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Utah Iron Ore Corporation

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This page was last updated on September 9, 2015.

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Overview

Utah Iron Ore Corporation owned and operated the large iron mines in southwestern Utah, west of Cedar City.

The particular iron ore deposits near Iron Mountain were first located in the 1870s but by the 1920s had not yet been commercially worked. The mines were to be developed to furnish ore for the new Columbia Steel Company's new iron mill that was being constructed near Springville. The actual mining was done by the steel company's subsidiary Columbia Iron Mining Company, and also by the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company to supply its mill in Pueblo, Colorado. Columbia's mill near Springville, called Ironton, went into production, producing pig iron, on May 1, 1924. The construction of the Cedar City Branch also included the 4.5-mile Iron Mountain Branch to Desert Mound, which left the Cedar City Branch at Iron Springs (Mile Post 20.28).

Utah Iron Ore Corporation completed a four-mile in-plant railroad between the Vermillion pit and the Desert Mound pit, along with a couple spurs. These four locomotives were used to operate that line. Apparently the two gas-mechanical locomotives, purchased in 1924 and 1926, did not have enough power, and were replaced by the two Shay locomotives in 1928. The in-plant railroad was used until about 1940, when truck haulage replaced rail haulage at the Desert Mound mine.

(Read more about the iron mines near Cedar City, Utah)

Map

Iron Mountain Railroads -- A Google Map of the railroads and mines in the Iron Mountain District, near Cedar City, Utah.

Timeline

December 1923
Utah Iron Ore Corporation was organized.

(Read the corporate information, on file at Utah Secretary of State's office)

July 1924
"The Utah Iron Mines Corporation, operating at the Desert Mound, is spending approximately $5,000 monthly for labor. Now that the R. R. spur has been completed to the Mound, the stripping of the ore completed, shipping will soon commence which will necessitate the employment of fifty or more men. This will increase the payroll considerably." (Iron County Record, July 18, 1924, page 5, "Local News")

August 1924
Utah Iron Ore Corporation began shipping ore. (Iron County Record, August 8, 1924, page 2, "Iron Springs Notes")

August 1924
Vulcan locomotive number 1 arrived.

December 1924
Utah Iron Ore Corp. was shipping iron ore as fluxing ore to Salt Lake valley smelters. Initial mining operations were done without stripping overburden from the iron ore. Shipments were found to contain high levels of silica, so operations were shut down and formal stripping of overburden was started. In December 1924, shipments of iron ore resumed. (Salt Lake Mining Review, December 30, 1924, includes photo of the Vulcan locomotive coupled to an ore car as the car was being loaded by a steam shovel)

May 1925
Columbia Steel Corporation entered into a contract for Utah Iron Ore Corporation to furnish 1,500,000 tons of iron ore from its Deseret Mound open pit mine, at a minimum of 500 tons per day, with delivery to start in July 1926. (G. D. MacDonald, The Magnet, page 19)

May 1926
Vulcan locomotive number 2 arrived.

July 1926
Utah Iron Ore Corp. was shipping 300,000 tons per year to a combination of customers: Columbia Steel Corporation at Ironton, Utah; Salt Lake Valley smelters as fluxing ore; and several customers of iron ore on the Pacific Coast. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1926)

March 1928
The following comes from the Salt Lake Telegram issue for March 2, 1928:

Cars, Engine Purchased for Desert Mound Mine -- Cedar City, March 2. -- Wallace R. Cook, general manager of the Utah Iron Ore Corporation mine at Desert Mound, has returned from a trip to Salt Lake in connection the buying of several cars and and another locomotive for the Desert Mound mine. (Salt Lake Telegram, March 2, 1928)

April 1928
Shay locomotive number 3 arrived.

August 1928
Shay locomotive number 4 arrived.

April 1936
The Desert Mound mine was reported as having been abandoned after the opening of the Blackhawk claim by Columbia Steel Corp., in April 1936. The Milner Corporation, organizers of Utah Iron Corporation, continued to lease its mining claims to smaller operators. (G. D. MacDonald, The Magnet, page 21)

Circa 1940
Rail haulage was replaced by truck haulage.

The iron ore reserves of Utah Iron Ore Corp. were purchased by Columbia Mining Co. sometime before October 1949. (Deseret News, October 21, 1949)

The Desert Mound property was reopened and greatly modernized, with production starting in early 1951. (G. D. MacDonald, The Magnet, page 32)

Locomotives

Non-Steam Locomotives

All locomotives were 36 inches gauge; used at Iron Mountain, Utah.

Road
Number
Builder Builder
Model
Type Builder
Number
Builder
Date
Notes
1 Vulcan 7-61-B 7-ton Gasoline 3468 Aug 1924 1
2 Vulcan 7-60-B 20-ton Gasoline 3622 May 1926 2

General Notes:

a. Both locomotives were built by Vulcan Iron Works of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
b. Roster based on information furnished by Robert Lehmuth and Allen Copeland.

Notes:

1. Utah Iron Ore number 1 was a four-wheel gas-mechanical locomotive, with 22-1/2-inch drive wheels; equipped with a Waukesha 60-horsepower gasoline engine; weight was 14,000 pounds.
2. Utah Iron Ore number 2 was a four-wheel gas-mechanical locomotive, with 30-1/2-inch drive wheels; equipped with a Climax 125-horsepower gasoline engine; weight was 40,000 pounds.

Steam Locomotives

All locomotives were 36 inches gauge; used at iron Mountain, Utah.

Road
Number
Wheel
Arrangement
Cylinders Drivers Weight Builder
Number
Builder
Date
Date To
Utah Iron Ore
Notes
3 2-Truck Shay 8x8 inches 26-1/2 inches 40,000 pounds 1672 Apr 1906 Apr 1928 1
4 2-Truck Shay 8x8 inches 29 inches 48,000 pounds 3324 Aug 1928 (new) 2

General Notes:

a. Both locomotives were built by Lima Locomotive Works of Lima, Ohio.
b. Roster based on information furnished by Robert Lehmuth and Allen Copeland.
c.

Allen Copeland found a reference to a possible third Shay locomotive being used at the Desert Mound mine. In December 1964, before Michael Koch published his landmark book "The Shay Locomotive: Titan of the Timber," Allen compiled a list of Shay locomotives based on a booklet called "Shays of The Western United States and Canada", compiled by Ralph Ranger, Jr. in 1963. It was a bound mimeographed list with hard covers. Ralph Ranger and Jack Holst were early geared engine enthusiasts, and dug through records, rosters and photographs. Although Mr. Ranger did not cite his sources, he did cite the people that helped him with his effort, including Gerald Best, C. W. Witbeck, Charles Fischer, and Bob Hanft. The Koch book does not show Lima 672 as being on the Utah Iron Ore railroad, nor does the booklet published and sold by Tom Lawson "Shay-The Supplement" in 1998. At any rate, if Lima 672 was sent to Utah, it was a lot heavier than the other two Shays on the property, as well as being standard gauge, and this could explain why it did not last long on the property. (email from Allen Copeland, dated March 6, 2011) (ed note: The similarity of numbers, 672 vs. 1672, also suggests a simple typographical error.) (Read more at Shay Locomotives.com)

Shay no. 672 had the following specifications.

  Road
Number
Wheel
Arrangement
Cylinders Drivers Weight Builder
Number
Builder
Date
Date To
Utah Iron Ore
  ?? 2-Truck Shay 10x12 inches 29-1/2 inches 64,000 pounds 672 Dec 1901 ??

Notes:

1. Utah Iron Ore number 3 was built new for Silver City, Pinos Altos & Mogollon number 3 (also known as Comanche Mining & Smelting); sold in 1913 to W. A. Zenicker Supply Company (dealer), St. Louis, Missouri, moved to Birmingham Rail & Locomotive, Birmingham, Alabama for conversion from 24-inch gauge to 36-inch gauge; sold to Little Cottonwood Transportation Company, Wasatch, Utah and shipped from Alabama to Utah on July 3, 1917; sold in 1925 to Alta Scenic Railway number 3, Wasatch, Utah; sold in March 1928 to Utah Iron Ore Corporation number 3, Iron Springs, Utah (sale reported in Salt Lake Telegram, March 2, 1928); Lima records show parts being ordered as late as January 1934; further disposition unknown. (Read more at Shay Locomotives.com)
2. Utah Iron Ore number 4 was purchased new in 1928; further disposition unknown. (Read more at Shay Locomotives.com)

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