SILVER REEF - It was once considered one of the largest settlements in Southern Utah -- now it’s a ghost town. This month local volunteers are working to bring the ghosts of Silver Reef to life.
The mining town was founded in the 1860s after silver was discovered in the nearby red rock. By the 1900s much of the town was left to deteriorate but pieces of that history still remain.
“They definitely took out 7.52 million ounces of silver and over 10 and a half million pounds of copper,” said Wells Fargo Silver Reef Museum and Gallery director Eric Fleming. “There were over 100 businesses right here on Main Street in Silver Reef, we had butchers, bakers, barbers, dentists.”
A few of those buildings are still on the site. The term “ghost town” refers to the fact the town is no longer there, but Fleming said they have fun with the fact that many believe the original residents still walk the once busy streets. They’ve even had some activity at the museum, which fills the old Wells Fargo building.
“We shut down these doors that we have and turn out the lights. You’ll start noticing activity on our motion sensor cameras,” Fleming said. “Particularly in the vault room, where the Well’s Fargo original barrel vault is, where they kept the bullion.”
There are also stories of ghosts wandering the abandoned streets and peering out of building windows. Local residents are bringing those ghosts to life through tours of the town.
Close to 60 people attended the tour on Oct. 25. The group plans to do another ghost tour on Nov. 1. The goal is to highlight and celebrate the historic town’s exciting wild-west past.
“We talk about the history, we talk about the people who lived here,” Fleming said. “Business owners and the miners of course. Some of the shootouts that happened here. Then we go into the geology and discuss some of the uniqueness of this area.
Some of the visitors we spoke to say they wouldn’t mind an actual ghost encounter.
“If it was a friendly ghost, sure,” said Ann Thompson, visiting from Oregon.
But others say they would rather skip that experience.
“No. I don’t buy into that stuff,” said visitor Dave Osborn.
The ghost tours cost $5 per person if reservations are made in advance, or $7 on the day of the tour. All the proceeds go toward the preservation of the Silver Reef Ghost Town. More information can be found on the museum’s website at http://www.silverreefutah.org/SPECIAL-EVENTS.html.