Series 84250
San Juan County (Utah). County Recorder Mining records

Dates: 1891-1914.

6 microfilm reelsSkip to Containers

These records are housed in the Utah State Archives' permanent storage room.

Historical Note

An agency history is available.

Scope and Content

San Juan County mining record books document the boom and bust of wealth-seekers searching for gold in the late nineteenth century and then for oil in the early twentieth century. While these books contain a variety of mining records, they are dominated by notices of location along the banks of the Colorado and San Juan Rivers. Federal mining law enacted in 1872 provided that valuable mineral deposits in the public domain were free and open to exploration and that the locators of the same were to have exclusive right of possession as long as they complied with federal and local law (Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamations, of the United States of America, vol. XVII, chap. 152, also Revised Statutes of the United States, chap. 6, title 32). The first step toward ownership of mineral deposits was the discovery of a potentially productive site and recording the claim or notice of location. Each notice affirms that the locator has complied with federal and local mining laws. Each notice names the claim and provides a description of it, and each notice provides the names of locators.

Early San Juan books (Book A and B) contain numerous location notices for gold prospectors, many of them located by agents for individuals or corporations in distant cities. From 1898 to 1901 the Hoskaninni Company dredged the Colorado River in search of gold. Hoskaninni claims fill almost all of Book C and much of Book B (a complete list of that company's claims in San Juan, Kane, and Coconino (AZ) counties begins in Book C p. 320). Petroleum claims began to be recorded in significant numbers in January 1903 (Book E) and dominate the rest of the series. In many cases the recorder specified whether the claimant intended to work the ground for gold and other precious minerals, or whether the claim was located on a valuable bed or deposit of petroleum. Most location notices in books G and H are placer notices for petroleum in the Monumental and Gabel Mining Districts.

In addition to notices of location, San Juan County mining record books include other mining documents. The San Juan County recorder used these books to record affidavits showing proof of labor. In order to patent a claim, the law required claimants to do development work, and Utah law required locators to file an affidavit in the county recorder's office upon completion of this work (Utah Code Annotated, 1953, 40-1-6). Each affidavit stated that $100 worth of labor had been completed on a specific claim and itemized what that labor entailed. San Juan County mining books contain a few agreements related to mining, a few mineral certificates or patents, many amendments to notices of location, some surveys of mining claims, and also a few notices of discovery in Books H and J. In this case the claimant announces that he has indeed discovered oil on a claim. San Juan mining records contain a number of notices of publication provided as proof that a part owner has published notice that if his partner does not do his share of assessment labor, he forfeits ownership of his share of the claim.

San Juan County mining record books include location notices or other documents from the following mining districts: Bluff, Blue Mountain, Gabel, Big Indian, Gardner, Monumental, Ida, San Juan, LaSal, White Canyon, Gold Strike, Sand Island, Johnson Creek, Williams, Navajo Mountain, and Moonlight Springs. Book G includes the revised rules and regulations for the Monumental District beginning on page 633.


Chronological as recorded.

Research Note

In addition to mining records, later books (especially Books F, G and J) are laced with other documents. Of particular note, the recorder used these books to record by-laws for cattle associations, etc. The books contain a number of deeds and homestead or desert land certificates. Desert land notices state that a certain individual intends to claim specific land under the Desert Lands Act once it is surveyed. Book J contains very many deeds. In fact, the deeds recorded here fill a gap in the San Juan County recorder's deed books.

Related Records

Deed records from San Juan County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 23399, contain mining deeds and other mining records.

Miscellaneous records from San Juan County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 23400, contain many additional mining records, including notices of location.

Mining records index (locations) from San Juan County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 23583, provides reference to the documents in the mining record books by claim name.

Mining maps from San Juan County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 23905, contain documents relevant to the claims depicted in the mining maps.

Mining location notices (petroleum) from San Juan County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 24000, contain additional placer notices of location for petroleum claims.

Mining records from Blue Mountain Mining District (Utah). Recorder, Series 24035, contain mining records recorded by the Blue Mountain District before 1897.

Mining location notices from Gabel Mining District (Utah). Recorder, Series 24039, contain location notices recorded by the Gabel Mining District recorder before 1897.

Mining location notices from Williams Mining District (Utah). Recorder, Series 24040, contian mining location notices recorded by the Williams Mining District recorder before 1897.

Mining location notices from Monumental Mining District (Utah), Series 24041, contain notices of location recorded by the Monumental Mining District recorder before 1897.

Access Restrictions

This series is classified as Public.

Preferred Citation

Cite the Utah State Archives and Records Service, the creating agency name, the series title, and the series number.

Processing Note

San Juan County mining record books were microfilmed by San Juan County in February and March 2001 and processed by Rosemary Cundiff in January 2002.

Finding Aids

Indexes: Mining Claims Miscellaneous Book A contains an index which identifies the records in that book by name of claim. All books are referenced in Mining Records Index (Locations). (see related records),.

Indexing Terms

  • Petroleum—Prospecting—San Juan County (Utah).
  • Mines and mineral resources—Ownership—San Juan County (Utah).
  • Mining claims—San Juan County (Utah).

Container List

1 Jan 1891-May 1894 (Mining Claims Miscellaneous Book A)
2 May 1894-May 1898 (Mining Claims Locations Book B)
3 Jun 1898-Dec 1901 (Mining Claims Book C)
4 Dec 1901-Jan 1905 (Mining Claims E)
4 Mar 1905-Aug 1908 (Mining Claims F)
5 Aug 1908-Apr 1909 (Recorder's Office Book G)
5 Jan 1909-Dec 1911 (Mining Records Book H)
6 Sep 1910-Jan 1914 (Mining Records Book J)

Page Last Updated October 18, 2012.