Orson Adams House And Harrisburg Utah

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Orson Adams House And Harrisburg Utah

From 1864 until the early 1890s, Orson B. Adams, his wife Susannah, two sons, and eventually two granddaughters lived in this two-room sandstone dwelling. They were among the nine families "called" in 1861 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to settle at the confluence of Leeds and Quail Creeks; the new settlement was named Harrisburg.

Willard G. McMullin, a master stone mason, arrived here in 1862 and constructed the Adams home, as well as many of the other residences of Harrisburg, during the period between 1863 and 1865. The settlers raised livestock and farmed, constructing a system of irrigation ditches to divert water from the two creeks.  Between 1875 and 1888, the nearby mining boom town Silver Reef created a cash market for the agricultural products of Harrisburg, helping to sustain the settlement. (During the winter of 1866, prospector John Kemple- the discoverer of the ore deposits at Silver Reef - boarded with the Adams family in this small already crowded house.

Orson Adams House And Harrisburg Utah

By the mids-1880s, however, Harrisburg's population had begun to decline, as upstream diversions of water from Leeds Creek for the new settlement left too little water in the ditches to irrigate the crops.  The Adams' fields, however, continued to be arable, since their irrigation water was diverted from Quail Creek.  Orson and Susannah Adams remained in Harrisburg until she died in 1892.  Soon afterward he moved to his daughter's home in Leeds, living there until his death in 1901.

After Orson Adams' death, his property changed ownership several times, eventually being purchased by William M. Emett in 1910. Emett, his wife, and seven children lived in this house and for years the only family that remained in Harrisburg. They raised alfalfa, wine grapes, and other garden crops, including excellent melons.  The family occupied this house until William Emett's death in 1944, at which the house was vacated. Since that time the structure has suffered from the effects of neglect and vandalism.

In 2001, the land and structures remaining from the abandoned Harrisburg town site (Including the Adams House) were transferred to the Bureau of Land Management to protect the natural and cultural values of the site and enhance recreational access to the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.


The Orson Adams House is located just off Interstate 15, 14 miles northeast of St. George, Utah. Follow the signs to the Red Cliffs Recreation Area.

Orson Adams House And Harrisburg Utah

More Information:

Leeds Town Hall

218 N. Main Street

P.O. Box 460879

Leeds, UT 84746

Phone: 435-879-2447

Leeds Area History

Related Articles:

Red Cliffs Recreation Area

Silver Reef

Leeds CCC Camp

Quail Creek Reservoir State Park

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