Agency History #3136


Early travelers on the Overland Trail noticed an abundance of mineral deposits in the Deep Creek Mountains of western Tooele County (Utah). When Patrick Connor erected Utah's first smelter at Stockton, mining activity in the Deep Creek Mountains soon followed. Prospectors in the area organized the Clifton Mining District on 18 October 1869 and established the mining camp, Clifton. Initially Clifton miners hauled ore by mule to the Stockton smelter which was 125 miles across the desert. However, mining activity in the Clifton District soon supported the construction of a local mill and smelter. The Clifton Mining District, which originally included an area of 72 square miles, also included the mining camp, Gold Hill, just southeast of Wendover. Clifton mines produced copper, lead and gold.

The Clifton Mining District was already well established when Congress passed a federal mining law in 1872, (Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamations, of the United States of America, vol. 15, 1872, chap. 152) legitimizing the already established precedent that individuals had the right to claim mineral wealth in the public domain. Federal mining law also validated the authority of local mining districts to manage mining activity and keep records of claims. In 1897 the Utah Legislature enacted a mining law which transferred responsibility for keeping mining records to county recorders (Laws of Utah, 1897, chapter 36). The Clifton Mining District only temporarily complied with this requirement. Clifton District recorders soon regained custody of their records and continued to keep mining records for the district until well into the twentieth century.


Early Utah mining districts adopted by-laws to regulate mining activity within the district and elected recorders to keep records of claims. Like other early Utah mining districts, the Clifton District limited the extent of claims to 200 feet along the lode, with a width of 100 feet on each side. The original discoverer was allowed 400 feet. Original by-laws required the claimant to erect a stone monument at the site and to post thereon the date and a notice of location. By-laws allowed ten days after discovery for a notice of location to be recorded. The Clifton District recorder recorded all notices of location, minutes of miners' meetings and copies of the by-laws in hard bound books. Originally the recorder went to the ground to see that a proper monument had been erected before he recorded a claim.

In order to maintain the claim for a year, miners were required to work the claim for one day within the first sixty days and two additional days within one year. Original by-laws required the recorder to measure the work performed at each location, and provide claim owners with certificates stating that the work was satisfactorily performed and noting how long it would hold the claim. After federal mining law was enacted in 1872, miners in the Clifton District revised by-laws to conform to federally established regulations. Claims could be up to 1500 feet instead of 200 feet as previously imposed. The new labor requirement became $100 worth of work annually.


Clifton Mining District officers consisted of a president and a recorder. Both were elected from among the miners of the district for one year terms. The president presided at all miners' meetings. The recorder kept minutes as well as records of all claims. Beginning in 1880 Clifton recorders were required to file a bond with the Tooele County Probate Court. In 1885 Clifton Mining District boundaries were expanded. Clifton District recorders kept a business office in Clifton until 1915 and in that year moved the office to Gold Hill. Mining district books were open for public inspection.


Clifton Mining District recorders appointed deputies to assist them in carrying out their responsibilities. In 1897 the Utah Legislature enacted a mining law which transferred responsibility for keeping mining records to county recorders. (Laws of Utah, 1897, chapter 36). The Clifton Mining District transferred its records to the Tooele County recorder's office in May 1897. However, by January 1900 a Clifton Mining District recorder had resumed record keeping for the district. At a 1926 miners' meeting voters in the district turned down a proposal to abandon the district and transfer their books back to Tooele County. In 1933 the state legislature acted to terminate any mining districts not complying with the law by ruling that at the termination of office of any mining district recorder still holding office, the district should be abolished and the office should remain vacant. In May 1932 the Clifton District held the last recorded miners' meeting and re-elected Kate Hudson as district recorder. Ms. Hudson continued to function as district recorder and to keep the books for the Clifton District until 1938.

W.T. Barbee 1869, Oct-1870, May
John Woodruff 1870, Jun-1871, May
Alfred C. Longmore 1872, Jun-1873, May
George W. Brown 1873, Jun-1875, May
M.G.. Lewis 1875, Jun-1876, May
George W. Brown 1876, Jun-1883, Apr
George F. Hendry 1883, May-Jun
George W. Brown 1883, Jul
Edward C. Dance 1883, Jul-1884, Apr
Alfred C. Longmore 1884, May-1885, Apr
Edward C. Dance 1885, May-1887, Oct
James B. Springer 1887, Nov-1888, Mar
William W. Shell 1888, Apr- Oct
Frank Mason 1888, Nov-Dec
W.R. Sheldon 1889, Jan-Dec
George W. Brown 1890, Jan-1897, May
George W. Brown 1900, Jan-1901, Apr
B.H. Young 1901, May-1907, Apr
Frankie Corman 1908, May-1912, Apr
Emily Woodman 1913, May-1916, Apr
Ada E. Gerster 1916, May-1917, Apr
Kate Hudson 1917, May-1938

COMPILED BY: Rosemary Cundiff , October 2002


Blanthorn, Ouida. A History of Tooele County. Utah Historical Society, 1998.

Clifton Mining District (Utah). Recorder. Miners' Meeting Minutes. Utah State Archives (Series 24163).

Laws of Utah, 1897, Chapter 36. Utah State Archives (Series 83155).

Murbarger, Nell. Ghosts of the Glory Trail. Palm Desert, CA: Desert Printers, Inc., 1956.

Revised Statutes of Utah, Annotated, 1933, 55-1-7, Utah State Archives (series 83238).

Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamations, of the United States of America, vol. 17, chap. 152. Published by authority of Congress, Boston: Brown, Little and Company. United States.

General Land Office. Mining District By-laws. Utah State Archives (Series 3651).

Page Last Updated July 2, 2003.