To Move A Mountain
Railroads and Mining in Utah's Bingham Canyon
This page last updated on September 12, 2016.
Copper Era, 1936 to 1981
(Utah Copper, Bingham & Garfield, and Kennecott Copper only)
(see also Kennecott parent companies)
November 10, 1936
Utah Copper Company was sold to Kennecott Copper Corporation. Kennecott had organized a new Utah Copper Company in Delaware, as a subsidiary, on November 6, 1936 for the purpose. The original Utah Copper Company had been organized in New Jersey in 1904. On April 29, 1915, Kennecott Copper Corporation had been organized in New York to acquire the worldwide Guggenheim copper interests, including all of the interests of Kennecott Mines Company in Alaska (including its Copper River & Northwestern Railroad) and 25 percent interest in Utah Copper Company in Utah, along with 96 percent interest in Braden Copper Company in Chile. In 1923 Kennecott Copper Corporation acquired 77 percent control of Utah Copper Company and by 1925 Kennecott had acquired 95 percent interest in Utah Copper. (Arrington: Richest Hole, page 68; Kennecott Historical Index)
Ohio Copper Company sold all of its surface rights and minerals rights in Bingham Canyon to Kennecott. Ohio retained its dumps and leaching plant at Lark, which were later sold to United States Smelting, Refining and Mining Company in 1950. (Arrington: Richest Hole, page 88)
A second order of electric locomotives (road numbers 742-760) began to arrive, with delivery continuing through October. This second order was delivered as 85-ton locomotives. During 1937 the other 41 locomotives, delivered as 75-ton units, were reballasted to 85 tons. For operations in the pit, two locomotives are needed for each shovel in service. Each locomotive handled a train of twelve (12) empty cars. (Kennecott Historical Index)
February 25, 1937
Utah Copper offered $600,000 for Ohio Copper's property in Bingham Canyon. Utah Copper needed the surface for expansion of its open pit mine, and a portion of the underground workings for the proposed vehicular tunnel between Bingham and Copperfield. The vehicular tunnel would allow Utah Copper to close the county road at the bottom of Bingham Canyon. (Deseret News, February 25, 1937)
March 5, 1937
Utah Copper received two 4-1/2-yard Marion shovels, and six new electric locomotives of 12 that had been ordered. Production was 60,000 tons per day. (Bingham Bulletin, March 5, 1937)
Seventy five (75) miles of track had been electrified. (Kennecott Historical Index)
The original Kennecott copper mine in Alaska was closed. The profits from this mine in Alaska between 1911 and 1938 were reported as the reason the Kennecott Copper Corporation took full ownership of the Utah Copper Company, making it the Utah Copper Division of Kennecott Copper Corporation. (Deseret News, June 8, 1998)
June 16, 1938
Bingham Canyon mine and both mills were completely shut down, after operating at one-fifth capacity for almost five years. (Kennecott Historical Index)
August 1, 1938
Bingham Canyon mine and both mills operations resume. (Kennecott Historical Index)
February 4, 1939
Copperfield vehicular tunnel was opened for traffic. The 6,975 tunnel had been completed in December 1938 and was built at a cost of $1.4 Million. The tunnel rose from 6,100 feet elevation at Bingham to 6,600 feet at Copperfield, at a 6.4 percent grade. Utah Construction Company had begun construction in March 1937 and made a perfect hole-through on February 19, 1938. The old county highway in the bottom of the canyon was closed and the tunnel was deeded to Salt Lake County as its replacement. The tunnel was used by about 850 cars that first day and could accommodate 1,100 cars per day. (source not recorded)
mid February 1939
A fill was begun to connect the east and west sides of C-Level, across the old county highway. Auto traffic was now using the new Copperfield vehicular tunnel. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Utah Copper waste trains began filling Carr Fork with waste. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Ore Delivery Department became Ore Haulage Department. (Kennecott Historical Index)
American Institute of Mining Engineers (AIME) met in national convention at Salt Lake City, Utah. (Mining and Metallurgy, Volume 21, 1940)
During late 1940 Utah Copper was the largest producer of non-ferrous metals in the United States, with a daily ore production of 70,000 tons, with 90,000 tons of waste being removed. Utah Copper employed 4,300 persons, including those working for the Bingham & Garfield. The total tonnage mined to January 1, 1940 was 641,268,375 tons, of which a little less than half (295,648,575 tons) was copper ore. there were twenty-one levels on the mine's west side, and twelve levels on the east side, along with three sub-levels, below the A-level. The bottom level of the mine was at 6,190 feet elevation. Electric shovels in the mine were loading 6,300 tons in each eight-hour shift. The new full-rotation shovels, using five-cubic yard dippers, were loading up to 10,000 tons per shift. Waste rock was being hauled in trains of eight to ten, thirty-cubic yard dump cars. There was a total of 166 miles of standard gauge railroad track in the Utah Copper operation: 98 miles of mine tracks; 33 miles of mainline to the mills; and 35 miles of yard, loading, storage, and side-tracks. (Mining and Metallurgy, Volume 21, December 1940, page 550)
Construction of the 100,000 kilowatt Central Power Station began. (Arrington: Richest Hole, page 75) (Read more about the Central Power Station)
Switchback from M-Level down to G-Level was completed. (Kennecott notes)
Dry Fork was completely filled with waste. (Kennecott Historical Index)
In early November 1941 a record was set when on one single day the Bingham & Garfield moved 105,000 tons of ore to the mills. Of the 1,150 cars of ore shipped in that single 24 hour period; 667 cars went to Magna and 483 cars went to Arthur. At the time, in November 1941, the United States was producing thirty percent of world's copper and Bingham was producing one-third of the United States' production. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 9, 1941)
February 15, 1942
Utah Copper locomotive 105 had a boiler explosion that killed both the engineer, Joseph Poulsen, and the fireman, Rhys Thomas. The brakeman, Edward Anderson suffered minor burns because of his location in the brakeman's shanty atop the locomotive tender. The explosion took place at 8:05 a.m. on Saturday February 15, 1942 while the locomotive was inside Tunnel No. 3 on the former Bingham & Garfield line in Bingham Canyon. The locomotive was at the head of a train of 52 empty ore cars returning to the Bingham copper mine from the mill at Magna. (Salt Lake Telegram, February 21, 1942) The usual operating practice was for the locomotive to travel tender first when returning to the mine, putting the brakeman ahead of the locomotive when the explosion took place.
Four new 90-ton electric locomotives arrived (road numbers 761-764). An additional 100-ton electric locomotive (road number 600) arrived, set up for 600 volts DC, and was put into service at the mill car dumpers. The additional locomotive allowed higher dumper production by doing away with dumping delays due to shift changes and the dumpers being idle while the dumper locomotive went after another cut of cars. (Kennecott Historical Index)
The car dumper at Arthur set a record when it dumped 633 cars of ore in 24 hours. (Kennescope magazine, March 1957, page 9)
The cross-canyon connection was completed (at the site of the old Yampa Smelter) between the new 6040-Tunnel and the new Ore Haulage Central Yard, near Dry Fork. Two short tunnels are built through the fill to cross over the highway and the Denver & Rio Grande Western line. (Kennecott Historical Index)
There were 120.2 miles of track in the pit and the canyon. (Kennecott Historical Index)
The 6040-Tunnel was completed; 3,975 feet long. (Kennecott Historical Index)
March 24, 1944
Central Power Station at Magna went into service at a cost of $8 Million. The boilers could use either natural gas or coal. (Kennecott Historical Index) (Read more about the Central Power Station)
A Utah Copper photograph dated June 23, 1944 (UCM 288, 6-23-44) shows the lower portal of the 6040 tunnel not yet completed, with wooden concrete forms still on the portal, and no railroad rails in the vicinity.
Kennecott put its first Centralized Traffic Control control panel into service. It controlled railroad traffic between lower Bingham Canyon and Copperton. (Kennescope magazine, December 1954, page 15)
May 8, 1946
Construction of new Copperton low line began. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Central Power Station was expanded to 110,000 kilowatts. (Arrington: Richest Hole, page 75) (Read more about the Central Power Station)
January 1, 1947
Utah Copper Company became the Utah Copper Division of Kennecott Copper Corporation. (Kennecott Historical Index)
The CC line was completed, for connection to the new Copperton low line. (Kennecott Historical Index)
October 22, 1947
Ore Haulage employees went on strike. (Kennecott Historical Index)
November 6, 1947
Ore Haulage strike ends. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Construction began on the Garfield Refinery. (Kennecott Historical Index)
April 1, 1948
Limited operations began on the Copperton Low Line, for training purposes.
April 30, 1948
Bingham & Garfield operations cease. (Kennecott Historical Index)
May 2, 1948
New Copperton low line began operation. The maximum grade for the new line was 1.35 percent while the maximum grade of the Bingham & Garfield was 2.5 percent. The lower gradient of the new line allowed longer trains and therefore more ore to be delivered to the mills. Seven 3,000 hp electric locomotives were purchased for service on the new Copperton line; enough to operate the low line trains and to provide locomotives for the car dumpers at the two mills. To allow the new locomotives to be used on the car dumpers, the dumper yards at Magna and Arthur were converted from 600 volts DC to 3,000 volts DC (the same as the Copperton low line) and the three 85-ton (numbers 737, 738, 740) and single 100-ton (number 600) were reassigned to the Bingham pit. Number 600 was renumbered to 765 upon reassignment.
About midway, where today's 5400 South crossed the line, a passing siding was built to allow trains moving in opposite directions to pass each other. The siding was named 'Cyprus', named for D. C. Jackling's private car, itself named for the Mediterranean island where the Romans and Greeks first began mining copper in ancient times. Jackling founded Utah Copper in 1903, and was president of Utah Copper until he retired in 1942, clearing the way for Kennecott's full takeover of the Bingham property. Jackling retired to the San Francisco Bay area, where he died in 1956.
A new 1500 hp diesel-electric locomotive, road number 901, was purchased. (Baldwin Model DRS6-4-1500, Baldwin construction serial number 73474) The locomotive was built by Baldwin in March as a demonstrator and Kennecott "bought it on the spot" after seeing a demonstration of the unit on the Western Pacific at Tooele. (Dolzall, pp.86,87)
December 13, 1949
The new 1500 hp diesel-electric locomotive, road number 902, was placed into service at the Magna yard. (ALCo Model RS-2, ALCo construction serial number 77563)
September 1, 1950
First cathodes are pulled from acid bath at the Garfield refinery for melt down. (Kennecott Historical Index)
October 2, 1950
First shipment of finished copper was made from the Garfield refinery. (Kennecott Historical Index)
April 9, 1951
The new 5840 tunnel was being driven from a point 50 feet below the current bottom of the open pit mine, and was to be 1-1/3 mile in length. It was to be a standard railroad tunnel, 21 feet wide and 25 feet tall. (Salt Lake Tribune, April 9, 1951)
April 15, 1951
The new Bingham-Lark tunnel for United States Smelting, Refining and Mining was "bored through" on Sunday April 15, 1951. The work had started two and a half years before, with Kennecott paying the full cost of $6 million. The length was reported as 21,014 feet, or 3.9 miles. Construction was being completed by Utah Construction company. The tunnel was at the 5600-foot level, and a shaft would be completed to connect the new tunnel with the old Niagara tunnel at the 6688-foot level. Work began in November 1948, and was scheduled for completion in summer 1952. (Deseret News, April 16, 1951)
June 30, 1951
Bingham & Garfield was "liquidated", corporation dissolved. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Utah Construction Company finishes work on refinery. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Chevron Fertilizer Plant -- Located just north of the pre-1997 South Tailings Impoundment and mostly buried by the North Tailings impoundment was the Chevron Fertilizer Plant and its wastes. The plant, built in 1952, was originally a joint venture of Kennecott, ASARCO, and Stauffer Chemical. The plant treated phosphate ores with sulfuric acid to produce phosphoric acid and dry phosphate fertilizer products. Annual production ranged between 10,000 and 70,000 tons/year. Wastes included 300,000 tons/year of phosphoric gypsum. Chevron bought the facility in 1981. They ceased production of the phosphoric and acid and dry phosphate in 1986. Then they leased the land to FCI Agri-chem who mined the tailings at the site for use as soil additives. The wastes covered about 385 acres and was thought to be about 6 million cubic yards. Kennecott bought the land in 1994 for use in the North Expansion and dismantled the plant in 1995 retaining only the administration building. There were 4 above ground fuel oil storage tanks that were removed and contamination in the footprint excavated and placed in a land farm at the site. There were also reports of the burial of Picloram at the site, but an investigation did not find any traces of this pesticide. (source)
Four new 125-ton locomotives (numbers 800-803) arrive, to handle the projected increase in tonnage because of the new 5840-Tunnel going into service, (later numbers 866-869, and finally numbers 766-769). (Kennecott Historical Index)
The 5840-Tunnel in completed and placed in service. The tunnel was 7,000 feet long. Tracklaying in the tunnel began in January and was completed in March. (Kennecott Historical Index)
A new 1500 hp diesel-electric locomotive, road number 903, arrived (EMD Model SD7, construction serial number 17411) (Ardinger locomotive roster)
December 30, 1952
Wreck in Magna yard involving Denver and Rio Grande Western GP7 number 5112, with its train, and Kennecott Baldwin number 901 and Alco number 902, with their train, resulted in $52,600.00 damage to Kennecott equipment. The permanent result from this wreck was that number 901 was retrucked with four-wheel "B" trucks replacing its original six wheel "A-1-A" trucks. (Kennecott Historical Index)
On the night of December 30, 1952, Kennecott Copper Baldwin DRS-6-4-1500 number 901 and Alco RS-2 number 902 were switching the Magna yard of this large copper mining company. Without checking the lone occupancy block signal for this yard that sits on a curve, the two units and several loaded ore cars proceeded eastbound to set the loads out for a later train. After traveling only a few hundred feet, the train collided at a low yard speed with the Denver & Rio Grande Western's Magna Local, just entering Kennecott trackage to make its own set outs. Thankfully, no one was injured, but severe damage was done to the Kennecott Baldwin unit, which was in the lead. The damage incurred was in excess of $52,000 to the Kennecott locomotives and cars, and included a bent frame, and a cracked truck frame for 901. Over the previous four years, since October 1948, when they had purchased the former demonstrator unit "on the spot" during tests on the nearby Tooele Valley Railway, Kennecott had noticed that the tractive effort for this A1A-equipped unit left something to be desired. Rather than have the cracked A1A truck repaired, Kennecott ordered replacement two-axle trucks from Baldwin, and installed them under the unit after the needed other repairs were completed by the company's Magna shops. Both D&RGW GP7 5112 and Kennecott Alco 902 suffered only minimal damage and were returned to service. After receiving its new trucks, Kennecott 901 remained in service on the Ore Haulage Division for another 25 years, receiving a chopped short hood in 1972. In April 1977, it was transferred 16 miles south to the company's open-pit mine, renumbered to 734 (2nd), and used as a switcher until its retirement in 1980. It was donated to the local Promontory Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society in early 1983. In late 1983, the chapter traded the unit to a local scrapper in return for saving Utah Railway RSD-5 306.
"Every day of the year," the 350 employees of Kennecott's Ore Haulage Department moved 965 cars of copper ore, each loaded with 90 tons of ore. (Ogden Standard Examiner, February 22, 1953, Utah Copper Division advertisement)
5,605 tons of concentrate from Magna and Arthur were shipped to Kennecott's smelter in McGill, Nevada due to a one and a half day, and another five day strike at the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) smelter at Garfield, Utah. (Kennecott Historical Index)
March 26, 1953
First ore trains operated through the new 5840-Tunnel. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Two tunnels are completed on the H-Dump line. (Kennecott Historical Index)
November 3, 1953
Work began on moving the G-Level bridge in Carr Fork. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Statistics for the Ore Haulage "Copperton low line" for 1954 show that the average locomotive made 1,237.9 trips; the average train was 64.46 cars long; and total tonnage for the year was 41,078,212 tons. 311,924,300 tons had been hauled since start up in May 1948.
Kennecott placed its third CTC control panel into service, controlling the upper east side switchbacks to the 'H' level, high above the lower part of Bingham Canyon and the town of Bingham itself. (Kennescope magazine, December 1954, page 15)
(The first CTC panel went into service in 1945 and controlled the tracks down low in the lower canyon between the 6040 tunnel and the new Central Yard. The second CTC panel was installed in 1949 and controlled the Copperton Line between the mine and the mills.)
The last "standard" shovel was retired. These were originally railroad steam shovels, converted to be electrical shovels, mounted on caterpillar tracks.
February 14, 1954
Moving of the G-Level bridge was completed. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Switchback from K-Level down to the H-Level was completed. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Eighty percent of all ore mined was moved through the 6040 and 5840-Tunnels. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Three (3) Marion Model 151-M and two Bucyrus-Erie Model 190-B electric shovels were placed into service. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Kennecott Copper purchased the Butterfield mine of Combined Metals Reduction Company, located in Butterfield Canyon. At the time, it was the second-largest lead-zinc producer in the country. (Utah Mining Industry, Utah Mining Association, 1967, page 63)
The following is a summary of 1955.
By the end of the year the Utah Copper Division had spent $5,306,500 in expanding facilities and improvements. The biggest single chunk was $1,800.000 to enlarge casting facilities at the Garfield refinery. It enables Utah Copper to produce more varied shapes of saleable copper. The project included construction of an 80 by 208 foot brick, reinforced concrete and steel addition. Also the Installation of a vertical casting wheel.
Although crippled by a 47-day strike that cut copper production by an estimated 70,000,000 pounds, Utah Copper Division actually produced more copper in 1955 than last year. The 1955 production Is expected to reach 468,200.000 pounds, compared with 423,066,857 in 1954. The strike intensified the world-wide copper shortage, sending copper prices to an all-time high.
Utah Copper spent 3-1/2 million dollars for five 7-yard shovels, four electric locomotives and 50 dump cars of 40-yard capacity needed to step-up waste removal at the mine. Another $1,600,000 was spent for improvements in the mill flotation department. Expanded facilities at the Kennecott research center on the University of Utah campus totaled $81,500, and miscellaneous improvements $45,000.
In addition to copper, Utah Copper Division produced 24,987,000 pounds of molybdenum vital in the production of steel. A total of 22,297,572 pounds was produced in 1954.
Copper ore mined and milled during 1955 is expected to total 27,780,000 tons. This compares with 24.079,400 tons mined and milled in 1954. To reach copper ore, 50,458,000 tons of waste material were removed in 1955, a big increase over the 35.856,641 moved the previous year. (Deseret News, December 14, 1955)
Kennecott Copper sold the town of Copperton to its residents. (Deseret News, October 23, 1984)
Four new 125-ton electric locomotives were placed into service. (Kennecott Historical Index)
(Road numbers 804-807, later numbers 870-873, finally numbers 770-773)
Thirty (30) 40 cubic yard waste dump cars were purchased. (Kennecott Historical Index)
In an announcement of improvements at its Ray Mines Division in Arizona, Kennecott is shown as being the nation's largest copper producer. (New York Times, April 25, 1956)
April 28, 1956
Ore Haulage has Sperry Rail Service test its rails. (Kennecott Historical Index)
June 23, 1956
The landmark Bingham Mercantile store closed. Located at 510-512 South Main Street, at the intersection of Main Street and Carr Fork, the store had been at that location since the building was completed and the store opened in October 1904. The previous location at 493 South Main Street had opened in September 1897. (Bingham Bulletin, June 29, 1956)
The following comes from Michael Scroggins, by way of the Bingham Canyon History group on facebook:
The store was first opened in September 1897 by Mr. C. E. Adderly, Mr. J. C. Dugan and Mr. J. W. Bracken. It had three locations first, where Utah Copper hospital was; second, the social hall; and third, its present location.
In 1900 Mr Adderly acquired his partners' shares and was sole owner.
In 1904 they moved to the new building at the corner of Main Street and Carr Fork.
The front porch and stairs featured many special activities like band concerts, Galena Days programs, movie star interviews like Abbott and Costello, Shirley temple and Robert Wadlo, the tallest man in the world at the time.
Groceries were delivered at the beginning with horse and wagon. Credit was given to many during strikes and the depressions. Half of all the Utah Copper employees' checks were cashed there.
It was said that you could buy anything from a safety pin to a keg of blasting powder in the store.
It closed its doors in June of 1956, ending the largest mercantile store in Bingham Canyon.
Morrison-Knudsen Construction Company began work on two connections across Carr Fork to allow removal of the old Bingham & Garfield Carr Fork bridge; one to connect the 6340-Level (old A-Level) and Bingham yard, and the other to connect the Apex yard and the D-Dump line. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Article about Arizona's copper railroads, including Kennecott's Ray Mines Division, in the July 1956 issue of Trains magazine, page 27.
Utah Construction Company was awarded the contract to build the new 5490-Tunnel. Construction of the tunnel was planned as early as 1947, to further reduce costs of hauling the ore uphill, out of the pit, only to move it downhill, out of the canyon, to the mills. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Actual drilling began on the new 5490 tunnel. (Bingham Bulletin, July 19, 1957)
The new tunnel was to be 18,000 feet long, measure 18 feet wide and 24 feet tall, with a reported cost of $12 million. Two other tunnels were already in place: the 6040 tunnel, completed in 1945, and the 5840 tunnel, completed in 1953. All tunnels were built to reduce mining costs by elimination of the uphaul of ore trains coming from the deepening bottom of the open pit mine. (Ogden Standard-Examiner, February 24, 1957)
October 8, 1956
The visitor observation center for the public at Copperfield was closed and work to dismantle it began on October 21, 1956. (Kennecott Historical Index)
The vehicular tunnel that provided access for local residents between Bingham and Copperfield remained open.
By 1957 there were 75 electric locomotives working in the Bingham mine. A typical day shift today finds some 56 engines at work: 16 hauling ore, 27 assigned to waste haulage and 13 doing tramp work such as working with line cars, locomotive cranes, repair crews and other miscellaneous work. (Kennescope, no date)
January 17, 1957
First waste train used 5840-Tunnel. (Kennescope, February 1957)
The new 6340-Level (old A-Level) connection was completed. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Work was began to dismantle the Carr Fork bridge in April 1957. (Strack, 1983 research notes)
The D-Level bridge across Carr Fork was dismantled. (Kennecott Historical Index)
May 17, 1957
The new, temporary public observation platform above Carr Fork was removed. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Kennecott opened a new visitor observation center at the Apex Yards in Carr Fork.
June 7, 1957
All residents of Highland Boy living in homes owned by National Tunnel & Metal, received eviction notices that were to be effective on June 7, 1957. The Highland Boy school was to be closed, and the remaining students would be "transported" to Bingham and Copperton schools. (Bingham Bulletin, May 31, 1957)
June 16, 1957
The switchback between the new 5840-Yard and the 5790-Level was completed. (Kennecott Historical Index)
During the year, Utah Construction Company made 8,875 feet of progress on the new 5490-Tunnel. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Seventy five percent of all ore mined came from below the 6340-Level. Seventeen percent of ore mined moves through the 6040-Tunnel with forty percent moving through the 5840-Tunnel. (Kennecott Historical Index)
May to July 1958
The removal of the Carr Fork bridge and the A-Level machine shops was completed in July and August 1958. (Kennescope magazine, July 1958, inside front cover; Deseret News, August 29, 1958)
June 1, 1958
Notices were given to residents, renters, and lessors in Copperfield, Upper Main Canyon, and Carr Fork and Highland Boy to vacate their dwellings by August 1, 1958. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Kennecott began operating waste rock trains through the 5840 tunnel. Previously only ore trains were allowed through the tunnel. The change was because of the expansion of the pit, and more waste was being removed from the lower levels. (Bingham Bulletin, August 8, 1958)
October 1, 1958
Kennecott purchased the Robbe Precipitation Plant at Copperton. For the previous twenty-two and a half years Kennecott had been leasing the plant from a private owner. (Kennecott Historical Index)
January 1, 1959
Kennecott Copper Corporation purchased the Garfield smelter of American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) (source not recorded)
The new 5490-Tunnel was completed at a cost of $12 Million. The tunnel is 18,000 feet long. (Arrington: Richest Hole, page 72)
March 6, 1959
Kennecott announced that the new 18,000-foot tunnel at the 5490-level had been completed. Work had started on October 30, 1956. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 7, 1959)
August 10, 1959
Strike at Utah Copper Division began. (Kennescope magazine, January-February 1960, page 2)
Central Power Station was expanded from 100,000 kilowatts to 175,000 kilowatts, to furnish power to the smelter. (Kennecott Historical Index) (Read more about the Central Power Station)
January 30, 1960
Strike at Utah Copper Division ended. First shift after callback was on Saturday January 30. A total of 366 cars of ore sat idle at the Copperton yard during the strike, during which snow accumulated and melted down into the load, cementing the load into the ore car. gas heaters were used to thaw the ore, but one car load at Magna dumped its load in a single piece damaging the dumper. The repairs required 7-1/2 hours to repair. The Central Power Station at Magna was started on January 29, and smelter operations started on February 1. Production at the Refinery started two weeks later due to the time needed for purified copper to build up on the cathodes. (Kennescope magazine, January-February 1960, page 2)
Kennecott began buying the properties in the town of Bingham Canyon, Utah. By November 7th, one-third of the town had been purchased, mostly residential properties. Negotiations were under way for the purchase of business, commercial, and municipal real estate, with projected completion of late 1961. "By the end of 1961, Bingham will no longer exist." (Deseret News, November 7, 1960)
November 21, 1960
The new 5490 tunnel was completed in March 1959 to a point 150 feet lower than the current bottom level of the open pit mine. In June 1960, Morrison Knudsen began construction of a spiral cut to take railroad tracks down to the new tunnel's Bingham portal. Kennecott was installing permanent railroad track inside the newly completed tunnel. The spiral cut was to be 3600 feet long, at a finished grade of 4 percent. Because the spiral cut was in the actual ore body, the MK earth movers, at 20 cubic yards and 40 tons with each load, were moving the ore to a stockpile on the east side of the mine's bottom level, at a rate of 18,000 yards per day. Kennecott shovels were then loading the ore into trains, with the operation furnishing about one third of the mine's daily production. (Deseret News, November 21, 1960)
In December 1960, the New York Times carried a news item stating that the town of Bingham would "vanish" during 1961, as the bulldozers and power shovels of Kennecott removed the buildings along Main Street. The decline of Bingham was due to the recently settled strike at the mine, which lasted six months. Because of the lack of business caused by the strike, many of the town's shopkeepers and property owners decided to sell out to Kennecott. The mining company announced that it would remove the buildings it owned to allow Main Street to be widened. Bingham's population was shown as being 2,500. For the first time in recent memory, Christmas 1960 would be the first without a community Christmas tree. (New York Times, December 11, 1960, "Town in Utah Is Due to Vanish Under Shovels and Bulldozers")
There were 38 shovels working 33 ore shovel shifts and 33 waste shovel shifts per day. Most shovels were served by three trains per shift, using the 75 pit locomotives with 258 40-cubic-yard waste dump cars and 825 100-ton ore cars. (Kennecott Historical Index)
270,000 tons of waste was removed to mine 90,000 tons of ore needed for the mills. (Arrington: Richest Hole, page 72)
May 7, 1961
First ore train used the new 5490-Tunnel, seven weeks after "breakthrough" of the tunnel into the pit. The train was loaded with ore that had been stockpiled from the excavation in the pit for the tunnel portal. (Kennescope magazine, June 1961, page 26; with small photo of empty ore train being pulled by locomotive 869 exiting tunnel)
May 27, 1961
The first train of ore from other levels in the pit moves through the new 5490-Tunnel to Copperton. The track had been connected (using a spiral excavation) with the track of the 5640-Level on May 21st, and electrified on May 25th. (Kennescope magazine, June 1961, page 26)
Article about Kennecott's Nevada Mines Division in the July 1961 issue of Trains magazine, page 33.
Operation of precipitation plant produced 20 million pounds of copper, about 5 percent of 1962 production. (Arrington: Richest Hole, page 74)
Kennecott acquired rights of United States Smelting, Refining and Mining Company on their 7,400 acres located in Bingham canyon, including their Lark concentrator. (Arrington: Richest Hole, page 72)
September 22, 1962
Kennecott and United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Company announced an agreement for the United States company to sell 7,400 acres of surface rights to Kennecott. Kennecott would also purchase lease rights to copper ore in the United States properties and agreed to pay the United States company at least $670,000 in annual royalties for copper ore extracted, for a period of ten years, at which time Kennecott would have an option to purchase the property. The price was reported as being $14 million, in the form of $1 million in cash, $6 million over the next two years, and $6.7 million in copper ore royalties over the next ten years. The United States company was to retain all lead-zinc-silver ores. The deal would give Kennecott the freedom over the next 30 years to expand its open pit mine into the area controlled by the United States company. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 22, 1962)
September 23, 1962
Kennecott Copper Corporation purchased land and certain mining royalties from United States Smelting Refining and Mining company. The agreement gave Kennecott surface and subsurface mining rights, and the freedom for its operations, and gave USSR&M the rights to to mine lead-zinc ore from under certain Kennecott property for the next 30 years. (New York Times, September 24, 1962, "yesterday")
November 2, 1962
Kennecott announced that a tunnel (2,100 feet in length) was to be driven under the waste rock filling Dry Fork Gulch, with its purpose being to gather water that was leaching through the waste rock. This leach water had a high concentration of copper and would be moved in a pipeline to the precipitation plant at Copperton. The tunnel would be 6 feet by 8 feet. A new water reservoir had been completed and new pumping systems were in place to pump water to the top of the Dry Fork waste dumps. In its current operations, Kennecott was dumping 235,000 tons of waste rock every day. The tunnel was expected to be completed in March 1963. (Bingham Bulletin, November 2, 1962)
Kennecott Copper Corporation purchased the Knight Ideal Coal Company in Utah. Although Knight Ideal had considerable reserves, it was a small concern and its production was very limited. This property was purchased so as to gain coal reserves which would provide a hedge against rising natural gas costs, both which serve as fuel for Kennecott's Central Power Station at Magna, Utah. Kennecott's experience managing this coal company and an involvement with the coal industry would later, in 1968, be the basis for Kennecott's purchase of Peabody Coal Company. (Kennecott Copper Corporation Vs. Federal Trade Commission, Docket 71-1371, United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, September 15, 1972; F.T.C. 467 F.2d 67, 1972)
Kennecott announced that it was planning a $60 million project to update its Utah facilities, to increase the capacity of milling, smelter and haulage facilities and "thereby restore our copper productions to the approximate level of 10 years ago, 25,000 tons annually." The copper content of the ore had decreased during the past 10 years, from 20 pounds per ton, to 16 pounds per ton, a drop of 20 per cent, with declines expected to continue. The expansion was to raise mine production at the Bingham pit, and use more effective precipitation and milling techniques to recover copper from waste dumps, as well as low grade ore. The present capacity was reported to be 90,000 of ore per day. the expansion was to increase production to 110,000 tons per day. The production of concentrate from precipitation would increase from 1,800 tons per month, to 6,000 tons per month. In addition to improvements mentioned in several other sources, the expansion was to initiate the use of natural gas and anode converters at the smelter, replacing the use of pine logs as fuel. (New York Times, January 30, 1963)
Ore Haulage began ore car construction program, using jigs and all welded construction. (Kennecott Historical Index)
February 23, 1963
Kennecott announced a $100 Million expansion project, to be completed by early 1967. The Kennecott board of directors had approved the expansion program on February 15, 1963. (Kennescope, March-April 1963, page 3)
- ore production to increase from 90,000 tons per day to 108,000 tons per day
- truck haulage to replace rail haulage
- expansion of precipitation plant
- construction of Bonneville crushing and grinding plant, capable of crushing 27,000 tons per day, including about 9,000 tons per day currently being handled by the Magna and Arthur crushing plants
- construction of nine mile rail line to serve new crusher
- additional rail locomotives and cars
- modernization of smelter
A new 2400 hp diesel-electric locomotive, road number 904, arrived (EMD Model SD24, construction serial number 28170) (Ardinger locomotive roster)
April 21, 1963
The $100 million expansion of the open pit along the south and southeast rim, taking advantage of the recent agreement with USSR&M (see September 1962, above) included the removal of very large quantities of waste rock to access new dumping grounds on USSR&M property, and the preparation of a site for a shop for the new fleet of large trucks. A major portion of the expansion was to create access roads to new dumping grounds that would be used solely by trucks. To keep the grades that would be used by trucks as low as possible (less than six percent), Kennecott needed a large cut to be created between the open pit and the new dumping grounds. Kennecott signed a contract with Western Contracting Corp. to remove 9 million cubic yards of waste rock that would create the new cut, about 300 feet deep, and to create the open flat area where the new truck shops, warehouse and office were to be built. Workers would access the new truck shop by using a new road being built westward from Lark, up the slope of the mountain. (The new truck shop would later be known as the Yosemite truck shop, named for the fact that the new site lay at the top of Yosemite Gulch.) (Salt Lake Tribune, April 21, 1963)
July 12, 1963
Anaconda and Kennecott announced an agreement that would allow Anaconda access to its property adjoining the northwest rim of Kennecott's open pit mine, to allow Anaconda to begin core drilling and exploration of its property. Earlier core drilling by Anaconda had sunk exploration core holes below the bottom of Kennecott's open pit mine, at 5,490 feet. The purpose of the core drilling was to determine the extent of ore bodies controlled by Anaconda and determine potential values should the two companies reach a purchase agreement in the future. During earlier discussions, Anaconda and Kennecott had tried to reach an agreement about Kennecott expanding its open pit mine into Anaconda property to allow Kennecott access to ore bodies still on Kennecott's side of the property line, but talks had been stalled for several years. To continue expansion, Kennecott made an agreement [in September 1962] with United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Company for access along the south and southeast rim of Kennecott's open pit mine. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 12, 1963)
Truck haulage began in upper levels of mine, with removal of rails as truck haulage progressed. (Kennecott Historical Index)
"In the fall of 1963, a program was begun to increase production from 90,000 tons of ore per day, to 108,000 tons per day. because of the limitations of rail haulage, along with advances in truck technology, truck haulage will replace rail haulage for waste removal in upper levels of the mine."
New haulage truck maintenance shop was built at Yosemite Gulch, above former location of Copperfield. (Kennecott Historical Index)
March 18, 1964
A 300-foot gap was opened near the northeast corner of dike for Kennecott's tailings pond by a flood caused by spring runoff. Kennecott utilized a fleet of fourteen bulldozers, four cranes, and fifteen large 65-ton haul trucks to build a temporary dam at the site. The Arthur concentrator was shut down immediately, and operations were projected to resume by March 21. (Deseret News, March 18 and March 20, 1964)
Production figures provided by J. P. O'Keefe, general manager of Kennecott's Utah Copper Division:
- 197,500 tons of refined copper produced
- 26,235,400 tons of ore mined and milled
- 13.7 pounds of copper produced from each ton of ore
- $12 million spent in 1963 for new 12-cubic-yard shovels, and 65-ton trucks, along with new haulage roads and truck shops
- ore production to be increased from 90,000 tons per day to 108,000 tons per day
- copper production to be increased from 17,000 tons per month to 25,000 tons per month
- grade of ore is decreasing
- 6,700 employees
- (New York Times, May 17, 1964)
The contract for the construction of the Bonneville crushing and grinding plant was awarded to Western Knapp Engineering, of San Francisco. The projected cost was reported as being $20 million. The output of the new crushing and grinding plant was to be processed by the floatation mills at the Magna and Arthur concentrators. Site preparation for the 70-acre site in Little Valley above Magna, was to begin in October. The finished plant was scheduled for completion in mid-1966. (Davis County Clipper, August 21, 1964)
Bechtel Corporation was awarded contract to build new $4 Million precipitation plant at Copperton. (Kennescope, March/April 1965)
Seventy-nine haulage trucks were on the property. (Kennescope, March/April 1965)
Track and electrification are removed down to the E-Level on the east side. Ore from the west side above the E-Level will hauled down the new Carr Fork haulage road to a reload point. (Kennescope, March/April 1965)
Western Knapp Engineering Company was at work on the site of the new Bonneville crusher. (Kennescope, March/April 1965)
New waste dump car repair shop was built at Dry Fork, replacing the one above the mine office. (Kennescope, March/April 1966)
Proler Steel Corporation began construction of scrap metal de-tinning plant at junction of old Bingham highway and Lark highway. The plant will furnish scrap iron to new precipitation plant. (Kennecott Historical Index)
The process included taking scrap steel cans "tin cans" and passing them through an open-flame oven to burn off the tin coatings and solder, and any other foreign material, to produce a raw steel product that could be used in Kennecott's precipitation plant at Copperton. The scrap "tin" cans arrived by rail car at Proler's facility, and after processing were re-loaded into rail cars for their trip to the precipitation plant. In early 1991, officials in the city of San Jose, California, were concerned when they found out that cans from the city-wide recycling program, instead of being recycled as new steel cans, were being sent to Utah to be sprayed with sulfuric acid solution, and used to produce copper concentrate in the precipitation process. In fact, the steel cans were totally recycled, at the elemental chemical level, from steel to almost pure copper by the precipitation process in which water that had been sprayed on the waste dumps of the copper mine, and after becoming a mildly acidic copper-sulfate solution, was being gathered at the base of the dumps and in-turn being sprayed on the scrap iron. The process completely consumes the scrap iron, leaving behind almost pure copper. Three pounds of steel produces one pound of copper. (part from Deseret News, April 21, 1991; April 28, 1991; May 12, 1991)
Two 70-ton diesel-electric locomotives were transferred from Nevada to operate as switchers at the new precipitation plant at Copperton. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Kennecott re-opened its visitor observation center at a new location at a reported cost of $100,000. The old location was closed during 1965. The new location had a paved parking lot, high fences for safety, and a shelter with a sloped roof.
The Bingham copper mine had the following basic information during 1966:
- 2,310 feet from top level to bottom level, compared to 1,500 feet shortly after World War II, 20 years previously
- 2,500 employees
- 38 electric shovels, each loading 30 tons
- 82 electric railroad locomotives
- 1,600 railroad cars
- three railroad tunnels
- 315,000 tons of material loaded in a 24-hour period, including 225,000 tons of waste rock, and 90,000 tons of ore
- ore is 15 percent copper
- Bingham mine furnishes 17 percent of the nation's new copper
- (New York Times, June 12, 1966)
Kennecott's Magna car shop completed 160 new ore cars in just 7-1/2 months as part of the expansion program. (Kennescope, July-August 1966, page 6; the quantity indicates that the shop forces had completed five cars per week, or about one car per day.)
New Bonneville crusher was placed into partial operation. (Kennescope, September/October 1966)
September 22, 1971
Kennecott paid $73,000 to the Town of Bingham for the city hall building, the fire station building, and one block of the city. Demolision was to begin immediately to permit safe operations of mining in the immediate vicinity. (Tucson Daily News, September 23, 1971, "yesterday")
November 2, 1971
As part of its regular municipal election, the residents of Bingham Canyon voted on a ballot to disincorporate the town. The latest census reported the population to be 31 residents. (Deseret News, September 9, 1971)
Of the 13 registered property owners, the vote to disincorporate was reported as being 11 in favor, and two against. (Deseret News, January 2, 1996)
November 22, 1971
Town of Bingham "ceases to exist" upon it being disincorporated. (Deseret News, March 26, 1985; January 2, 1996)
During March 1972, while talking to Jay Richardson in his office about the arrival of Chino electric number 4, the following information was shared:
- One thousand 100-ton ore cars were in service
- Each ore car was making an average of 118 trips per month
- There were 18 trains per day on the Ore Haulage mainline
- Each train used two locomotives and one caboose
- Each two-unit locomotive consist made six trips between daily inspections
- Three shifts each with two crews operating two trains
- Each crew made three trips between the mine and one of the three mills
- There were seven cabooses in service
- Bingham & Garfield Railway was the second railroad to receive Centralized Traffic Control by General Railway Signal Company
- The Bonneville mill received about 300 cars of copper ore per day.
- Jay Richardson was head of Kennecott's Ore Haulage Division
- Chino number 4 became Kennecott Utah Copper Division number 778 and was used in the Bingham mine
During the early 1970s, the smaller ore trains of 18 to 20 cars from the mine were gathered at Copperton into larger trains of 70 to 80 cars. These larger trains were then moved to the Magna mills by the 400 class mainline electrics. After the twelve and a half miles to Magna was covered, the mainline trains entered the dumper yards at either Magna, Arthur, or Bonneville, where the dumper engines from Chino pushed the trains through the rotary car dumpers, and the empties were returned to Bingham.
Also during the early 1970s, the two GE 70 tonners were used at the Precipitation Plant at Copperton. The four 900 class locomotives were used in local-type service between the Magna, Arthur, and Bonneville mills, at the Refinery above the town of Garfield, and at the Garfield Smelter. Specific assignments were: no. 901 and 903 alternated on the "Smelter Run" which moved concentrate between the mills and the Garfield Smelter, and copper ingots between the smelter and the Refinery; no. 902 was used as the yard switcher at Magna; and no. 904 was in charge of the "Garfield Local" which moved the finished copper from the Refinery to the Union Pacific connection at their station of Garfield.
An article about railroads in Utah showed traffic figures for Kennecott's private electrified railroad as being 1,196 cars moved per day, with about 85 tons in each car. A average of 108,000 tons were moved every day. "Kennecott officials claim their road to be the one of the world's busiest." (Deseret News, July 22, 1972)
November 17, 1974
Kennecott completed the construction of the new smokestack at its Utah smelter. Construction started on August 26, 1974. At 1,115 feet high, the smokestack is the tallest man-made structure in Utah, as well as the tallest free-standing structure west of the Mississippi. The extra height was needed to meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act of 1970, to disperse waste gases according to the new standards. The new smokestack replaced several earlier smokestacks, the tallest of which was 413 feet high. The old smokestacks were demolished upon completion of the new smokestack. (Deseret News, November 15, 2009, upon the 35th anniversary of the completion of the smokestack)
April 20, 1977
Baldwin number 901 transferred to mine; renumbered to Kennecott number 734. (Kennecott notes)
Kennecott tested a General Electric 144-ton center cab in Bingham Mine service during November 1977. The test was a failure, with the GE taking 28 minutes to move the same train that the then-new 779-789-class high cab GP39-2s took only eight minutes to move.
The production for 1979 could be the best since 1974. (Deseret News, May 2, 1978)
December 4, 1978
The first of Kennecott's eight new EMD SD40-2 locomotives went into service on the rail line between Copperton and Magna. The first two units were received and put into service. Ten days later, two additional units were delivered and entered service the next day. The remaining three units were delivered very soon after, and entered service immediately.
January 12, 1979
Electric power was cut off to the Ore Haulage catenary; dumpers and road trains were completely dieselized. (Ore Haulage logbook)
(The author was employed by Kennecott from early March to late April 1979 as a railroad brakeman. Several tours of duty were spent as a flag man protecting the crews of Wasatch Electric as they removed the catenary the tracks of the Ore Haulage department between the Bingham mine and the mills at Magna (Fogarty), Arthur, and Bonneville.)
Wasatch Electric completed removal of the overhead catenary on the Copperton low line. The project had been started in March. (Interview with Bruce Morrison, 1979)
38 million tons of ore mined in 1979 by Utah Copper Division of Kennecott Copper Corporation. 160 million tons of overburden removed. 12 pounds of copper per ton of ore. 206,000 tons of copper produced; 120,000 tons of copper produced in 1978. New smelter went on line in 1977-1978. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 2, 1980)
Between 1978 and 1981, Kennecott corporate management was distracted by an attempted hostile takeover by Curtiss-Wright Corporation. All of the activity seems to have taken place in the corporate boardrooms and courtrooms of New York City. The result was that in 1981, Kennecott Corporation's financial condition was so weakened that another corporate takeover, by Standard Oil of Ohio, changed the company and its ability to remain as the nation's foremost supplier of copper. (Read more about the attempted takeover by Curtiss-Wright)
May 6, 1980
Kennecott Copper Corporation changed its name to Kennecott Corporation at its 65th annual stockholder's meeting. (Deseret News, May 7, 1980; Salt Lake Tribune, May 7, 1980)
At the same time, Kennecott reorganized its major business units. The mining operations and mineral interests were organized as Kennecott Minerals Company. A second unit was called Kennecott Engineered Systems Company, and a third unit was called Kennecott Development Company, which was sold to Kennecott's subsidiary Carborundum Company in September 1980. (part from New York Times, May 16, 1980 and September 10, 1980)
The first locomotives with the KMC name were two GP39-2s delivered in February 1982.
July 1, 1980
Operations shut down due to strike. (Ore Haulage logbook)
Work began on the North Ore Shoot Extension, mining ore for the production of copper, gold, silver, and molybdenum. A study completed in 1980 projected that the Bingham Mine would have to convert partially to underground operations and build new concentrators. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 18, 1981)
September 9, 1980
Strike over, operations start up. (Ore Haulage logbook)
September 10, 1980
A strike at Kennecott ended; the strike had lasted 71 days (10 weeks); workers returned for morning shift on September 10, 1980. Strike began on July 1, 1980; 40,000 workers from 11 companies in nine states; Kennecott was the largest company. Other strikes: eight months in 1967; 29 days in 1971; six days in 1974; 19 days in 1977. (Deseret News, September 10, 1980; Salt Lake Tribune, September 10, 1980)
October 14, 1980
The first units of the third order of seven high cab GP39-2 locomotives arrive at Dry Fork shops. (Road numbers 705-711) (Interview with Mike Minor, 1983)
The last electrics were removed from ore haulage service in the Bingham pit with the arrival of the third order of seven high-cab GP39-2s in October 1980. After that, the last 13 electric locomotives (85-ton electrics 700 and 703, 90-ton electrics 761 and 762, and 125-ton electrics 766-773, and 778) were only used occasionally as standby units, and for maintenance trains until late 1982 or early 1983. All were either retired and scrapped by late 1983, or donated to museums for preservation.
Kennecott is nation's largest copper producer. (Deseret News, November 11, 1980)
Kennecott to use head frame to mine North Ore Shoot. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 19, 1980)
March 2, 1981
Mitsubishi of Japan took a one-third interest in Kennecott's Chino Mines Division in New Mexico. The agreement giving Mitsubishi one-third interest in Chino was signed on March 2, 1981. (Deseret News, March 2, 1981) Kennecott Corporation announced in December 1980 its intent to form a partnership with Mitsubishi for Chino Mines Division. Mitsubishi was to acquire a one-third interest in Chino, which produced 62,000 tons of copper in 1979, compared to Utah Copper Division production of 206,000 tons of copper in same year. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 23, 1980) Mitsubishi's one-third interest in Chino is $116 million, to pay for modernization. One-third of copper production to go to Mitsubishi. No change in name, all 1,800 employees will remain as Kennecott Minerals Company. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 3, 1981)
June 4, 1981
Standard Oil Company of Ohio (Sohio) bought Kennecott Minerals Company (KMC); British Petroleum (BP) owned 53 percent of Sohio; British government owned 25 percent of BP, Bank of England owned 20 percent. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 24, 1981) (Read more about Sohio ownership of Kennecott)
Changes, 1960 to 1988
Kennecott expanded its power plant in 1960 to a 175,000-kilowatt capacity. By 1961 Kennecott's copper mines included four large open pits in the western United States and one underground mine in Chile. In addition to those in Utah, operations existed in New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. In 1963 the company began a four-year, $100,000,000 expansion of operations. Parts of this program led to the 1965 opening of a cone precipitate plant at Bingham, and the Bonneville concentrator and a molybdenum oxide production plant at the Garfield smelter in 1966.
Further expansion led to the demise of the town of Bingham, which ceased to exist in 1971. Later in that decade, the town of Lark also succumbed to mine expansion. In 1977 construction began at the Garfield smelter to comply with the Clean Air Act. By 1978 the 1,215-foot smokestack at the smelter was completed. The smelter ultimately captured 94 percent of the sulfur contained in the copper concentrates.
The year 1980 marked the beginning of a worldwide copper recession which initiated significant changes for Kennecott. Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio) in 1981 acquired Kennecott, including the company's Utah Copper operations which had over 7,500 employees. In 1985 operations ceased at the Bingham Canyon mine. New labor agreements were negotiated in 1986, and resumption of all Kennecott Utah Copper operations occurred in 1987. British Petroleum acquired total control of Sohio in 1987, with Kennecott becoming part of BP Minerals America. In 1988 Kennecott announced a $400,000,000 modernization program under president Frank Joklik. (OnlineUtah.com -- Kennecott History)