WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
SILVER REEF / HARRISBURG MINING DISTRICT
(originally the UNION MINING DISTRICT)
in Washington County, Utah
LOCATIONThe Silver Reef mining district consists of four "reefs" on the northeast nose of the Virgin anticline. These are the White Reef, Buckeye Reef, and Butte Reef on the anticline's northwest flank and the East Reef is on the anticline's east flank.
See the map.
HISTORYJohn Kemple and others (most of the family heads at Harrisburg and some of the leaders of St. George) organized the Union Mining District in 1871. They filed the first mining claims in Silver Reef.
Kemple returned to Silver Reef in 1874 and reorganized the old Union Mining District as the Harrisburg Mining District. The Harrisburg Mining District record books contain the minutes of early meetings held by the miners and the by laws adopted for the district. Thereafter, they contain primarily mining claims or notices of location. For each notice the mining district recorder reported the names of locators, the name of the mining claim, and a legal description of the location. In addition to notices of location, the mining record books include other mining documents such as, mining deeds, documents validating labor performed on claims, documents about water rights, notices of relocation, protests against notices of location, amended notices, and maps identifying the location of particular claims.
High-grade silver chloride float was first discovered near Harrisburg in 1866. In-situ mineralization was found in 1868 and John Kemple filed the first claim in 1871.
Finding silver in sandstone was so unheard of, the it took a while for the disbelief to lift. But by 1876, the silver rush was on and principal mining activity continued through 1888. The decline from the boom years was due to a number of factors including decline in silver prices, increase in production costs as the mines went deeper, reduction in the quality of the remaining ores, and flooding in the mines.
Then lessee operations continued from 1889 through 1909, after which major mining essentially ceased.
During the next few decades, several large companies consolidated the mines and did some exploratory work, but no real production resulted.
From 1950 to 1958, there was some uranium exploration and production in the district.
A leach-pad operation established between White and Buckeye Reefs to process tailings opened in 1979, but this venture closed with the collapse of silver prices. The district continues to be periodically explored, but no serious mining has taken place.
Reclamation of the White, Buckeye, and Butte Reefs, was completed during the period from 1996 to 1997. It involved 465 mine closures at a cost of $469,000 and was the largest single mine closure project for the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program to date. Reclamation of 184 mine openings at the East Reef area was completed in 2000 at a cost of $170,000.
MINING COMPANIESAmerican Smelting & Mining Company (ASARCO)
Barbee & Walker Silver Mining Company
Christy Mill & Mining Company
Leeds Mining Company
Silver Reef Consolidated Mining Company
Silver Standard Resources, Inc.
Stormont Silver Mining Company
Western Gold and Uranium Corporation
MINESAmerican Smelting and Refining Company Mine
Ann's Pride Mine
Barbee & Walker Mine (at White Reef)
Big Hill Mine
Brisacher Mine (at East Reef)
Buckeye Mine (at Buckeye Reef)
California Mine (at Buckeye Reef)
Chloride Chief Mine
Cobb Mine (at White Reef)
Duffin Mine (at East Reef)
Emily Jane Mine
Kemple Group Mines (a group of mines from 1874)
Kinner Mine (at Buckeye Reef)
Last Chance Mine (at Buckeye Reef)
Leeds Mine (at White Reef)
Leeds No. 2 Mine (at White Reef)
Maggie Mine (at Buckeye Reef)
Manyard Group Mines (a group of unpatented mining claims owned by the Leeds Mining Company)
Maud Mine (at East Reef)
McNally Mine (at White Reef)
Morning Star Mine
Newton Mine (at White Reef)
Nichols Mine (at White Reef)
Savage Mine (at Buckeye Reef)
Silver Crown Mine
Silver Flat Mine (at Tecumseh Hill)
Silver Point Mine
South Thompson Mine (at White Reef)
Stormy King Mine
Tecumseh Mine (at Tecumseh Hill)
Thompson Mine (at White Reef)
Toquerville Mine (at East Reef)
Vanderbilt Mine (at East Reef)
MILLS & SMELTERSBabylon Mill (aka Stormont Mill)
Barbee & Walker Mill
Buckeye Mill (aka Pioneer Mill)
Dupaix & Spicer Mill
Pioneer Mill (aka Buckeye Mill)
Stormont Mill (aka Babylon Mill)
Walker (& Barbee) Mill
Western Gold & Uranium Mill
REFERENCESHarrisburg Mining District (Utah)
Mining Record Books (available on microfilm)
Mining Record Book A; 1871 Mar-1876 Feb
Mining Record Book B; 1876 Jan-1876 Dec
Mining Record Book C; 1876 Dec-1878 Jan
Mining Record Book D; 1878 Feb-1882 Jun
Mining Record Book E; 1882 Jun-1886 Jun
Mining Record Book F; 1886 Jun-1896 Aug
Mining Record Book G; 1896 Aug-1897 Jan
Geology of the Silver Reef Mining District
by P. D. Proctor
UGMS Bulletin, Number 44 (1953), Pages 143-144
A Historical Study of Silver Reef, Southern Utah Mining Town
by A. B. Stucki
Brigham Young University, M.A. Thesis, 1966, 128 pages
Silver, Sinners & Saints: A History of Old Silver Reef, Utah
by Paul Dean Proctor and Morris A. Shirts
Palmer, Inc., 1991
Silver Reef Abandoned Mines Cultural Survey
by Everett Bassett
Submitted by Dames and Moore Inc. to the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, 1995
East Reef Abandoned Mines Cultural Survey
by Everett Bassett
Submitted by Dames and Moore Inc. to the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, 1999
Geology, mining history, and reclamation of the Silver Reef mining district, Washington County, Utah
by Robert F. Biek and J. Chris Rohrer
Pages 477-510 in Mining Districts of Utah, Utah Geological Association Publication 32
R. L. Bon, R.W. Gloyn, and G. M. Park, editors, 2006
(663 pages, published as pdf-format file on CD)