Utah Department of Administrative Services

Division of Archives & Records Service

Mining Claims

Utah county recorders and mining district recorders have kept numerous documents associated with individual mining claims. Many of these records are available at the Utah State Archives. Documents associated with mining claims include the by-laws of various mining districts. They include thousands of individual notices of location, as well as mining deeds, affidavits showing proof of annual assessment labor, notices of intent to hold a claim, and lease documents. Mining district and county recorders have also created indexes and abstracts to enable retrieval of these documents. Prior to statehood mining records were usually kept by mining district recorders. However, at statehood the Utah Legislature transferred responsibility for keeping mining records to county recorders. In 1897 all Utah mining district recorders were commissioned to deposit their books in the office of the county recorder who would thereafter assume responsibility for keeping all mining records. (See sources used in compiling this research guide. See series holdings.)

Mining District by-laws

The gold rush of 1849 brought some 40,000 prospectors to California. Since no laws were in place to regulate mining, the gold rush began as a free-for-all. Prospectors soon realized the need for regulation and began organizing local mining districts to enforce order and establish ground rules. Mining districts adopted by-laws which established requirements for making and marking claims, regulated the amount which could be claimed, and the amount of work required to hold the claim. Precedents set in California were continued in Utah. Federal troops who were stationed in Utah and who were also veteran prospectors organized Utah's first mining districts in Tooele and Salt Lake Counties.

Initially Congress struggled with the mining issue, but finally in 1866, ruled that mineral deposits in the public domain were free and open to exploration and occupation. This act validated the mining districts that had already been organized and the conventions they had established. Prospectors organized more than 130 mining districts in Utah Territory. These districts vary greatly in terms of size and production, but all were authorized to create their own regulations within federal and state guidelines. Typically mining district by-laws designate a name for the district and specify its boundaries. By-laws detail requirements for recording claims and marking them at the site. They also define the responsibilities of the district's recorder, designate his term of office, provide for his election, and specify the fees he can charge for services. District by-laws usually specify how records should be kept and designate who had access to them. In 1876 Utah's Territorial Assembly validated the records kept by mining district recorders, declaring them "receivable in all courts of this territory." The Assembly also ruled that mining district by-laws must be recorded by the county recorder in the respective counties. Since methods of organizing records vary from county to county, county recorders' copies of district by-laws may have been filed among notices of location, in miscellaneous records, or elsewhere. Many Utah mining districts kept a copy of their by-laws in their own records or filed a copy with the General Land Office. Copies filed with the General Land Office have since been transferred to Utah State Archives:

United States. General Land Office  
Mining district by-laws, 1872-1909 Series 3651

Notices of Location

A document which records a specific claim is called a notice of location. In 1866 Congress authorized the location of a lode throughout its depth, but not the location of the land encompassing the deposit, but in 1870 extended rights to 'placer claims,' allowing prospectors to claim up to 160 acres. Congress adopted a fully developed mining law in 1872. This law continued the policy of making mineral deposits free and open to exploration and purchase according to the rules of local mining districts, but added certain regulations. Claims were limited to 1500 feet along a vein or lode with no more than 300 feet on either side of the center, and placer claims were limited to 20 acres. After statehood the Utah Legislature added certain qualifications to the federal law. Utah locators were required to mark their claims according to detailed instructions and to have a notice of location recorded by the county recorder within thirty days.

The 1872 mining law limited claims to 'valuable' deposits. The issue of whether or not this law applied to petroleum became especially hot in the 1890s. In 1896 the General Land Office determined that petroleum was not 'locatable.' The following year (1897) Congress clarified the dispute by passing the Oil Placer Act, which stated that oil and gas were locatable under the general mining law. While most location notices recorded during the territorial period were recorded by prospectors searching for precious metals, many petroleum locations were recorded in the early twentieth century.

Notices of location dominate the mining records kept by both mining district and county recorders (see sample notice of location). Many thousands of them have been recorded. Each notice identifies the claim by a unique name, such as 'Poor Man's Friend,' 'Sunshine Lode,' 'Bald Eagle Mine,' or 'Good Luck Mine.' Each notice names the locators, indicates the date of location, and tells how many feet or acres the claim involves. Location notices confirm compliance with federal law and affirm the locator's citizenship. They indicate whether the claim is a lode or placer claim and sometimes name the valuable mineral being sought. Books of location notices also contain variations such as location amendments, relocation notices, or location notices for water or mill sites used in mining activities.

Proof of Labor

The General Mining Law of 1872 added a requirement for at least $100 worth of annual assessment work to be done on each claim in order to maintain it. Failure to mark and record a claim or to do the necessary annual assessment work would open the claim for location by someone else. County or mining district recorders kept track of this assessment work. In affidavits showing proof of labor a claimant swore that he had performed the necessary amount of labor, and usually specified exactly what that labor involved, who did the work, and when (see sample affidavit showing proof of annual assessment labor). Some mining districts required district recorders to personally examine work done and make their own assessment. As long as claims were properly recorded and maintained through annual assessment work, locators could continue to hold them without the necessity of any record except at the local level. After statehood the Utah Legislature passed a law requiring prospectors to do at least $50 worth of labor within the first ninety days, and specifying details required in affidavits showing proof of labor filed thereafter.

Mining Deeds

A revision of the 1872 Mining Law provided a process by which claims could be patented (owned outright). Anyone who had properly located a claim could file a patent application. The application was to be accompanied by a plat map and field notes made or authorized by the surveyor general, and two affidavits verifying that the claim had been distinctly marked at the site and that notice of patent application had been posted. Applicants were additionally required to do at least $500 worth of labor on the claim and prove that no adverse claims had been filed. After these requirements had been met the applicant could purchase the mineral land for $5 an acre. A mineral certificate issued by the district land office entitled the claimant to a federal patent.

Utah county recorders kept copies of patents and mineral certificates with other mining deeds, which by definition transfer interest in mining claims or ownership of mineral lands from one party to another. Mining deeds name a grantor (giver) and grantee (recipient), specify the amount of consideration money and indicate whether divided or undivided interest in the claim. They describe the location of the claim, and identify when, where and by whom it was originally recorded. Most district or county recorders kept mining deeds separate from location notices. Often they are intermingled with other deeds transferring land.

Intent to hold a claim

Congress suspended the annual assessment requirement during some recession years, especially during World War I, and the 1930s. While claim holders were not required to perform annual assessment work during these years the law required that each miner file an intention to hold a claim.

Lease documents

In 1920 Congress made a major departure from the original location system. The Mineral Leasing Act rescinded the right to locate and mine fossil fuel and chemical minerals and replaced the location system with a permit and leasing system. This 1920 law authorized the Secretary of the Interior to issue prospecting permits and leases for the development of gas, oil, phosphates and coal. Qualified applicants could obtain prospecting permits allowing exclusive right to explore up to 2,560 acres. If oil was discovered, the permit holder could lease up to 640 acres. Lease holders are required to pay both rent and royalties of not less than 12 % of the value of production. Similar regulations were put in place for gas, coal and phosphates. Utah county recorders books contain numerous notices of location for petroleum in the early 1900s. After 1920 these claims were replaced by leases and agreements.

Indexes and abstracts

County recorders created various indexes and abstracts to provide reference to the notices of location and other mining records. Indexes usually identify the claim, the kind of document, the date, names of locators, and book and page number where documents were recorded. Abstracts begin with a notice of location and chronologically list each document associated with a claim. They indicate where relevant documents were recorded. Most early indexes and abstracts provide reference based on the name of the mine or claim, but not the names of the individuals or corporations involved.

Mining District Location Maps

Series holdings

Following is a list of processed mining records created by mining district or county recorders:

BEAVER COUNTY
Beaver County (Utah). County Recorder  
Notices of location books, 1872-1885. Series 23992
Beaver Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining records, 1870-1871. Series 23984
Beaver Lake Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining records, 1872-1897. Series 23985
Black Mountain Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining records, 1895-1896. Series 23986
Bradshaw Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining records, 1875-1897. Series 23987
Granite Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining records, 1880-1887. Series 24935
Lincoln Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining records, 1871-1890. Series 23989
Newton Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining records, 1892-1897. Series 23990
North Star Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining records, 1871-1897. Series 23991
Preuss Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining records, 1880-1897. Series 23993
Rocky Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining records, 1872-1891. Series 23994
San Francisco Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining records, 1871-1897. Series 23995
Star Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining records, 1870-1897. Series 23996
BOX ELDER COUNTY
Ashbrook Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Records, 1874-1881 Series 18132
Box Elder Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Notices of Location, 1889-1893 Series 18128
Mining Records, 1890-1892 Series 18129
Lucin Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining records, 1869-1896. series 18126
Mining records index, 1869-1893. series 18127
Mining notices filings, 1885-1896. series 22091
Rosebud Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Records, 1872-1896 Series 18131
Willard Mining District Recorder  
Mining Records, 1870-1897 Series 18130
Box Elder County (Utah). County Recorder  
Mining Notices of Location, 1907-1952 Series 18133
Mining Records, 1871- Series 84097
Mining Records Indexes, 1871-1873; 1885-1973 Series 6143
DAGGETT COUNTY
Daggett County (Utah). County Recorder  
Mining Records, 1919-1984 Series 83797
DUCHESNE COUNTY
Duchesne County (Utah). County Recorder  
Mining Deeds, 1898-1950 Series 84251
Mining Notices of Location, 1882- Series 18101
Mining Proof of Labor Records, 1898- Series 22195
EMERY COUNTY  
Emery County (Utah). County Recorder  
Mining Notices of Location, 1907-1992 Series 82451
GARFIELD COUNTY
White Canyon Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Records, 1887-1897 Series 20081
Garfield County (Utah). County Recorder  
Mining Abstracts, 1872- Series 20084
Mining Notices of Location, 1907-1911 Series 20082
IRON COUNTY
Pinto Iron Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Location Notices, 1874-1894 Series 23961
Silver Belt Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Location Notices, 1872-1875 Series 23968
Iron County (Utah). County Recorder  
Land Patents, 1905-1964 Series 83751
Mining Abstracts, 1955-1960 Series 23955
Mining Deeds, 1899-1964 Series 23951
Mining Deeds Index, 1899-1952 Series 23953
Mining Location Notices, 1881-1964 Series 6144
Mining Location Notices Indexes, 1920-1960 Series 23954
Mining Location Notices (Placer Claims), 1912-1965 Series 23952
Miscellaneous Records, 1897-1964 Series 23981
Stateline Mining District Records Transcript, 1896-1897 Series 23969
KANE COUNTY
Kane County (Utah). County Recorder  
Mining Records, 1910- Series 9930
PIUTE COUNTY
Gold Mountain Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Records, 1889-1897 Series 23923
Mount Baldy Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Records, 1878-1897 Series 23933
Ohio Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Records, 1872-1897 Series 23934
SAN JUAN COUNTY
Blue Mountain Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Entry Book, 1894-1897 Series 24036
Mining Records, 1892-1897 Series 24035
Gabel Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
General Index, 1892-1894 Series 24038
Mining Location Notices, 1893-1894 Series 24039
Reception Book, 1892-1894 Series 24037
Monumental Mining District (Utah)  
Mining District Minutes, 1908-1909 Series 24042
Mining Location Notices, 1896 Series 24041
Williams Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Location Notices, 1895-1896
In XML and PDF.
Series 24040
San Juan County (Utah). County Recorder  
Deed Records, 1891-1952 Series 23399
Mining Location Notices (Lode Claims), 1900-1951 Series 24035
Mining Location Notices (Petroleum), 1905-1941 Series 24000
Mining Maps, 1912-1918, 1950-1982 Series 23905
Mining Proof of Labor Index, 1957-1994 Series 83186
Mining Records, 1891-1914 Series 84250
Mining Records Index (Locations), 1888-1982 Series 23583
Mining Records Index (Locators), 1954-1994 Series 23584
SEVIER COUNTY
Henry Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Records, 1883-1896. Series 22251
Sevier County (Utah). County Recorder  
Mining Abstracts Indexes, [undated]-1903 Series 22250
Mining Placer Claims Index, n.d. Series 22254
Mining Records, 1897-1970 Series 84249
Mining Records Indexes, 1896-1983 Series 2848
TOOELE COUNTY  
Blue Bell Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Location Notices, 1896-1897 Series 24153
Camp Floyd Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Records, 1870-1897 Series 10334
Clifton Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
File Books, 1869-1896 Series 24333
Intent to Hold Claim Notices, 1893-1894 Series 24334
Location Notices, 1870-1938 Series 24331
Location Notices Indexes, 1894-1938 Series 24464
Miners Meeting Minutes, 1869-1932 Series 24163
Proof of Labor Record Books, 1874-1939 Series 24332
Proof of Labor Index, 1906-1915 Series 24463
Cottonwood Springs Mining District (Utah). Recorder
Mining Records, 1892-1893 Series 24151
Dugway Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Records, 1872-1877; 1891-1897 Series 24159
Dutch Mountain Mining District (Utah). Recorder
Mining Records, 1892-1894 Series 24157
Erekson Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Records, 1894-1897 Series 24155
Free Coinage Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Records, 1895-1897 Series 24156
Hercules Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Location Notices, 1895-1897 Series 24150
Mercur Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining records, 1895-1897. Series 24849
Ophir Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Records, 1870-1929 Series 24165
Miscellaneous Records, 1871-1873 Series 24508
Deeds, 1870-1873 Series 24572
File Books, 1870-1873 Series 24971
Point Look Out Mining District (Utah). Recorder
Mining Records, 1896 Series 24154
Rush Valley Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Records, 1863-1897 Series 24160
Proof of Labor, 1870-1896 Series 24162
Transfers, 1864-1866 Series 24161
Shambip Mining District (Utah). Recorder (1870)
Mining Records, 1870-1873 Series 24158
Shambip Mining District (Utah). Recorder (1894)
Mining Records, 1894-1897 Series 24166
Tooele City Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Records, 1870-1887 Series 24152
Tooele County (Utah). County Recorder  
Mining Records, 1885-1917 Series 6150
General Mining Index, 1869-1978 Series 24174
Mining Location Notices Index, 1891-1978 Series 24176
Mining Districts Index, 1951-1978 Series 24182
Mining Claims Abstracts, 1891-1978 Series 24562
Mining Claims Abstracts Index, 1891-1978 Series 24177
Patented Mining Claims Index, 1891-1978 Series 24564
Willow Springs Mining District Records, 1891-1900 Series 24408
Willow Springs Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Title book, 1891-1897 Series 24409
UINTAH COUNTY
Uintah County (Utah). County Recorder  
Mining Deeds, 1903-1905 Series 22522
Mining Notices of Location, 1903 Series 22523
Mining Records, 1889- Series 83236
Mining Records Indexes, 1887- Series 6138
WASATCH COUNTY  
Wasatch County (Utah). County Recorder  
Mining Notices of Location, 1897-1962 Series 83880
Mining Proof of Labor Records, 1901-1959 Series 22199
WASHINGTON COUNTY  
Harrisburg Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Records, 1871-1897 Series 23675
Tutsagubet Mining District (Utah). Recorder  
Mining Records, 1883-1885 Series 23690
Washington County (Utah). County Recorder  
Abstracts (Mines), 1875- Series 23670
Agreements and Leases, 1923-1954 Series 84209
Mining Deeds, 1901-1955 Series 23669
Mining Notices Index, 1906-1914 Series 6151
Mining Notices of Location, 1891-1959 Series 81372
Mining Plats, ca. 1925 Series 23680
Mining Proof of Labor, 1897-1956 Series 23671

Sources used in compiling this research guide:

"An Act granting the Right of Way to Ditch and Canal Owners over the Public Lands, and for other Purposes" (July 26, 1866). The Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamations, of the United States of America, vol. XIV. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1868.

"An Act Providing for the Manner of Locating and Recording Quartz and Placer Mining Claims" (March 11, 1897). Laws of Utah, 1897.

"An Act Providing for the suspension of annual assessment work on mining claims held by location in the United States and Alaska" (May 18, 1933; May 15, 1934). The Statutes at Large of the United States of America, vol. 48, part 1. Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1934.

"An Act to authorize the entry and patenting of lands containing petroleum and other mineral oils under the placer-mining laws of the United States" (February 11, 1897). The Statutes at Large of the United States of America, vol. 29. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1897.

"An Act to promote the Development of the Mining Resources of the United States" (May 10, 1872). The Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamations, of the United States of America, vol. XIV. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1873.

"An Act to promote the mining of coal, phosphate, oil, oil shale, gas, and sodium on the public domain" (February 25, 1920). The Statutes at Large of the United States of America, vol. 41, part 1. Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1921.

Butler, B.S., G.F. Loughlin, V.C. Heikes and others. The Ore Deposits of Utah. Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1920.

Copp, Henry Norris. Manual for the use of Prospectors on the Mineral Lands of the United States. 1897. Reprint. New York: Arno Press, 1979.

"Joint Resolution To suspend the requirements of annual assessment work on mining claims during the years 1917 and 1918" (October 5, 1917). The Statutes at Large of the United States of America, vol. 40, part 1. Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1919.

Mall, Loren L. Public Land and Mining Law, text and cases. Seattle, Wash: Butterworth (Legal Publishers), c1981.

Revised Statutes of the United States. 43rd Congress, 1873-1875, Chapter Six, "Mineral Lands and Mining Resources."

Utah Mining Association. Utah's Mining Industry; an Historical, Operational, and Economic Review of Utah's Mining Industry. 1967.