Hike Around the Silver Reef Mines and the Charcoal Kiln, Dixie National Forest
Silver Reef is an abandoned mining area near Leeds, Utah famous for the silver rush in the 1870s after the surprising discovery of the precious metal embedded in the sandstone. In it’s heyday the town of Silver Reef boated over 2,000 residents and a mile-long main street, some buildings of which remain standing. Additional mining operations for copper, uranium, and vandium continued into the 1970s but the today the area is public land and so Tom, Terry, and I hiked across the scrub, exploring the sealed and/or grated mine shafts as well as the remains of some rock-foundation houses that the workers presumably lived in. After walking for a few hours we then stopped at the ghost town to see the remaining buildings.
After the short stop at the ghost town we drove a few miles into Dixie National Forest where Tom and Terry showed me a charcoal kiln a half mile from the road. This beehive kiln converted trees from the surrounding mountains into the charcoal that was used to fuel Silver Reef’s five silver mills. Processing of the silver into bullion at the mills was done because it was more economical to ship the concentrated silver rather than the mined sandstone blocks.
Although we only drove a few miles into the national forest in order to look at the kiln, I became pretty smitten with the Pine Valley Mountains. And with the few hundred feet of elevation gained after crossing into the national forest, the Hurricane Cliffs and the plateau beyond come into view as well.