Silver City

Following the discovery of the Sunbeam claim in 1869 (the first discovery in the Tintic district), the camps of Silver City and Diamond formed. Due to Silver City's central location between Diamond and Mammoth (which was settled in 1870), the town quickly established itself as the center of the district and was home to the telegraph, express, and recorder's offices. In 1883, the Salt Lake & Western Railway reached Silver City, joined by the Tintic Range Railway (Rio Grande Western) in 1892.

By 1896, most activity in Silver City had subsided, however a new strike that July brought renewed interest. Silver City was quickly expanded, with hotels and saloons springing up. This prosperity lasted into the 20th century. In 1900, over 900 people lived in town and in 1903, eighteen businesses were in operation. Unfortunately, water was encountered in many of the mines and several closed. Silver City was largely idle until 1908, when Jesse Knight completed the Tintic Smelter, serviced by its own narrow gauge line and capable of treating 500 tons of lead and copper ore. That number doubled in 1909, however in October the smelter was shuttered due to lower smelter rates near Salt Lake City, making it cheaper to ship the ore for reduction.

Despite the Tintic Smelter's short life, it brought a new boom to Silver City, which by 1910 had a population of about 550. Knight, not dissuaded by the smelter's failure, announced construction of a new mill to treat low grade ore from the surrounding mines, which was completed the following year. It performed well, but was lost to fire on April 6, 1915. By July, work was underway for a replacement, this time in a partnership with George Dern's Mines Operating Company of Park City. This new mill was built at the site of the Tintic Smelter, and was completed in 1916. By early 1918, two bullion cars were shipping each month. In addition, Knight made plans for an extensive drainage tunnel, intended to drain the Tintic's mines near Silver City (work ultimately stopped in 1924 due to financial difficulties).

By 1920, Silver City again grew to nearly 700 and fourteen businesses. By the end of that decade, however, Silver City's boom days had passed and the population dwindled to less than 300 by 1930. The old Salt Lake & Western line was abandoned in 1927, with the Denver & Rio Grande Western following suit around 1945. Silver City declined and soon joined the ranks of Utah ghost towns. Today, little remains of the actual townsite, but substantial concrete ruins remain at the site of the Tintic Smelter & Knight-Dern Mill and an extensive cemetery is located just down the hill.

I Visited the Silver City
8.8.2020

Bibliography