This was a fun Saturday trip for me and my wife. We hopped in the car and headed down the I-15 to Santaquin. We drove through Genola, Goshen and Elberta before coming to Eureka. Goshen and Elberta are very quaint towns. There is a nice apple orchard run by the LDS church in Goshen, and Elberta has the tiniest post office I’ve ever seen (along with the oldest gas station in existence, although it hasn’t operated in probably fifty years). Eureka is a very interesting town. It sprung up 150 years ago and was heavily influenced by the Knight family of Provo prominence. You definitely get the sense that mining has been going on here for over a hundred years. Old shops line the main drag, next to a mining museum, and 100 yards away is a modern, functioning (silver?) mine, complete with a 50′ tall wooden winch. We resolved to come back sometime just for the town itself, and sped on a few miles to Silver City.
The 6 highway has been called the loneliest highway in the world. You get a small sense of that after Eureka, even though you are still in relatively metropolitan territory. Still, the only things to keep you company here are the ghost town of Mammoth and Little Sahara sand dunes.
Passing the road to Mammoth (yet another future trip, I guess) we turned off toward Silver City. This is a long standing mining area: some of the shafts run for miles under the mountains and end up back in Dividend on the eastern end of the Tintic Range. Some of the tailings piles are over a hundred years old, but others were deposited a few days ago. We drove by the first dumps we saw – didn’t find much, maybe if we dug quite a bit more. We were excited to move on, so we drove on down the main road. A no trespassing sign made us backtrack a little, but we settled on a fresh looking mine dump back up the road.
We could smell the sulfur the minute we stopped the car. There were huge chunks of it, which exploded in a cloud of pyrite dust when you gave them a good whack with your hammer. I found some pyrite, and a very large chunk of something I still can’t identify. (I’ll post a picture on here when I get one). It was a solid mass of small ditrigonal crystals that were yellow to brick red. I thought it was some kind of massive jarosite, but it put a scratch on my knife blade, which meant it was much too hard to be jarosite. Maybe a limonite pseudomorph or something. I’ll post a picture and you guys let me know if you’ve seen it before.
We drove around a little more, found a nice old tailings pile a few miles down the road with nice chunks of pyrite and some galena, and decided to call it a day. I still felt the urge to stop every time we drove by a new mine dump, but we were running out of time. We drove the mining roads around the back of Sioux Peak, and ended up back at the High School in Eureka. Then it was a short jog home.