A few months back we had the supreme pleasure of taking a look at the (sorta) ghost town of Ophir, and I think it is safe to say that none of us have ever had that much fun before. Well, get ready to dry clean your pants, because here we go again.
I bring up Ophir because this next ghostly little haunt is located in Dry Canyon, just one canyon to the north of the town of Ophir. You’ll remember that the town of Mercur was just one canyon to the south of Ophir, so it would seem that these miserable little hills were once home to a whole wad of people who got to wake up in the morning and realize that they lived either in a narrow, flood-prone drainage or up on the side of a dim, craggy cliff. On some level I envy them. On a much large level they disgust me. Here’s a map of where we are talking about.
That's too small to read, but such is life. The humble little hamlet of Jacob City is the craggy cliff variety of ghost town. It shouldn’t be hard to figure out why it was settled, what with it being surrounded by rich mining districts. But just in case you are having a hard time keeping up I will give you a hint. The sweet, sweet song of the mining siren.
The story of Jacob City begins with the discovery of valuable earth-goods in the area. Around the same time that Ophir and Mercur were starting to take off, someone clever individual (who I am guessing was named Jacob) decided to look at nearby canyons for even more good mining spots. A likely scenario is that around 1865 a group of solders who had been sent to the region to watch over the mormons got the fever. You see, many of these solders had been bitten by and were nursing the swollen, pulsating tick that is gold fever. On one of their little excursions they met up with some Native Amercians who showed them a place where they got the metal for their bullets. That same year several claims were made on the site and so our story begins. Well, continues. The beginning is at the top of this paragraph.
Of all the mines operating out of the canyon the largest producer was the Hidden Treasure Mine.
This was one of the sites located by the tick-infested solders in 1865, and by 1870 several of the claims had met up and consolidated into one huge, mega-mine. This isn’t to say that this was the only mine in the area. Also located up Dry Canyon are the Chicago, Sacramento, Keasarge, Utah Queen, Wandering Jew, Queen of the Hills and probably others, all of whom did just fine at pulling various minable goods from the bowels of Lady Earth.
As mining got fired up, there came a need for a variety of “services” that miners frequently seek. Ophir is located just 2 miles away, but you had to climb all over these stupid hills to get there so it ended up taking all day, and by that point most miners were no longer in the mood for either whiskey or ladies of the evening (not vampires). So a closer location was needed. And so, like a majestic Elm, the town of Jacob City rose from the earth, its trunk representing the mining industry, its roots representing the incredible work ethic of the people, and its leaves representing cheap floozies.
As was said above, Jacob City is located at the top of Dry Canyon and was consequently very isolated from other communities. As a result, the city needed its own school, stores and such. And by 1876 it had all of these and more. Houses clung to the sides of the canyon like the larvae of some great foreign moth. A large hotel was built in a flattened out area of the canyon wall. This hotel….
At its peak, the place boasted a population of 200 to 300 people. So it was never a huge place, but you could probably find enough people to fill out the rosters of a couple baseball teams. I don’t know why that’s how I’m describing this. I don’t even know why I’m still writing this sentence. Go away.
So, now we have reached the point where everything looks good for the thriving little town, and now I face the difficult duty of walking us down the path to ghost-townmanship. Getting the ore out of the mines wasn’t difficult, as it seemed like there was an endless amount of the stuff down there. But getting the ore out of the town and to a smelter WAS difficult. And ore is useless to someone if they can’t get it to some sort of place that can do something useful with it. For a while, the ore was carried down the canyon by carts. This totally sucked because it was hard to do. So then someone built a majestic tramway to carry the goods over the ground and down to the mouth of the canyon. This was a much more impressive transportation system, but it was really slow so it kinda sucked too. Finally someone figured out something great. A guy named Matt Gisborn owned the Mono Mine, a quant little producer located a good half-mile south of Jacob City spent a ton of money and finally built a good road out of the canyon. You guys ready for a picture of a road? Here it is!
This road has been improved over the years, and can now accommodate all but the most pathetic of vehicles, such as the Nissan Cube. Anyway, this Gisborn guy charged the crud out of the other mines to use his road, and in the process made a bunch of money, so everyone wins. Except for you and me. If you are reading this blog then you have most certainly not won. And I write the stupid thing, so there are very few who would consider me a winner.
Anyway, self-depreciating humor aside, the Mono Mine ended up being the place to be. You didn’t have to climb all the way up to Jacob City, and you had a great mine right there that could give you all the lung-disease you could hope for. And so, the town of Gisborn was created around that mine and soon challenged Jacob City for the title of “Lousiest City Stuck Up In A Canyon”. The Mono Mine pinched out in 1879, but by then the town of Gisborn had all but taken over all the prostitute action in Dry Canyon.
I don’t have any pictures of Gisborn. Sorry.
The large scale mining kinda puttered out by 1885, but the city of Gisborn stuck around until about 1929 when folks officially threw in the towel.
So ended the town of Jacob City and its eternal enemy, Gisborn. Today the site looks very much like this…
Here’s a picture of an ore bin that use to ring with the sounds of industry. It would have been located just above the main portion of Jacob City…
The hotel was once the main attraction up the canyon. It hung on up until the 1980’s, when it finally gave way and fells down. Some folks feel that it was destroyed in when the mines in the area were reclaimed and careless workers plowed it down. Others say that nature is a vengeful force, and finally managed to destroy the works of man. I don’t know the truth, but here’s what it looks like now…
A large pile of rubble. Neat!
So if you go to Jacob City, prepare for some level of disappointment. Unless you like pictures of foundations, then the place probably isn’t for you. The road leading up to the place takes you a little close to the edge of an impressive drop, one that has certainly claimed a few victims in the past. So do be safe.
Now, like I said, the Hidden Treasure Mine has been closed off to the public for quite a while now. But wouldn’t it be something if your brave author found a way into it? Hmmm…now wouldn’t that be something…..