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Home To See & Do Historic Mining Sites Deer Trail Mine | Marysvale Utah
Deer Trail Mine | Marysvale Utah PDF Print E-mail
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A brief early history of the Deer Trail Mine south of Marysvale, Utah.  Excerpt taken from the 1916 Marysvale Red Book, by Josiah F. Gibbs.

In September of 1878, George T. Henry, an English professor of Chemistry and metallurgy, and Joseph Smith, arrived from Silver Reef, the silver sandstones of which were being rapidly exhausted. They made headquarters at the ranch of William T. Dennis, two or three miles south of Marysvale, from which point they secured samples of the various properties and assayed them. Mr. Smith was something of a Nimrod, and essayed the laborious task of climbing the scrap-fault on face of mountain west of Dennis ranch, with the hope of obtaining a deer, then so numerous in that safe retreat. The base of the mountain is quartzite, having an ascent toward the south of about 10 degrees. Superimposed on the quartzite is a bed of limestone, the strata of which are nearly horizontal, thus forming a “blanket” contract. Mr. Smith ascended the base of the mountain, and turned south along the narrow shelf on top of the quartzite. His attention was attracted by a glittering substance on the trail, used by deer during countless centuries. The limestone was locally altered – nearly as white as snow. A brief examination by Mr. Smith proved the existence of a bedded lead-bearing vein. The hunt for deer ended, and mining on the Deer Trail began.

During the remainder of that year and a part of the next, about 400 tons of ore, averaging about $85 per ton, were transported by wagon to York station, on the then Utah Southern, in Juab County – a distance of about 125 miles from Marysvale. Selected samples of Deer Trail galena yielded several hundred dollars per ton in lead, silver and gold. However as the contact was opened on its slightly western dip the filling became leaner until shipments by wagon ceased to be profitable. For the time the mystery of the rich ore was perplexing.


Soon after the discovery of the Deer Trail, Frank Fullmer discovered a bed of strange ore a few hundred feet above the Deer Trail. The ore was also in bedded form – Following the limestone strata on its slight descent to the west. Scores of tons of the strangely-heavy ore, lying on the narrow terrace, and extracted from shallow openings, were rolled down the steep escarpment, just for the “fun” of seeing them “jump.” Subsequently, the ore was identified as sellenide of mercury, worth close to 25 cents per pound, and the owners wore mourning on their faces during many weary months. A few years afterwards California men bought the property, erected a retort, and cleaned up many thousand dollars from the shallow deposit.

Following close on the discovery of mercury ore was that of the Pluto, also in limestone, and hundreds of feet farther up the escarpment. From a small excavation the owners shipped close to four tons of nearly pure silver containing good values in gold, and sold the hole for several thousand dollars. The “whys and wherefores” of the existence of the sensationally rich ores of the Lucky Boy (mercury) and Pluto in such unlikely – positively forbidding-localities are yet to be answered.


Between the north end of the Deer Trail and south end of the Green-Eyed-Monster is an east-west fault, with a down-throw of 100 feet on the north side. The owners of the Deer Trail selected a site for a shaft a couple of hundred feet north of the Deer Trail tunnels. A shaft 100 feet deep reached the contact. About 10 feet of milling ore was opened and prospected. Subsequently, the Copper Belt mine was discovered and sold to the first real syndicate of eastern tenderfeet that ever invaded Marysvale. The ore was of high milling-rather smelting, as it contained about 10 percent copper. Without consulting a competent engineer as to best method of reduction, the syndicate of cotton-spinners erected a 10-stamp mill, with amalgamating tubs and settling tanks. The process positively declined to digest the copper content. About 7000 tons of Deer Trail ore was put through the Copper Belt mill. The ore averaged $14 per ton, but owing to the slimy nature of the ore much of the values went into the tailings pit. A few years afterward William E. Holderman, of Chicago, added some crude filter presses to the mill equipment, and cleaned up a snug sum by re-milling the tailings.

Finally, the Salisbury Brothers, of Salt Lake City, became owners of the Deer Trail group. They are practical engineers, and the mine was intelligently opened and developed. A working tunnel has been driven about 2000 feet in the quartzite below the great bedded vein, and several upraises into the ore have been made, and thousands of feet of levels driven. The vein, often swelling to 40-50 feet in thickness, is in full strength at the face – about 2000 feet from the surface, and its slight dip will soon be in contact with the working tunnel. The mine is ready for large reduction works, and strikingly illustrates the results of the combination of perseverance and scientific methods applied to mining in Marysvale.

The news of the Deer Trail shipments of high-grade soon brought a couple of hundred prospectors into the then lively camp. But as nearly all of them were “grub-stake” miners, and failing to discover “grass-root” bonanzas the camp soon quieted down. However, the Clyde, a fine copper-silver-gold bearing vein was discovered on the north side of Cottonwood Canyon, near mouth of North Fork.