercur was once again a ghost town. However, in 1934 a side canyon called Horse Thief Gulch was found to be rich in gold and in two years Mercur had risen again to become the second gold producing town in Utah.

The end finally came in 1951 when the cost of mining exceeded the value of gold. Now after all these years, the town has been scraped to the ground, and nothing remains but a cemetery trail, and a dirt road that goes to the town entrance. I hiked the cemetery trail, and took some photos of the grave sites, as well as the trail for landmarks. I walked across the road to see the town, and there was only remnants of what was left of the town. I drove all the way up the canyon to see if there was a mine to hike to, but the top of the canyon was blocked by a mining gate and is private property. A crazy place, very remote, mining history at its best.

  • Directions and More Information:
  • Mercur Canyon- Mercur, Utah
  • I-80 west to Highway 36 Tooele, Then Highway 36 to Highway 73
  • On highway 73 continue southeast for approx 5 miles.
  • Historical Site moved to Tooele, Cemetery remains open.
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