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Salina Canyon Coal Mines

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This page was last updated on February 4, 2019.

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Overview

"Coal production from the Salina Canyon coalfield has come mostly from a few small mines that were opened to provide fuel for local residents during the winter months; the largest of these mines was the Sevier Valley Coal Company (Crystal City) mine. Production at the Sevier Valley mine began in 1924 (sic, 1930), was suspended from 1933 through 1943, and resumed from 1944 through 1953, when the mine closed." ("Available Coal Resource in Salina Canyon...," Utah Geologic Survey, Special Study 129, 2009, page 5)

Sevier Valley Coal Company

February 10, 1920
Sevier Valley Coal company was organized in February 1920 to develop 160 acres of coal lands in Salina canyon. (Richfield Reaper, February 10, 1920)

January 5, 1921
Sevier Valley Coal company filed its articles of incorporation with the secretary of state in January 1921. (Beaver County News, January 5, 1921)

January 15, 1921
"At a meeting held in Richfield, the Sevier Valley Coal Company was formed by Richfield and Salina capitalists and articles of incorporation were filed. The company proposes to open up the vast coal deposits about eighteen miles up Salina canyon, on the south side, and shipment of coal is expected to commence shortly. The following officers were elected: C. J. Summers (C. J. Sumner) , president; E. R. Poulson, vice president; Sterling K. Heppler, secretary; J. O. Anderson, treasurer. The above officers with John Dastrup and William Lillywhite, form the board of directors." (Salt Lake Mining Review, January 15, 1921)

March 17, 1921
"According to our own information the present intention of the D. & R. G. railroad is to build the railroad up to Salina canyon to the twenty-mile post so it passes alongside the property of the Sevier Valley Coal company and ends at the property of the Knight interests." (Richfield Reaper, March 17, 1921)

January 26, 1922
"The Sevier Valley Coal Co. is an organization composed entirely of Richfield, Salina and Salt Lake City men. C. S. Sumner (C. J. Sumner), of Richfield, is the president of the company. The holdings of this organization are all in Salina canyon and reported to be the best and richest of the mighty promising coal deposits in the canyon. Preparatory to extensive development work the company acquired a diamond drill which was brought in from Rock Springs, Wyoming, arrived in Salina Tuesday and will be installed immediately so the holdings of the company can be thoroughly explored." (Richfield Reaper, January 26, 1922)

July 5, 1923
Sevier Valley Coal company was the successful bidder on the lease of 840 acres of coal lands in Salina canyon, as follows: S 1/2 NW 1/4, SW 1/4, Sections 21; NW 1/4, Section 28; Township 22 South, Range 3 East containing 400 acres. Also SW 1/4 NE 1/4, S 1/2 NW 1/4, SW 1/4, Section 20; NW 1/4, Section 29, Township 22 South, Range 3 East, containing 440 acres. These 840 acres surrounded the 160 acres that the company already owned outright. (Richfield Reaper, July 5, 1923; December 13, 1923)

June 19, 1924
Sevier Valley Coal company began development work on its coal mine in Salina canyon. The initial work included a temporary camp, timbers for the mine portal, and a bridge across Salina creek to allow access for the work to continue. The townsite to be built for workers at the mine will be called Crystal City, and the coal brand name will be Crystal Coal. (Richfield Reaper, June 26, 1924)

July 31, 1924
A new hoist for the Sevier Valley Coal company was on its way to the mine from Salt Lake City. The hoist would have a capacity of 500 tons per day, at 5,000 pounds per trip. By August 14th, several carloads of machinery had arrived at Salina and been moved to the mine for installation. The coal vein to be mined was four feet thick and of the highest quality. (Richfield Reaper, July 31, 1924; August 14, 1924)

July 16, 1925
The stockholders of Sevier Valley Coal company voted to approve a $400,00 bond issue to pay the railroad its $112,500, and to pay off old $10,000 debt, with the remaining amount to be used to cover current and upcoming expenses needed to get the mine into production standing. All of the required hoisting machinery and boilers were in place, as well as a boarding house and kitchen for 22 men. The vertical three-compartment shaft, 16 by 24 feet, had been sunk, and lined with concrete to a depth of 80 feet. "Touching on the question of railroad and wagon road, Mr. Lewis, general manager, referred to the full harmony prevailing between the railroad, state road commission, the U. S. bureau of public roads, the U. S. forest service and the Sevier county commissioners which augers well for an immediate start in railroad and wagon road construction." (Richfield Reaper, July 16, 1925)

December 28, 1928
The mine of the Sevier Valley Coal company was incomplete and not yet ready for production. The mine still needed a head frame for the shaft, cages, mine cars, trackage, a tipple to load railroad cars, and other preparations needed to produce 500 tons per day. During a special meeting, shareholders were asked to approve a $300,000 bond issue, to approve a mortgage, and to authorize the board of directors to take any additional action they deemed necessary to advance the bond issue and mortgage. The railroad grade had reached the mine, and tracklaying had been completed half the distance. The mine would be in production by the time railroad rails reached the mine, with 100 tons daily capacity right away, and 500 tons capacity within two years. (Richfield Reaper, December 28, 1928; January 11, 1929)

December 18, 1929
At the time of the "last spike" ceremony for the D&RGW Salina canyon branch line, the coal mine was not yet in production. "The driving of the golden spike symbolized the completion of the main line of the railroad to the mine, turn-out switches, and two combined loading tracks which are completed past the shaft of the coal mine and are sufficient to care for the present needs until, possibly late next summer, when four more tracks will be laid." "It is expected that the final capping-off of the shaft will be completed Sunday, December 22, and when completed the concrete which forms the lining and the partition of the shaft will contain twenty-one carloads of cement, 107 carloads of sand and gravel, eight carloads of re-enforcing steel, and will be the largest, most substantial and permanent shaft west of the Mississippi river." (Richfield Reaper, December 19, 1929)

(Read more about D&RGW's Castle Valley Branch, from Salina to the coal mine)

June 26, 1930
"After five years of active development at their mine located in Salina canyon, 36 miles from Richfield, the Sevier Valley Coal company will ship their first carload of coal next Monday, June 30, according to a statement by C. J. Sumner, president of the company. The initial shipment will consist of five or six cars with a capacity of 40 to 50 tons each." "These first cars will be sent to points within Sevier county, as this is distinctly a local industry of which the county is justifiably proud." About one million dollars had been spent by the coal company before any coal had been sent to market. The main coal vein being worked is 8 to 9 feet thick. The mine was located at what was called Crystal City, and by the coming fall season expected to be shipping 400 to 500 tons of coal per day. A new steel tipple had been completed and a solid concrete shaft with three compartments had been completed to a depth of 200 feet. The steel tipple spanned three tracks to load three grades of coal, which would be sold under the brand name of "Hotfire" coal. (Richfield Reaper, June 26, 1930)

July 7, 1930
The first three cars of coal, totaling 115 tons, were shipped from the Sevier Valley Coal company's mine in Salina canyon. The first car went to the Salina hospital. The second car went to the Sevier Valley Mercantile company in Salina, and the third car was shipped south to Richfield. (Gunnison Valley News, July 10, 1930)

"Manager Lewis briefly outlined the history of the company's operations since the first test was made some eight years ago. Six years ago solicitation of the Denver & Rio Grande to continue their line to the mine was started. Obstacles that confronted the coal operators were overcome and finally the line was completed. It cost approximately $1,500,000 to produce the first carload of coal. The huge shaft, the exploration and development of the coal veins, the installation of modern head-frame, boilers, tipple, the purchase of equipment, the erection of buildings, buying of coal cars, installation of one of the most modern and best railroad scales to be found anywhere on the Rio Grande system, and side-tracks at the mine, are all figured in the cost of producing the first carload of coal." "Perhaps three months will be required to place the coal mine on a large producing basis. Within ten days the cages, capable of hoisting cars with three and a half ton capacity, will be operating. Shakers and dumping equipment will be connected up and the production will be gradually increased until the property will be able to produce some 400 tons per day." (Gunnison Valley News, July 10, 1930)

August 3, 1930
A severe cloudburst and resulting flood along Salina canyon badly damaged the D&RGW line in the canyon and the spur tracks of the Sevier Valley Coal company's mine at Crystal. It would take a week to ten days to repair the damage at the coal mine, and D&RGW reported that it would take several weeks to repair the damage along their line. (Richfield Reaper, August 7, 1930; Gunnison Valley news, September 4, 1930)

September 28, 1930
The first carloads of coal were shipped from the mine, following repairs to the railroad line in Salina canyon. The first train was made up of 17 cars, about 700 tons of coal, which were bound for dealers from Manti to Marysvale. (Richfield Reaper, October 9, 1930)

September 19, 1931
In a cooperative agreement, Utah Fuel company took over the operation of the Sevier Valley Coal company's coal mine in Salina canyon. Utah Fuel would operate the mine, and Sevier Valley would market the coal. (Richfield Reaper, September 24, 1931; December 10, 1931)

December 10, 1931
The Sevier Valley Coal company was producing 150 to 175 tons per day. The mine's main shaft, with its head frame and hoisting machinery, was 160 feet deep, where the vein is 6 to 8 feet thick. Four tunnels have been dug to reach into the vein, each about 2800 feet long. Five additional tunnels, 500 feet long, have also been dug. (Richfield Reaper, December 10, 1931)

June 18, 1936
Utah Bank and Trust of Salt Lake City sued to foreclose on its lien and trust deed against Sevier Valley Coal company The mortgage was dated April 1, 1929. (Richfield Reaper, June 18, 1936)

October 20, 1936
The U. S. government sued Sevier Valley Coal company for non-payment of coal royalties and rent on the coal leases the company had obtained in 1923. (Salt Lake Telegram, October 20, 1936)

January 29, 1937
The assets and properties of the Sevier Valley Coal company were sold in a sheriff's auction on the steps of the Sevier County courthouse, resulting from a suit filed by Utah Bank and Trust company. The purchase was by an agent for the bondholders, and the purchase price was $40,000. (Richfield Reaper, January 7, 1937 [first notice]; February 4, 1937; legal notice includes full list of all property and machinery at the mine)

January 4, 1938
Sevier Valley Coal company was listed as delinquent on the Sevier County tax rolls. The list also included the Salina Coal company. (Richfield Reaper, January 4, 1938)

Railroad Abandoned

April 27, 1942
D&RGW applied to the federal Interstate Commerce Commission for approval to abandon the Castle Valley Branch along its entire 17.51 miles, from Salina to Crystal. In its "Return To Questionnaire" for abandonment of the branch, D&RGW wrote:

"The Castle Valley Branch was originally constructed in 1903 by The Castle Valley Railway Company, a Utah corporation, in the hope of developing certain Utah coal fields by operating a railroad up Castle Valley and through Salina Canon. Between 1903 and 1930 large expenditures were made at various times in an attempt to keep the branch intact although it was operated only intermittently during this period. Due to its location in Salina Canon the roadbed and bridges were constantly washed out by severe floods. The branch was actually operated as a railroad for four years only, from 1930 to 1934." "There is no train service on the Castle Valley Branch at the present time. The last train was operated over this branch in 1934. The coal mine at Crystal, owned by the Crystal Coal Company, ceased to ship coal early in the year 1934. Consequently, there has been no service whatever on this line for the past eight years."

May 22, 1942
D&RGW received ICC approval to abandon the Castle Valley Branch, between Salina and Nioche. (ICC Financial Docket 13700, in 252 ICC 807, "Cases Disposed Of Without Printed Report")

(Read more about D&RGW's Castle Valley Branch, from Salina to the coal mine)

Salina Coal Company

The Salina Coal company was incorporated in early December 1926. Its mine was about 15 miles east of Salina, in Salina canyon. This location would have put the mine at about mile post 15 on the D&RGW's Castle Valley Branch. (Richfield Reaper, January 20, 1927)

Southern Utah Fuel Company

(Read more about the Southern Utah Fuel Company [SUFCO])

Map

D&RGW Castle Valley Branch -- Google map of the D&RGW Castle Valley Branch; large portions of roadbed disturbed by the construction of Interstate 70 in Salina canyon. Portions of roadbed still visible in aerial photos from 1939.

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