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Knight-Ideal Coal Company

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This page was last updated on January 27, 2019.

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(This is a work in progress; research continues.)

Overview

The Dugout Canyon mine was formerly operated between 1940 and November 1965 by the Knight-Ideal Coal Co. Extraction from two coal seams totaled approximately 1,320,000 tons. (Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, Permit C0070009; Sage Point-Dugout Canyon Mine)

(Read more about the Dugout Canyon coal mine)

The mine in Dugout canyon was the Knight-Ideal No. 2 mine. The Knight-Ideal No. 1 mine was in Coal Creek canyon, situated between the mines in Deadman Canyon to the west, where Andalex Resources had its Tower mine beginning in 1980, and the Soldier Creek mine in Soldier canyon on the east. Dugout canyon is situated farther east from Soldier canyon.

(The underground mining methods of the Knight-Ideal Coal company's coal mine in "Coal Creek Canyon" were the subject of a four-page article in Coal Age magazine, December 1950. The article included several photos of the underground operations, and surface operations at the mine and the screening and loading tipple of this early example of a truck-operated coal mine in Utah. Also included a diagram of the mine layout.)

Knight-Ideal had its loadout and tipple at Wellington, on a spur of the D&RGW. At first, Knight-Ideal did little but load mine-run coal at their tipple. As their business increased, the company began screening and cleaning its coal products at its Wellington tipple. In later years, after the upgrade in 1958, the tipple had a single pass-under loader for trucks, and two tracks for rail cars.

(The operation of a new washing, drying and blending plant of the Knight-Ideal Coal company at Wellington was the subject of a five-page article in Coal Age magazine, May 1958. The article included several photos of the exterior and interior of the new plant.)

Timeline

June 1949
The Knight-Ideal Coal company's No. 1 mine was opened in June 1949 in Coal Creek Canyon. In its first year of operation, mining in the Gilson seam which was 9 feet thick, the company produced between 10,000 and 11,000 tons of coal per month. For its underground equipment, the mine used rubber-tired drillers, cutters and shuttles, along with conveyors to move the coal from the mining face to the mine portal. At the portal, the conveyor dropped the coal into a 700-ton steel, concrete and timber storage bin with two separate discharge gates, which loaded the four 18-ton semis with a dump trailers. The loaded truck then traveled 15 miles to the coal processing plant at Wellington. The dump trailers were "Winch-Lift" bodies made by the Winch-Lift company, which used a winch to pull the rear wheels toward the tractor, thus causing the dump body to raise and dump its contents. (Coal Age magazine, December 1950, page 77)

1958
Knight-Ideal received approval for a new coal lease in January 1957, to began mining in Dugout canyon, 7.5 miles east of Coal Creek. This new mine in Dugout Canyon became the Knight-Ideal No. 2 mine, and maps of the old works show that coal was extracted almost solely from the Gilson seam on both the east side and the west side.

The first mining on the west side Dugout Canyon, the site of the current mine operated by Canyon Fuel, had occurred in March 1952 when the E.S.O. (E. S. O'Connor) Coal Company initiated development of the Rock Canyon seam mine. Maps of the old works show that very little work was completed in the Rock Canyon seam on the west side prior to Canyon Fuel started development in 1996.

(E. S. O'Connor retired as superintendent of Geneva Steel Company's Columbia Mine, Columbia, Utah, on December 31, 1947. He died in July 1960, and his coal company interests and coal leases became available.)

The Rock Canyon seam is situated above the Gilson seam, and maps of the old workings show a much smaller area having been worked in the Rock Canyon seam on the west side, than in the Rock Canyon seam on the east side. These same maps of the old works show that similar and almost equal work was done in the Gilson seam (below the Rock Canyon seam), on both the east side and the west side. This work would have been done by the Knight-Ideal company, who mined coal from both seams on the east side, and from the Gilson seam on the west side.

1958
"W.W. Clyde, a well-established Utah road construction contractor, reportedly secured the reserves in Dugout canyon during the 1950s in order to continue coal mining operations when production ceased in another mine in the region. Knight-Ideal reportedly initiated mining activity in Dugout Canyon in 1958. Knight-Ideal further developed the original Red Glow mine, developed a mine in the Gilson seam on the west side of the canyon, and also developed a mine in the Rock Canyon seam on the east side of the canyon which was basically superimposed above the Gilson seam mine. For the most part, Knight-Ideal developed the mines simultaneously. Historical reports indicate that, while mining In Dugout Canyon with a total of 16 employees, Knight-Ideal produced approximately 1000 tons of coal per day. Due to a decline in coal prices and W.W. Clyde's inability to successfully negotiate mining rights in a lease owned by another entity north of the existing mines, Knight-ldeal ceased operations in 1964. Kennecott Copper and Island Creek Coal Company acquired the leases in the area during the late 1960s but did not activate the reserve." (Mine Reclamation Plan, Chapter 5, Engineering; Sage Point-Dugout Canyon Mine; Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, Permit C0070009)

(These leases later became the basis for the Dugout Canyon mine, opened in 1998.)

(Read more about the Dugout Canyon coal mine)

1958
Knight-Ideal Coal company installed an updated washing, drying and blending plant at its Wellington preparation site. (Coal Age magazine, May 1958, page 100)

August 1962
Referring to the Knight-Ideal company's "Rock Canyon" mine, "The equipment now employed, including belts for haulage, was purchased in the period 1949-1952, and since has produced a little over 2 million tons." (Coal Age magazine, August 1962, page 88)

In 1963, Kennecott purchased the Knight Ideal Coal Company in Utah. This small 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 be the basis for Kennecott's purchase of Peabody. (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)

June 20, 1965
Kennecott Copper Corporation bought the coal mines of the Knight-Ideal Coal company in Dugout canyon, and in Pace canyon, as well as the tipple in Wellington. All operations would be closed as of August 31st, and held in reserve by Kennecott. The purchase was for the 2,700 acres of coal reserves held by Knight-Ideal, and not for its current production capability, which was not needed and would be closed. The delay in closing was to allow Knight-Ideal to fulfill its contracts by shipping 40,000 tons of coal. The mine was owned by W. W. Clyde, of Springville, who also owned one of the largest road construction companies in the West. A total of 35 employees would be put out of work. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 20, 1965; Helper Journal, June 24, 1965)

June 1965
"As part of the diversification program in June 1965. Kennecott acquired the property of Knight-Ideal Coal Company located in Carbon County, Utah, for $735,000 consisting of a mine and coal reserves capable of producing up to an estimated 1,165,000 tons annually. The existing mine on the property at the time was producing 185,000 tons annually." "Kennecott's goal was two-fold: (1) Secure a captive source of coal supply for the power requirements of its Utah and Nevada mining operations and (2) produce and sell coal on a commercial basis." "Correspondence during July 1964 between officials of the [Kennecott's] Western Mining Division and the President of Kennecott specifically and repeatedly refers to the opening of a new mine and did not at any time contemplate continued operation of the old mine. A new mine was to be opened at a new location." "During the period before and after the Knight Ideal acquisition, but prior to the Peabody acquisition, Kennecott was actively interested in acquiring additional coal reserves. The Heiner McKinnan properties adjacent to Knight Ideal were considered." (Congressional Record, House of Representatives, June 21, 1971, page 21113, 21116)

The Knight-Ideal properties consisted of 2500 acres, with coal reserves of 50 million tons. Kennecott acquired the properties and made plans for a new and modern mine to serve the needs of Kennecott's Utah and Nevada operations (450,000 to 700,000 tons annually) plus aggressively seek outside sales to utilities and industries. These plans included a spur of the D&RGW railroad to directly access and serve the new mine.

(In July 1966, Kennecott announced that it intended to purchase Peabody Coal Company, second largest producer of soft coal in the nation. The sale was made final in March 1968. In May 1971 Kennecott was sued by the Federal Trade Commission for violation of federal antitrust laws, putting too much control of the nation's coal reserves in the hands of a single company. Kennecott was ordered to divest itself of all interests in Peabody. After defending the legality of the purchase in the courts, Kennecott lost the case and in June 1977 began divesting itself of its ownership of Peabody.)

Reclamation

Beginning in 2009, the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, and its Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program, began working with Wellington City and other stake holders, including Union Pacific, to reclaim the site of the Knight-Ideal Loadout in Wellington.

After obtaining the needed funding, permits and approvals, work started in October 2012. A large amount of coal refuse from the screening operation was buried in an engineered disposal cell on site, along with remaining concrete foundations and footings, and asphalt paving (after being broken and crushed) in a separate disposal cell. Over 2000 tons of marketable coal was sold, and 58 tons of steel was recycled.

The project was completed in September 2014, creating a city-owned recreation area that included a community fishing pond.

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