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Armstrong Tunnel

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This page was last updated on June 25, 2019.

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(This is a work in progress; research continues.)

Overview

The Armstrong tunnel was one of the earliest in Muddy Gulch, which itself was a branch of Carr Fork. The Stewart mine in Muddy Gulch was where one of the largest mining companies in Bingham, Boston Consolidated, got its start. The Armstrong mine soon joined the Stewart as a Boston Consolidated property, and was notable because it was the lowest of all of Boston Con's underground mines, and was located at the junction of Muddy Gulch and Carr Fork. After Boston Consolidated and Utah Copper merged in 1910, the Armstrong remained in place, with Utah Copper re-opening the underground mine in 1924. Improvements soon brought it to almost a mile in length and made it an important haulage tunnel for all of the Utah Copper underground properties. The Armstrong tunnel portal was located about 1-1/4 miles up Carr Fork from the road intersection of Carr Fork and Main Canyon. The portal, and the buildings that were built-up around it were on the south side of Carr Fork, just across the street from the well-known Highland Boy community house. When the 'I' bridge was built in 1939, carrying Utah Copper waste rock trains above and across Carr Fork to new dumping grounds on the north side, the south end of the new bridge was immediately west (up-canyon) of the Armstrong tunnel.

The Armstrong tunnel, sometimes known as the Boston Consolidated sulphide mine, was the lowest of the Boston Con's underground mines. In 1903, after tunneling over 1,000 feet from the tunnel's mouth in Carr Fork, a large ore body was struck, making it a paying property for the Boston Con company. One of the most spectacular railroad spurs in Bingham and Carr Fork was the Copper Belt spur (completed in 1903) serving the Armstrong sulphide mine. It was an important source of ore during the years immediately following the merger of Utah Copper and Boston Consolidated in 1910, but production dwindled and ceased for several years. By 1915, there was very little ore coming from the Boston sulphide mine (all from development work). Work in the underground porphyry mines, both Utah Copper and Boston Consolidated, had ended in 1914.

The Armstrong tunnel was one of earliest, and was the lowest of the underground tunnels of the Boston Consolidated company dating from the 1890s. The tunnel extended south from the surface portal in Carr Fork, into the "Copper Hill." The mine was known as a sulfide mine and remained in production as a Utah Copper underground mine until about 1914.

In 1924 Utah Copper re-opened the Armstrong tunnel and re-started its underground mining operations. Over the following ten years several improvements were made, including battery locomotive haulage was installed through the Armstrong No. 2 tunnel (later known as the Armstrong Transportation Tunnel), a three compartment raise (a vertical mine shaft), extending from the 900 to the 500 level, equipped with a double drum electric hoist, and a 300-ton storage bin was built at the Armstrong tail tracks of the Bingham & Garfield (at the south end below the 'I' Bridge when it was built in 1939). The Armstrong loading bins were loccated directly across from the Highland Boy community house in Carr Fork.

By the late 1920s Utah Copper was in need of additional dumping ground, and made an agreement with Bingham Metals company which owned a small plot in the Muddy Gulch branch of Carr Fork. The Bingham Metals ground (about 16 acres on the surface) was surrounded by Utah Copper on the southeast, the United States company on the south, the Utah Apex on the north, and the Utah Delaware on the northwest.

The agreement between Utah Copper and Bingham Metals, first proposed in March 1930, gave Utah Copper surface dumping rights above the Bingham Metals ground. The agreement and settlement included a cash payment, with Utah Copper agreeing to extend its Armstrong tunnel to connect with the underground workings of the Bingham Metals company. In addition, Utah Copper agreed to move the Bingham Metals plant and buildings from the Nast tunnel, down to the mouth of the Armstrong tunnel, which was 650 feet lower than the Nast. These improvements included a modern change room and shop was erected at the Armstrong tunnel portal.

1930
"The output of ore from the New England property owned by the Bingham Metals Co. was nearly the same as in 1929. The output in 1930 consisted of 1,545 tons of siliceous gold ore, first-class sulphide lead ore, and lead-zinc ore. The company's report to the industrial commission gave 1,545 tons of ore, including both milling ore and first-class smelting ore. The mine was formerly operated through the Nash inclined shaft and the Bingham Metals vertical shaft. During 1930 the Utah Copper Co., in exchange for certain dumping rights on the Bingham Metals ground, advanced the Armstrong tunnel to a point 4,400 feet from the portal where a connection was made with the 710-foot level of the shaft of the Bingham Metals Co. When the work was completed the New England mine was operated through the Armstrong tunnel, and the Nash inclined shaft was abandoned. The old shaft was deepened 190 feet to the 1,100-foot level; and most of the development during the year, consisting of 672 feet of drifts and crosscuts and 136 feet of raises and winzes in addition to the shaft sinking, was done on the new level." (USGS 1930 Mineral Resources, page 596)

February 1, 1931
"The Armstrong tunnel is now connected with the Bingham Metals shaft, now put up from the 900 to the 700 level. The distance from the portal of the Armstrong tunnel to new 700 station is 4400 feet. It is planned to carry on all operations from the tunnel portal and the Utah Copper is now moving the Bingham Metals hoist from the Nast incline shaft to the collar of the vertical shaft on the 710, or Armstrong tunnel level. It is expected that the camp will be moved to the center of new operations by March 1." (Salt Lake Tribune, February 1, 1931)

Utah Copper continued to develop its underground ore bodies, including the former Boston Consolidated mine. These were accessed through the Armstrong tunnel in Carr Fork. In 1934 a lease agreement was signed with the American Smelting and Refining for ASARCO to mine the ore in the Armstrong mine. Most of the ore taken by ASARCO from the Armstrong, being low grade copper sulphide with some gold and silver, was used by ASARCO as flux ore in its Murray and Garfield smelters.

By 1941 there two separate loading bins at the mouth of the Armstrong tunnel. One was where ASARCO was loading its ore from the Armstrong mine itself. The second loading bin at the Armstrong portal was where Bingham Metals was loading ore from its own property, although the actual mining was being done by United States Smelting Refining and Mining.

After World War II the loading bins at the Armstrong were essentially closed down when ASARCO gave up its lease, after which Utah Copper turned the lease over to the U. S. company, and by 1948 ASARCO no longer had any interest in the mines in Carr Fork. The Armstrong mine was apparently in the hands of leasers and small operators.

United States Smelting Refining & Mining purchased the Bingham Metals Company in 1949. At about the same time, the U. S. company acquired the long term lease on the Kennecott-owned Armstrong underground operation previously leased to ASARCO. The terms of the lease included limitations that the United States company only took the lead-zinc-silver ore, and Kennecott took whatever copper ore was found, with both types being subject to a profit sharing agreement. There were also limitations as to the "planes" that the United States company's underground operations were allowed to work on, to keep the underground operations away from the open-pit shovel operations.

In a complicated deal in 1949 Utah Copper and United States Smelting Refining and Mining exchanged surface and subsurface rights throughout Bingham. The deal included the U. S. company taking all of the combined underground operations, including the old Armstrong mine. At the same time, the USSR&M company bought the Bingham Metals property, thus taking even more of the underground operations. Unlike the Utah Apex loading bins down by the 'G' bridge, which slowly deteriorated after the completion of the Elton tunnel in 1942, and the bankruptcy and sale to Anaconda in 1948, the two loading bins at the Armstrong were actually dismantled in a timely manner by Utah Copper, since the United States company was hauling all of its ore out either the Mascotte at Lark, or the Niagara at Copperfield. And both of these were closed when the new Bingham-Lark tunnel was completed in 1952.

Photos dated in June 1970 show that the expanding open pit had reached the location of the Armstrong tunnel, and had removed the surrounding ore and waste rock.

A map of all the underground tunnels dated 2001 shows that the main Armstrong tunnel, with its branch to the Bingham Metals shaft was at 6,740 feet elevation. As reference, the main Niagara tunnel was at 6,640 feet elevation, the Butterfield tunnel was 6,100 feet elevation, and the Mascotte and Bingham-Lark tunnels were at 5,540 feet elevation.

Based on information from the U.S. Geologic Survey, the portal of the Armstrong tunnel in Carr Fork was at 40°31'08.8"N, 112°09'53.8"W.

The 1952 USGS topographic map of Bingham shows the Armstrong tunnel in Carr Fork at the contour line for 6750 feet elevation.

(View the location on a current Google map)

Bingham Haulage and Drain Tunnels -- A Google Map showing the locations of the Mascotte, Bingham-Lark, and Butterfield tunnels.

Bingham Metals

Bingham Metals Company worked what was originally the New England mine of the New England Gold and Copper Mining Company, organized in 1900 to take over the Nast property, which consisted of seven mining claims. The Nast property had originally been developed by the Nast Mining and Milling Company, with its original mining claims being patented in the 1881-1883 time period, but the paying vein, known as the Nast vein, had run out and the company was closed down due to debts. It was reorganized as the New England company, with a formal transfer date of April 13, 1901, and the corporation was filed in Utah on May 29, 1901. The Nast mine itself had been worked by leasers until June 1899 and during 1899 had taken over the Benton tunnel, 160 feet above, to get improved air circulation. Construction of a double-compartment hoisting shaft, having reached a 60-foot depth, was being stalled during 1899 by water problems.

The following comes from a 2005 report by the federal EPA:

The New England Gold and Copper Company was acquired before 1905 by the New England Company. The 50-ton lead concentrator was remodeled in 1907. The mill was built after 1901 by the New England Gold and Copper Mining Company to process lead-silver-gold ore. It was operated intermittently from 1904 to sometime after 1913. A 1909 publication of the Bingham Commercial Club indicates that the concentrating mill was equipped with a crusher, rolls, Huntington mill, jigs, tables, etc. At that time, the capacity of the mill was 50 tons/day and produced gold, silver, lead, and copper. The property was located between Highland Boy and Boston Consolidated. Mill operations appear to have ceased in 1913.

The property was acquired by the Utah Boston Development Company in 1920 and operations resumed. The property was purchased in 1925 by the Bingham Metals Company. After Bingham Metals purchased the mill in 1925, the mill is referred to as the Bingham-New England Mill. However there is no reference to milling after 1925.

In 1936, the United States Smelting, Refining and Mining Company (USSRM) began working the Bingham Metals properties under a 10 year lease; presumably the ores were then shipped to the USSRM mill at Midvale. The New England Gold and Copper Company Mill is shown in the 1907 and 1913 Sanborn maps. The mill was located close to the Last Chance Mine in the upper end of the main canyon, two and one quarter miles south of its intersection with Carr Fork (The location of the mill was one and three quarters miles south of the confluence). It appears that the mill was operated periodically from around 1900 to 1936. This may have also been the site of the Stewart Mill (1878 - 1895), the Bingham New England mill (1904-1913) and was also known as the Bingham M & M mill.

The same 2005 report included the following information about the New England mill:

The Bingham-New England Mill. The mill operated between 1905 - 1913 during which time it milled 60, 000 tons of lead-silver-gold ore producing 48,000 tons of tailings, containing 1440 tons of lead. This may have been the New England Gold and Copper Mill, at the same site as the Stewart Mill, but the details are somewhat different. Kennecott gave further information about the various names of this mill. In 1878, the Egan and Bates 10 stamp mill was removed from the main Bingham Canyon and erected at the Stewart Mine. The mill was converted to mill lead-zinc ores. The mill burned in 1895. In 1901, the New England Gold and Copper Mining Company constructed another mill at the Stewart Mine which operated until 1913 to process lead-silver-gold ore. It operated intermittently from 1904 to sometime after 1913. Mining of the "old" New England Mine continued until after 1925. After Bingham Metals Company purchased the mill in 1925, the mill is referred to as the Bingham-New England mill. However, there is no reference to milling after 1925.

The New England (Nast) mine was in Muddy Gulch, just uphill from the Boston Consolidated (Stewart) mine, and was adjacent to the Last Chance mine. The New England mine was working what was formerly known as the Nast property, one of the successful mines in Muddy Gulch in the 1901-1904 time period, taking $20,000 in ore in 1901 and 1902. In addition to the Nast, other mines in Muddy Gulch included the Last Chance and Stewart (Boston Consolidated) mines. The Nast vein very soon ran out of paying ore, but the tunnel extended over 900 feet to the southwest and along with the mine's shaft were used after 1904 to access the adjacent Ferguson vein.

The New England (Nast) property was active through 1910 when an illegal extraction law suit was filed by an adjacent mining company. From 1910 through 1912, with the mining company being sued, the mine was in the hands of leasers and individual owners who continued to remove valuable ore on an irregular basis. After 1912 the New England mine was idle because of litigation concerning illegal extraction, and concerning foreclosure proceedings between bondholders and stockholders. On October 6, 1913, all of the property and interests (mining claims, mill, buildings, etc.) were sold at a sheriff's sale following a suit brought by Bingham Coal & Lumber company that had been originally brought in August 1910, adding to the earlier extraction suit brought in February 1910.

A sheriff's sale was ordered to take place on April 24, 1922 to sell all of the property and assets, including mining claims, of the New England Gold and Copper Mining Company, as the result of a suit filed for non-payment of a mortgage dating from 1903. The sale was canceled without taking place after it was learned the property had been sold the previous month and the mortgage satisfied.

The former manager from the period between 1902 and 1908, who had retained the mining plans and geology data, convinced a group of investors as to the mine's viability and in May 1920 the New England mine was purchased by a new company called the Utah-Boston Development Company. The purchase was made largely after studying the testimony of the long drawn-out apex court battle between the adjacent Utah Apex and Utah Consolidated companies, suggesting that instead of the limitation of the New England ore veins as being set at a depth of 200 feet, as previously thought, these same veins likely extended downward to at least 1,500 feet, and possibly to 2,000 feet. The new company planned on extending a new shaft down 800 feet and using a hoist at a new surface plant, instead of continuing the use of the old Nast horizontal "adit" tunnel.

Having only reached 550 feet of depth with the new shaft, in March 1922, the Utah-Boston company opened up the mine to leasers above its current 550 level. The ore taken in development work was not in sufficient quantities to justify full production. Hoping to hit larger quantities, the company began a new inclined shaft (known as a winze) down to the 750 level, with "drift" tunnels following along the course of the Nast vein, hoping to hit a larger vein of high quality ore.

The extensive plans of the Utah-Boston company went flat and in October 1923 the company was in the hands of a receiver, and on May 1, 1924, the entire mining property, including mining claims and buildings and improvements were sold to satisfy an unpaid mortgage.

The New England mine, originally the Nast mine, and for a brief period the Utah-Boston Development mine, was sold to the newly organized Bingham Metals Company, which had been incorporated on July 14, 1925 for the purpose. This new company was listed on the Salt Lake Mining Exchange, whereas previous companies had been listed in Boston and other exchanges.

In a deal made in 1925, the United States Smelting Refining and Mining company agreed to extend its Niagara tunnel to connect with the Bingham Metals property, and that connection was completed in December 1926. This gave Bingham Metals two outlets for its ore, through the Armstrong portal in Carr Fork, or the Niagara portal in Copperfield. Both required almost two miles of underground haulage.

1926
"The Bingham Metals Co. worked the New England mine and shipped nearly 2,000 tons of first-class lead ore, as well as lead-zinc ore for concentration and separation at a custom flotation plant. More than 2,000 feet of development was done, mainly in crosscuts and drifts. During the year a connection was made with the Niagara tunnel level of the United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Co., which serves to drain the mine and reduce the cost of transportation; pumping of water and hauling of ore by wagons have thus been eliminated." (USGS 1926 Mineral Resources, page 502)

As early as August 1925, Bingham Metals had made an agreement with United States Smelting Refining and Mining to extend its Niagara tunnel into the Bingham Metals ground. This would be 1000 feet below the surface, and 300 feet below the present tunnel. Work to extend the mine's shaft down to the Niagara level was to be complete within six weeks. The Niagara was to be run to the "sideline" (property line) of the two properties, the U. S. company's mine, and the Bingham Metals mine. The Bingham Metals company would then finish a crosscut tunnel 400 feet to meet the Niagara tunnel, which was 220 feet below the lowest Bingham Metals tunnel. The connection was "holed-through" on December 21, 1926. The centerlines of the two tunnels was 10 feet off on the lateral, and 10 feet off on the vertical, with the Niagara tunnel being lower and therefore situated to successfully drain the Bingham Metals ground.

1927
"A considerably increased output of ore was mined from the New England property owned by the Bingham Metals Co. Most of the material was first-class silver-lead ore and siliceous gold ore; the remainder was lead-zinc ore that was treated by flotation at Midvale. The mine is opened by an inclined shaft and six levels, and in 1927 more than 2,400 feet of work was done in drifts, crosscuts, raises, and winzes. The ore is either hauled (underground) 1-1/2 miles to the railroad siding at the Utah-Apex mine [sic: Armstrong tunnel] or 2 miles through the Niagara tunnel to the ore bins of the United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Co. at Copperfield." (USGS 1927 Mineral Resources, page 666)

1928
"The output of ore from the New England property, owned by the Bingham Metals Co., increased slightly. Most of the material was first-class sulphide iron ore containing gold, silver, and copper ; the remainder was lead-zinc ore and silver-lead ore. The mine is opened by an inclined shaft and six levels ; in 1928 nearly 2,600 feet of work was done in drifts and crosscuts, and the inclined shaft was sunk an additional 100 feet to the 900-foot level. The ore is hauled (underground) 3 miles to the siding of the Bingham & Garfield Railroad. The company's report to the industrial commission gave 3,800 tons of ore, including both milling ore and first-class smelting ore." (USGS 1928 Mineral Resources, page 515)

1929
"The output of ore from the New England property, owned by the Bingham Metals Co., decreased from 3,800 tons in 1928 to 1,573 tons in 1929. Most of the material in 1929 was first-class sulphide lead ore; the remainder was lead-zinc ore and siliceous gold ore. The mine is opened by an inclined shaft and six levels; in 1929 more than 1,700 feet of work was done in drifts, crosscuts, and raises. The company's report to the industrial commission gave 1,573 tons of ore, including both milling ore and first-class smelting ore." (USGS 1929 Mineral Resources, page 623)

May 19, 1936
"The United States Smelting, Refining and Mining company has taken a 10-year lease on the Bingham Metals company property at Bingham, it was learned Tuesday, subject to ratification by stockholders of Bingham Metals company. The Bingham Metals property consists of eight patented claims containing 25 acres, adjoining the smelting company's Bingham holdings on the west. The lowest level in the Bingham Metals property is the 1100, at an elevation of 6412 feet, whereas the smelting company is mining in the adjoining Niagara at an elevation of 4080 feet. The smelting company will develop the Bingham Metals property at depth by extending drifts from the Niagara shaft and also by extending the Bingham Metals shaft. Bingham Metals company will receive 50 per cent of the net profits from all ore produced, after costs of mining and operating." (Salt Lake Telegram, May 19, 1936)

November 12, 1947
United States Smelting Refining and Mining sued Bingham Metals to foreclose on the mortgage held by the Bingham Metals company from the U. S. company. (Ogden Standard Examiner, November 13, 1947, "yesterday")

July 19, 1948
USSR&M bought the property and assets of Bingham Metals Company at a court-ordered sale, on the steps of the Salt Lake city and county building. USSR&M bid the amount of the judgment against the Bingham Metals company ($18,000), and gave the Bingham Metals company six months to raise the funds to satisfy the mortgage. (Salt Lake Telegram, July 20, 1948)

February 3, 1949
The sale of stock in Bingham Metals Company was suspended after the assessment failed to cover the mortgage from USSR&M. The judgment to collect the mortgage had been for $18,000, but the Bingham Metals company had offered only $10,000. (Provo Daily Herald, February 3, 1949, "today")

(This date in February 1949 was apparently when USSR&M took full possession of the Bingham Metals property.)

Sources

Online newspaper accounts

An internal history of Utah Copper, completed in 1939

T. P. Billings papers

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