Eureka! Mining and Settlement in the Tintic Mountains

Eureka, Utah rests within the East Tintic Mountains in northern Juab county. Established in 1870, within the first twenty years of its existence, the Eureka population increased by 1,320.5%. It was the ninth-largest city in Utah in 1910. Though it was a bustling metropolis in the 1920s, Eureka is now one of Utah’s semi-ghost towns.

Eureka, Utah is a semi-ghost town located within the East Tintic Mountains in northern Juab County. Originally named Ruby Hollow, the town was renamed “Eureka” in 1870 after one of the “Big Four” mines in the area: Bullion Beck and Champion, Gemini, Centennial Eureka, and Eureka Hill. The largest town among a cluster of mining settlements, by 1910 Eureka was the ninth-largest city in Utah with a population of about 3,500 people. About a decade later, in 1922, Eureka’s Chief Consolidated Mining Company became the largest silver producer in the United States. Around the turn of the 20th century, a newspaper described it as “one of the most progressive and prosperous mining towns in this western country.” Despite its economic prosperity through World War I, the mines near Eureka became less productive during the Great Depression. Mining nearly came to an end by the 1950s. In 2019, the US Census Bureau reported that only about 107 people still lived in Eureka.

Eureka has connections with several illustrious figures in Utah’s history. Eureka was home to the second “Golden Rule” store built in 1909 by James Cash Penney. Expanding his business from this location, Penney developed the J.C. Penney chain of department stores. Jesse Knight, known for financially contributing to Brigham Young University where a campus building bears his name, also has ties to Eureka. Knight invested in the Humbug mine in 1886, and using the profits of his investment, Knight acquired several additional mines in the Tintic Mountains. He built a company town near Eureka called Knightsville, where he built a meetinghouse, school, and amusement building, though the settlement has since become a ghost town. Eureka is also the birthplace of Frank J. Zamboni, the inventor of the Zamboni, a vehicle used to clean and resurface the ice in ice rinks. A building which locals say was the original summer cabin of Porter Rockwell is also found along Eureka’s Main street. Eureka celebrates this history with a western diner named Porter’s Place.

Although people still live in Eureka, residents maintain its historic, mining town feel. In 1979, Eureka was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and several place markers provide insight into the town’s history. Main Street is full of historic, repurposed, or abandoned buildings. For example, the post office built in 1894 was purchased by the “Everybody’s” merchandising company in 1926. It currently serves as a shop today with products and souvenirs linked to Eureka’s rich history. Multiple historic churches are scattered along Eureka’s Main Street, most built in the Gothic Revival Style. The former Miner’s Union Hall has been repurposed as the Tintic Mining Museum. Some buildings, however, retain their original purposes, such as the Juab County Courthouse which still serves as the County Courthouse and City Jail.

Eureka is picturesque both in its architecture and in its surrounding landscape. It is a fitting home base for anyone looking to learn about Utah’s mining history, explore its nearby ghost towns such as Knightsville, Homansville, Dividend, or Silver City, or enjoy some of the outdoor scenic wonders that Juab County has to offer.

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