• A water drop clings onto the edge of a orange stalactite, surrounded by white stalactites.

    Timpanogos Cave

    National Monument Utah

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  • Caves closed for the season

    Timpanogos Cave National Monument caves, cave trail, and visitor center are closed for the season. Caves are scheduled to open again mid-May 2015.

Pioneers, Miners and Loggers

Black and white of photo of several men and a horse, centered on the tracks of the American Fork Canyon Railway in the 1870s.

Men on the American Fork Canyon Railway, 1870s.

NPS

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints (LDS), also called Mormons, became the first Europeans to settle in Utah Valley. The LDS people migrated to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, and by the end of the year, more than 17,000 people resided in the Salt Lake area.

In late 1847, LDS President Brigham Young sent Parley Pratt south to explore Utah Valley for expanding settlements. By 1850, families were settled along the American Fork River. These settlers ventured up the canyon in search of building materials and established a road for transporting timber. Rich mineral deposits of silver, lead, and zinc were soon identified in the Wasatch Mountains.

Many people knew of the ore deposits in the canyon, however, the high cost of shipping the ores for processing slowed mine development. Once rail lines running up the canyon connected to the transcontinental line, mining development rapidly followed. As mining claims and activity increased in the canyon, so did the need for lumber. Approximately eleven sawmills operated in the canyon to supply lumber to mining operations and nearby cities. By 1876, the veins of ore began to decrease, though people such as George Tyng still flocked to the canyon to try their fortunes. Tyng did stike it big, but wasn't immune to tragedy in the raw environment.

 
Black and white photo of an early sawmill in American Fork Canyon showing outbuildings and piles of logs.
Sawmill in American Fork Canyon.
NPS

Did You Know?

drapery cave formation

Cave Draperies, or Cave Bacon, form as calcite rich water trickles down an inclined bedrock surface. Over thousands of years a thin line of calcite builds up along the wall as water follows this same path over and over. These formations appear in caves in all different shapes, sizes and colors.