Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ophir and King Solomon

     Today is the concluding post about my travels through the area around northwestern Utah Lake.  I wanted to quickly leave Mercur, especially since there wasn't anything there, so that I could get to the town of Ophir.  And no, I am not referring to the city which is mentioned in the Biblical book of Kings which delivered King Solomon a "cargo of ivory, and apes and peacocks, sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine."  I am talking about the beautiful city located in Tooele County.
     According to ancestry.com, "In the 1860s, off-duty soldiers, encouraged by their commanders, began to engage in prospecting in the mountains of northern Utah.  Some of these men became aware of the silver possessed by the Indians in the area and persuaded the Indians to show them where the ore had come from.  This led them to East Canyon in the Oquirrh Mountain Range.
     "Prospecting and small scale mining in East Canyon began sometime during the late 1860s.  The canyon was renamed Ophir after the Ophir in the Bible where King Solomon got his gold and silver.  On August 6, 1870, the Ophir Mining District was organized in Ophir City.  On the 23rd of August in 1870 the first mining claim in the Ophir District was made.  It was called Silveropolis.
     "Like many boom towns, Ophir began to grow rapidly.  By 1871, Ophir City boasted 125 businesses and bouses, a school, and a post office.  Also in 1871, the first stamp mill in Utah began operations in Ophir....
     "Most of the ore taken out of Ophir was lead, silver, and zinc with copper impurities.  There wasn't much gold."  The following photos of the town were taken right after the beginning of the 20th century:

  Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

  Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

 Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

 Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

 Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

      Also according to ancestry.com, "Unlike many mining towns however, Ophir did not die.  Smaller scale mining continued on into the next century.  Most mining was done by small partnerships and family operations.  Those who remained worked in the mines and raised their families.  The city government, post office, and school remained in operation.  Community activities began to replace the saloons.  The city was host to an IOOF Lodge, and the local baseball team was a source of much pride.  there were also dances and other socials to keep the young people entertained."
     Ophir is a really cool town that I would recommend to everyone check out.  It is a really cute and charming town.  It has been up kept exceptionally well, which I am told is due to several government grants which the town has received for the restoration process.  Also, even though the town is extremely small, it is a tourist get-away, especially for horse back riders who want to do a relaxing ride through the mountains.  Here are some of the photos of how the town looks like today (the first three photos are rephotographs of the second, third, and fourth older photos):








     Ophir is nestled in this really tight canyon, but it makes for a really pretty place.  They have also recreated a tiny mining town which is a really interesting area to walk through.  I don't think that Ophir is a very well known town by it is pretty awesome.  I would recommend for everyone to go check it out.  Also the mine is open and you can explore it at your own risk.  For some great photos of the Ophir mine, check out ghosttowns.com.

3 comments:

  1. Love your blog, this is a really interesting concept. I like being able to see the difference between how two groups of people use the same piece of land. I'll definitely be reading more to see what else you discover.

    One suggestion. Your blog header will have less distortion with the white text on the red background if you use a PNG instead of a JPG file type. I hope that isn't weird to say, just trying to help ;)

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  2. No it isn't wierd at all to say. In fact, thank you. I totally appreciate it. I was trying to fix that problem and I didn't know how. I will have to work on that over the next couple of days.

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  3. I agree this is a really cool place. One thing to mention though, the Ophir mine is not actually owned by the town, so if you do enter it, you are technically trespassing unless you get permission from the owner. It is a wonderful place and the residents there know a lot about their history. If anyone does visit it would be interesting to talk to them!

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