Thursday, August 2, 2012

In Search of Newhouse

 On Saturday on the way to town (town meaning any place with more than 200 people), I decided I wanted to go find Newhouse, a ghost town. I knew that some of the first settlers in the area where I live had gotten off the train at Newhouse and continued by wagon over the mountain ranges and basins. I was recently reminded of Newhouse when I discovered the book Utah Ghost Rails by Stephen Carr and Robert Edwards. I found it at the Utah DNR Bookstore, one of my favorite places to browse for local publications. In the book, I found information about the railroad tracks extending from Frisco, a rowdy ghost town near Milford, Utah, to Newhouse. I had seen remnants of those tracks from Highway 21, but hadn't thought much about them. With Desert Boy's love of trains, I figured it was time to make the journey.

 I thought I knew which road led to Newhouse. When we saw the above mining remains, I figured we were on the right track. The hole in the ground intrigued me, so I got out and found that it went deeper than I could see. Scary!

The good road continued, but we didn't see more old mining structures. Instead, we saw this:

 Modern equipment and fresh piles of rock. Had someone started reworking the old mines near Newhouse? Or were these new ones?

The road was gated and no one was around, so we didn't have our questions answered. We turned around and headed up a little two-track road.

We didn't get far. We found another gate and a sign saying that the area was owned by Horn Silver Mines, Inc. I recognized the name from the Frisco side.

I saw a couple of adits on the hillside.

We still didn't know where Newhouse was, and the roads were a little too rocky for the van, so we parked and started hiking.

Desert Girl wanted me to take a picture of her.

We hiked for a bit, but the kids quickly decide that wasn't what they really wanted to do. They wanted to go back to the van. On the way, though, they found a distraction.

It was time to rock climb!

Desert Boy made it to the top and was happy. We headed back to the highway, with a detour down another two track road. We encountered some other people who were also looking for Newhouse but couldn't find it.

So we headed to Milford and got directions at the tourist information in the caboose. We needed to go back down in the valley more. So after running a bunch of errands and enjoying the Minersville swimming pool, we headed back towards Newhouse. This time we found it, with a turnoff from Highway 21 near mile marker 57. (One book says the road used to be marked, but it certainly isn't now. However, if you look off into the distance, you can see some of the buildings from the highway--something I had never noticed before.)

Out among the cactus and cheatgrass, we found some old buildings.

We found quite a few old foundations.

The kids had a great time looking for lizards.

The Cactus Mine was started in 1870, before the mine in Frisco. But it didn't have many investors and little was mined until 1900, when Samuel Newhouse came from Salt Lake City. He had previously invested in the copper mines up Bingham Canyon, which proved quite successful. With his capital, plus investments from England and France, the Cactus Mine was worked more and proved to be profitable. A town developed on Newhouse's land around the mine, called Tent-town due to the temporary nature of the "buildings".

A few years later, the mine was still going strong, and some permanent buildings were erected. The town became known as Newhouse and included a cafe, library, livery stable, hospital, several stores, and a hotel. It even had an opera house and dance hall. Water was not available right there, so it was piped in from Wah Wah Springs five miles west, and an electrical system was installed. Water not used for mining and culinary purposes irrigated the city park. The saloon and red light district were relegated to a mile outside of town, off of Newhouse's property. The town was orderly in contrast to Frisco around the hill, which at its heydey had 23 saloons and was known as the wildest town in the Great Basin (from Stephen Carr's Utah Ghost Towns).

Hmm...opera house vs. 23 saloons...

The Utah Southern Extension Railroad built a depot at the end of the Frisco Branch.  In addition to the Frisco Branch, a separate standard gauge railroad named the Newhouse, Copper Gulch & Sevier Lake was built between the Cactus Mine and the Cactus Mill.

The ore didn't last forever, though. It didn't even last for long. About five years after the town was settled, the Cactus Mine gave out, after producing $3.5 million worth of ore.  Other mines in the area weren't big producers, so the town, like most mining towns, quickly quieted. Many buildings were moved into Milford. The cafe continued, serving sheep and cattlemen and a few miner, until 1921 when it burned down. The tracks were pulled up to Frisco in 1927, and then the track from Frisco to Milford was taken up by August 1943.

Although most of the town had disappeared, I was surprised by how many remnants we could still see.

We were short on time, so only got a quick glimpse of some of the structures and foundations.

We found that the road followed part of the old railroad bed. It started getting a little too rocky for our van so we had to turn around. But we'll be back to explore more of this neat old ghost town.

1 comment:

Anita's Antiques said...

What a great find! I know where I'm going as soon as the snakes bed down for the winter.

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