Exploring the former town of Soldier Summit, Utah there are a lot of foundation ruins and other old buildings to look at.
- Soldier Summit, Utah
Silver Reef Posts:
Silver Reef is a “ghost town” in Washington County, near Leeds. Silver Reef was established after John Kemple, a prospector from Nevada, discovered a vein of silver in a sandstone formation in 1866. At first, geologists were uncertain about Kemple’s find because silver is not usually found in sandstone. In 1875, two bankers from Salt Lake City sent William Barbee to the site to stake mining claims. He staked 21 claims, and an influx of miners came to work Barbee’s claims and to stake their own. To accommodate the miners, Barbee established a town called Bonanza City. Property values there were high, so several miners settled on a ridge to the north of it and named their settlement “Rockpile”. The town was renamed Silver Reef after silver mines in nearby Pioche closed and businessmen arrived.
By 1879, about 2,000 people were living in Silver Reef. The town had a mile-long Main Street with many businesses, among them a Wells Fargo office, the Rice Building, and the Cosmopolitan Restaurant. Although adjacent to many settlements with a majority of Mormon residents, the town never had a meeting house for Latter-day Saints, only a Catholic church. In 1879, a fire destroyed several businesses, but the residents rebuilt them. Mines were gradually closed, most of them by 1884, as the worldwide price of silver dropped. By 1901, most of the buildings in town had either been demolished or moved to Leeds.
In 1916, mining operations in Silver Reef resumed under the direction of Alex Colbath, who organized the area’s mines into the Silver Reef Consolidated Mining Company. These mines were purchased by American Smelting and Refining Company in 1928, but the company did minimal work as a result of the Great Depression. The Western Gold & Uranium Corporation purchased Silver Reef’s mines in 1948, and in 1951, they began mining uranium in the area. These operations did not last long either, and the Western Gold & Uranium Corporation sold their mines to the 5M Corporation in 1979. Today, the Wells Fargo office, the Cosmopolitan Restaurant, the Rice Building, and numerous foundations and walls remain in the town site, and a few dozen homes have been constructed in the area.(*)
Between 1875 and the end of 1876, Silver Reef boomed with development, going from a boulder-strewn flat to a town of 1,500 people, one of the largest in Washington county.
Silver Reef soon became the center of permanent development, and many stone and wooden buildings were erected along a mile-long Main Street. Among the many businesses and buildings were six saloons, nine grocery stores, two dance halls, a brewery, billiard hall, the Wells Fargo Express Office, post office undertaker, citizens hall, jail, Masonic and Oddfellows halls, telegraph office, barber shop, physicians office, Chinese laundries (the walls are standing today), and a Catholic church with a hospital included. The Wells Fargo building, which you stand before, has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Round Station/Canyon Station
This stabilized fortification, known in modern times as Round Station, was built in 1863 to serve the Overland Stage. It was probably the third incarnation of Canyon Station, the first two having been burned by Indians. The ruin at Round Station is that of a structure probably used for defense, and the foundation of the station is visible to the south and east across the parking lot. The interpretation is the product of a cooperative agreement among the BLM, National Park Service, and the Utah Division of the National Pony Express Association.
Of the canyon ahead, now called Overland Canyon, Burton observed: “Nothing, certainly, could be better fitted for an ambuscade than this gorge, with its caves and holes in snow cuts, earth-drops, and lines of strata, like walls of rudely piled stone; in one place we saw the ashes of an Indian encampment; in another a whirlwind, curling, as smoke would rise, from behind a projecting spur, made us advance with the greatest caution.”
(*)Information provided by Patrick Hearty, NPEA Utah, 2005.
Boyd Station, or Boyd’s, may also have been known as Butte or Desert Station. It does not appear on the 1861 mail contract, but Burton describes a stop here, and Egan mentioned it as a Pony Express station. It was built by and named for station keeper George Washington Boyd in about 1855. George W. died in Salt Lake City in 1903. “Bid” Boyd, a relative of George, lived at the station until around the turn of the century. According to local resident and Pony Express historian David Bagley, he didn’t do much but hang out there and enjoy the solitude.
In Saddles and Spurs, the Settles say that Boyd Station was a log structure, but the stabilized ruins are of stone, in agreement with most other accounts. James Sharp says it was a one-room stone cabin which had gun ports on all four sides. There was apparently a small spring of very brackish water near Boyd Station. A well was dug to try to improve the water supply, but all that was found was brine so strong they used it to cure meat, according to Sharp. A poison spring was found a distance to the north, marked by numerous bones of dead animals.
The stabilized ruin at Boyd’s, on BLM-administered land, is one of the best preserved of the Pony Express stations in western Utah.
Desert View Watchtower, also known as the Indian Watchtower at Desert View, is a 70-foot-high stone building located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon within Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, United States. The tower is located at Desert View, more than 20 miles to the east of the main developed area at Grand Canyon Village, toward the east entrance to the park. The four-story structure, completed in 1932, was designed by American architect Mary Colter, an employee of the Fred Harvey Company who also created and designed many other buildings in the Grand Canyon vicinity including Hermit’s Rest and the Lookout Studio. The interior contains murals by Fred Kabotie.
Just east of Capitol Reef National Park near the small Moki Ruins of the Fremont Indians. This structure is in an area under the overhang of the cliff. It was used as a granary by the Fremont Indians to keep their food safe. This is a great little place to pull off the highway, see a piece of ancient local history, stretch your legs, hike around a bit.
The Mule Canyon is an ancestral puebloan ruin located on Cedar Mesa in Southeastern Utah. Well preserved Pueblo surface ruins found at this site are over 700 years old. The ruin complex includes above-ground and underground dwellings: a kiva and tower which have been excavated and stabilized as well as a block of twelve rooms. The BLM has constructed a canopy to protect the kiva. Interpretive signing and vault toilets are provided. The site is handicapped accessible and well signed on the highway. The site is open year round and there is no admission fee.