Mills at Bingham
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This page was last updated on November 16, 2016.
(This page will focus on mills that were served by the railroads in Bingham.)
In the mid 1890s, the mining companies at Bingham were finding a larger percentage of ore that was lower grade, known as first class or smelter ore, which could not be shipped direct from mine to smelter. This lower grade ore, known as second class ore, needed to be reduced to save both on unneeded transportation costs, and high smelting costs.
In the early days of mining, a very large percentage of gold and silver ores required milling, or at least simple crushing to obtain ore of high enough concentration for smelting. These mills were essentially stamp mills feeding sorting and separation tables, usually known as "jigs." The ore was of such high value that simple amalgamation with cyanide was enough, which allowed very small operations to make good profit. This resulted in numerous small crushing and jig mills being built at almost all the larger mines in the Bingham district. As the tunnels were dug deeper, the ore became lower grade and of different chemical composition (less oxidized), which in turn required different and more expensive processes to separate the valuable portion of the ore from the useless rock.
As the oxidized ores ran out, the cost of extracting value soon exceeded the profit. With a new character of ore, a new process that used cyanide was used to separate the valueable gold and silver. These early cyanide mills were for processing gold ore. In May 1894, the Niagara Mining and Smelting company's Spanish mill installed cyanide equipment to process gold ore from the Spanish mine.
A limiting factor for all the mines in Bingham was the condition of the roads during wet and cold weather. The roads became impassable after the first snow fall, keeping the mines from shipping their first class ores to the smelters, or their second class ores to the mills, unless the distance from mine to mill was short enough to allow a covered mine track. Some mines continued working, storing their high value ore waiting for good weather. The mills usually shut down during the winter season.
Other mills were processing lead-silver ore and used a different process. These included the Dewey mill, the Fortune mill, and the Jordan mill of the United States company. Newspaper accounts also mention a Stewart mill operating in Carr Fork in Bingham circa April 1892, along with a Markham mill in December 1893.
"By the close of 1882 four stamp mills had been erected, one by the Stewart (20 stamps), one by the Stewart No. 2 (10 stamps), and two by the Jordan (one of 10 stamps, the other of 60 stamps, respectively). Even as late as the middle of the next decade a large stamp mill, with cyanide plant, was erected at the Highland Boy mine for the treatment of its oxidized gold ores." (These were gold mills.) (Economic Geology of the Bingham Mining District, Utah, by John Mason Boutwell, USGS Professional Paper 38, 1905, page 95)
"The Shawmut mill is situated on the property of that name on the north slope of Carr Fork, just above its mouth. It is equipped with 1 Gates rock breaker, 2 pairs smooth Davis rolls, 7 Hartz jigs, 1 Chilean mill, 4 sets cylindrical screens 4 to 12 mesh, and 4 Wilfley tables. Power for a 50-horsepower dynamo is obtained from the Telluride Power Company. At time of visit 30 to 35 tons of low-grade pyretic copper ore were being run through in each eight-hour day. The plant is equipped, however, to treat 100 tons a day." (Economic Geology of the Bingham Mining District, Utah, by John Mason Boutwell, USGS Professional Paper 38, 1905, page 95)
Transportation was always a problem, and as the mines and their production grew, the lack of capacity of using wagons and teams on the roads in the canyons and gulches became a major obstacle. The same narrow canyons and gulches were also a limiting factor for the railroads and aerial tramways. It was expensive to build a usable railroad spur to serve a successful mine, and in the steep canyons and gulches in the Bingham district, several mines built aerial tramways to get their concentrated ore down to where it could be loaded into railroad cars.
The successful mills were located on the Copper Belt railroad, which allowed the smaller mining companies to ship their second class ore by wagon or rail car to the mill, and to ship concentrates by partial and single car loads from mill to smelter.
By 1905, the need for reduction (concentrating) mills was slowing as mining companies began consolidating, reducing the market for custom milling, and as the local smelters added concentrators to their own processes. Also, the focus of the Bingham district shifted from lead and silver, over to low-grade copper ore.
By 1907, Utah Copper and Ohio Copper had both designed and were building their own concentrators located outside of the district. Also, Utah Consolidated would soon have its own mill and smelter on the Tooele side.
Dewey Mill (Wall Mill)
This mill was the same as the mill known as the Swan-Bemis mill, which began operations in June 1898. It was owned by the Dewey Mining and Milling Co. The last reference to the Bemis mill, or the Swan-Bemis mill in online newspapers was in July 1898. After that, it became the Dewey mill.
"The Bemis concentrating mill, which does much of the custom work of the district, is equipped with one Blake crusher, 9 by 15; one smooth-faced roll, 16 by 17; one smooth-faced roll, 12 by 20; four jigs (special design); 2 Wilfley tables, and a sizer. It was built in 1898 for treating low-grade copper ores, and has a capacity of 5 tons per hour. In 1900, 14,000 tons of ore were concentrated." (Economic Geology of the Bingham Mining District, Utah, by John Mason Boutwell, USGS Professional Paper 38, 1905, page 95)
In 1904 the Dewey mill was sold to Col. E. A. Wall, and became known as the Wall mill. The "special design" jigs noted above may have been those designed by Wall as he continued to develop methods to process low-grade copper ore.
The Lead mill was located at the mouth of Bingham canyon, near Copperton. The location that was later known as "Lead Mine," and was also where the connection was for the Rio Grande low-grade line into Bingham canyon, completed in 1907.
The Lead Mine station, the site of the Lead mill, was also where Utah Copper, and later Kennecott Copper, built its precipitation plant.
The Lead mill was connected to the Lead mine by a tramway four and a half miles long. The tramway was twenty-four inch gauge, and is operated by mule power and gravity.
The Lead mine was located very near the Dalton & Lark mines, at the head of Copper Gulch. The original tramway from the Lead mine to the Lead mill is shown on the 1900 Bingham district USGS map.
The Markham mill was located at the mouth of Markham gulch, on the east side of Bingham creek. The mill is shown on the 1898 Sanborn fire insurance map, and would have been served by a spur of the Rio Grande Bingham branch.
"The Rogers mill, at Upper Bingham, is smaller, and during 1900, was running fairly steadily on leasers' ore. It is equipped with 5 stamps of 650 pounds each, 2 revolving screens of 8 and 16 mesh, 3 jigs, 2 Wilfley tables, and a hydraulic sizer. Both copper and lead ores are treated. The capacity averages 20 to 25 tons in eight hours, but varies with the hardness, ranging from 10 to 30 tons. In 1900, during 250 days, 5,500 tons of ore were concentrated." (Economic Geology of the Bingham Mining District, Utah, by John Mason Boutwell, USGS Professional Paper 38, 1905, page 95)
The Spanish mill was located on what was called "the Utah ground," meaning the site of the old Utah group of mines, which included the Spanish mine. The mill was owned by the Niagara Mining and Smelting company, and was opened in mid August 1890, with P. A. H. Franklin as the company president.
From June 1895 on, the Bemis brothers, Austin H., Fred H. and George L., were operating the Niagara company's Spanish mill, processing gold-silver bullion. Previously they had been working the Trinity, the 1889, and the Spanish mines under lease, all of which were owned by the Niagara company. During the last half of 1895, they were delivering bars of gold-silver bullion to Salt Lake City banks, each valued at $700-800. During this time, the Spanish mill was owned by the Niagara mining company. The last reference to the Spanish mill in online newspapers was in March 1898.
The Spanish mill was closed in 1898, and much of its equipment moved to the larger Dewey mill in lower Bingham. The new Dewey mill continued to process the ore from the Niagara company's mines.
The Yosemite mine and mill were located a short distance south and east from the pass at the top of Yosemite Gulch, which extended down the eastern slope of East Mountain, on the east side of Bingham Canyon. At its top, Yosemite Gulch joined Copper Gulch (the location of the Dalton & Lark mine) and became the low pass between the Salt Lake Valley and Bingham Canyon. Proceeding down the western slope from the pass toward Bingham, brings you directly to Upper Bingham and the town of Copperfield.
The USGS map of Bingham in 1900 shows a road directly between the Yosemite mine, across the low ridge west to the Telegraph mine in Bear Gulch on the Bingham side of the pass.