Salt Lake County Road Claims, Utah

(updated 01/07/03)

Dating back as far as 2000, Salt Lake County has been making claims to existing roads within the Counties boundaries. Many of those claims involved historic trails within Big Cottonwood Canyon. On December 31st, Salt Lake Mayor Nancy Workman and her office, dropped claim to eight of those roads, Workman claimed "I couldn't give them a reason they were on there" as her reason for dropping the claims to the roads. 

Roads Dropped:
   Mill F East Fork 
   Mill D South Fork (Cardiff Fork) 
   Mineral Fork 
   Silver Fork 
   Days Fork 
   Honeycomb Fork 
   Willow Heights Canyon 
   American Hollow 

Existing Claims:
   Burr's Fork Lane 
   Killyons Canyon 
   Emigration Canyon 
   Little Mountain 
   Lambs Canyon 
   Mill Creek Canyon 
   Extension of Mill Creek Canyon 
   Church Fork 
   Porters Fork 
   Pole Canyon 
   Alexander Fork 
   Mill D North Fork 
   Butterfield Canyon 
   Rose Canyon 
   Yellow Canyon 

The Mayors office considers many of these roads to be "old mining claim trails", citing that "Jeeps are outlawed on them and always have been". This is simply FALSE, many of these roads were/are open to use within the last 30 years. Mineral Fork is currently open to ATV's, until a recent rockslide, it was open to Jeeps. Cardiff Fork is still passable in Jeep, it was open to public motorized recreation in the early-90's. Days Fork was also passable in the last few century's. These trails were all closed by the USFS due to so-called "environmental concerns". Had the County previously claimed these roads while they were currently open, it would have been much harder for the USFS to strip us of our rights to public lands.

More Facts: (courtesy of Chris "EZRhino" Perri, Chris is highly-educated in the Big Cottonwood Area and has researched/recreated the affected areas)

1)    Mineral Fork: up until 1983, had a road very much passable by four
wheel drives.  In fact there was a pair of old wooden bridges in one spot to
help 10 wheeled dump trucks negotiate the tight, steep switchbacks to access
the Wasatch Tunnel and Regulator mines at the top of the canyon.  The
current road was built in 1936, but was actually the third generation road
(the second generation road was built prior to 1899).  The bottom of the
present road was badly washed out in '83, taking the banks of earth and the
wood bridges along with it.  Apparently the Forest Service never bothered
repairing it (big surprise).  Due to the washout and lack of maintenance,
the canyon is open today to ATV's only.  I find it wholly ludicrous that the
greatest numbers of registered ATV's in the state is found in Salt Lake
County, yet Mineral Fork is the ONLY legal trail in the ENTIRE COUNTY where
one can drive an ATV.  I find this both astonishing and disheartening at the
same time.  How can the county expect users to "follow the rules" and "stay
off the foothills", etc., when they only provide 2.1 miles of legal trails
to ride on??

2)    Cardiff Fork: a.k.a. Mill D North Fork, also referred to as South Fork
Big Cottonwood Creek:  This canyon has a long history of mining, since the
1870's.  The first route up it was a trail known as the Goodspeed Trail,
built in 1870 to access the Reed and Benson Mine high on the ridge between
Cardiff Fork and Days Fork.  The following year a road was built following
the same path.  The largest mine in the canyon, the Cardiff Mine, began in
1901.  Between 1905 and 1910 the Cardiff Mining and Milling Co. built a
better road to their mine located 3/4 of the way up the canyon.  It mainly
paralleled the old road but did away with some of the steep grades so that
large Knox tractors could get to the mine, pulling six to twelve trailers
behind them to bring the ore down the canyon.  Each trailer had a six ton
capacity.  The Cardiff mine was worked well into the 1960's.  From then
until 1992, the canyon was open to recreational four wheel drive vehicles
and motorcycles.  In 1992 the canyon was closed to all motorized use with
the exception of private land owners.  I have both hiked and driven Cardiff
fork on numerous occasions, including last summer.  The roads in Cardiff are
still in excellent condition, despite being closed to the general public for
the last ten years.  In 1991 the Storm Mountain 4x4 Club adopted the canyon
and provided maintenance with the oversight of the Forest Service before its

3)    Days Fork:  The Eclipse shaft was dug in 1880, and a road built up
Days Fork from the big Cottonwood Canyon Road during that time period to get
equipment to the mine.  There is one dugway I remembered while hiking to the
mine two summers ago, and I later found out that it is called the Hirschman
Dugway, named after the mine's superintendent.  I still do not know when
motorized traffic was suspended on this road, but I can tell you that
although very narrow, it wouldn't take much work to make it jeep worthy.  If
fact,  I wouldn't hesitate taking mine up it.

4)    Silver Fork:  The road to the top of Silver Fork was built in either
1870 or 1871.  Another road from the Price of Wales mine high on the ridge
connected Silver Fork with Alta via Grizzly Gulch.  Both roads remained in
operation until the mid 1930's.  In 1913 a better road was built to the Alta
Tunnel (located not far up Silver Fork) which superceded the earlier road.
This later road wrapped around the mountain and joined the canyon highway
where Solitude's lower parking lot is today.  Presently the road to the Alta
Tunnel is drivable by any passenger car.  Above the mine the old road has
deteriorated a lot, but is certainly passable.  It is easy to tell that it
was suitable for vehicles at one time.

Questions to Answer:
Does "claiming" these roads automatically mean they are open to vehicular travel?

What does the County have to lose by claiming these roads?

Why would the County attempt to claim these roads for 3+ years, just to drop them in a heartbeat? 

Why the Mayors office was unable to justify the claims?

Workman abandons claims to eight roads (12/31/03 Salt Lake Tribune)
SLC worries road fight could affect watershed (7/31/03 Salt Lake Tribune)
Trails, roads erased from list of byways (1/7/04 Salt Lake Tribune)

What Can You Do?
Take a minute to write/email ALL of the following:

Salt Lake County Mayors Office:

Nancy Workman
Salt Lake County Mayor

Alan Dayton
Deputy Mayor

Salt Lake County Council:

Randy Horiuchi        - (801) 468-2936   rhoriuchi@co.slc.ut.us
Jim Bradley             - (801) 468-2939   jbradley@co.slc.ut.us
Steve Harmsen        - (801) 468-2934   sharmsen@co.slc.ut.us
Joe Hatch                - (801) 468-2933   jhatch@co.slc.ut.us
Michael Jensen        - (801) 468-2932   mhjensen@co.slc.ut.us
David Wilde             - (801) 468-2931   dwilde@co.slc.ut.us
Russell Skousen      - (801) 468-2937   rskousen@co.slc.ut.us
Cortland G. Ashton   - (801) 468-2935   cashton@co.slc.ut.us
Marvin Hendrickson  - (801) 468-2938   mhendrickson@co.slc.ut.us

Utah Attorney Generals Office:

Please Carbon Copy all emails to landuse@cruiseroutfitters.com
We will be taking hard copies to the County Mayors Office in an upcoming visit.

Things to write about:
Why you think it is important the county claims these roads...

Why you think the public has "reasonable interest" in maintaining access to public lands...

Your concerns that the USFS will continue to close all motorized access to public lands...

The fact that the Salt Lake County should assert our rights to public lands under the RS2477 law...

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