Riding an ATV after dark through Eureka offers glimpse into town’s history

Thursday , August 17, 2017 - 5:00 AM


Having been a fan of night rides for a long time, I was interested in an invitation from Nick Castleton, mayor of Eureka, to ride after dark. Eureka trails are not real inviting in the heat of the summer, so the mayor planned a night ride in cooler temperatures.

Coupled with a full moon and the mayor’s love of Eureka history, I liked the idea and we decided to put the invitation in the newspaper for the ride Aug. 5.

I was looking forward to this ride for more than one reason. I recently installed a 32-inch LED light bar on my Kawasaki Teryx 4, and I wanted to see how it would work on this trail, which I had previously ridden during the day. I also wanted to meet some of the people who read my articles. I was not disappointed on either count.

Six of us arrived in town for dinner at B’s Hangout before the ride. Brandon and Krystal Gout served us great burgers and shakes.

As people began to show up for the ride, I met some of my readers — Kevin (with a long “e”) Thatcher, Casey Fuller, and Dan and Wendy McClellan from Utah County. Also, Willis Little, Tony Little, Scott Haslam and Steve Lindsay came from Davis County. It wasn’t a large group — we had only 16 machines, but the size was about right for keeping track of the group.

As we headed up the trail, the line was colorful, like a long centipede with lit segments. This first part of the trail was climbing up to the old rail bed. The trees were thick, and it looked like we were passing through a green tunnel to the top.

Once we hit the rail bed that winds around the mountain, travel was fairly level. Mayor Nick explained that on the steeper parts, the old steam engines used a third cog rail to pull the train up a slope. Otherwise, an engine could only handle a 2 percent grade.

Stopping at the mine shaft of the Colorado II, the mayor explained how the equipment would have been set up to run the operation — although most of it had been removed.

This mine is situated below the Humbug mine, which got its name from the belief that nothing would ever be mined from it. It was actually very successful. We also stopped at the Black Dragon Mine. With the full moon, we were able to see quite well.

The mood changed as we approached the Diamond City Cemetery. The mayor explained that this graveyard was haunted. He has more than one report of a man dressed in black and another dressed in lighter clothing.

According to the reports, the man in black is some kind of outlaw who doesn’t want anyone coming near the graves, and the other man is a lawman keeping an eye on the man in black. Mayor Castleton just wants the chance to speak to the ghost. It didn’t happen on this ride.

Our next stop was the Silver City Cemetery. This site has seen more recent activity. At every stop, people were armed with flashlights, and it was eerie to sit and watch the movements of the lights as they passed from headstone to headstone.

We crossed the highway and stopped at the deep shaft of the Sacramento Mine. Instead of the steel rebar that is usually laid over other shafts, this one was covered with a heavy chain-link fence.

I had been riding at the back of the line, trying to stay out of the dust, when we made this stop. When I approached the group, they were all gathered around the hole. The mayor had walked out on the chain-link trying to light up the hole, but he wasn’t very successful. Some of these holes are incredibly deep.

When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and day or night, the Eureka trails should be on your list of trails to ride.

Note from the columnist: Riding in some of the old mining districts in Utah can be dangerous, particularly at night. While we get many of the trails we ride today from the old roads cut through the mountains to reach mining claims, some of those old mine shafts have not been safely marked and covered. We felt safe riding these trails in Eureka because we were guided on marked trails by Mayor Nick Castleton. We were cautioned by the mayor at the beginning of the ride to follow him and stay on the trails he designated. Many of the machines that participated in the ride had bright LED light bars that lit up the trails we were riding that night. As a further precaution, whether riding day or night, never ride alone, even when you are riding in a multiple seat UTV. Even though I had ridden these trails before, it was good to have the mayor guiding this ride.

Contact Lynn Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.

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