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Country: United States
City: Mercur, Utah
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 36
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 256
Earliest Date: 6 January 1904
Latest Date: 12 February 1908
The site of Mercur, Utah, a true western ghost town, is located in the southern Oquirrh Mountains, about 60 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Early settlers organized the surrounding hills into Utah’s first mining district in 1863, after the discovery of a vein of silver ore. But the town of Mercur did not spring to life until 1893, when a new chemical process gave miners the ability to extract gold from the low-grade ore that abounded in the southern Oquirrhs. Within two years, Mercur had boomed; its population swelled to over 5,000, making it one of Utah’s biggest cities. In January 1895, builders completed a high-capacity road that twisted through narrow mountain passes to the town, and three years later the Golden Gate Mill opened, with a daily capacity of 500 tons. The longest single electrical transmission line in the United States carried power to the mill from a plant nearly 50 miles away in Provo.
1895 also saw the debut of the Mercur Miner, one of three newspapers to serve the short-lived mining community. A weekly that originally appeared on Thursdays and later moved to Wednesdays, the Miner was produced by Editor N. B. Dresser, and published by Miner Publishing Co. Like most mining-town newspapers of the era, it provided news of local and national interest, up-to-date market prices of precious metals, political endorsements, serialized novels, and plenty of advertisements for whiskey. The colorful world of a turn-of-the-century boomtown was captured in the pages of the Miner in November 1897: “Mercur is an incorporated city having…a brass band…a fire department [and] one church…The Opera House Saloon has card and wine rooms and affords the patron a convenient place to go out and ‘see a man’ between acts or dances.”
In 1902 a disastrous fire roared through Mercur’s business district, and the town never fully recovered. In subsequent years, profits began to fade, and miners looked elsewhere for riches. The gradual death of the town was documented in the pages of the Miner. The edition of January 6, 1904, under “Miner Briefs,” lists two items that presaged Mercur’s demise: “The school at Sunshine has closed—too few pupils left in that camp;” and, “In consequence of the discharge of so many men, a number of families have left Mercur.”
Under the leadership of a three different editors over the next decade, the Miner continued to see its subscription rolls diminish until March 1913, when the last mine in Mercur closed and the newspaper finally succumbed. By the end of the year, the once thriving town of nearly 6,000 residents had been reduced to a population of two.
Provided by: University of Utah, Marriott Library