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The Salt Lake County Recorder and Treasurer were responsible for keeping detailed records of the many mining claims within the county’s boundaries. Records from the late 19th and early 20th century show that claims dotted the landscape of the valley. Areas that are now known for their relaxed, suburban setting, such as Draper and Cottonwood Heights had working mining claims into the 1900s. Many small players originally owned mining claims, many of whom eventually got bought out by corporations or failed, losing their claim to a county auction. The requirement to submit information to the county has left us with a snapshot of the early Utah mining industry. Present day mining in Utah is operated by a comparatively small number of large corporations but as these records show many times it began with an individual and a small claim.
Most of the mining records preserved by the Salt Lake County Archives consist of abstracts and indexes. While the sources for many of these indexes remain lost or unidentified they still constitute a rich source of information. Individual and company names are recorded along with their business transaction over a period of approximately 55 years. Claim owner descriptions of the work done annually at their mines, and sometimes accusations against adjoining claimants, contained within Proof of Labor filings adds a colorful background to what was for many owners a highly personal and sometimes cutthroat endeavor. Other records offer a glimpse at the many financial transactions associated with running, buying, selling and liquidating mine holdings. Descriptions of the structures and other improvements to Bingham Canyon mine claims preserve a landscape long since obliterated by large scale mining. Though these records constitute only a small portion of what originally existed they remain a rich resource of Utah’s mining past.