1880, courtesy Utah
History To Go
Located in Beaver County,
are the silent remains of the once booming mining camp of
Frisco. Though, its life was short, it was filled with history, from millions
of dollars in ore taken from the Horn Silver Mine to shoot-outs in its
dusty streets. Today its crumbling foundations, charcoal ovens,
and silent cemetery speak eloquently of its rich and varied past.
story starts with two prospectors by the names of James Ryan and
Samuel Hawks in September, 1875. The pair worked at the Galena
Mine in the San Francisco Mining District, which embraced
approximately seven square miles on both flanks of the San Francisco
Mountains. One day while on their way to work, they stopped to
test a large outcropping for ore. When they found a solid
ore body, they immediately staked a claim. Fearing that the
mineral body was not very large, they decided to sell their claim
rather than work it. Sadly for Ryan and Hawks, the new owners
extracted some 25,000 tons of ore with high silver content by the end
of the 1870s.
Charcoal kilns at
Near the mine, the town of
soon sprouted up, named for the San Francisco Mountains. Another
mine called the Horn Silver Mine was also discovered in 1875, and
would soon become largest producer in the area. With the
success of the Horn Silver Mine, the
Mining and Smelting Company expanded its workings in July 1877 by
constructing a smelter that included five beehive charcoal kilns.
soon developed as the post office and commercial center for the
district, as well as the terminus of the
Southern Railroad extension from Milford, some fifteen miles to
Other mines located in
the district included the Blackbird, Cactus, Carbonate, Comet, Imperial,
King David, Rattler, and Yellow Jacket, but the Silver Horn was bar far
1879 the United States Annual Mining Review and Stock Ledger was calling
the Silver Horn Mine "the richest silver mine in the world now being
was bustling and on June 23, 1880, the
Railroad Extension steamed into town, allowing the mines the opportunity
for less expensive shipping.
Though there were a number of roaring mining camps in the San Francisco
gained a reputation for being the wildest. Like many boomtowns, its
streets were lined with over twenty saloons, gambling dens and brothels. Reaching a peak population of nearly 6,000, vice and crime became
prevalent in the town. One writer described it as "Dodge
Tombstone, Sodom and Gomorrah all rolled into one."
Murders were said to have been so frequent that city officials contracted
to have a wagon pick up the bodies and take them to boot hill for burial.
Eventually, a lawman from Pioche,
was hired and given free reign
to "clean up the town.” When the tough marshal appeared on the
scene, he allegedly told the town that he had no intentions of making
arrests or building jail. Instead, the lawless element had two
options – get out of town or get shot. Apparently, some of the
wicked did not take the new marshal seriously as he reportedly killed six
outlaws on his first night in town. After that, most of the lawless
moved on and
Frisco became a
milder place for its citizens.
the morning of February 12, 1885, when the miners reported for duty, they
were told to wait as tremors were shaking the ground. Taking
precautions, as several cave-ins had previously occurred, the night shift
came to the surface, and the day crew waited. Within minutes a
massive cave-in occurred, collapsing tunnels down to the seventh level and
shutting off the richest part of the mine. The cause of the collapse
was blamed on inadequately timbered tunnels bearing the tremendous weight
of the rain and snow soaked ground above. The collapse was so great
that the cave-in was felt as far away as Milford, where some windows were
reportedly broken. Fortunately, no one was killed, but the cave-in
spelled the eventual demise of
By 1885 over $60,000,000
in zinc, copper, lead, silver, and gold had been hauled away from
mule train and the
Southern Railroad. After the
collapse of the mine, it began to produce again within a year, but never
on the scale of its fabulous past.
By the turn of the
century only fourteen businesses were still alive in
its population had decline to 500. By 1912, only twelve businesses
existed in the dwindling town of 150. By the 1920s,
Frisco was a
kilns were placed on National Register of Historic Places.
In 2002, a mining company began to
rework the mines of
only the charcoal kilns and cemetery are accessible today.
Utah, is just off route 21, 15 miles west of
of America, updated July, 2011.
Abandoned buildings in
courtesy Way Out West