Utah Day Trip – Exploring Historic Tooele County
For those who enjoy exploring Utah’s historical past, this Utah day trip may interest you. Within 40 minutes from Salt Lake City, you, your family, or friends can enjoy a day trip to Tooele County to explore some of the historical sites found in this part of the state. According to the Tooele County website, there are approximately 61 historical sites located throughout the county. On this day trip we are going to explore three different locations as we take a drive around what we call the “Oquirrh Mountain Loop”.
Benson Grist Mill:
The Benson Grist Mill is located approximately 26 miles west of Salt Lake City via I-80. The mill was built in 1854 to serve the pioneer settlements in the area. From 1854 to the 1940's, the Benson Grist Mill ground and processed flour, bran, and cornmeal by the ton. Most of the original equipment used in the mill can still be seen today. Visitors to the mill can take a guided or self guided tour through the many historical structures located on the property, including the mill. The property also includes picnic tables, playground, restrooms, and a gift shop.
From Salt Lake City travel on I-80 west to exit 99. Travel on UT-36 to Stansbury Park. Take UT-138 and the mill will be located on the right. Watch for the signs.
Ophir, Utah is the second stop on our day trip through Tooele County. Ophir is one of my favorite historical towns in the state. I personally have been visiting this area since I was a kid, and although many things have changed since then, it’s still a fun little place to stop and explore. Ophir, Utah was established in 1860 when precious metals were discovered in the canyon. Word of the discoveries traveled fast, and miners from California, and Nevada arrived to strike it rich. Ophir quickly grew into a mining town which included stores, brothels, saloons, and dance halls. Today, visitors to Ophir can enjoy many of the restored old buildings, including the Town Hall.
From the Benson Grist Mill travel south on UT-36 through the town of Tooele, and Stockon to UT-73. Turn left on UT-73. From the turn off travel approximately 4.6 miles to the mouth of Ophir Canyon. The town is located approximately 3.2 miles up the canyon. Once you enter the canyon, take it easy and enjoy the beauty. Please respect private property.
The Mecur Cemetery is the last location we visited on this day trip. The cemetery is all that remains of a very resilient town that grew, and died several times. The town was also destroyed by fire twice, rebuilt, and finally in 1951 the town died for the last time. The Mecur Cemetery is perched up on the hillside and is the resting place of several people who lived in the town. Some of the grave sites are outlined with picket fences, however, there are many more scattered around the hillside marked with only rocks. This place is very peaceful and very quiet, and if you decide to visit, please respect this area. This is a resting place of old miners, their families, and even small children.
From the mouth of Ophir Canyon continue to travel on UT-73 south for approximately 4.1 miles to the mouth of Mecur Canyon. From here drive 1 mile to a pullout marked with a historical marker. The trail heads south and requires a short hike to access the Cemetery.
After visiting the Mecur Cemetery there are two ways to head back to Salt Lake City. You can continue to travel on UT-73 south and make the complete loop back to Redwood Road in Saratoga Springs, or you can go back the same way through Tooele. If you choose to do the “Oquirrh Mountain Loop” and you have enough time, here is one more location of interest on this route.
Camp Floyd State Park:
The Camp Floyd State Park features the Stage Coach Inn, which was an overnight stop on the historic overland stage and Pony Express route, also a military cemetery. This is located just off of UT-73 in Fairfield Utah.
This is an example of the many historic sites that can be visited in Tooele County. This is also a very small example of the many Utah Day Trips you and your family can enjoy within an hour from Salt Lake City. We hope you have enjoyed this article, for more Utah outdoor activities, please like us on Facebook and also take a look at our other social media channels.
Thank you for your support. Have a awesome day!