Great Adventure Road Tour: Silver Reef Ghost Town

FEATURE — In this episode of “Nielson RV’s Great Adventure Road Tour,” Scott Nielson and St. George News reporter Hollie Reina adventure back in time to the Silver Reef Ghost Town in Leeds.

This historical photo shows the Wells Fargo Express Office when it was used as an office by Western Gold and Uranium Company in its attempt to revive the mines in the 1950s, Silver Reef, Utah, April 1963 | Photo courtesy of Utah State Historical Society, St. George News

Silver Reef was a mining town in the late 1800s that boomed when a prospector found a strand of silver in the sandstone.

The Silver Reef Museum’s history webpage summarizes the story:

In 1866 a prospector discovered silver in the vicinity of the future town of Silver Reef, but he did not develop his find until 1870, at which time he and some friends formed the Harrisburg Mining District and began small-scale operations. In 1874, when prospectors staked out the Leeds claim on White Reef, a sandstone ledge, a small camp originated nearby that came to be known as Silver Reef because of the numerous silver strikes in the area. It reached its peak between 1877 and 1880, when stores and hotels, a bank, a church, and a Wells-Fargo office lined the busy street.

The once bustling town has a history that seems to be straight out of a Western novel or movie. According to the museum website, several labor disputes between mining laborers and mine owners erupted and shootouts, gambling and prostitution were commonplace.

A fire in 1979 destroyed many buildings, and though residents rebuilt it, the town began to decline shortly after.

Today, Silver Reef is a ghost town of decaying buildings and remnants of the once wild and thriving area.

Know before you go

The Silver Reef Museum in Silver Reef offers guided tours on the hour beginning at 10:30 a.m. during open days. Museum admission is $3 per person or $10 for a family.

Silver Reef Museum hours:

  • Monday | 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday | Closed.
  • Wednesday | Closed.
  • Thursday | 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Friday | 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday | Closed.

The museum also hosts monthly activities including art and history lectures, activities and reenactments. To see a listing of events by month click here.

Shootout at high noon reenacts the duel to the death of Truby and Marshal Diamond. Leeds, Utah, Sept. 12, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

The Silver Reef Museum is located at 1903 Wells Fargo Road in the Silver Reef area of Leeds. Guests can visit the museum and stroll around the grounds to see historic ruins and markers and enjoy stunning vistas of the Southwest desert.

Driving directions from St. George to Silver Reef

  • From St. George Boulevard, take Interstate 15 northbound to Exit 22 to Leeds (approximately 13 miles).
  • From Exit 22, turn left onto Main Street heading north (approximately 6 miles).
  • Turn left onto Silver Reef Road (road passes under I-15).
  • Take a slight right to stay on Silver Reef Road then turn left, still on Silver Reef Road following the signs to the Silver Reef Museum.
  • Turn right onto Wells Fargo Road to reach the destination.

Camping in the area

There are several campgrounds near the Silver Reef area of Leeds. A few of them are as follows:

Written by HOLLIE REINA, St. George News.

• S P O N S O R E D   C O N T E N T  •

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