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A Look Back: The mining ghost town of Mercur, Utah

Salt Lake Tribune archive The town of Mercur, Utah first came into being in 1870 as Lewiston, when gold was discovered at the head of the Lewiston Canyon. A small gold rush began, peaking about 1873. The population reached as high as 2000. Lewiston became a ghost town by 1880 when the ore ran out. In 1890 the gold rush started all over again, and a new town sprang to life on the old site, but the name of Lewiston was already taken by then, so the citizens settled on the name Mercur, In 1902 a fire that started in the business district of the town burned almost the entire city to the ground. The town was rebuilt and mining resumed again. In its heyday, there were about 5,000 residents of Mercur. By 1913 all the mines were closed and by 1916 there was only one building left in Mercur. Mercur supported a large Italian immigrant community. Young men were attracted by the opportunity of high wages and the romance of the American "wild west." With this Italian influence, Columbus Day became an important city event including parades, games and performances by the Mercur City Band.

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jul 12 2013 07:22AM
Updated Jul 19, 2013 08:29AM

Each Friday, The Salt Lake Tribune presents images from its archives in a special series called A Look Back. This week’s gallery features photos of the mining town of Mercur, Utah. Mercur was a mining town in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The town burned to the ground in 1902 and was a ghost town by 1916.

Every gallery of the series is available at

Here are some of the previous installments:

Construction of the Salt Lake Tabernacle

Historic buildings in Utah

30 years of iconic rock and roll in Utah

Life on the Ute Reservation in early the 1900s

Women’s fashion in the 1960s

Dogs in Utah around 1900

Utah’s early cultural diversity

Utah artists from the late 1800s to the early 1900s

Presidential visits to Utah from the 1860s

Hunting and fishing in the early 1900s

BYU, Utah football programs

Saloons, brewing companies in Utah around 1900

The centennial Days of ‘47 parade in downtown Salt Lake City from July 1947

Women’s fashion from 1949-50

Construction of the Salt Lake Temple and SLC in the 1800s

Utah college life from the 1930s to 1960s

Old newspaper advertisements

People and events in Salt Lake City from the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s

Historical images of Sugar House

Aerial images of Salt Lake City in the 1960s

Historic photos of Temple Square

Historic scenes from Salt Lake City


The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks

Salt Lake City in the 1900s

Key moments in Utah Jazz history

Salt Lake City’s Liberty Park from 1935 to 1951

Kennecott Utah Copper Mine in the 1930s and 1940s

Salt Lake City and other Utah cities in the 1800s

Geneva Steel

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