The Silver City Cemetery looks as if it were pulled directly from a spaghetti Western: worn headstones, scraggly trees, and peeling picket fences all create a beautiful, yet lonely, portrait of the American southwest. Nestled amid a grove of trees just off US Highway 50, Silver City Cemetery sits as the final reminder of what was once a booming mining town.
Headstones from the two to three dozen graves date back to the 1880s. Many of the graves attest to the difficulties of living during this time, as many belong to infants and children. Ornate designs such as flowers and finely chiseled lambs decorate several of the headstones. However, a few have been demolished or have fallen victim to the elements.
As simple as the lonely cemetery may appear, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 because of its significance to Utah and its once-thriving mining communities. It’s also one of the last remnants of Silver City still standing.
The city’s population hit a peak of 1,500 in 1908, nearly 40 years after its settlement and during the heyday of silver and ore mining. Jessie Knight, known as “Mormon Wizard” around mining camps because of his tendency to find ore sites, established the foundations of the mining operations. However, freight rates in the Salt Lake Valley beat out those of Silver City and initiated its decline. A few years later, the mines began to run dry or flood. By 1930, the town was virtually empty.
Today, the remains of Silver City, located near the mouth of Dragon Canyon, include only a few stone foundations and the cemetery. It stands as the last witness to a community full of families, mining workers, and life stories that vanished as quickly as it was established.