Silver Reef Utah
In the early 1870's silver was discovered in an area near the communities of Leeds and Harrisburg. This discovery is the first and only time that silver has been found in sandstone in north America. For approximately 10 years the town of Silver Reef was a robust community with as many as 1,500 people. During the boom (approx. 1878 to 1882) it was the largest community in southern Utah. Communities such as St. George and Cedar City were each closer to a population of 500-750. The Silver Reef Ghost town is accessible from the Leeds exit on Interstate (i-15) fifteen.
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A town was created to support the mining or the silver, but today all that remains are the ruins of some of the stone buildings and some rare wood structures for the mines. Many wood structures were created during the boom of Silver Reef, however, these were dismantled in the late 1880's as the mines were depleted.
Silver Reef the Name
The name Silver Reef comes from the fact that the silver was found all around a sandstone formation that had been forced up onto its side by the forces of the movement of the earth. This formation has the look of an ocean reef.
Silver Reef-Wild West Town
When not working, the miners entertained themselves at the local saloons, drinking, playing cards, racing horses and having shooting contests. At times the miners had strong disagreements with each other and the graveyards are home to many men who died in one argument or another.
Today visitors can enter the old Wells Fargo Building and view remnants from the time of the boom. A small nearby building houses some replicas of the original community.
To get to Silver Reef you can travel north of St. George(appox. 11 miles) to the town of Leeds. Go through town and turn toward the freeway at the north end of Leeds. Go under the freeway and follow the road approximately 1 mile. Follow the signs as the road goes left to the main area of the old town.
Miles of tunnels were dug throughout the area that became known as silver reef. These tunnels exist today but have been covered with protective metal grills to prohibit people from entering these now dangerous areas.
Various areas around the reef became the central points for work on a particular mine. Here's a photo of one of the remaining structures of an area called Milltown - on the backside of the reef.
Grafton Ghost Town
In the 1860's this community near Zion National Park was established along the Virgin River. The inhabitants of Grafton town were forced out of the area during a Native American uprising in the mid 1860's.
Grafton-Old School House
This school house and several other buildings still remain. The school house and at least one other building have been the focus of a recent restoration effort. The school house is constructed of adobe bricks and had been deteriorating for many years.
Just before arriving at Grafton Ghost town you'll come across the Grafton cemetery.
A close examination of this headstone shows two young teenagers that were killed during the time of Native American uprising.
Getting to Grafton: Travel to the town of Rockville (1 mile from Springdale and 3 miles from the southwest entrance ofZion National Park). At the east end of Rockville, look for Bridge Rd. (turn south). Follow the signs on a dirt road that turns back to the west and parallels the Virgin River for approximately 2 miles. You'll se the graveyard on the left and the road circle north toward the river and to the main part of the town.