In the Desert
Content including photographs are Copyright © 2015 - Present - Don & Linda Gilmore
See the map below!
There are now a considerable number of people living in this old ghost town. They've built a lot of newer homes. The scenery is still great and there are many mines here.
Silver Reef Topography Map
The only place in North America where miners found silver in sandstone. Silver Reef followed the path of many mining boomtowns in the western United States. The largest town in Southern Utah during the nearby mines' peak production, its population vanished once the mines failed. More info, GPX track on this Ghost Town HERE
The old Wells Fargo building is still standing (not pictured here) and is now a museum in the town.
In the spring of 1866, John Kemple became the first discoverer of silver in a rock formation west of what would become Silver Reef. Unable to find the source of the vein, Kemple moved to Nevada. Returning in 1874, he located many other claims, but never developed any of them.
In 1875, news of the discovery of silver in the area reached the Walker brothers, two prominent Salt Lake City bankers. They hired a well-known prospector, William T. Barbee, to stake claims on their behalf. Barbee staked 21 claims and by late 1875, he set up a town known as Bonanza City. A small cluster of businesses sprang up soon after, inflating property values. Looking for cheaper land, many miners set up a tent city north of town, calling it "Rockpile."
By 1884 most of the mines closed due to the decline of the world silver market, the difficulty of pumping water out of the mines, and the decrease of miners' wages. The last mine shut down in 1891. All four attempts to revive the mines from 1898-1950 failed. Over their lifetime, the mines produced approximately $25 million worth of ore.