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Started as a silver mining town in the 1870's, Mercur shipped over 1 million in silver bullion before exhausting the supply after a decade. During the 1880's, gold was discovered in the area but it was trapped in cinnabar, which contained a large amount or mercury. Extraction processes at the time were unable to remove the gold from the ore. In 1890, a group of Nebraska farmers bought the claim with the idea of using a new cyanide extraction process. By December of 1891, the process proved successful and a new mining boom began. The town flourished until a fateful day in January 1896, when the town burned to the ground. Not to be stopped, the town was rebuilt and the mining continued. Fate again struck Mercur in 1902 when the town again burned to the ground. By 1913, the mining had ended and the town soon became just a memory.   

old fotos from Google

Time passed and the only people to go Mercur were relic hunters and those curious to see what was there. With even better methods of extracting gold now available, Barrick Mining purchased the whole area and began to reclaim the ultra fine gold that was left. Began in 1983, the company figured on 5 to 7 years of work to reclaim the gold. They were wrong. The boom lasted till 1997 when the gates were finally closed. A small museum located at the mouth of the canyon showed short movies and some old relics to folks that stopped by. During this period, the mine was shipping 10 pure gold ingots per week. These ingots were 400 troy-ounce bars of pure gold. Needless to say, the company made a fortune. After they were finally done, the gates were locked and the company erased all signs of ever being there. As  of summer 2014, all roads into the valley remain blocked. There does appear to be new activity  in the area though. Signs of earth-moving machines tearing up the mountain have been seen. To view the old mining area from above, go up Ophir Canyon and take 1 of the 2 roads heading south from the top of the canyon. The view from the top of the mountain is awesome and well worth the trip to see.  

2014 Mercur fotos