Knightsville and Silver City



True to the spirit of old Scrooge, a mining engineer retorted, "Humbug," to a prospective
mine location set up by Jesse Knight. But, in 1896. Uncle Jesse disregarded the wisdom
of experience, sank his shaft and struck a rich ore body which he immediately and
"appropriately" named the Humbug mine. This rich hole raised him from a pauper with
less than $100 to one of the most wealthy of Tintic's mine owners. It also started his
career as the "Mormon Mining Wizard." Through some unknown power he was able to
locate many great ore bodies which, according to scientific reasoning, shouldn't have
existed. The Humbug was discovered in the hills a mile and a half east of Eureka. Others
of his mines were the Uncle Sam near Eureka and the Iron Blossom, Black Jack, Dragon
and Star closer down toward Silver City.
Uncle Jesse had sixty-five homes plus
several boarding houses built on a flat summit
near the Humbug. The new town was naturally
christened Knightsville. As the mines developed
the population increased till the peak was reached
in 1907 at 1000. Most of these were Knight
employees although several worked in the
Bullion-Beck mine just downhill from
Knightsville when a new lode was struck. The
town had several general and dry goods stores,
livery stables, a post office, church,
confectioneries, restaurants, a fine brick
schoolhouse and most interesting of all - no
saloons. Uncle Jesse, a very strict Latter-day


Saint, and soon to be the largest tithe-payer in the Church. couldn't stand to see a family's
grief after a hard-working miner would blow his paycheck in the nearby Eureka saloons
before going home. Inasmuch as this was his company's town he simply decreed that a
saloon would not be tolerated and none was. Furthermore, he fired any worker who, after



proper reprimanding, continued to neglect his family in favor of liquor and vice. He also
encouraged his workers, most of whom were Mormons, to attend church, by shutting the
mines down on Sunday. And then he paid them more per working day to keep their scale
up with the rest of the mines. His operation came to be known, derisively, as the "Sunday
School mines," but in later years, other mines seeing the success and safety record of the
Knight group, gave their men a day of rest and found it very practical.

Uncle Jesse, being a devout Mormon, encouraged his young workers to fulfill
Church missions. A great many did go out, knowing they would have good jobs when
they returned. The schoolhouse was alive almost every night with parties, dances and
theatrics. Besides building a cohesive town spirit, the youth of the town had no reason
to carouse around in Eureka.

Silver City

The Sunbeam mine discovery in 1869 turned the attention of the mining world to
the East Tintic Range. The locating of several potentially rich silver mines in Dragon
Canyon naturally gave the fledgling town its name. Then just as the town and mines were
getting underway, tales of even greater wealth came down from Alta and Park City and
many people left. Those who stayed continued to build up Silver City; the district claims
recorder and assay office were established. A stage line and mail run came into town
from Provo. A branch of the Deseret Telegraph was installed. Both the Salt Lake and
Western and the Tintic Range railroads built into town to participate in the treasure. A
typical mining camp took shape complete with saloons, billiard halls, gambling holes,


This 1896 photograph shows Silver City as she was beginning to reach her first peak. At this
time the smelter which saved the town was not even a gleam in Uncle Jesse's eye. Those long-
deserted streets could be a coin hunter's bonanza now. (Utah State Historical Society)


restaurants, hotels, stores, blacksmith shops, livery stables, two railroad depots and
dwellings. By 1899, 800 people lived in town; some of the best mines included the Black
Dragon, Rabbit Foot, Sunbeam, Swansea and Treasure Hill. Everyone knew the values
were down in the mines - but so was the water. Pumping costs became prohibitive and
folks began to leave. A disastrous fire in 1902 added to the exodus. Then onto the scene
came Uncle Jesse Knight. By striking several mines and purchasing others he had
become probably the single biggest mine owner and operator in the range. With his vast
resources he was advised to build his own ore sampling works and smelter to offset the
high freight and smelter rates. In 1907 he built the Utah Ore Sampling Company and the
Tintic smelter in Silver City. He also erected his own electricity producing plant and his
own narrow gauge railroad connecting his mines with the smelter. He built 100 new
frame houses to replace the burned ones and to accommodate the surging population. In
1908 the city had 1500 residents, the majority working for the Knight interests. It almost
became a second Knightsville, except that he did not own the land and so could not
control the saloons.

The 24th of July, 1908, was celebrated as "Smelter Day' along with the
regular"Pioneer Day." The celebration became the most festive occasion ever held in the
District. Excursion trains were run, a thousand spectators watched a baseball game, food
was plentiful and free and a public marriage was performed.

As it turned out freight rates dropped enough that even with a local smelter,
power plant, railroad and coal from Knight's mine in Spring Canyon, the smelter still
could not compete with the Salt Lake Valley smelters. Knight then dismantled it and it
was moved to join the Salt Lake Valley smelters in Murray where it continued to operate
for many years.

A profitable milling operation was later developed by Knight, George H. Dern,
later Utah governor, and others on the site of the smelter, but eventually it also was
abandoned. Silver City peaked in 1908, fell from prominence rapidly shortly afterward,
and finally was deserted in the 1930's.

References:

Carr, Stephen L., The Historical Guide to Utah Ghost Towns, third edition, Western
Epics, Salt Lake City, 1986, pages 93 (map), 95-96 (text), and page 96
(Knightsville photo).

Thompson, George A., Some Dreams Die - Utah's Ghost Towns and Lost Treasures,
Dream Garden Press, Salt Lake City, 1982 and 1999, p. 65 (text).

Carr, Stephen L., The Historical Guide to Utah Ghost Towns (Revised and Enlarged

Edition), Western Epics, Salt Lake City, 1972, page 90 (Silver City photo).