Agency History #3100


In 1871 miners in Washington County organized the Harrisburg Mining District (originally called the Union Mining District) to manage the mining activity that resulted from John Kemple's discovery of silver at Silver Reef. In accordance with established custom and then federal law, local mining districts managed mining operations and a mining district recorder registered claims of individuals to the valuable mineral deposits they discovered on the public domain. (See Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamations, of the United States of America, vol. XVII, chap. 152). The boundaries of the Harrisburg District included twelve square miles with the Harrisburg school house at the center. Mining in this district produced nearly $8 million worth of silver and led to the establishment of Silver Reef, the only significant mining town in Washington County.

In 1897 the Utah Legislature enacted a mining law, which abolished the office of mining district recorder. County recorders of the respective counties assumed all the duties and responsibilities previously performed by mining district recorders, (Laws of Utah, 1897, chapter 36, Mining Claims) and all books previously kept by district recorders were deposited in the office of the county recorder.


The Harrisburg Mining District recorder was responsible to record all mining claims within the district. Utah law recognized mining district recorders as public officials, and deemed the records in their custody to be official public records, receivable in the courts of the Territory. Utah law also required that the rules and regulations established by each mining district should be recorded by the county recorder in the county where the mining district was located (Compiled Laws of Utah, 1876, Chapter 10). District by-laws regulated the manner in which claims should be marked and the amount and specific kind of labor which was expected once claims had been recorded.


The mining district recorder was elected from among the mining claim holders within the mining district.


The recorder appointed deputies as necessary to assist in carrying out his responsibilities, and he collected fees for each recording and also for examining the stakes or monuments which marked claims.


From 1871 to 1874 the Harrisburg Mining District was known as the Union Mining District.

Samuel Hamilton 1871-1874
John Kemple 1874
O.B. Adams 1875-1877
F.Y. Loughey 1877-1880
W.P. Poole 1880
William H. Harrison 1880-1889
James N. Louder 1890
James G. Wilder 1891-1897

COMPILED BY: Rosemary Cundiff, June 2001


Alder, Douglas D. and Karl E. Brooks. A History of Washington County, Utah State Historical Society, Washington County Commission, 1996.

Harrisburg Mining District (Utah). Mining records, Record Book A, Utah State Archives, Series 23675.

Compiled Laws of Utah, 1876, Chapter 10, Of Mines and Mining, Series 83238.

Laws of Utah, 1897, Chapter 36, Mining Claims, Series 83155.

Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamations, of the United States of America, vol. XVII, chap. 152. Published by authority of Congress, Boston: Brown, Little and Company

Page Last Updated December 3, 2007.