Central Utah south of the current I-70 is known for it’s quiet alpine forests, high-peaked mountains, odd-colored volcanic rock, and quaint pioneer towns. But history has shown that the area has had numerous periods of mining activity – specifically for GOLD and SILVER. Evidence goes back to the Spanish who were exploring Utah long before any “American” began to visit the area. Most remnants have been destroyed by weather or other force, but numerous remains can still be found. Most of these are in “ghost towns”, some of which are fairly well preserved.
Bullion City, on the east side of the Tushar Range (third highest in Utah) in the Fishlake National Forest is one such town. In the late 1800’s – gold & silver were found in Bulllion Canyon about 5 miles from Marysvale, UT south of I-70 on Historic US 89. By 1868, the Ohio Mining District was formed, it’s largest mining camp being named Bullion City. Though the population decreased as the veins were mined out, the town was continuously occupied until about 1938, when the Bully Boy Mine closed. Some 50 buildings remain, including the stamp mill, saloons, gambling hall, and boarding house and can be toured on the self-guided “Canyon of Gold” driving tour.
Frisco – another Utah Ghost Town (Much of the following information is from Legends of America.)
Not too far to the west of The Bullion City area is another area famed for it’s rich ore…this time SILVER. Fifteen miles to the west of Milford, UT, west of I-15, lie the San Francisco Mountains, a 20-kile long range which rises from the desert. In 1875 two prospectors found a rock outcropping that turned out to be solid ore. Fearing that the mineral body was not very large, they sold their claim. Unfortunately for them, by the end of the 1870’s it had produced 20,000 plus tons of very high grade silver. Nearby, the town of Frisco sprang up. As other mines became large producers, the Frisco Mining and Smelting Company expanded, constructing a smelter and 5 “beehive” charcoal kilns. As the town grew it even became the last stop of the Utah Southern Railroad extension from Milford. Though there were numerous other mining towns around, Frisco became known as the wildest. With many saloons, gambling halls and brothels, and a population of close to 6000, vice and crime were common in town. City officials finally hired a lawman from Nevada who stated that he would not build new jails or make arrests. He told the trouble-makers that they could leave town or be shot. After shooting several outlaws the first day, most just left town, and Frisco became a much quieter place.
Early in 1885, a large cave-in occurred. The cause was said to be inadequately supported tunnels in the mine. No one was lost in the cave-in, but it closed off access to the richest part of the mine. The mine began to produce again within a year, but never reached the level of production it had in the past, leading to the decline in the town. The activity in town continued to decrease, and by about 1912, the population was down to 150 people and the number of businesses was down to only 12. By the 1920’s Frisco had become a Ghost Town.
However, In 1982. Frisco’s charcoal kilns were placed on National Register of Historic Places and visitors are able to view the remnants of the once-infamous town. In addition to the kilns, many of the old building still stand, and mining equipment as well as the cemetery can be seen. Open mine entrances are common. Use extreme caution around these areas.
Frisco, Utah, is just off route 21, 15 miles west of Milford.
Though The Bed and Breakfast Inns of Utah has no member inns in immediate area, most visitors find that they can stay at either a Salt Lake Metro area inn or one in Cedar City, or the St. George area. A visit to either of the ghost towns is a great stop when travelling down I-15 between the two areas. OR visit one of the towns on the way to Panguitch, and the Bryce Canyon/ Scenic Highway 12 area. Remember to ask the innkeepers for their own favorite hidden spots.