|The Silver King Mine Tour|
The trail starts at Post 1 and is a "moderate" 114 mile loop that descends into the gulch air then climbs out again. In the near future, we will publish a formal brochure based an interviews with the DaRger Family. Please be careful, mines can be hazardous.
TRAIL POST 1
Welcome to the Silver King Mine. This old gold mine is in the Gold Mountain Mining District which is part of the Tushar Range on the Fishlake National Forest. Some peaks rise to over 12,000 feet. These mountains are highly mineralized and people have been searching for gold and silver in their gulches and canyons from at least the 1860's. Some believe that Spanish Conquistadors were here in the 1600's and 1700's looking for precious metals.
This mine is named the Silver King and was claimed by Brigham Daniel Darger of Spanish Fork, Utah in 1894. Ore extracted from the 1,000 foot long adit (i.e., mine tunnel) above the cabin was hauled by mule and wagon to the 5 arrastras on nearby Deer Creek. An arrastra is a Spanish device where large drag stones chained to a center pole were pulled around and around by mules. Here miners would reduce the ore to a fine sand-like material that was shipped to a mill in Tooele County, west of Salt Lake City, for processing.
TRAIL POST 2
Sometime around 1896, Brig began to court the the finance' of a miner living over the hill in the Kimberly Mining District. Her name was Pansy Permelia Brown and she was 21, dark-haired, petite and quite beautiful. Brig was 14 years her senior but Pansy found the handsome wavy-haired superintendent of the Silver King quite irresistible. They were married in the Manti LDS Temple in 1897 and moved to this cabin when the snow melted.
Brig and Pansy were married 35 years before his death in 1932. They had 10 children and the first one was conceived here in the summer of 1897. Romantic as it might seem, Brig and Pansy lived downstairs and 6 to 10 hired miners lived upstairs. Originally, the only way into the loft was by an exterior staircase on the west end of the cabin. The stairs you see in the cabin are modern so the newlyweds had at least some privacy.
TRAIL POST 3
At this point, the features of the mine become a little bit more perplexing. The depression before you is either a caved-in adit or powder cache. If it was a tunnel, it did not go very far as there is little or no mine dump around the entrance.
If the depression is what remains of a powder cache, this would be a logical place for a feature like this. Dynamite was used to open tunnels in mines. Miners would drill holes 8 to 10 feet deep with a single jack hammer and a star drill. Usually one man would hold and turn the drill and another would strike it with the hammer. A single stick of dynamite was then placed in each hole with a fuse. On an average day, miners would open about 10 feet of tunnel and muck (i.e., shovel & remove) the ore into cars.
TRAM POST 4
If you look closely at the fiat area in front of you, you can see part of a rock foundation to your right and a log corner to your left. This building, built of spruce logs, was large and measured 28 feet x 36 feet. The carvings on the aspen trees around the site call it "The Lodge". A recent visitor said he was here at the mine in the 1950's and remembers this structure as a standing 2 story building. His impression was that it was a "hotel or a dormitory".
Another possibility is that the log structure was a support building that may have housed a blacksmith's shop. Brig was an excellent blacksmith and it is said that he always had a shop at the mine to fix equipment and fabricate tools. Recently, a hand-made rock bar was found in the undergrowth near the oldest adit at the mine. There is a good chance that Brig made this tool.
TRAIL POST 5
An opening in the rock is visible through the brush. This is an adit and according to experts with the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, the volume of the dump in front of the mine suggests that the tunnel is about 500 feet long. Notice that water is coming from the mouth of the adit. Inside the mine, the water is about 3 feet deep and covers at least 2 feet of silt. When Brig mined these workings, he had to pump water from the mine to keep it from flooding.
Another problem faced by miners now and back in Brig's day was providing adequate ventilation to the interior of the mine. In poorly ventilated mines carbon dioxide, called "dead air" by miners, can build up in pockets inside the workings. Although carbon dioxide is not poisonous, it is like water. You can not breath it and the result is suffocation. The worrisome thing about this hazard is that you don't know you are in trouble until you begin to lose consciousness. Please do not enter this mine or any abandoned mine. They are dangerous!
TRAIL MARKER 6
You are standing on a the mine dump from the workings that lie behind you. When miners blasted the rock face inside the mine, the debris on the floor (called a "round") contained both waste rock and gold-bearing quartz. The waste material was mucked into ore cars and taken out to the end of the track and dumped. Gold ore, on the other hand, was hauled a mile downhill to the arrastras on Deer Creek where the gold was crushed and reduced before shipping it to a gold mill.
Many miners used mules to pull their ore cars from the workings. With the exception of one adit, most of the mines on the Silver King appear too small for a mule to get in and out. This meant, in all likelihood, that Brig had his employees push the cars out of the mines by hand. An ore car full of rock can weigh many hundreds of pounds. Hard work! We don't know what Brig paid his men but in the Kimberly Mining District, men earned $2 to $4 a day.
TRAIL MARKER 7
The remains of this log cabin are a mystery. The door is not very tall and the walls did not extend much higher than they are now. The absence of manure and the presence of chinking between the logs inside the cabin suggests that it was not a stable or corral. Maybe it was a temporary shelter constructed hurriedly by Brig and his partner when they were staking their claims in 1894. What do you think the cabin was used for?
If you have the time, sit on the bench and listen to the quiet of Spring Gulch. In late June and July the gulch is usually carpeted with wildflowers including larkspur, lupine, penstemon, columbine and ridgeron. On sunny days, the sunlight filters through the leaves of the quakies above you and warms the cool air found at this 10,000 foot altitude.
TRAIL MARKER 8
Brig and Pansy did not have a garbage collection service in the 1890's on Gold Mountain. Most of the refuse was tossed over the edge of the gulch in front of their cabin and onto the slope you are standing on.
We would like to remind you that their "garbage" is now considered historical. This includes old tin cans and bottles as well as mining equipment like track and ore ears. These artifacts are irreplaceable and make up the historic fabric of this site. Please fee! free to look and touch but take only photographs and leave only footprints. The mining artifacts in their natural setting will enhance the experience of the next visitors to Brig and Pansy's gold mine in Spring Gulch.
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