The image gallery is below all these words.
Suddenly, one day, Heather and I got interested in Ghost towns. Since we’re in Utah, we decided to try and find out what was around here.
The closest ghost town to us was Frisco, Utah – and it actually wasn’t even that close. It was about a 4 our drive from where we live. So we packed up way more crap than we really needed for a 4 hour drive (but hey, that was one of the most fun parts), and we hopped in the BMW and headed south – toward Beaver County, Utah.
We passed through the usual multiple personalities of weather you’ll find in Utah on a day in May, and some roads that (as near as we could tell) didn’t even have power lines. Well, there weren’t any houses or buildings, so that makes sense.
One road had only the remains of a telegraph line, the once strong and consistent wire now laying sloppily on the ground in some areas – still connected in others.
History of Frisco, UT
Heather looked up the history of the town, and gave me an education as we sped along.
Frisco was settled around the San Francisco Mining district – it’s actually near a “San Francisco Mountain”, where (in 1875) they found a whole bunch of pretty silver in what later became the “Horn Silver Mine”.
They eventually managed to pull $60 million worth of silver, copper, lead, and gold in the mines around Frisco, with the Horn Silver Mine accounting for about $20 million of that.
It was a wild and crazy town.
There were 24 saloons, and 1-3 fatal shootings every night. It was the wildest town in Utah during the time they mined that area. The mining town was active between 1875 and 1910 – to put that in perspective, the Mormons arrived in Utah between 1847 and 1875, but I’m sure they didn’t hang out much in this town.
Actually there was a church ward established in 1905, but that was pretty near the end of the usefulness of this mining town, and it was discontinued in 1911.
Anyway, back to the killing and partying and stuff.
Drinking water had to be shipped in, and anecdotal humor has it that the alcoholic beverages were cheaper than the drinking water. It’s probably close to being the truth. I should have just told you it was the truth, because you totally would have believed it.
There were 6,000 residents at the height of Frisco’s population. Not that the bad guys weren’t doing their best to chip away at it. There was way too much murder, theft, and – bad stuff. They had a wagon that rolled through the town on a regular basis to pick up bodies for burial.
A Badass Sheriff
Obviously the solution to this problem – at least everyone who has run a successful mining town knows – you have to hire a badass sheriff. So that’s what they did. He came in to town, refused to build a jail, stating that he’d just rather kill the bad guys anyway.
His first night in town, the new Sheriff from Nevada shot 6 people dead, and most of the remaining bad guys started rethinking retirement or relocation, and the town was much quieter after that.
In February of 1885, before the mine was staffed for the day shift, the miners were told not to go into the mine, as there had been tremors all morning. They got the night shift safely out, just minutes before the whole mine collapsed.
It was hard to mine after that, there were some moderately successful attempts, but the best part of the mine was shut off for good.
That event pretty much put the “Ghost” in this Ghost Town, but it’s still a cool place to visit, if you like checking out old buildings, broken pottery and utensils, and cool old pieces of machinery.
The old beehive kilns are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
You can get to Frisco, Ut, via route 21, just west of Milford.