Mercur, UT Fire, Jun 1902


Salt Lake, Utah, June 25. - Mercur, the great cyanide gold camp and the second largest mining town in Utah, was practically wiped out of existence by fire today.
The origin of the fire remains a mystery beyond the fact that it began with an explosion of some kind about 9 o'clock this morning in the upper story of the Preble block, in which the Oquirrh hotel and a saloon were located. A short time after the fire broke out, the telephone exchange was destroyed and all wire communication cut off.

At 2:30 o'clock this afternoon a courier rode into Fairfield, a station on the Tintic branch of the Oregon Short Line railway and phoned that Mercur had been wiped off the map so far as the business district is concerned. Not less than 40 or 50 stores have been completely destroyed, and there is not a single store left in the camp. The people are in a destitute and pitiable condition. At least 1000 are without food and shelter. Governor Wells and Mayor Thompson of Salt Lake were appealed to for immediate assistance. Fully 80 per cent of the town has been destroyed. Not one business house remains and scores of dwellings have been completely destroyed.

Shortly after the fire broke out it was realized that the entire town was in danger, and immediately the greatest confusion prevailed. All available vehicles of every description were pressed into service and every effort was made to save household goods and stores, but so rapidly did the flames spread that people were forced to flee for their lives and practically nothing was saved.

The streets became congested with teams and the excitement was increased by the frequent explosions of giant powder stored in the various portions of town. So far as known, however, no loss of life resulted. A conservative estimate places the total loss at between $800,000 and $1,000,000 and the insurance at $350,000.

Among the buildings destroyed are the McCormick & Co. bank; the largest structure of the Union Mercantile company; the Palmer House; the Catholic and Baptist churches and the telephone exchange.

The Mormon and Methodist churches were not damaged and have been converted into places of refuge for the most helpless and destitute of the women and the children.

Governor Wells, Mayor Thompson of Salt Lake, Oregon Short Line railway officials and a number of prominent Salt Lake citizens late this afternoon arranged for a special train with needed supplies, which left Salt Lake early this evening for the stricken town.

Mercur is the western terminus of the Salt Lake & Mercur railroad, situated 58 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. In the old days it was a silver camp. Finally it was abandoned and remained in a deserted state until the cyanide process of extracting gold from low grade ore was given to the world. Then Mercur became a lively camp and finally was incorporated in 1896. It is famous as the home of the noted Mercur and Golden Gate mines. The town has enjoyed the reputation of being the most moral and quiet camp on the continent. It has a good school system and a number of churches. The census of 1900 fixed its population at 2351.

Idaho Daily Statesman, Boise City, ID 26 Jun 1902



Work Already Regun [sic] -None of Mining Property Destroyed.

Mercur, Utah, June 26. - The work of rebuilding the section of this town destroyed by yesterday's great fire was begun early today. It is the opinion of the most prominent citizens that the town will be rebuilt better and with more adequate protection against fire.

Provisions enough to last for several days arrived last night and today those made homeless have been provided for. None of the mining property was damaged and the mining industry will proceed without interruption.

A careful estimate made today places the total loss at $300,000, with insurance of $85,000. Fifty business houses and 120 dwellings were destroyed.

Idaho Daily Statesman, Boise City, ID 27 Jun 1902