Central Utah Roaming
Bullion City, Kimberly Cities, Broadhead Lake and the Pahvant Range
August 9th - 12th, 2007
Text by Kurt Williams - Photos by Steve Edmunds
(Last updated 11/04/07)

Finally, a trip I was prepared for. Between my last Skyline Drive trip and this trip, I had spent a considerable amount of time working on my spare parts and tool needs. Call it a compulsive disorder, but I have spreadsheet lists, giving each part and tool a priority mark, as well as a location. This combined with my existing camping equipment checklist, leads to a streamline packing process for trips. I pull the trailer up from the back yard, flip the lip open and load up. I can have the Cruiser and trailer ready for a weekend adventure in under an hour at this point. Still not fast enough!

Day 1 - Thursday 8/09

            With my Land Cruiser almost completely loaded the night before. All I had to do is add food and fuel and I was on the road. I met Steve Edmunds in his built FJ Cruiser and Dick Dyatt in his trusty old FJ40 Land Cruiser at a gas station in Sandy. Then we headed to Interstate 15 which was a typical parking lot heading south over the point of the mountain, the interstate was slowing even worse as we hit Utah County, finally letting up near Spanish Fork. In Nephi we caught Highway 89 arriving in Salina with just enough time to grab dinner at Moms Café, a worth while stop for sure. It was chilly enough outside to warrant some warmer clothes, I popped open the trailer and fished out my hoody, finally some cool weather! From Salina we continued the drive to Marysvale, we took all back roads into town, enjoying the evening weather and lack of traffic.

            Our first destination for the night was Bullion Canyon; truthfully I knew very little about the canyon other than it had a road leading to its head, and a plethora of mines shown on the topographic map, that’s all the convincing we needed. Much to our surprise the canyon was well developed beyond my expectations. In a joint effort between Marysvale, Piute County and the US Forest Service, the old town site of Bullion City had been partially restored into what they called “Miners Park” and the “Canyon of Gold Driving Tour”. The park consists of a short walking tour, as well as a handful of interpretive sites throughout the canyon. There are several photogenic turn of the century mine buildings, including an old mill and ore loading bins. You really couldn’t ask for a better place to settle for the night. We ended up making camp right next to the Bully Boy Mill which provided the perfect horizon for an evening camp.

Day 2 - Friday 8/10

            We spent the morning touring the Miners Park area and enjoying all the interpretive kiosks throughout the canyon. The map showed a short connector road switch-backing over the ridge to the south, passing near Edna Peak, eventually connecting to Two-mile Canyon (aka Cottonwood Creek Canyon). Unfortunately the trail was blocked by deadfall and our afternoon schedule wouldn’t allow us enough time to work around it. With no time to spare and not even a saw between us all, we worked our way back down the canyon towards the service station in Marysvale. There we grabbed a cold soda and headed back to the hills. Our first stop was the Silver King Mine in Spring Gulch Canyon, another excellent preservation project by the locals, and a much needed chance to get out and stretch our legs on our self guided tour. A modest two story cabin still sits overlooking the mine. The history is well documented in the handout provided at the cabin for the short tour. It was lunchtime, and a couple of benches near the cabin made a great site to sit back and enjoy a quick sandwich.

            From there we continued up the canyon towards the ghost towns of Upper and Lower Kimberly. At Upper Kimberly there are a couple of standing buildings and a handful of fallen ones. Countless spur trails work their way back into the trees, likely leading to mines we can see on the hillsides. The topographic maps show a couple dozen mines sites in a mile radius of the town, plenty of adventures for future trips. After a quick poke around the upper town site, we moved down the road towards the lower town site, now descending the opposite side of the mountain range. Lower Kimberly had less remaining of its past, a few fallen buildings and some flats that were the likely sites to numerous cabins and mine buildings in the past.

Excerpts from “The Historical Guide to Utah Ghost Towns” by Dr. Stephen L. Carr

"High in the Tushar Mountains, up at the head of Mill Creek Canyon is deepest south-central Utah, lies the skeleton of a delightful old gold-mining town. The banner decade for gold miners, the 1890’s, spawned several major gold strikes in Utah. In 1899 the Annie Laurie Consolidated Gold Mining Company established a cyanide leaching mill in the newly formed Gold Mountain Mining District… Peter Kimberly, from Chicago, who bought the Annie Laurie Mill established a small city which then took his name. By 1902 the mill was running 250 tons of ore a day and making good profits for its stockholders. The future of Kimberly was looking up.

Due to the terrain of the canyon the town was built in two sections - Lower Kimberly was horseshoe-shaped around the head of the canyon and contained business establishments and the mill. Two or three general stores, some specialty shops, three livery stables, three saloons, two hotels, two barber shops, two boarding houses, a schoolhouse, post office and doctor’s offices, dance hall and dairy were carved into the hillside with the mill on the far end of the road. From the near end of the horseshoe a road climbed southeasterly up past an enormous lodge building, to the residential section of Upper Kimberly farther up the tight canyon. There were also several homes and shacks on the hillside east of the stores.

Some 500 people live in town during the boom period from 1901-1908. A daily stage arrived from Richfield and ponderous ore and bullion wagons crawled up and down the mountain road to and from the railroad at Sevier. Although winter time slowed down activities somewhat, traffic was still heavy enough to keep the snow packed down to the roads. Summertime was especially busy. Besides the regular residents and employees, two large sawmills were at work turning out thousands of mine supports and lumber for buildings.

The brothels were well-known places; the town had several murders and the usual array of drunken brawls and other crimes for which the participants filled what was reputed to be the strongest jail in the state. Butch Cassidy was seen quite often in his years with the Wild Bunch. He had grown up in Circleville just down at the other end of the small county and knew many of the townspeople. Interestingly enough, the company payroll was reputedly never bothered while he was in town.

In contrast to most gold mines, the gold at Kimberly was associated with silver rather than with lead and copper. Even then, however, the pay dirt began to run thin in 1905 and finally in 1908 the company was foreclosed and several stores in town were left with an office full of worthless scrip. For many years afterward a few men continued to do the assessment work and some light exploration although the town residents left in mass. In 1932 a new vein was opened up which provided enough work for 50 families and a smaller mill. Another several hundred thousand dollars worth came out till 1938 when the vein played out. Neglected buildings don’t fair well under Utah winters and by 1942 many of the still-standing ones were sold and moved away, many of the rest have fallen to the snows."

            From Lower Kimberly we continued heading north down Mill Creek Canyon. Maps showed the dirt road eventually intersecting I-70, albeit over 3 miles from where the highway actually resides. Discovery of Fremont Indian ruins in the area detoured the freeway to its current alignment, interesting that the 24k topographic map of the area never reflected that change. Once down the canyon we stopped by the Fremont Indian State Park for a quick tour, I would highly recommend you do the same if you find yourself in the area. The visitor’s center has a miniature rendition of the once great Fremont village and a short walk just outside offers some great views of petroglyphs and pictographs. We again loaded into the Cruisers and made our way up to Richfield, where a lot of folks from the U4WDA would be rolling into town and hanging out. Steve had the foresight to get a hotel in Richfield, he graciously offered us a shower, Richard and I obliged, separately of course. After a nice rinse down, we moseyed up to the city park where several members of the U4 were manning a registration table. We checked in for the following days trail ride, and met a handful of U4 Board Members at a restaurant north of town for a nice steak dinner. Dinner ran long, and Richard and I still had to find a place to set camp for the night. A stop by the local KOA seemed rather fruitless as the campground was almost completely full. Thankfully a couple from Salt Lake down for the weekend event recognized us and offered us some real estate in their campsite. (Thanks Again!) Their site bordered the KOA’s miniature golf course, separated only by a short fence. As it turns out I ended up with the ladder of my roof-top-tent on the 8th hole of the course, a splendid view for sure.

Day 3 -Saturday 8/11

            Richard and I were up and at it early. I quickly folded up my tent and warmed up the rig for the short trip to the county fairground. We were told that breakfast would start at 7am and we didn’t want to get cold bacon. As it turns out breakfast wasn’t at the county fairground, and in a hurry Richard and I settled for McDonalds. We again met at the fairground, and watched as the crowds roared in. All in all there was somewhere around 100 rigs participating in the event, running one of a half-dozen trails. Our host for the weekend was the Unlimited 4x4 Club, based right there in Richfield, they did an excellent job and many thanks are due! Our entire trio ended up running the same trail, Broadhead Lakes Trail. The trail would take us into the Fishlake Hightops, climbing to nearly 11,000 feet before descending back into the valley. The trail ride was most excellent, cool weather, great company and some new terrain. Despite the mild rating, we encountered several technical sections that really kept everyone on their game.

            Back in town we showered up and went back to the fairground for the remainder of the Summer Convention events. We arrived just in time to grab dinner and buy a couple raffle tickets, I didn’t win anything but some Jeep dude was charitable enough to give me a Toyota hat he had won. Following the raffle we migrated over to watch the Off-Road Rodeo and mud-bogs, again hosted by the Unlimited 4x4 Club. They had a great turnout, both spectators and contestants alike. Following the show we chatted in the parking lot for an hour or so, reminiscing about the old rigs and the good old days. The night was coming to an end and we took our show on the road, heading east out of town to an eventual campsite on the ridge above Annabella. Accompanying us were some old friends I had reacquainted with on the trail that day, Darin in his Jeep TJ, and Aaron in his full-size Ford truck. We chatted around the campfire, eventually retiring to our tents for the night. Perfect weather!

Day 4 -Sunday 8/12

            Darin and Aaron decided to join Richard and me for some more wheeling on the way home. We met back up with Steve in Richfield at his hotel, gassed up the rigs and pondered some maps for a route north. Darin had a trail book that highlighted a part of the Piute ATV trail that was open to full size vehicles. This particular route would take us from Richfield to Fillmore, passing over the Pahvant Range. The trail climbs to nearly 9000 feet before dropping back down into Fillmore. While searching for a comfortable spot to enjoy lunch, we stumbled across the Territorial Capitol building. After a short tour of the grounds, we enjoyed a lunch in the shade of the trees, followed by a short nap for me. The rest of the group still had some exploring left in them, they left heading south in search of a natural hot spring that Richard had visited in another life. I missed my wife and dog (in that order), so I hit the highway and didn’t stop until I hit home in Sandy.

            Excellent trips... I don't know how I could ever leave Utah... there is SOOO much to see. The area we were wheeling in has 2400+ miles of dirt road. Of which we saw 100 or so. And that is just a couple of counties in the area. There were spur roads heading to unknown destinations, other mines in the area, etc. So much to see! A day after arriving home and I was already longing to be back down there!

 

Links:

Fremont Indian State Park and Museum
http://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/fremont/

Marysvale Utah - Area History and General Information
http://www.marysvale.org/

Utah 4 Wheel Drive Association
http://www.u4wda.org/


Central Utah Roaming

Central Utah Roaming

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