Fifty miles east of Delta, 20 miles west of the I-15 freeway, the weather-beaten town of Eureka (pop. 669) climbs steeply up surrounding mountainsides at the heart of the once-thriving Tintic Mining District, where, as recently as the 1930s, thousands of miners dug millions of dollars’ worth of gold, silver, copper, and lead out of the ground every year. Now the massive wooden head-frames of long-closed mine shafts stand high above the houses and prefab trailers that cling to the slopes, while fading signs advertise abandoned businesses along Main Street.
Though diehard residents still speak of plans to reopen one or more of the mines, prosperity seems a distant dream in Eureka, and while it’s not quite a ghost town, it seems well on its way there. The glory days are recounted in the small Tintic Mining Museum (435/433-6842), next to city hall on Main Street. At the west edge of town a historical plaque stands alongside the heavy timber head-frame of the Bullion-Beck Mine, one of the area’s most productive.
Heading east from Eureka, our route bends across rock-strewn sagebrush hills around the southern shore of Utah Lake toward I-15. Utah Lake, which is freshwater in contrast to the briny expanse of the Great Salt Lake to the north, used to be much larger than it is now, before so much of it was diverted to water the apple, peach, and cherry orchards that line US-6 around Santaquin—whose gas stations are a reliable source of fuel for westbound travelers heading to Delta, 70 miles to the southwest. From Santaquin, follow the I-15 freeway north to Springville, from where the Salt Lake City megalopolis stretches north along I-15 for nearly 100 miles.