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Mascotte Tunnel/Bingham Central Railway

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This page was last updated on September 24, 2016.

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The Mascotte (sometimes Mascot) name seems to come from the name of one of the 16 claims that made up the original Dalton & Lark group in 1895. There was a minor reference to the "Mascot placer" claim located on the surface at Bingham. The main tunnel of the original Mascot claim, or one of its branch tunnels, may have been the starting point for the much longer tunnel that exited at Lark.

The Mascotte Tunnel was reported as being at 5,556 feet altitude or elevation. (Engineering and Mining Journal, April 6, 1912, page 701, "Caving System at Ohio Copper Mine")

The railroad that operated within the tunnel, first as a single-track line, then later as a double-track line, was known as the Bingham Central Railway, a separate corporation that was usually closely associated with the original parent company, Bingham Consolidated mining, and the later Ohio Copper company. In 1937, Ohio Copper sold its surface rights in Bingam Canyon to Kennecott, and in 1951 sold its subsurface rights and surface rights at Lark to United States Smelting Refining & Mining.


February 12, 1900
"Among shippers this week are the Mascot (Dalton & Lark) with 9 cars..." (Deseret News, February 12, 1900, "Bingham Operations")

In May 1900, the Dalton & Lark laid off all of its miners and other workers, except the pump men. "Mascotte Forces Laid Off" "The Mascot company has laid off its forces at Dalton & Lark, except pump men, pending matters which will culminate in a few days." "The pumps are lifting several hundred gallons of water per minute from such depths as to entail ruinous expense. The remedy lies in tunneling, which is said to be feasible." (Deseret News, May, 5, 1900")

May 1903
"We have already begun taking ore from the Brooklyn mine of the Dalton & Lark group at the rate of 100 tons per day and from the entire Dalton & Lark group we are taking out about 175 tons per day for treatment at our smelter." "We are now handling between 20,000 and 25,000 gallons of water every minute through the Mascot tunnel on the Dalton & Lark properties and reducing the water in the mine at the rate of four inches per day." "This water is 800 feet lower than the lowest workings in any of the mines, and it is expected that we will be able to reach the ore body at this depth within ninety days." (Salt Lake Herald, May 4, 1903)

January 9, 1904
"As the Dalton & Lark is now perfectly drained by the Mascot tunnel, and the Brooklyn nearly so, driving of the tunnel may not be resumed until spring. It continues to discharge a great volume of water, with beneficial results to several neighboring properties." (Deseret News, January 9, 1904, "Bingham Reviewed")

March 30, 1904
Work was to resume on the Mascot tunnel, extending it to drain the Dalton & Lark main incline, "work was suspended last fall." (Salt Lake Mining Review, March 30, 1904, "Around The State")

"The famous Mascot tunnel, designed to afford an outlet to all of the groups of the Bingham Con., and to provide drainage, now has been bored into the mountain a distance of nearly 8000 feet and is almost under the Dalton & Lark workings. It is the intention of sending it 7000 or 8000 feet further." "A stream of water as large as a creek is now flowing out of the tunnel and down into the valley where it is used for irrigation." "The tunnel has just been equipped with a new electric locomotive, which arrived from the General Electric company's works this week." (Salt Lake Mining Review, March 30, 1904, "Activity At The Dalton & Lark")

September 1907
One of the Boston newspapers, in the name of the Boston News Bureau, ran a story about F. Augustus Heinze and his entrance as an investor in Utah mines. (Deseret News, September 17, 1907)

His first venture was with the Bingham Consolidated company, "...which has heretofore not attained a very great amount of prominence, except in unfulfilled promises. When organized, that company immediately built a large smelter to treat its ore before it had the ore. Hence the smelter operations have been largely on custom ores and net profits to Bingham Consolidated stockholders have been disappointing."

"When Mr. Heinze became interested in Bingham Consolidated the most valuable asset was a large tunnel, known locally as the Mascotte tunnel, which was planned to open the Dalton & Lark mines of the Bingham Consolidated at depth and provide drainage. The tunnel provided the drainage but failed to open the ore expected hence the operations of of this big tunnel to date have not been productive of net results. This tunnel has cost the Bingham Co. over $30,000. It is six feet high and six feet wide and has penetrated the mountains for a distance of 9000 feet, or 1-3/4 miles."

"At about the time Mr. Heinze became interested in the Bingham Consolidated, he also purchased control of Ohio Copper Co., which adjoins Utah Copper Co."

"Soon after acquiring the Ohio Co. Mr Heinze arranged with the Bingham Consolidated Co. to extend the Mascotte tunnel 3000 feet farther to the Ohio Copper Co., the Ohio Co. bearing this extra expense, thereby putting the Ohio ore bodies 800 feet below the previous lowest workings. He immediately set about to build a 3000-ton concentrator at the mouth of the Mascotte tunnel. This tunnel will also be extended to open the Commercial properties of the Bingham Consolidated 500 feet deeper than the present lowest workings."

Because of Rio Grande Western's reluctance to make improvements that were needed to increase its capacity, Utah Copper interests organized the Bingham Central Railway as an alternate method of transporting its ore from Mine to mill and smelter. This new railroad was to build a new rail line between Bingham and Salt Lake City. The new railroad would also serve the adjacent smelting and mining districts. (Railway Gazette, Volume 43, number 10, September 6, 1907, p. 277; Railway Gazette, Volume 44, number 19, May 8, 1908, p. 655)

August 28, 1907
The Bingham Central Railway was incorporated in Utah.

(Read the corporate information for Bingham Central Railway; Utah corporation files, index 6542)

The national railway press at the time was too far removed to know the specifics, saying that the projected line was said to include the construction of a long tunnel. In fact, the long tunnel already existed, in the form of the Mascotte tunnel (at times shown as the Mascot tunnel), 9000 feet in length, which already existed as a drain tunnel under the Dalton & Lark and other mines on the east side of Bingham, with its opening just below the mouth of the Dalton & Lark mine.

In 1907, the drain tunnel was a single track line used to transport ore to loading bins on the Dalton & Lark spur, a rail line that already existed between Revere (later Dalton) station of Rio Grande Western, and the drain tunnel located at what would later become the town of Lark. The spur had been built by Bingham Consolidated, but was engineered by RGW and operated by them until they bought the spur in late 1903.

All of the officers of the new Bingham Central company were also officers of Utah Copper, including A. C. Ellis, Jr., who was president of both Bingham Central Railway and Utah Copper Company.

October 2, 1907
The Bingham Central Railroad was "recently" incorporated to take over the Mascotte tunnel of the Ohio Copper Company. President was A. C. Ellis. (Engineering and Contract, Volume 28, July-December 1907, October 2, 1907, page 29, Google Books)

January 1910
The following excerpts come from the January 8, 1910 issue of The Mining World:

The Mascotte tunnel is owned and operated by the Bingham Central Railway Co., and primarily was built to afford transportation of the Ohio Copper Co.'s ore to its new mill, and without which, it is doubtful if the Ohio could operate at a satisfactory profit. The portal of this tunnel is on the Lark side of the range. In addition to being a transportation tunnel it drains the territory it taps, furnishing ample water for the full operation of the Ohio Copper Co.'s mill. Being so closely identified with the Ohio, the tunnel or railway controlling same, has scarcely been considered apart from the mining company, and its management is under the same local supervision as that of the Ohio-Colin McIntosh.

The tunnel is single tracked, and this fact has caused a belief that it could not take care of additional traffic, and even in some quarters, that it could not take care of all of the requirements of the Ohio. If requirements warrant, a parallel tunnel can he driven more quickly, and with less expense than to enlarge the present one to a double track.

The tunnel is about 14,300 ft. long, it being completed to a point about 300 ft. beyond the collar of the Ohio shaft.

The tunnel is equipped with a splendid electric haulage system, and the trains are operated on a schedule in the same manner as if it were a surface railroad, 18 round trips being made per day. At present a train consists of one 10-ton General Electric locomotive, with 15 five-ton cars. This gives a daily haulage capacity of 1310 tons per train. Four trains per day can be easily operated to the ore bins of the Ohio inside the mines at the tunnel level. As many more trains to other properties could be handled by starting them say two minutes apart after the Ohio trains, and these could be switched to their respective destinations at the points where the properties connect with the Mascotte tunnel. The company has already planned to double the carrying capacity by making trains of 30 cars, carrying 150 tons per trip, and for the equipment of these trains have ordered from the Westinghouse Co. a tandem electric locomotive, each "tandem" of a 20-ton capacity. This will, with two trains per day, enable the Ohio to deliver 5400 tons to its mill. It will also be seen what the haulage capacity per day, through a single track tunnel, can be brought up to. It is not overstating to say that, under the system of operation as planned, with four properties using the tunnel, not less than 40,000 tons per day of ore could be readily handled.

The ore bins at the tunnel level, in the Ohio, are 165 ft. long and have 64 gates. Their capacity is 4000 tons. The tunnel at the bins is double tracked. Everything is arranged for the rapid loading of cars, and while the loaded train is on its way to the mill, a train of empties having been previously set, is being loaded.

April 6, 1913
Bingham Consolidated connected their Yosemite shaft with Ohio Copper's Mascotte Tunnel. (Engineering and Mining Journal, April 19, 1913, p. 828)

(Bingham Consolidated became part of the Bingham Mines Company in 1907.) (As part of the Heinze reorganization?)

By 1913, Bingham Consolidated's Mascotte tunnel had been greatly improved and was the home of a high production, three-mile long, double-track, electrified mining railroad that had been christened the "Bingham Central Railroad". During this time, the Ohio Copper company alone was shipping over 65,000 tons of copper ore per month to their Lark concentrator mill, by way of the Mascotte Tunnel. (Wegg, p. 48)

September 1914
The following comes from the September 26, 1914 issue of Engineering and Mining Journal:

Ohio Copper Co. Bankrupt -- A friendly petition in bankruptcy was filed in New York on Sept. 16 against the Ohio Copper Mining Co, by certain Utah creditors. Under a joint bond of $20,000, M. J. Hirsch and George C. Austin were named receivers in New York.

The Ohio Copper Mining Co. is a successor to the Ohio Copper Co. and it is stated that its liabilities amount to $170.000, aside from its mortgage bonds on which it defaulted interest payment Sept. 1. The affairs of the company have lately been in the hands of a new management headed by Pres. W. O. Allison. For a number of years the management had been controlled by F. Augustus Heinze, who still controls the Bingham Central railway, which transports the Ohio ore. The Ohio company sued to recover for alleged excess transport charges and the Bingham Central retaliated by suing for money due for services. The Ohio accounts were attached and these steps, in conjunction with the business situation and the decline in the price of copper, prevented the management from carrying the company's operation to a satisfactory conclusion.

The mine in the Bingham district and the mill at Lark, Utah, have been closed. (Engineering and Mining Journal, September 26, 1914, Volume 98, Number 13) (Heinze died on November 4, 1914)

Moody's Analyses of Investments, Steam Railroads, for 1917 reported the following for the Bingham Central Railway:

History: Incorporated under laws of Utah, May, 1908, for the purpose of constructing a railway between Bingham and Salt Lake City, Utah, and various mines in the vicinity, a distance of 30 miles. 3.5 miles of 2-foot railway is in operation, of which about 3 miles is tunnel, extending from Lark to mines.

Location: Lark, Utah, to mines. Equipment: Electric locomotives, 5; 150 steel ore cars, 50 of which are side-discharge, and 100 bottom-discharge, and 2,225 h.p. 150 k.w. 600 volt motor-generator sets.

Reorganization: Proposed reorganization plan of the Ohio Copper Co. provides that $850,000 stock of the new company is to be reserved in the treasury for possible purchase of this property which transports the company's ore from the mines to smelter.

Management: OFFICERS: Alfred Frank, Pres. and Gen Mgr., Salt Lake City, Utah; Frederick Eckstein, Treas., New York; P. T. Farnsworth, Secy., Salt Lake City. DIRECTORS: Alfred Frank, W. H. King, J. E. Bergh, J. W. Caswell, P. T. Farnsworth, Salt Lake City, Utah; Frederick Eckstein, New York. Annual meeting, third Wednesday in Sept. GENERAL OFFICE, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Bonded Debt: $975,000 Bingham Central Ry. 1st 6s. Dated April 1, 1908; due April 1, 1948. Interest paid A. and 0. 1, at company's office in New York City. Coupon and registered, $100 and $1,000. Metropolitan Trust Co., Trustee. Authorized, $3,000,000. $900,000 reserved for construction of railway to Salt Lake City; $500,000 reserved for additional trackage; $375,000 for tunnel section, and $250,000 for additional equipment. Sinking fund of $75,000 per annum became operative April 1, 1911. Callable at 105 and interest. First lien on entire property. Income tax is not deducted from interest. In default.

Capital Stock: Authorized, $3,000,000 6% cumulative preferred and $5,000,000 common. Outstanding, $975,000 pfd. and $1,624,987 common. Par, both issues, $100. Preferred has preference for assets and dividends. Stock transferred and registered at Salt Lake City, Utah. (Moody's Analyses of Investments, Steam Railroads, 1917, page 794)

The Bingham Central Railway was shown in 1918 as being controlled by the estate of F. Augustus Heinze, after his death in November 1914. "The Mascotte tunnel, controlled by the Heinze Estate, through the Bingham Central railway, exacts a toll of 15 cts. per ton on all ore extracted along that avenue, yielding a very considerable revenue to the owners." (The Mines Handbook, Volume 13, Ohio Copper Mining Co., page 1366)

Papers in the Ohio Copper collection at Utah State Historical Society indicate that the Bingham Central Railway remained in existence as late as 1924. These papers also indicate that at some point, Utah Copper sold its interest in Bingham Central Railway to Ohio Copper, possibly as part of a group that may or may not have included Bingham Mines Company, as successor to Bingham Consolidated. Whatever the case, the tunnel remained in regular use as United States Mining Company's Lark tunnel until mid 1952 when Kennecott completed a new 3.9-mile tunnel at its own expense to replace the original Mascotte tunnel. The United States company shut down all of it mining and smelting operations in Utah in late 1971. More research is needed.

November 1932
A ten-feet wide, electrified railroad tunnel under all of the mines in Bingham Canyon was proposed in a request for a $2.5 million government loan from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. The tunnel was to be 30,000 feet in length and would connect the bottom workings of a "dozen" mines, allowing them to haul their ores down to the new tunnel, rather than hoisting their ore up several hundred feet at great expense. (New York Times, November 19, 1932, "Mine Tunnel Loan Sought")

February 1934
Upon his death on February 19, 1934, Charles A. Kittle was reported as being the president of Ohio Copper Company, and vice president of Bingham Central Railway, indicating that the two companies were closely associated. (New York Times, February 20, 1934)

Ohio Copper Company sold all of its surface rights and minerals rights above the Mascotte tunnel to Kennecott in 1937. 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, p. 88)

March 1939
Upon his death on March 17, 1939, Donald G. Goss was reported as being a director of both Ohio Copper Company and Bingham Central Railway. (New York Times, March 18, 1939)

United States Mining Company purchased the subsurface mineral rights of the Ohio Copper Company, along with the Ohio company's surface rights at Lark. (Billings, page 26)

New Bingham-Lark Tunnel

August 3, 1948
Kennecott Copper and United States Smelting Refining & Mining made a joint announcement that a new tunnel would be built between the Bingham Canyon mine and a new portal opening at Lark. On July 26, 1948, Kennecott had purchased "important" rights from the United States company that would allow Kennecott to extend its open pit mining operations. Kennecott's expanded operations would mean that the U. S. company would abandon the use of its Niagara tunnel, which was at present the company's main haulage route for both its U. S. mine and its Lark mine. The new tunnel, to be known as the Bingham Tunnel, would replace the Niagara tunnel, and would be approximately four miles in length. The new tunnel would connect at the Bingham end with the present Niagara tunnel at what was reported as "the 1000-ft." level, and with other underground workings as needed to replace the present facilities. The new tunnel was to include a transportation system that used both battery and electric trolley locomotives and cars, traveling in 36-inch gauge track. The existing surface plant at the Niagara opening would be moved to the new opening, including shops and equipment, air compressor plant, electric transformer station, ore loading trestle, mining waste handling facilities, and miner's changing house and mine office. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 4, 1948)

The Niagara Tunnel was reported in 1912 as being at 6,650 feet altitude or elevation, 1,100 feet above the Mascotte Tunnel. (Ax-I-Dent-Ax, November 1, 1921, page 3)

April 15, 1951
The new 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)

Butterfield Tunnel

The Butterfield tunnel drained the mines in the upper parts of Bingham Canyon, including the Old Jordan, Old Telegraph and Galena mines.

The Butterfield tunnel was 8,700 feet in length, and its portal was in Butterfield Canyon, south of the Bingham district.

The tunnel was described in the February 8, 1896 issue of Mining & Scientific Press as, "A remarkable tunnel reaching a depth below the surface of 2200 feet and having a length of 8200 feet. It will tap and drain the two mines owned by the company."

After the Butterfield tunnel was completed, there was a suit by local farmers in Herriman concerning the water flow from the tunnel. In late 1900, the suit was decided in favor of the mining company, which announced that it would proceed with development of its properties, with the Butterfield and Queen properties being mentioned. (Deseret News, December 15, 1900)

The Butterfield tunnel was mentioned in the 1905 USGS Professional Paper 38, "Economic Geology of the Bingham Mining District, Utah" as being 8,766 feet in length. It was developed by the Butterfield Mining Company and accessed the Butterfield, Queen, Eagle Bird, and Northern Chief mines. The Butterfield group of mines is described on page 325.

The November 30, 1922 issue of Salt Lake Mining Review reported, "The United States Mining Company is preparing to push work in the old Butterfield tunnel at Bingham, which it recently acquired. It is believed that this will be the main operating tunnel of this property. At the mouth of the Niagara tunnel now being used there is no dump room, making it necessary to ship waste a long distance. By extending the Butterfield tunnel about one mile it will connect with a triple compartment shaft now being sunk." (Salt Lake Mining Review, November 30, 1922)

The Niagara tunnel was located at the mouth of Copper Center Gulch, where it met the main Bingham Canyon in Copperfield, across from the vehicular tunnel.

In January 1927 the Butterfield tunnel was mentioned as being the source of transportation for the Park Bingham mine, which had recently started its expanded development. After the United States company extended its Butterfield tunnel through Park Bingham property to reach its own workings, the Park Bingham company was able to start shipping its ore through the newly extended tunnel. The workings of the Park Bingham company were about two miles from the portal of the Butterfield tunnel. Earlier "this year" (1926?) the company installed a Manca seven-ton battery locomotive to replace seven horses, and greatly reduced expenses in the transportation of ore, timber, and powder, as well as transportation of crews to and from work. (Ogden Standard, January 30, 1927)

February 1932
National Lead Company, through its Combined Metals Reduction Company subsidiary, purchased silver-lead-zinc ore reserves in Bingham Canyon. In the previous Fall of 1931, National Lead had purchased the Park Bingham group of mines in Bingham Canyon. This most recent purchase in February 1932 were the Lavagnino group from the Lavagnino Brothers of California, which included the Already Kelly group and the Bob Roy groups, along with the first 8,000 feet of the Butterfield haulage and drain tunnel. These properties encompassed all of the ground southeast of the holdings of both the United States and Utah Copper companies in the Bingham District. National Lead owned 75 percent of Combined Metals, which operated a lead-zinc floatation concentrating mill at Bauer. These concentrates were in turn smelted at the International smelter at Tooele, or at other lead smelters in the West. This acquisition brought under National Lead control, large portions of silver-lead ore reserves in Bingham. The Lavagnino group encompassed 865 acres of mineralized ground and included the Queen, Eagle Bird, and Northern Chief mines. The Park Bingham group encompassed 51 claims (430 acres) and included the Silver Shield and Bully Boy groups. These properties were accessed by vertical shaft, or through either the Niagara tunnel or the Butterfield tunnel. (Murray Eagle, February 11, 1932)

The following comes from the EPA report for the Kennecott South Zone Superfund Site (EPA ID UTD000826404):

The Butterfield Mining Company began the Butterfield Mine as a lead/zinc/silver mine about 1892. The mine had two portals, the upper portal was the Queen Mine, and the lower the Butterfield Mine. Drainage from both mines exited out of the Butterfield Mine portal. Waste rock from the adits and shafts were dumped along the edges of Butterfield Creek. At some locations, the waste rock was dumped into the creek itself. In the early 1900s, the operators of the mine were sued by Herriman irrigation water users. The water users claimed that the mine was intercepting water which, before mining, fed springs along Butterfield Creek. Not only had the mining company intercepted Herriman water, they had polluted it as well, claimed the irrigators. The court eventually decided that the Herriman water users were entitled to half of the water emanating from the portal of the mine and the mining company the other half.

Later owners, notably the USSRM, extended the adit significantly to intersect with its other adits and shafts. Today the Butterfield Mine adit is 3.5 miles (18,400 feet) long and intersects with the Niagara Shaft (underneath the Bingham Canyon Pit) and the Bingham Tunnel (which exits at Lark). Mining continued here at least until 1952 by Combined Metals Reduction Company. The tunnel itself was used for operations until the 1960s. The portal of the mine still exists and continues to discharge water. (about 500 gallons per minute)


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