- Area: Computer Science & Information Technology
- Program: Computer Science
- Type of Writing: Web (e.g. site, page, blog)
- Course Level: 1000
- English Speaking Nativeness: Native
- Year: 2019
- Paper ID: CS&IT.C.S.W.1.N.2.2.2014
SPIRITS OF MERCUR: UTAH’S INVISIBLE GHOST TOWN!
Website Address: https://www.shellatreille.com/mercur
SPIRITS OF MERCUR: UTAH’S INVISIBLE GHOST TOWN!
Mercur is one of Utah’s Ghost Towns. It is located in eastern Tooele County on the southwestern side of the Oquirrh Mountains. Mercur was a mining town that started out mining silver. They switched to mining gold when a new chemical process that used cyanide had been discovered. The town grew to almost 6,000 residents. The town was officially born in 1893 and officially died in 1913. Today, all that is left of Mercur is its cemetery. Mercur’s cemetery is a paranormal hotspot. I visited the cemetery in 2018 and again in 2019.
History of Mercur
The Mercur Mining District is in eastern Tooele County on the southwestern side of the Oquirrh Mountains (Krahulec, 2010). In 1863, a silver vein was found in the Oquirrh Mountains, inside a canyon. This was the beginning of Mercur (Warnock, 2013). This mining district was initially established in 1870. At first, its production came from the high-grade silver veins. The silver veins were forgotten in 1879 when mercury sulfide (cinnabar) was found. Mercur received its name from the mercury sulfide (Krahulec, 2010). Mercur became the first mining district in Utah and officially became a town in 1893 (Warnock, 2013). Mercur was well-known for its moral and quiet mining camp. It had several churches and an excellent school system. Mercur had been built upon the remnants of Lewiston. Lewiston had become a town in 1870 when gold was found in Lewiston Canyon. Silver was also found in this area. At the town’s peak population in 1873, there were 2,000 residents. Lewiston was eventually abandoned by its residents and became a ghost town in 1880 (Hartill, 2018).
Gold had previously been found in 1883, but the grains were too tiny to concentrate so it was unable to be recovered until approximately 1890 (Krahulec, 2010). A brand-new chemical process had been pioneered. This provided miners with the ability to remove gold from the low-grade ore that was found inside the southern Oquirrh Mountains (Warnock, 2013). The new chemical process used cyanide (Krahulec, 2010). Within approximately two years, Mercur’s population grew to over 5,000 residents. Mercur became one of Utah’s largest cities. A large road was completed in January 1895. The road ran through the mountain passes to Mercur (Warnock, 2013).
In 1897, the Golden Gate Mill was built in Mercur and opened for business. The Golden Gate Mill’s capacity was 1,000 tons per day. It became the biggest cyanide mill in the United States (Krahulec, 2010). The longest single electrical transmission line in the United States was built for the mill. This line carried power from a Provo power plant to the mill (Warnock, 2013). Until approximately 1913, the Golden Gate Mill functioned successfully. At this time, the mine became unprofitable due to decreasing gold grades (Krahulec, 2010).
There are several different events that assisted with Mercur’s demise. In the lower part of Mercur, on June 26th, 1902, a fire began. In the Chinese lunch shack, hot grease in a skillet caught on fire. The lunch shack’s owner went out back and threw the burning grease on the ground. Wind blew the burning grease against the shack’s wooden walls. It only took a few minutes and the lower part of the town was on fire. It only took 2.5 hours for all forty to fifty business buildings, including the stone ones, to be destroyed. The mill and most of the homes were not harmed in the fire. The town was rebuilt, and all mining operations continued (Hartill, 2018). However, Mercur was unable to completely recover from this fire. Profits from the mine began to decrease in later years, which caused the miners to seek work elsewhere. Also, many miners were discharged from their jobs. This caused many families to leave the town. Eventually, the town’s school at Sunshine closed due to having an insufficient number of students. Mercur’s final mine closed in 1913. Mercur’s population had grown to approximately 6,000 residents and, by the end of 1913, the population had decreased to two residents (Warnock, 2013).
After the final mine closed in 1913, Mercur’s mining production was sporadic. However, gold prices increased from 1933 to 1942, which caused mining production to increase again. Then, during World War II, the United States Government closed all gold mines using Order L-208. Gold mines were closed in order to utilize workers and materials for World War II purposes. For a very short amount of time, silver rich silica flux was mined for the Garfield copper smelter that was located at the north end of the Oquirrh Mountains. After this brief mining operation, all operations ended in 1945 (Krahulec, 2010).
In 1968, Newmont Mining Corporation purchased the Marion Hill mine, the Sacramento mine, and the mines in the southern part of Mercur’s mining district. Newmont Mining Corporation realized that the ore at Mercur was like the ore at their Carlin gold mine. They drilled several exploration holes, which turned out to be unsuccessful. This caused Newmont Mining Corporation to cease operations in Mercur. In the early part of the 1970s, Gold Standard, Inc., chose to merge the land holdings in the central part of Mercur’s mining district. In 1973, Gold Standard, Inc. sold the land to Getty Oil Company. In 1983, gold prices increased. Getty Oil Company restarted operations in Mercur’s former mining camp using a large open pit mine. In 1985, the Barrick Gold Corporation purchased the mine. In 1989, they added an autoclave in order to improve the gold retrieval process. The mine ended up producing over 100,000 ounces of gold per year. In 1995 the economic reserves became depleted. Since then, the mining district has been almost completely reclaimed. Over its lifetime, Mercur’s mining district produced approximately 2.5 million ounces of gold (Krahulec, 2010).
Mercur’s cemetery and the ghosts of its former residents are all that remain of Mercur. The cemetery is on top of a steep hill. At the bottom of the hill, the cemetery is marked by a large rock with a plaque (Hartill, 2018). It houses approximately 100 graves. Approximately 40 graves are individually marked with rocks that form ovals around each grave. There are limestone slabs at the head of each of these graves. Approximately 20 graves are enclosed by individual picket fences. All the other graves are unmarked. However, the grave of Annie C. Jones does have her name carved on her gravestone. Annie was born in 1897 and died in 1898. The writing on the gravestone is very hard to read (BonnevilleMariner, 2010).
Paranormal enthusiasts believe that places that have had events causing high emotions, emotional scarring, and / or tragic histories will be haunted and filled with large amounts of paranormal activity. Mercur and its residents fit into the haunted category due to its history. The cemetery is popular among paranormal investigation groups, paranormal enthusiasts, and history buffs. Many visitors have found it difficult to get the spirits to communicate with them, especially during the day. The cemetery seems to have more spirit activity during the night. There is a young girl who likes it when visitors place dolls upon her grave. An Italian immigrant miner will chat with visitors through an EMF (electromagnetic field) meter. Many visitors have experienced drains on their electronic devices. Cold spots have been felt by visitors as well. Visitors have also conducted EVP (electronic voice phenomena) sessions and have heard voices say, “You don’t belong here (BonnevilleMariner, 2010).”
Mercur’s Cemetery is considered one of the most active paranormal hotspots in Utah. Visitors have reported that the cemetery is spooky. Visitors have also reported feeling uneasy and felt someone was watching them. Paranormal research groups have documented voices coming through digital equipment. They have also obtained intelligent answers to questions they have asked the spirits. Some of these researchers have had the batteries in their equipment drained and / or have reported that their equipment stopped working correctly. During the night, this cemetery is at its liveliest. Visitors have reported seeing orbs, hearing horses gallop, and voices whispering to them (Hartill, 2018).
Today, there are no remains of Mercur’s town. Mercur’s buildings are no more. The last buildings and town remnants were removed during the 1980s. Currently, the road to the town is blocked by a gate (BonnevilleMariner, 2010). The town was destroyed by modern strip-mining. In 1983, the Getty Oil Company re-opened the Mercur mining district and removed all the remaining structures. American Barrick Resources Corporation currently owns Mercur’s mining district. They believed that mining operations would last twenty-five to thirty years. The newer mining processes that were being used made it profitable to go through the old tailings. This allowed much more ore to be recovered. However, the mining production ceased many years ago. The land is currently being reclaimed. Heavy equipment is being used to plant natural vegetation. The public is not allowed to access to the Mercur mining district. There are many places that will provide an excellent overview of the area. These areas can be accessed by taking four-wheel drive roads from Ophir and then heading towards Manning. The town’s Visitor’s Center was moved to the Historic Center and is located between Tooele and Grantsville. The cemetery can be easily accessed all throughout the year. There is a parking area at the base of the cemetery’s hill. The roads are in pretty good shape and can be easily accessed by almost any two wheel drive or four wheel drive vehicle (Snarr, n.d.).
I visited Mercur Cemetery on two separate occasions. The first visit was on May 5th, 2018, during the day and the second visit was on September 07th, 2019, during the day. I took pictures and videos during both visits. I did not capture any paranormal activity. There weren’t any ghostly voices, ghostly images, or orbs. The cemetery does have a very eerie feel to it. When the wind isn’t blowing through the cemetery it is deadly silent. I did feel like someone was watching me. At some point, I would like to visit at night, which is when most of the paranormal activity has occurred for other visitors. It is the most unique cemetery that I have ever visited. There are no gravestones. The graves are either marked with picket fences, large stones, or are completely unmarked. I was unable to locate the single grave that is supposed to be marked on either visit. This would be the grave of Annie C. Jones. The trees are creepy. They remind me of an army guarding the graves. When the wind blows through, neither the trees nor the picket fences move. The trees could be a representation of Mercur’s former residents. On my first visit, everything looked to be in good shape. On my second visit, some of the picket fences had been torn down and / or smashed. Some of the rocks had been moved. It also appeared that someone had been digging up some of the graves. Many of the toys that had been placed on the graves were gone but had been replaced by new ones. The view is beautiful, and you can see for miles. It would be a beautiful place to be buried. It would seem like the graves would be warm all year due to how sunny it is there.
Webpage Creation Process
BonnevilleMariner. (2010, October 29). Ghosts of Mercur Cemetery Don’t Reveal Themselves Easily [Blog Post].
Hartill, D. (2018, October 5). Mercur Cemetery | Mercur Utah. Retrieved from Haunted Daily: http://haunteddaily.com/mercur-cemetery-mercur-ut
Krahulec, K. (2010, January 01). The Mercur District: A History of Utah’s Top Gold Camp. Retrieved from Utah
Snarr, B. (n.d.). Mercur. Retrieved from Ghost Towns: https://www.ghosttowns.com/states/ut/mercur.html
Warnock, C. (2013, October 28). Hidden in Plain Sight: The Mercur Historic Cemetery. Retrieved from the Daily Harold: