Daughters Of Utah Pioneers
In the settlement of Deseret, the leaders of the pioneers demanded the development of agriculture as the primary industry, as food, clothing and shelter were their most urgent needs. President Young, on various occasions, discouraged the Saints from seeking gold and silver until their homes were well established, then, "when the time was right," the way would be open, the precious metals would be sought to add strength to the development of Utah.
The people as well as their leaders were aware of the presence of minerals in the surrounding mountains and canyons, but they knew that the opening of mines would result, not only in a substantial abandonment of agriculture and other home industry, but in the influx of a people hostile to the pioneer objective. But there were some who could not resist the enchantment of a miner's life, and the lure of gold led them first to the California gold fields, then into the mountains and deserts of Utah. In a sermon delivered on July 8, 1849, President Young said: "I hope the gold mines will be no nearer than eight hundred miles. If you Elders of Israel want to go to the gold mines, go, and be damned."
But after mining had inevitably progressed in Utah Anthony W. Ivins had this to say: "The mining industry in Utah has provided its full quota of the romance and tragedy of the lure of gold. The romance of the discovery of her mines, the early efforts in their development, the millions in wealth taken from her hills, the dangers and disappointments which have followed many of the brave men who struggled for the accomplishment of ideals which were never realized, if told would read like a fairy tale, or one of Shakespeare's tragedies."
In November, 1849, a commission from Governor Young and the Legislative Assembly authorized Parley P. Pratt, with a company of fifty, to leave at once on an exploring expedition to Southern Utah. The experience of this party from Salt Lake City to the Santa Clara and return was filled with suffering and brave endurance. Upon their return in February, 1850, they reported there were favorable places for the building of towns, dwelling emphatically upon the great quantity of iron ore unsurpassed in quality. The people were aroused to the importance of the find and were joyful over the fact that "no longer would the housewife and the husbandman know the lack of iron utensils and implements, but a railroad would soon be built across the desert plains to assist in the great work of immigration."
Following this report, George A. Smith was selected leader of a company of 100 with supplies and equipment to go south into Iron County to build a colony and establish an iron factory. Leaving Salt Lake City December 7, 1850, they reached what is now Parowan in thirty-nine days of travel in mid-winter. After helping in the establishment of Parowan, Henry Lunt and others were detailed by Mr. Smith to locate and create a settlement farther south.
In the fall of 1851, a company called the "Scotch Company," was sent to settle the "Little Muddy." They came through Parowan and joined the Lunt company, coming to Cedar Valley. John Chatterly and John Urie were also in this group. They arrived in the valley November 11, 1851, and the fort which they commenced was at once called Cedar. Soon the remaining part of the company arrived and preparations were made for spending the winter there. About this time a piece of coal was discovered in the bed of the creek. Other coal was soon found in the canyon and the name of the creek was changed from Little Muddy to Coal Creek.
About eight miles west of Cedar City commences a chain of mountains, many peaks of which are composed almost entirely of rich iron ore, and strewn about their base are fragments of every size. With a view to the final settlement of Iron County, and of iron works in the immediate vicinity of this ore, the settlement of Parowan was rounded in 1851 some twenty miles from the anticipated locality of the iron works. This locality was also established for farming purposes in order to serve as a source of supply for those who might be engaged in the production of iron.
Cedar City, located on Coal Creek approximately eight miles from the iron mountains and two miles from the mouth of the Coal Creek Canyon, accessible at that time only to footmen but having unlimited coal, was founded in 1851-52. The first winter was occupied by the settlers in building houses to shelter them from the cold and storms. They were put in the form of a fort with intervals between. In this new settlement in Southern Utah the first iron factory was organized and work on a factory begun. So anxious were the men to see the building completed they removed the tires from their wagons and used them for making machinery for the foundry. Experiments had already been made with a small blast furnace, and a small amount of iron had been produced out of which Burr Frost, a blacksmith of Parowan, had made some horseshoe nails.
They dragged coal from the mines on sleds; they pulled sagebrush and kept large piles of it on hand before the flue, that the fires should not go out and thus injure the lining of the furnace. The crops had to be cared for and often the smeltermen were compelled to leave their work to attend to the fields and gather in the wheat and potatoes. Yet in October, 1852, George A. Smith was able to display a pair of andirons and some pig iron, and it was announced in February, 1853, through the Deseret News, that a small portion of the iron had been converted into steel. In 1851 Governor Young issued a call to the Utah men who were abroad to try to send experienced iron workers to Utah "who can make iron from magnetic ore of the best quality and machinery for slitting and cutting nails and drawing wire." Erastus Snow was in Sweden at the time and, going to England, he made a study of the great iron factories of that country and while there organized the Deseret Iron Company of Liverpool, in 1852. He succeeded in disposing of enough stock to net $16,000, and returned home that year....
The following report is taken from the Millennial Star:
A report of Erastus Snow and Franklin D. Richards, general agents and managers of the Deseret Iron Company, which was presented at this first general meeting held in Cedar City, November, 1853: "Our labor on behalf of the company commenced previous to its organization, while we were in England. We had received instructions to organize a company for the manufacture of iron in the Utah Territory. We commenced our operations on April 6, 1852, in London. April 28 and 29, at 15 Wilton Street, Liverpool, England, the company was organized with a subscription of four thousand pounds stock, to be paid on or before January 1, 1853."
Upon their arrival in Salt Lake City August, 1853, they reported to Brigham Young the organization of the Deseret Iron Company. He advised them to develop and establish works in the company as soon as their funds would allow. There were no funds in the company's treasury and subscriptions could not be made available under one year, yet these men were anxious to begin operation. They proceeded, on their own credit, to borrow money to purchase the goods with which they commenced the business of the Deseret Iron Company at Cedar City, Iron County, Utah. It was chartered by the Territorial Legislature January 17, 1853, and was incorporated for $20,000. The Territorial Assembly made an appropriation of $7,000.
The Church, and individuals, also contributed money to aid in the opening of the coal mines. Knowing that fuel would be needed to fire the furnace they thought it advisable that further experiments on that be postponed until the coal mines could be developed with a good road leading to them. Hoping, however, to put the furnace into operation in the spring, the company had spent the winter of 1852-53 preparing large quantities of charcoal and birch wood, but the result proved most conclusively that that kind of fuel would not answer the desired purpose, as only small quantities of iron were produced at great expense.
On September 3, 1853, a flood swept down Coal Creek, carrying before it all bridges and dams, completely inundating the site of the iron works and sweeping away much of the company's property. This flood, however, did away with some of the difficulties in supplying the furnace from the mines of Coal Creek, for several veins of coal were exposed. The company's attention was directed to one which was traced for several miles on the precipitous side of the mountain at a great elevation above the valley. This vein proved of excellent quality, with seven feet of pure coal, and about two feet more separated from the main body by a thin strata of rock and fire clay. This coal bank was within seven miles of the iron works. After its discovery there seemed to be nothing needed but a suitable furnace and a proper combination of materials to produce iron in any desirable quantity. This coal was opened up and a good road made to it at an expense of $6,000. Although great exertions were made by the company to obtain a quantity of coal in the winter of 1853-54, little was accomplished on account of the accumulation of snow and ice in the canyon, which rendered the mine almost inaccessible.
From a letter written by Isaac C. Haight:
"The foundation of a new furnace was laid about May 25, 1854. It is 21 feet square, of red sandstone, carried up perpendicularly 12 feet above the ground, then tapered 18 feet to the top. The tunnel head is 8 feet, making the furnace 28 feet to the top of the tunnel head. It is six and one-half feet in the boshes and three and one-half feet at the tunnel head inside, and 13 feet square outside. The lining is of porous sandstone, that will stand the fire well. The reason for lining with rock is that we cannot get fire brick. The hearth is of grey sandstone." September 24, 1854, he reported:
"The furnace is now completed and is said to be as good as any seen in England or any other country; we also have six coke ovens and intend to add six others. We have enlarged the water wheel four feet and made circular cylinders three and one-half feet in diameter. They work admirably and will give a blast of two and one-half pounds to the square inch. It took 650 tons of rock to build this furnace and it cost $3,782.45."
The iron foundry and mines were 300 miles from the railroad and the roads at times were almost impassable. Because of the cost of shipping the pig iron to Salt Lake City, and later transporting the manufactured articles to the coast by team, the project failed and the company was forced to close the plan in 1859. They were ordered to strengthen the fort walls to keep out the Indians. These people, 300 miles south of Salt Lake City, were practically in a wilderness where even the population was scattered. But what an heroic attempt it was to develop the iron industry!
In the fall of 1857, when Johnston's Army was advancing on Salt Lake City and the entire territory was preparing for the worst, the people of Iron County decided to have a supply of bullets made at the iron works. Accordingly, sixteen teams, four from each of the four larger settlements, were sent to the mines in southeast Nevada for ore.
The journey was made in safety and the mines located. As these men had expected to find miners there they took no picks or shovels with them with which to dig the ore. They had no inclination to return empty-handed after making the long and tedious journey, so it was decided that they should try to locate some lead ore with which to load their wagons. At last they succeeded in locating far up on the side hill a slide of rock which looked like the ore at the mine. No way could be found to carry it down. They overcame this difficulty by fastening up the tops of their buckskin trousers and filling them with ore. They then put one leg over each shoulder and carried the ore down hill. They continued this until their wagons were filled. When these men reached home the lead was made into bullets to be held in readiness for the invading army. Clara Farnsworth
Although the hills and mountains surrounding Salt Lake Valley were covered with trees, the pioneers realized they must not deplete the supply of timber by ruthlessly cutting it for firewood; hence a search for other fuel must be made. Some coal was burned in the valley in the early 50's, but transportation difficulties caused the 1854 Territorial Legislature to offer $1000.00 for discovery of a coal vein, not less than 18 inches thick, within a radius of forty miles from Salt Lake City.
Thomas Rhodes, pioneer hunter and explorer, discovered coal in the Coalville district by accident. Rhodes was searching for game on a high promontory, known as Skunk's Point, when he came upon a small vein of coal. Using his hunting knife, he cut out samples which he took to President Young. In 1860, two men, Samuel Fletcher and John Muir, were sent to investigate the possibility of working Rhode's discovery. Mr. Muir shot and wounded a deer and while the two men were trailing the animal, they came upon a ten foot outcropping of coal. They immediately reported their findings to the Church leaders, under whose direction the Church Coal Mines were developed in the district. From this time on, hundreds of tons of coal were hauled from Coalville into Salt Lake City by ox-teams. Later other mines were developed in the same locality.
"In 1854, at Fort Ephraim, an Indian, Tabiona, gave President Young a black rock, saying: 'heap burn.' Two Welsh coal miners John Rees and John Price, were sent with the Indian to locate the coal vein, which was found in Coal Canyon about 1 mile south and 1 1/2 miles west of this marker. Until 1860 Welsh pioneers were directed to settle near Coalbed (Wales) to develop the mine. In 1872 twelve coke ovens were erected. In 1875 a branch railroad line was extended from Nephi to ship the coal to market. It carried U.S. mail to all Sanpete County."
In July, 1949, the Daughters of Utah Pioneers dedicated a monument upon which was placed the above inscription, commemorating the first coal mine in Utah. These two men, Rees and Price, went to work in the year 1857 and helped to establish the town of Wales.
It was discovered that the coal was of a good blacksmith variety and they commenced the manufacture of coke, which was shipped to Salt Lake City by ox-team. Later a Salt Lake company was formed to take over the holdings of the pioneer coal miners, large coke ovens were built and coke and coal were hauled by teams to York, then the terminus of the old Utah Central Railroad. York was located at a point about 20 miles south of what is now Provo. The Salt Lake company sold its interests to an English concern which spent large sums of money in development, exploration and in the construction of huge coke ovens. Just why work in the development of the coal resources in this section of the state was then suspended is not now fully known. The annual output was approximately 4,000 tons per year from 1878 to 1893. Since then a very small production has been noted. Probably the discovery of more extensive local fields in Carbon County caused the Wales venture to cease operation.
Coal Lands 1872.
Citizens of the United States, or persons who have declared their intention to become such, over the age of twenty-one years, are entitled to enter one hundred and sixty acres of coal Land, and an association of persons, each having the above qualifications, may enter three hundred and twenty acres. The right is exhausted by making an entry in an association, the same as by entering as an individual.
"Applicants who have opened and improved a coal mine, and who are in actual possession of the same, are entitled to preference in making an entry of the mines so opened and improved. Duly authorized agents are recognized when such relationship is proved. When an association consists of four persons or more; and expends five thousand dollars in working and improving a mine, such association may enter a whole section, including such improvements."
Huntington Canyon Coal Mining.
The leading industry of Huntington Canyon is coal mining which was begun as early as 1876. Peter Murning, Sr. operated a mine at Connelsville which was the first one in this part of the state and was located at the head of Huntington Canyon near the present Emery-Sanpete County line. Coal was hauled to Salt Lake City and other Utah towns.
The Bear Creek Mine, opened in 1885, was owned and operated by Sam Hill. He mined it for several years, then sold it to the Freed Coal Company who are the present owners. The Deer Creek Mine was opened by Owen Smith and Charley Barnes, but these men failed to have it patented. Joseph B. Johnson and three men from Logan, Utah, had it patented and borrowed $12,000 from Jesse Knight of Provo for payment. It was later sold to J. H. Mayes of Salt Lake City who lost it to the county because of failure to pay taxes, but it is now owned and operated by Byron Howard.
In the 1920's, in Meetinghouse Canyon, west of Deer Creek, another mine was opened, known as the Community Mine. This was a community project and was operated and used only by community members; the first of its kind in the United States. A special permit for the project was obtained from the U. S. Department of Interior through the effort of H. S. Loveless, president of the Huntington Commercial Club. Castle Valley, A History of Emery County