Guide to some of the vestiges of Silver Reef,
a mining town which flourished between
1876 and 1890
Please help us preserve what is left of the town by not climbing on the ruins, picking up artifacts, or taking souvenirs. Should you see something you think may be of value, please speak to the Museum director about it. Use caution while crossing the streets and be aware of wildlife.
Enjoy your tour and thank you for coming!
1. Wells Fargo & Co. Express Station: The Museum is currently located in this building. Visitors will find displays about mining, geology, Western Frontier history and may take a guided tour. Built in 1878, this is the oldest Wells Fargo Express Station still in existence. Here, silver bullion from the mines was guarded and exported. The building served as a stagecoach stop and also housed the Woolley, Lund, and Judd Store in the southern half.
2. Cosmopolitan Restaurant: Reputed to serve the best hash in the territory, this popular restaurant was owned by Margaret Grambs, a native of Bavaria. It was dismantled in 1895 when Mrs. Grambs moved to Salt Lake City. The current building was reconstructed on the original site.
3. Harrison House: This hotel was Silver Reef’s Waldorf Astoria! A large, two-story structure, it provided a five-star restaurant in the basement, furniture and general merchandise stores on the main floor, and guest rooms on the upper floor—a total of 45 rooms. After being destroyed by fire in 1879, it was completely rebuilt and refurnished.
5. Main Street Businesses: Silver Reef’s mile-long Main Street was lined with various shops, saloons, offices, and other places of business. The tall walls in front of you once had elegant arched doorways on the ends, and formed buildings which housed the P. Clancy Market, Schwartz & Goldberg Store, and Chinese Drug Store. This Chinese owned drug store was not unique, as Silver Reef had numerous businesses operated by Chinese immigrants (enough to form a “Chinatown” in the area south of the Rice Bank).
6. Elkhorn Saloon: George Miller, the 300 lb. German owner of this establishment, calculated that by providing free salty foods at the bar his clientele would spend more on drinks, but when he ousted a patron for eating and not drinking, the man came back to get him. Seated under a shade tree at the time, George arose, extended his arms and said, “Shoot.” The man shot five times but missed. Later, two patrons who didn’t miss their marks were the marshal and a miner (who had twice stiffed that marshal). The two stepped out front and shot each other dead, probably about where you are standing. A few steps to the east of the Elkhorn Saloon was the jail, a handy arrangement since the saloon often served as courtroom and helped keep the jail in business.
7. Cassidy Powder House: This is a reconstruction of a building in which explosives were stored. In it you will now find a diorama of the original town, models of mining mills and other structures, and an audio narrative history of Silver Reef.
8. Nichols/Lubbock Home: This home was originally owned by Capt. Henry S. Lubbock, whose wealth could pay for the finely cut stone walls. It is remembered as being most beautifully built and surrounded by trees and flower gardens. (From this location you can see sites 12 & 13—the Barbee Walker Mine & Mill Overlook and the Schoolhouse. These are best reachable on the road; there is no trail.)
9. Father Scanlan & St. John’s Catholic Church: The rough-and-tumble miners were disinclined to take kindly the admonitions of priests and pastors. But Father Scanlan had already won their respect in Pioche, Nevada, and brought his reputation with him. The popular Catholic priest succeeded in establishing a church and hospital.
10. Rice Bank: John H. Rice came from Pioche, to establish his business in Silver Reef. The bank was used for a time as a makeshift jail. When marshals moved in on warring union leaders, the space was too small for the number arrested, so a line was drawn around the Rice building and anyone venturing across it was threatened with being shot. The original building was destroyed by fire; this is a reconstruction.
11. Kiosk: Here you can read the details of the supposed impossibility of finding mineable silver in sandstone, along with the challenges of extracting, mining, and marketing the ore. Take a moment to survey the country around you and imagine what used to be. The sight tubes point out more distant locations not included on this tour.
12. Barbee Walker Mine & Mill Overlook: Across the gulch are the remains of the Barbee Walker Mine & Mill, perhaps the most famous mine in Silver Reef. In 1874, William Tecumseh Barbee filed the Barbee and the Walker claims, named after himself and the Walker brothers—the Salt Lake City bankers who financed him. These claims eventually became one mine. Just south of where you are standing are the remains of a flotation mill built by Western Gold and Uranium, Inc. in 1956.
13. Schoolhouse: Miss Carrie Walker was hired here at a salary of $75 a month. When the mines shut down, the old schoolhouse was cut in half, moved to Leeds on logs, and reattached to become the current Town Hall on North Main Street. The semi-rectangular rock wall you see once surrounded the playground.
We hope you have enjoy your visit.
The Museum and Interpretive Trail are wholly supported by donations.
We appreciate your generosity!
The Museum at Silver Reef
1903 Wells Fargo Drive
PO Box 461388
Leeds, UT 84746