Mercur, Utah

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Mercur in 1903. Mercur Mine in background.
Plaque in front of the Mercur Cemetery.

Mercur is a historical hard rock mining ghost town located at in Tooele County, Utah, USA. Its elevation from sea level is approximately 2,042m. The nearby Mercur Gold Mine was opened by Barrick Gold in 1985, and is presently undergoing reclamation and restoration.

History[edit source | edit]

The town first came into being in 1870 as Lewiston, when gold was discovered at the head of the Lewiston Canyon, six miles west of present-day Cedar Fort. A small gold rush began, peaking about 1873; the population reached as high as 2000.[1] In 1874, the ore started to give out, and Lewiston became a ghost town by 1880.

In 1879, a Bavarian miner named Arie Pinedo had discovered a deposit of cinnabar in the area. The ore contained gold as well as mercury, but contemporary processes were unable to extract it. Similar discoveries were made throughout the 1880s. In 1890, the advent of the cyanide process started the gold rush all over again. Gold was extracted not only from newly mined ore, but from old tailings as well. Soon, there were enough people to build a new town on the old site, but the name of Lewiston was already taken by then. The citizens settled on the name Mercur, from Pinedo's claim.[1]

Amongst the miners were many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There was, however, no organization of the church in Mercur until 1896 when a branch was organized with Charles B. Felt as president. In 1899, Moses W. Reynolds, James Duckworth and Sidney S. Reynolds were sent to the town as missionaries. Their success in both bringing church members out and possibly having some convert baptisms led to the organization of a ward in Mercur on July 1, 1900 with George W. Bryan as bishop.[2]

In 1902, a fire that started in the business district of the town burned almost the entire city to the ground.[3] The town was rebuilt and mining resumed again. In its heyday, there were about 5,000 residents of Mercur.

Mercur supported a large Italian immigrant community; young men were attracted by the opportunity of high wages and the romance of the American "wild west". With this Italian influence, Columbus Day became an important city event including parades, games and performances by the Mercur City Band.

The ward was discontinued in 1913 because the mines had closed by then and pretty much the whole population had moved away.[2]

By 1916, there was only one building left in Mercur, and, by 1930, even that was gone.

Aerial view of the Sacramento Mine, Mercur, Utah, 2007.

Mercur Gold Mine[edit source | edit]

The currently producing Mercur Gold Mine went into production in 1985, and is operated by Barrick Mercur Gold Mines Foundation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Barrick Gold. Annual production was about $US 20 million.[4]

Mercur is known for producing fine specimens of Lorandite, TlAsS2.[5]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ a b Carr, Stephen L. (1986) [June 1972]. The Historical Guide to Utah Ghost Towns (3rd ed.). Salt Lake City, Utah: Western Epics. pp. 24–26. ISBN 0-914740-30-X. 
  2. ^ a b Jenson, Andrew. Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Publishing Company, 1941) p. 489
  3. ^ Gibson, Beth (2000). "Mercur, Utah". Utah, the Beehive State. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  4. ^ Barrick Mercur company profile
  5. ^ Mercur mine mineral gallery

External links[edit source | edit]

Coordinates: 40°19′15″N 112°12′44″W / 40.32083°N 112.21222°W / 40.32083; -112.21222