Nestled in the foothills to the southeast of Spanish Fork, Utah, the old Koyle “Dream Mine” is a stark contrast to the otherwise natural landscape; its off-white, tiered structure is visible from miles away, though today the mine lies abandoned. While it’s no longer in operation, the Dream Mine has a long and storied history for Spanish Fork and Salem inhabitants, and even today the mine’s stockholders hold an annual meeting that attracts hundreds of local residents. Ancient civilizations, scripture, and catastrophic visions all play an important role in the dynamic mythology of this apocalyptic landmark.
John Hyrum Koyle was born in Spanish Fork, Utah in 1864. Like many of the residents of rural Utah County, Koyle and his family maintained a modest farming enterprise and kept livestock. During his life on the farm Koyle claimed to experience visions and dreams of calamitous future events, and gradually gained the reputation as a local visionary. Koyle was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and served in a variety of ecclesiastical leadership positions including a full-time missionary and Bishop.
In the summer of 1894, Koyle claimed to have received an angelic visitation from an ancient Nephite messenger (Nephites are allegedly an ancient American civilization that plays a central role in the Book of Mormon, a text sacred to members of the LDS Church). According to Koyle, the messenger showed him in vision a massive depository of gold ore in the hills near his home. He was also told that the mine would produce financial relief, in the form of gold coins, after a future economic collapse. The sacred treasure would benefit the people by keeping alive the local economy during the financial crisis and other devastating calamities.
Prompted by his vision, Koyle set out to make the mine a reality. Spreading the news of his vision to his friends and neighbors, the Koyle Mining Company was formed in 1909 with 114,000 shares of stock issued at $1.00 per share. The influx of capital from local “dream miners” allowed the current structure to be built, and after some rudimentary mechanics were in place the company started extracting ore from the mountain. By the mid 1910s Koyle’s mine caught the attention of LDS Church leaders in Salt Lake City, who dispatched Apostle James E. Talmage (a Johns Hopkins trained geologist) to investigate the claims and inspect the mine. Talmage left his visit skeptical of Koyle’s claims and the mine’s potential for profit; in addition, this skepticism was exacerbated by Koyle’s emerging reputation as a visionary who had attracted the attention of his own set of acolytes that raised him up to be a prophet. Despite their misgivings, LDS Church leadership initially chose to allow the mine to continue.
Koyle never ceased his visionary activities, going on to predict nationwide famine, drought, the collapse of the LDS church, earthquakes, and other apocalyptic catastrophes. As a result, he continued to attract opposition from the church for the rest of his life. By 1947, Church leadership felt that his activities had gone too far and negotiated a repudiation of his claims. Though he signed the agreement at first, Koyle soon reversed his position and was immediately excommunicated from the church in April of 1948. John H. Koyle died on May 17th, 1949 in Payson, UT. Despite his death, the legacy of the dream mine persisted. The mine continued under the leadership of Quayle Dixon for another twenty-three years. In 1961, a new company, The Relief Mine Company, succeeded the Koyle Mining Company as the administrators of the mine and its operations. Though no gold was ever discovered before the mine closed down, annual stockholders meetings continue to take place as believers and observers debate the veracity of Koyle’s extravagant claims.