Emmaville or Gold City

Early mining booms in Utah brought out not only the prospectors, miners, and promoters, but also the land speculators. One of the earliest, though not necessarily the best speculator plans was "EMMAVILLE".


Ad that appeared in the Saturday Morning, April 15th, 1871 edition of the Salt Lake Daily Tribune promoting the new town of Emmaville - c.1871  THRP - Winegar Collection - Tintic Images

Location data

QUICK LOCATION PATH: Utah / Salt Lake County / Big Cottonwood District / Emmaville or Gold City area

Approximate GPS Location:

40.35.290 N - 111.47.569 W  (approx) 


Approximate Elevation:

5133'  (approx) 


30 x 60 Minute Map:



7.5 Minute Map:




Brief history

An informal stopping point on Little Willow Creek for a number of years, the "town" of Emmaville was begun as a land promotion to take advantage of its strategic location as a mid-point between the boom-town of Alta and downtown Salt Lake City. Believed named for the famous Emma mine near Alta, even its famous name could not save the town from becoming another "relic" of Utah's history.

Popular from its start, it was a stopping point for the wagons hauling ore from the mines of Little Cottonwood, teams transporting granite blocks from the Mormon Temple quarry at Granite, stage-lines, travelers, and early sight-seers. The town grew quickly and several commercial buildings and homes were constructed in rapid succession.

Premium prices were paid for commercial and residential building lots that were promoted by F. A. Hoofman and Co., and sold by Agent John W. Lawrence.  

Stores, hotels, boarding houses, blacksmith, livery, and of course, 2 saloons, put Emmaville on the map. Dozens of families, miners, quarrymen, teamsters and more called it home, though many on a strictly temporary basis. At its height, some 500 people resided there. The town, in the beginning was everything the speculators, promotors, and agents could hope for.

Newspaper advertisements boasted that Emmaville was "Situated in a Fine Agricultural Section", "Close Proximity to the Celebrated Mines of Big and Little Cottonwood and American Fork", "Finest Water Power in Utah", and "The Proposed Terminus of the Utah Central Railroad".

While the first three items may have been true, the last was not to be. A railroad did eventually make its way into Little Cottonwood Canyon. It was not the Utah Central as promoted, but the Wasatch and Jordan Valley. More importantly, it did not terminate or even pass through Emmaville. It drove further south and east, terminating in the town of Granite, missing Emmaville by some two miles. Those two miles would prove critical to the future of the town.



1875 Froieth's Map of Utah shows Emmaville (red dot), Granite, Alta City, and the then completed Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad line  THRP - Winegar Collection - Tintic Images

With completion of the railroad to Granite, growth and prosperity that was hoped for Emmaville shifted to the new terminus. Though road activity continued, wagon and stage stops shifted to Granite as well. Customers, miners, teamsters, day-trippers, and passers-by, did just that, passed on by. In time, all of the businesses would close or relocate, and residents would trickle away. The premium lots abandoned to whomever stayed behind.

Though shown on the 1875 Froiseth map (detail shown above), the town was already in decline. By then, It had suffered an epidemic, a fire that destroyed several buildings, and a few years later it would fade completely, becoming little more than a footnote to history. Looking back, it would probably be little consolation to the one-time residents of Emmaville to know that Granite would suffer the same fate a short time later when the rail line was advanced to Wasatch and then Alta. 

A stone monument placed along Wasatch Blvd. by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers now marks the general area of the town.

30 years later and near the site of Emmaville, another "town" would have a brief life. It would be called "Gold City" or "Jefferson City". Like Emmaville, it would live and die in relation to fortunes of nearby mining operations.

Getting there

At about 8800 South on Wasatch Blvd., a large stone marker can be found on the east side of the road. This is the general area of Emmaville.

What remains

Nothing. Only the stone monument marks the approximate location of the old site.