Friday, October 30, 2015

Knight Mill, Silver City, Utah

People seem to be attracted to large building ruins.  The Parthenon in Greece, Coliseum in Italy, Machu Picchu in Peru, and Mayan ruins in Central America are all big tourist attractions.  We have our massive ruins here in the American west too, but they are largely ignored except by ghost town hunters.
The Knight Mill ruins are a good example.  This massive concrete ruin is on the edge of Silver City, Utah, a ghost town that has nearly completely disappeared.  The smelter was built here in 1907 and it shut down in 1915.
Jesse Knight found several mines in the Eureka, Utah area, including the Humbug and the Iron Blossom lode, so he built this smelter and a railroad to process the ore.  The mill was closed and dismantled when it became more economical to ship ore to a more modern mill.
There are extensive ruins of solution tanks just outside the more massive ruins of the main mill building.  These tanks could be a source of dangerous contamination and should be avoided.
So much of the building has been destroyed that there aren’t many small details to photograph, but there is still some interesting rust on site.  It looks like iron beams were cut off and their stubs left to rust into fantastic shapes.  Is this a nightmarish bird or a bat?
Ore was crushed and mixed with mercury, resulting in an amalgam that had to be heated to separate the valuable metals.  I think this was a kiln used to cook amalgam to separate mercury from gold and silver.  Of course, the kilns could also be a source of contamination that should be avoided.
I like this desert arch, which is probably all that is left of another kiln.  It seems so out of place out there by itself.

While I can’t say that ruins like this are beautiful, like the classical ruins mentioned above, they are interesting and awe inspiring.  They are a big part of our western history, which is disappearing fast, and they deserve to be documented.

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