Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.
The Salem Dream Mine is located a little left of where the picture is taken. Anyone ever noticed the big white building on the hillside near Spanish Fork? It is about 4 stories tall and is a tiered building built into the mountainside. I often hear people wonder what it is. Well, today you are going to find out. Here are a couple of pictures from it:
In 1864, a man named John Koyle was born in Spanish Fork, Utah. He was revered in the town as someone who had visions which often came true. In 1894 he had a vision in which Moroni (Mormons believe in the Book of Mormon in addition to the Bible. Moroni was the last person who wrote in the Book of Mormon and it is believed by the Mormon church that Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith and showed him where some gold plates were located that would eventually become the Book of Mormon) appeared to him and told him that there was gold located in the hills just to the east.
Moroni told Koyle that there were rooms of gold. He was told that this gold would be used to help out the people in a time of need. From stories that I have heard from locals, the gold would be used in the last days (the days before the second coming of Christ) to prevent the United States economy from crashing. It is because of this that the mine is often referred to as the Relief Mine. The dream/vision was repeated to Koyle three times. Digging began in 1894, after Koyle's friends were convinced when Koyle prophesied about a well filling with water. The well filled with water just as Koyle stated. In 1909 the Koyle Mining Company was formed with 114,000 shares of stock issued at $1.00 per share.
I read an article about how the Dream Mine was the least profitable mine in the United States. The mine is around a mile long and supposedly gold was never found. However, I talked with the guy that is in charge of the mines stock (yes, you can still buy stock in the mine. I hear that it is actually hard to get and currently sells for somewhere around $33 dollars a share) who said that gold was found. He said that while digging, an underground spring was hit, which filled the mine up with water. This caused the gold to be inaccessible. However, Koyle prophesied that in the last days, there would be a huge earthquake which would cause the mine to drain (I have been told that the mountain will split, which will drain the mine). This would allow people to go into the mine and gather what gold is there.
Koyle and partners continued to mine, looking for the gold. Koyle had several other revelations which apparently came true. One that I often hear about is a revelation where he stated that when mining, they would find a group of rocks on the wall that looked exactly like a map of the United States. According to tradition, they did find such a group of rocks. Koyle was the bishop, the leader of a Mormon congregation, of the the Leland Ward; Leland is located near where the sugar beet factory is. The mine and Koyle's visions attracted the attention from the leadership of the Mormon church. The mine was also noted due to tithing funds (Mormons are commanded to pay 10% of their income to the church, which is called tithing) being used to pay for the mining expenses. The leaders were mixed in their message to him, some believing his claims of the gold and others believing it was a hoax.
Later in his life, the Mormon church leadership came out against him and told him to stop mining and that the visions were not authentic. In 1947, Koyle stated that his visions weren't true, although he quickly retracted his comments. This led to him being kicked out of the LDS church in 1948. However, this point was disputed by several of the people that I talked with. No one can find a record of Koyle being kicked out of the church. Some people believe that Koyle was never kicked out, but that the church said they would kick him out to save face. Apparently several other individuals in the Salem/Spanish Fork area were also kicked out of the church for their involvement in the mine, especially for using tithing to fund it. Koyle died in a Payson hospital in 1949.
There is still a large group of individuals who believe in the Dream Mine, especially in the Spanish Fork and Salem areas. There is a group that lives at the base of the mine, which I have been told is a polygamist group. The mine is on public property, although to get to the mine you have to cross private property. However, I believe that it is legal to go to the mine; you do have to sign in saying that you are on the property and what you are doing there, whether that be hunting, picking berries, or hiking.
The big white building is actually the mill where the ore was processed. Up the hillside about 200 feet from the mill is where the mines entrance is located. I once got a tour of the mine by Bishop Koyle's grandson who lives somewhere in Spanish Fork.
Below is the main entrance to the mine, which is now closed off. However, the mine can be entered through the little building to the left.
Below is a picture from a short ways inside the mine. There is a sign saying that there is poisonous gas in here. While I do think that the sign is just trying to scare people away, there is a low concentration of oxygen. I tried to light a match (which is how you can tell if there is any oxygen) and it wouldn't light. After that happened I got out really quickly. If anyone does go in here, it is dangerous. When I asked if I could go in, the people just turned a blind eye and told me that it was at my own risk (they didn't condone it, but they also didn't tell me I couldn't). It is dangerous and only enter at your own risk.
Below are some photos from inside the mill, the big white building. It is a really cool old place. And yes that is a bottle of nitric acid, although it is now empty.
So that's the story of the Salem Dream Mine. Is it true? Will it save the US economy? Is there buried gold in the mountains around Spanish Fork? I guess only time will tell. However, if you ask people around Spanish Fork, most will tell you the gold is really there. Even the book store in downtown Spanish Fork promotes the Dream Mine.
If you'd like more information on the Dream Mine, you can look at this Utah History Encyclopedia article, this Utah History Encyclopedia on the history of Salem, the relief mine's facebook page, reliefmine.com, or this article from reliefmine.com. The last article is really interesting and is by far the best history of the Dream Mine that I have read anywhere.