Castle Gate Coal Mines
Index For This Page
This page was last updated on July 12, 2016.
(This is a work in progress; research continues.)
There was more than one coal mine at Castle Gate. In recent times, during the 1970s through the 1990s, a large group of buildings along the east side of the highway were identified as "Castle Gate Coal Company." This company worked mines on the west side of the highway. Other companies were involved over the years, but that was what was painted on the rail car loadout next to the highway. Although the coal actually came from several different openings, and alternating layers of coal (known as "seams"), they were all from the same general federal coal lease area, including underground connections with the Spring Canyon mines.
Research suggests that the succession the various Castle Gate coal mines was Utah Fuel Co. (1918-1951), Independent Coal & Coke (1951-1968), North American Coal Co. (1968-1973), Valley Camp Coal Co. (1973-1974), Braztah Corp., as a subsidiary of McCulloch Oil Co. (1974-1975), Braztah Corp., as a subsidiary of American Electric Power (1975-1979), Price River Coal Co. (1979-1984), Castle Gate Coal Co., as a subsidiary of AMAX (1984-89). Production stopped in 1989. AMAX merged with Cyprus Minerals in 1993, then bought Plateau Mining Co. from Getty Oil Co. (which operated the Wattis, or Star Point mine).
The Star Point (Wattis) was reaching the end of its production, and Cyprus Plateau needed a new mine to fulfill the IPP contract. So they bought a new coal lease in Willow Creek canyon, and began developing the new Willow Creek mine in 1997, which went into production in 1998. Cyprus Plateau was sold to RAG American Coal Co. in 1999, including the new Willow Creek and the old Star Point mines. There was a fire in the Willow Creek mine on Aug 1, 2000, and the last coal was shipped in late September 2000. Reclamation of the Willow Creek area (east side), and the Castle Gate area (west side), with the Price River being the dividing line, was completed in 2006. The Utah Division of Oil Gas & Mining, and its environmental division, kept a regulatory eye on the area (albeit completely scrambling the owning company names) from the mid 1970s, depending almost solely on volunteered information, and with very little actual on-the-ground inspection, other than ensuring the settling ponds were satisfactory.
It was the Braztah Corp. that built the new buildings seen in photos from the late 1970s through the late 1990s. At the time, their newest mine was a shaft mine known as Utah Fuel No. 3, at the north end of the complex, but still west of the railroad tracks. The reclamation effort of the early 2000s removed most of the buildings and reclaimed the disturbed areas. Conveyor belts from the various mine openings fed mined coal to the southern-most loading tower, including a conveyor belt that exited the old Castle Gate No. 2 opening, carrying coal through a new 4,000-foot rock tunnel from the Sowbelly mine, which itself had been initially mined by the Spring Canyon Coal Co. This conveyor passed under the highway, and over the D&RGW tracks, at about the exact same spot as the old coal preparation plant of the 1920s to the late 1960s. A succession of south-to-north conveyor belts moved the coal up to pile loaders, and into the new preparation plant (the largest building), which in turn fed the loadout adjacent to the D&RGW mainline. The loadout was served by a Utah Ry. spur that paralleled the D&RGW mainline.
Castle Gate Coal Mine
In his original 1881 survey for D&RGW, Micah T. Burgess, the road's chief engineer, stated that a coal vein was located about a mile up Willow Creek. In his report, Burgess stated that development of the coal vein would require a 4,000 foot railroad spur line and a 1,100 foot gravity tramway from the mine. (D&RGW: 1881 Engineer's Report, p. 15)
Pleasant Valley Coal Company, operator of the Winters Quarters mine, in 1888 sent their chief engineer, Robert Forrester, with a party of men to prospect the coal veins which showed at the surface at Castle Gate. (Madsen, p. 29)
The first formal discovery of coal at Castle Gate came in 1888:
"In August, 1888, Alexander McLean and a few others made the actual discovery of coal in the mountains adjacent to the location of Castle Gate and commenced work at once. The first test of making coke was undertaken by these men in October, 1888, and as the experiment proved successful, a coal-mining town soon sprang into existence, and before the year was ended the first carload of coal was shipped from the mine so recently opened. Among the employees at the mines were Latter-day Saints, who were organized into a branch of the Church in November, 1888." (Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church, p. 121)
The mine known as Castle Gate No. 1 was opened by the Pleasant Valley Coal Company in 1888 to develop the good coking coal found there. The first coke ovens in lower Castle Gate were opened in 1889. (Watts: First Mine, p. 39)
(Madsen, page 28, states that Castle Gate No. 1 was opened soon after D&RGW's arrival at Castle Gate in 1883.)
Utah Fuel Company was organized in New Jersey in 1887 as a subsidiary of Denver & Rio Grande Western Railway (of Utah) to operate the Clear Creek and Sunnyside mines in Utah and the Somerset mine in Colorado. The original Winter Quarters mine and the Castle Gate mine was operated by the Pleasant Valley Coal Company, which merged with Utah Fuel in 1899. (Powell, Next Time We Strike, p. 21)
Utah Fuel Company was the new name for Utah Coal & Coke Company of New Jersey, which had increased its stock in 1901 for the purpose. (Wilson, p. 108)
(Utah Fuel may have existed prior to this particular 1901 corporate move, but no other information is available.)
Utah Fuel purchased the Winter Quarters mine in 1882, the Castle Gate mine in 1888, and developed the Sunnyside mine in 1900. (Alexander, p. 237)
Utah Fuel Company remained a subsidiary of the railroad when it was reorganized as the Rio Grande Western in 1889, and was sold to the Denver & Rio Grande along with the Rio Grande Western in May 1901. The D&RG was forced to sell all of its stock in Utah Fuel in June 1918. The coal company was sold to William Salomon of New York for $4 million. (Athearn: Rio Grande, pp. 194, 195, 236)
The Castle Gate Coal Company was incorporated on May 21, 1898. The corporation was voluntarily dissolved on November 8, 1950. (Utah corporation, index number 2233)
(This was the first of three companies with the Castle Gate Coal Company name, and may have been the name used by Utah Fuel for the Castle Gate mine.)
Utah Fuel Company was incorporated on April 17, 1901. (Utah corporation, index number 3111)
By 1901, Utah Fuel operated all of the former Pleasant Valley Coal Company mines, with the Pleasant Valley company serving as the retail outlet for the coal. (Higgins: Industries, p. 13)
The first mention of Utah Fuel Company in the property records was on June 18, 1902 when E. L. Carpenter sold 2,446.93 acres at Castle Gate to Utah Fuel Company. (Carbon County Miscellaneous Records Book 3, p. 575)
A. C. Watts, the chief engineer for Utah Fuel at the time, stated in a 1913 article that the coal deposits at Castle Gate on the mainline of the RGW were opened in 1889, and that the Castle Gate mine was the second commercial mine in Carbon County, after Winter Quarters. The Castle Gate mine was also notable because it was the first mine to sprinkle coal dust with water to control the fire hazard and the first to use electricity in a coal mine. (Watts: Carbon County, p. 400)
The first tipple at Castle Gate was built by World & Robertson in either 1889 or 1890, ("1890...just prior to this time"), just before they completed the Wasatch Store building, which contained the company offices. (Madsen, p. 29)
The first coke ovens at Castle Gate were built in 1889, and they were immediately put into commission producing coke for the Salt Lake smelters. (Madsen, p. 29)
In 1896 the 104 coke ovens at Castle Gate produced 20,448 tons of coke. The State Mine Inspector in his 1897 report called the Castle Gate operation the most extensive one in the state. The coke wasn't of the best quality, and was acceptable only until the coke from Sunnyside took its place. (Watts: First Mine, p. 39)
There were 201 coke ovens by November 1901, producing about 5,000 tons of coke per month. The coke was produced from slack shipped from the Sunnyside mine. (Higgins: Industries, p. 14)
All coal from Sunnyside from 1899 to 1902 was sent to Castle Gate to be made into coke. In the years 1902-1903, 480 coke ovens were built at Sunnyside. These were increased to 550 in 1912, to 624 in 1914, and again to 713 ovens in 1917, although not all ovens were in operation at the same time. The first coke was produced at Sunnyside in April 1902, and the volume grew steadily until the late 1920s. In 1929 coking operations were practically suspended. Coke production was suspended at Castle Gate in 1905. (Madsen, p. 53)
In October 1907 the coke ovens at Castle Gate were closed. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, October 3, 1907, p. 3)
In November 1910, 201 coke ovens at Castle Gate were returned to production. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, November 3, 1910, p. 8)
By early 1910 Castle Gate was known as one of the first coal mines in the United States to demonstrate the possibilities of using electricity underground, including, along with the Sunnyside mine, the safety of "shot firing", or the use of electricity to remotely detonate the blasting of coal with all men out of the mine. (Harrington, p. 21)
(Willow Creek Canyon, which meets Price River Canyon at the Castle Gate rock formation, is the route of today's U. S. Highway 191 between Castle Gate and Duchesne. Utah Power's Carbon Steam Generating Plant is at the mouth of Willow Creek canyon.)
In 1912 Castle Gate No. 2 was opened, located in Willow Creek canyon. (Watts: First Mine, p. 39)
The first coal seam opened by Utah Fuel in Willow Creek canyon was a disappointing four feet thick. Later explorations showed a twenty foot seam directly below, which was reached by a pair of rock tunnels. The coal from the Willow Creek (Castle Gate No. 2) mine was found to be the finest coal in the region. (Madsen, p. 29)
During the summer of 1912 a steel tipple was erected at the Castle Gate mine, being the second steel tipple in the state, and also the second steel tipple for a Utah Fuel mine. (Watts: Carbon County, p. 404)
The steel tipple of the Castle Gate Coal Company was built by the Ottumwa Box Car Loader Company. (Lewis, p. 19)
In May 1912, Utah Fuel had five mines operating in Utah. The company was building fifty cottages for workers at Willow Creek for the opening of production of that new mine. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, May 23, 1912, p. 5)
(In July 1913 the U. S. government filed suit against D&RG over its ownership of Utah Fuel. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, July 17, 1913, p. 2))
(RESEARCH: Find court proceedings for U. S. government suit against D&RG and Utah Fuel, circa July 1913.)
(Mr. T. A. Ketchum filed a suit against Pleasant Valley Coal Company, Utah Fuel Company, and D&RG. (Coal Index: News-Advocate, December 24, 1915, p. 1) Ketchum was from Portland, Oregon, and organized the Ketchum Coal Company at Castle Gate. The mine was under development in July 1914. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1914, p. 32; August 15, 1914, p. 28))
(RESEARCH: Find proceedings for Ketchum's suit against Utah Fuel, Pleasant Valley Coal and D&RG, circa December 1915.)
Castle Gate mines 1 and 2 were located on opposite sides of the canyon from each other. The opening for Castle Gate No. 1 was about 600 feet southwest of the tipple, which straddled D&RG's mainline between Price and Salt Lake City. The opening for the No. 2 mine was in Willow Creek canyon, about mile to the northeast, and the coal mined there traveled to the tipple over a 5,300 foot long electric haulage tram, being pulled by an electric 15-ton General Electric mine locomotive. The gauge of this tramway was forty inches and it was built on a two percent grade in favor of the loaded mine cars, from the mine down Willow Creek canyon, to the Castle Gate loading tipple. The tramway passed through two tunnels, one was 1,000 feet long and the other, 400 feet. The tipple at Castle Gate screened the coal into four different sizes: dust coal passed through a 3/8-inch screen; screened slack was from 3/8-inch to 1-5/8 inch; nut coal was from 1-5/8-inch to 6-inch; and lump was everything greater than 6-inch. A box car loader was used to load nut and lump coal into box cars. During mid 1914, output of the No. 1 mine was about 850 tons per day and about 600 tons per day from the No. 2 mine. (Lewis, pp. 19,20)
In 1922 Castle Gate No. 3 was opened. The new mine was located between Castle Gate and the Bear canyon mine to the north, and was the first vertical shaft coal mine in Utah. (Madsen, p. 29)
(PHOTOGRAPHS: Photo of Castle Gate No. 2, the Willow Creek mine, was in Coal Age, Volume 3, number 33, January 18, 1913, p. 90)
(PHOTOGRAPH: Castle Gate mine with wooden tipple, Wilson, p. 114, from Colorado Historical Society.)
Castle Gate mine explosion killed 180 men on March 8, 1924. (Coal Index: The Sun, March 14, 1924, p. 1)
Casualties were changed to 171 killed. (Coal Index: The Sun, March 21, 1924, p. 1)
By late July 1924, the mine was declared safe by the state mine inspector and was reopened. (Coal Index: The Sun, July 25, 1924)
The Castle Gate mines, both No. 1 and No. 2, started to work five days a week in late November 1933, until the end of February 1934. The average daily output of the mines was 2,500 tons. (Coal Index, Sun Advocate, November 30, 1933, p. 8)
Utah Fuel opened a new $300,000 coal washing and preparation plant at Castle Gate on February 24, 1940. (Coal Index: Sun Advocate, February 15, 1940, p. 1)
The new Castle Gate coal plant produced coal that had been cleaned of dirt and rock, washed, and treated with oil to enhance its market value. (Madsen, p. 31)
By 1947 the Castle Gate No. 1 mine had been closed because of a fire, and Castle Gate No. 3 had also been closed, leaving the No. 2 mine (in Willow Creek canyon) as the only producer. (Madsen, p. 29)
In 1950 Kaiser bought Utah Fuel, and operated the properties at Sunnyside, Clear Creek and Castle Gate as the Utah Fuel Division of Kaiser Steel. Kaiser later sold the Castle Gate and Clear Creek operations to Independent Coal & Coke, which later sold both operations to North American Coal Company. North American later sold the Castle Gate property to McCulloch Oil Company, and the Clear Creek property to Valley Camp Coal Company. (Sun Advocate & Helper Journal, Special Edition, January 2, 1975, p. 5)
Utah Fuel Company, incorporated on April 17, 1901, became the Book Cliffs Coal Corporation on March 5, 1951. (Utah corporation, index number 3111)
Utah Fuel Company was merged with Book Cliffs Coal Corporation, a Kaiser subsidiary, on December 5, 1950. (Carbon County Miscellaneous Records Book 15-D, p. 4)
Book Cliffs Coal Corporation was merged with Kaiser Steel Corporation on February 23, 1951. (Carbon County Miscellaneous Records Book 15-D, p. 59)
Independent Coal & Coke Co.
In December 1951 the Independent Coal & Coke Company purchased the holdings of the Utah Fuel Company, including the mine at Clear Creek, and the mine and coal washing plant at Castle Gate. At that time, most of the coal being mined from Kenilworth was being transported around the mountain by rail from Kenilworth to the Castle Gate coal washing plant. (HAER: Kenilworth, pp. 27,28)
Utah Power & Light constructed its Carbon Steam Generating Plant at Castle Gate in the mid 1950s. The first unit went into operation in November 1954, and the second unit came on line in August 1957. (McCormick: UP&L, p. 121)
In 1958 Independent Coal & Coke began a 5,000 foot rock tunnel that was drilled north from the 1924-built Aberdeen tunnel to the main slope of the former Utah Fuel Willow Creek mine. With the completion of this new tunnel in 1959, coal was gravity fed down to the Castle Gate mine's main haulage tunnels and exited at the Castle Gate portals, adjacent to the coal washing plant, eliminating the cost of hauling coal around the mountain by railroad. (HAER: Kenilworth, pp. 27,28)
Castle Gate No. 2 was officially closed on February 4, 1960, the same date that the new Castle Gate No. 4 was officially opened. The old Castle Gate No. 2 would after that date only be used as a main artery between the Kenilworth and Castle Gate mines. With the closure of the No. 2 mine, all workings were sealed and the track gauge changed from forty inches to forty-two inches. Work on a tunnel to connect the Kenilworth workings with the Castle Gate workings was to be completed in March 1960. The tunnel would permit moving of Kenilworth coal to the Castle Gate facilities and eliminate tipple work at Kenilworth and a heavy freight expense. Kenilworth was producing about 1,800 to 2,000 tons per day, and Clear Creek was producing about 800 tons per day. Operations at the mines of the Independent Coal & Coke Company were reduced due to the depressed coal market, with the company cutting back from a five day week to a four day week, and laying off ninety-one miners from their operations, fifty from Castle Gate, twenty-eight from Kenilworth, and thirteen from Clear Creek. (Deseret News, February 5, 1960)
Independent Coal & Coke later sold both Castle Gate and Clear Creek to North American Coal Company. (Sun Advocate & Helper Journal, Special Edition, January 2, 1975, p. 5)
North American Coal Co.
Independent Coal & Coke Company sold its coal interests at Castle Gate/Kenilworth and Clear Creek to North American Coal Company in 1968. North American Coal closed the Castle Gate mine in 1972 when Utah Power & Light purchased the Deseret Mine from the LDS church to supply coal for power generation. At its peak the North American mine produced about 650,000 tons, about 375,000 tons of that production was sold to Utah Power & Light and was used at the Carbon Steam Generating Plant. North American Coal sold the same properties to an undisclosed company (Valley Camp) in February 1973. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 17, 1973)
The last of five coal mines at Castle Gate closed in 1971. The property, including the mines at Castle Gate and the mines in Clear Creek canyon, was sold to North American Coal Company, which in turn sold them to Valley Camp Coal Company. Valley Camp kept the Clear Creek property, and gave an option on the Castle Gate property to McCulloch Oil Company. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 25, 1974)
McCulloh Oil Co.
The original Castle Gate No. 1 was sealed 6500 feet from the portal opening when the mine was closed (about 1928). In 1975-1976, McCulloch Oil Company renovated the first 4,400 feet of of the rock tunnel and drove a secondary rock tunnel down to the Sub 3 Seam. A conveyor belt was installed in the rock tunnel and out through the portal to transport coal to the Castle Gate Preparation Plant, under construction at that time. The new conveyor belt traveled out of the old portal to a hopper transfer station, where the coal descended 35 feet to a second conveyor belt in a tube that traveled under U.S. Highway 6, and over the Price River and the D&RGW tracks to the new coal preparation plant. (Documents on file at Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining)
The [Utah Fuel] No. 1 portals were first opened in 1888 by the Pleasant Valley Coal Company, later to become the Utah Fuel Company, to access the A Seam. One of the first major mining operations in the Book Cliffs, this mine operated in the A, C, and D Seams until 1928, when a mine fire forced a shutdown. At that time, the mine was sealed about 6,500 feet back from the portals. The two No. 1 portals remained closed until 1975-76, when McCulloch Oil Company renovated the first 4,400 feet of both portals and drove a rock tunnel down to the Sub 3 Seam. A conveyor belt was installed in the rock tunnel and out through the south portal to transport coal to the Castle Gate Preparation Plant, under construction at that time. The portals were sealed in 1991. (Documents on file at Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, Chapter 3, Section 3.5, Castle Gate Mine, Adit No.1; November 1996)
The following comes from documents on file at the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, Permit C0070004, "Castle Gate Mine".
The Castle Gate Mine Complex includes 7619 acres. The complex consisted of various separate areas including: the Hardscrabble Mine facilities (reclaimed), the Sowbelly site (reclaimed), the Eastern Coal Reserves and the Adit #1 Mine, formerly Utah Fuel No. 1.
In 1997, the Schoolhouse Canyon Refuse Area, the Castle Gate Wash Plant, and Crandall Canyon were split from the Castle Gate permit and made part of the new Willow Creek Mine permit area.
The Castle Gate Mine area has a history of various mining operations producing coal since the turn of the century. Consolidated mining activities began in 1971 (under Valley Camp ownership?), conducted by the Braztah Corporation, which in turn became the Price River Coal Company in 1979, then Castle Gate Coal Company in 1986, Amax Coal Company in 1991, Amax Coal Holding Company in 1996, and Castle Gate Holding Company in 1998. Reclamation started in 1992 in Sowbelly Canyon and 1993 through 1999 in Hardscrabble Canyon.
North American Coal Company sold its coal properties at Castle Gate and Clear Creek to Valley Camp Coal Company in February 1973. Almost immediately, Valley Camp sold its interest in the Castle Gate property to McCulloch Oil Company. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 17, 1973)
(This was prior to the May 1976 merger of Valley Camp and Quaker State Resources, as a subsidiary of Quaker State Oil Refining Company.)
McCulloch Oil Corp. or its subsidiary, Braztah Corp., acquired and assigned nine Utah leases during the 1970s. All were obtained by the oil company from independent coal companies and by 1979, all were controlled by American Electric Power Co. (AEP). In 1974. McCulloch obtained four leases by assignment which were then assigned to AEP later that year. Two, obtained by McCulloch in the same fashion, were assigned in 1974 to Braztah and then assigned to AEP in 1976. One was obtained by assignment directly by Braztah in 1972 and assigned to AEP in 1976. The remaining two were segregated in 1974 to McCulloch from leases owned by an independent coal company, assigned to Braztah in 1974 and assigned to AEP in 1976. (Patterns and trends in federal coal lease ownership, 1950-80, page 45; Federal Office of Technology Assessment, in accordance with Public Law 94-377, requiring a complete analysis of all federal coal leases)
(Research suggests that these coal leases were all for coal lands east and west of the town of Castle Gate, including coal lands in Hardscrabble Canyon, formerly Carbon Fuel, and coal lands in Sowbelley Canyon, former Spring Canyon Coal Co. Coal lands east of Castle Gate were separated in 1997 and were developed by Cyprus Plateau as the new Willow Creek mine.)
(In 1971, Carbon Fuel was sold to McCulloch Oil Corporation, which renamed the operational company as Braztah Corporation.) (Branson v. Price River Coal Co., U. S. District Court, District of Utah, 627 F. Supp. 1324, Decided February 3, 1986)
December 28, 1973
McCulloch Oil acquired the former North American Coal property at Castle Gate, including the mines, the coal preparation plant, and the town site of Castle Gate. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 25, 1974)
December 31, 1973
McCulloch Oil's stock was the second-most-active stock on the American Stock Exchange (Amex) on Monday, December 31, 1973, after it announced it would buy $5 million worth of properties from Valley Camp Coal Company of Utah, primarily coal reserves. (Ablilene Reporter, January 1, 1974, "Monday")
February 18, 1974
"Buys Coal Property -- Castle Gate, UPI -- McCulloch Oil Corp. has purchased the holdings of Valley Camp Coal Co. in Utah for $5 million. The property near here has estimated coal reserves of 75 million tons." (Ogden Standard Examiner, February 18, 1974)
McCulloch Oil organized the Braztah Corporation to operate and manage its newly acquired coal property in Utah. McCulloch Oil was a publicly traded subsidiary of the MuCulloch Corporation, best known for its chain saws, along with two-cycle engines for other applications. The company founder, Robert P. McCulloch, was president of McCulloch Oil Company at the time of his death in February 1977. McCulloch was also known as the guy who purchased the stone London Bridge and moving it to Lake Havasu, Arizona. He sold the chain saw business to Black & Decker in 1973 for $68 million. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 26, 1977)
March 18, 1974
Braztah Corporation, with its headqarters in Houston, Texas, was registered to do business in California.
The properties acuired by McCulloch Oil, and managed by its new Braztah subsidiary included the old Carbon Fuel Company (in Hardsrabble Canyon), acquired in 1971, and several adjacent properties of the Valley Camp Coal Company and Spring Canyon Coal Company, "acquired in recent months." (Ogden Standard Examiner, June 30, 1974)
Braztah developed four new mines, known as Braztah 3, 4, 5, and 6. All of the production of what was known as the Braztah complex was shipped solely to power plants of American Electric Power, making the mines "captive," with their production not being offered to any markets.
McCulloch Oil Company reached an agreement with American Electric Power Company to furnish AEP's subsidiary Indiana & Michigan Electric Power with 140 million tons of coal. The coal was to be produced by McCulloch's Utah-based coal producing subsidiary, Braztah Corporation. Braztah's coal properties were a combination of several former mining operations in the Helper, Utah area. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 20, 1974)
The coal from Braztah for the AEP contract was to be shipped by two 100-car unit trains per day from a loading station at Helper to barge loading stations on the Mississippi River for delivery to AEP power plants. The first year was to see 800,000 tons shipped (twice the 1973 production), building to 6.5 million tons per year. The operation was projected to have a life cycle of twenty-five years. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 29, 1974)
By mid September 1974, with the move of Castle Gate residents' houses to be completed by mid-October, Braztah began surveying and preparing bids to open a coal mine in Barn Canyon, on the south side of the Castle Gate site. Bids had already been sent for the construction of a "huge processing plant, for washing, crushing, tippling, and a unit coal train loading of coal." (Salt Lake Tribune, August 25, 1974)
During 1974, Braztah produced 352,000 tons of coal, and was targeted to double that amount during 1975. (The Amarillio Globe Times, October 20, 1975)
In 1975, as part of a renegotiation of the coal contract between McCulloch Oil, Braztah, and American Electric Power Corporation, ownership of the mines themselves was transferred to AEP, with Braztah being retained to do the mining and produce the coal. On November 30, 1979, full ownership and operation of the mines was transferred from Braztah Mines to AEP, superceding the 1975 contract. (Gomez v. American Electric Power Service Corporation and McCulloch Oil Corporation, U. S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, January 30, 1984, 726 F.2d 649)
By September 1975 the Castle Gate loading station was loading a fifty-five car unit train every other day, with two fifty-five car trains being joined into a single 110-car train at Pueblo for the trip to the Mississippi River. By October 1975 the company expected to begin loading a train per day. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 12, 1975)
In September 1975, McCulloch Oil named William H. Haynes, Jr. as vice president and CEO of McCulloch Oil's wholly-owned Utah coal-producing subsidiary Braztah Corporation. Prior to moving to Braztah, Haynes, a mining engineer with more than 20 years experience, had been the top engineer of all the affiliated coal mines of The Southern Company. At the time, C. V. Wood, Jr., was president of both McCulloch Oil and Braztah. (Edwardville Intelligencer, September 16, 1975)
In October 1976, a brief strike by three different unions shut down the two mines in production at the time, Braztah No. 3 and Braztah No. 5, along with the unit train loading facility being operated by Western Coal Carrier Corporation under subcontract to Barztah. (Ogden Standard Examiner, October 14, 1976)
Price River Coal Co.
1979 to 1984
Beginning in December 1979, Price River Coal Company operated two underground coal mines, a coal preparation plant and office facilities in Helper, Utah. Price River, a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Electric Power, shipped the coal to fuel generating plants of its parent company. Beginning in 1981, however, depressed economic conditions in the parent company's service area resulted in a marked decrease in the demand for power and thus for coal. Price River was forced to curtail its mining operation and reduce its work force, which it did in three phases over a three-month period. The first phase occurred in October 1982 when Price River closed one of the operating mines and laid off the mine's work force. The second phase occurred in mid-November 1982 in connection with preparation for shutdown of the second active mine. The third and final phase occurred at the end of December 1982, at which time the defendant stopped all mining activities in the second mine, reduced the company's work force and kept the company's operations on a care and maintenance basis only. At the close of 1982, Price River had reduced its work force by 87 percent, from 585 employees to 77. During 1983 and 1984, Price River experienced a moderate upswing in business, but by the end of 1984 it had further reduced its total work force to 40 employees. (Branson v. Price River Coal Co., U. S. District Court, District of Utah, 627 F. Supp. 1324, Decided February 3, 1986)
Castle Gate Coal Co. -- AMAX
"Amax Coal Plans to Reopen Price River as Castle Gate -- Amax Coal Co. expects to resume mining in August or September at coal properties near Helper, Utah, it recently acquired from American Electric Power Supply Copr. (AEP)" "About 20 workers are preparing to reopen the mines formerly operated as Price River Coal Co. Amax has renamed the operation the Castle Gate Coal Co." "The AEP properties, two mies and a preparation plant, have been idel since December 1984." "Amax is acquiring about 70 million tons of reserves at the No. 3 and No. 5 mines in Hardscrabble and Spring canyons. AEP is retaining about the same amount of reserves." (Coal Age, Volume 91, Number 6, June 1986, page 33)
May 9, 1988
"98 LAID OFF AT CASTLE GATE -- Associated Press -- The Castle Gate Coal Co. has laid off 86 hourly and 12 salaried employees at its underground mine due to depressed market conditions, the company has announced. The layoffs leave 155 hourly and salaried workers at the mine. The company decided to reduce its operating level below the 1.5 million tons annual capacity and to concentrate efforts on existing customers and commitments, according to a news release. Castle Gate has been developing and rehabilitating the mine since 1986 and recently finished installing a new unit train rapid-loadout system. The company also has signed two new agreements to supply coal to industrial users in California, the release said." (Deseret News, May 9, 1988)
June 28, 1988
"AMAX CREATES SUBSIDIARY TO MANAGE COAL INTERESTS -- Officials of AMAX Inc., which has mining operations in Utah, Wyoming and the Midwest, have created a new wholly owned subsidiary, Amax Coal Industries, that will be responsible for managing the company's coal and coal-related business interests. The AMAX subsidiaries that will come under the Amax Coal Industries umbrella are Amax Coal Co., Amax Coal Sales Co., Castle Gate Coal Co., Beech Coal Co., Meadowlark Inc., Ayrshire Land Co. and Ayrshire Collieries Corp. AMAX is the third largest coal producer in the United States, producing 38.6 million tons for steam generation in 1987." (Deseret News, June 28, 1988)
March 22, 1989
"PRODUCTION HALTED AT MINE NEAR HELPER -- UPI -- Castle Gate Coal Co., a subsidiary of AMAX Coal Industries, has indefinitely suspended production at the Castle Gate Mine near Helper, Utah, due to geologic problems, spokesman Jeffrey Weber says. Mining operations were halted March 22 after the U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a citation for hazardous coal and rock bursts, Weber said. Thomas Blangiardo, president of Castle Gate, said the mine has experienced unusual geologic conditions for the past several months. 'These bursts currently present an uncontrollable and unstable mining environment for our employees,' Blangiardo said. 'We have evaluated and attempted various methods for destressing the coal to overcome this problem and have retained outside consultants to assist us in this process. However, to date, we have been unable to satisfactorily resolve this situation to the point where we can safely resume operations,' he said. 'We plan to continue evaluating geologic conditions and mining techniques in the hope of resuming mining operations at Castle Gate in the future.' Although coal production has been suspended, Blangiardo said the company will resume certain work, effective Monday, involving coal preparation, maintenance and other related activities. But after June 5, only about 17 of the mine's employees will remain at the property, while 156 hourly and 41 salaried workers will be indefinitely laid off, Swenson said. Castle Gate began operating the mine in 1986 and produced 544,000 tons of coal in 1988, he said." (Deseret News, April 9, 1989; April 13, 1989)
August 23, 1991
The following comes from the August 23, 1991 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper:
CASTLE GATE - AMAX Coal Industries is closing mine portals and other access points at its Castle Gate Coal Co. mine, idled two years ago. The company is taking the action to prevent accidents from unauthorized entry, spokesman Kevin Feeney said.
The mine will retain its operating status of "idle," allowing management to take a "hard look" at reopening if it could sell coal competitively, he said.
That likely will involve correcting the underground geological problems that led to the mine's closure or making a large expenditure to develop other coal reserves. At today's prices, such corrective measures would make the coal non-competitive.
The 1989 idling of Castle Gate Coal put 156 hourly and 41 salaried employees out of work.
Castle Gate Coal is maintaining its state mining permit in "inactive status," according to Lowell Braxton, associate director of mining for the Utah Division of Oil Gas & Mining. That means the mine doesn't have to remain active, but it must continue to meet state and federal environmental regulations as if it were operating, he said. "It's not unusual for companies like Castle Gate Coal to be in inactive status with the permit for a number of years as they evaluate their future," said Mr. Braxton. "But we still inspect the companies' mines on a monthly basis, and if they aren't complying with state and federal environmental regulations, we take action."
AMAX "indefinitely suspended" mining at Castle Gate Coal because it couldn't stop the unpredictable explosion of coal and rock at the face of its Hardscrabble Canyon mine, just north of Helper, Carbon County. Four months earlier, the federal Mine Safety & Health Administration had cited the company for hazardous coal and rock bursts. AMAX retained outside consultants to evaluate and "de-stress" the coal. But the company decided to idle the operation because the mine was unsafe.
In 1987, the last full year it operated, Castle Gate Coal produced 529,000 tons. That compares with 544,000 tons in 1988. AMAX originally projected Castle Gate Coal would produce 1.5 million tons a year. But that was before the geological problems made it impossible for mining to continue.
November 13, 1993
"CYPRUS MINERALS-AMAX HOLDERS BACK MERGER -- Shareholders of the Cyprus Minerals Company and of Amax Inc. voted yesterday to approve the companies' proposed merger. The merger creates the biggest United States-based mining company and the nation's second-largest producer of coal and copper. The new company, with assets of more than $5 billion, will also have significant holdings in oil and gas, gold and lithium. The two companies had combined 1992 revenue of $2.8 billion. The new concern is named the Cyprus Amax Minerals Company. A new co-chairman, Milton Ward, said a primary goal of the merger was to cut costs. He said the merger would save at least $120 million a year in general and administrative expenses. The companies hope to complete the merger on Monday (November 15, 1993). The merger involves the exchange of a half share of Cyprus for each Amax share." (New York Times, November 13, 1993)
The combined mining activities of the Castle Gate mine began in 1971, conducted by the Braztah Corporation, which in turn became the Price River Coal Company in 1979, then Castle Gate Coal Company in 1986, Amax Coal Company in 1991, Amax Coal Holding Company in 1996, and Castle Gate Holding Company in 1998. (Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, Permit C0070004)
Amax sold the Castle Gate coal preparation plant to Cyprus Plateau in 1996 (for use by the new Willow Creek mine?). The Castle Gate facility had been idle since the Castle Gate mine was closed in 1991. Following a jury trial in July 2000 that found against the two companies after the United Mines Workers had filed suit for breach of contract, in January 2002 the court entered its judgment order in the amount of nearly $1.5 million, representing the lost wages and benefits the members would have earned in the approximately four-and-a-half years they were not working from the time the plant was re-opened until it finally closed in several weeks after the trial in 2000. In October 2002, the companies appealed the case to the Tenth Circuit. After a period of briefing and oral argument, the Appellate Court finally upheld the breach of contract award against Amax on December 30, 2004. Even though Amax declared bankruptcy, RAG American Coal Co took responsibility for the litigation when it acquired Cyprus Amax Coal Company. (Sun Advocate, February 15, 2005)
Known as "Adit No. 1," the original Utah Fuel No. 1 mine was used as a transporation tunnel for a 48-inch converyor belt that exited the tunnel at the site of the the No. 1 mine, which had a cut-stone portal and a keystone date of 1888. The conveyor belt was part of a system of conveyor belts and transfer stations that moved the mined coal from the tunnel, under U. S. Higheay 50 and 6, over and across the Price River and the tracks of the D&RGW railroad, to the what was known as the Castle Gate Coal Preparation Plant. The portal was sealed in 1991, but the exterior conveyor belt system remained in place. The conveyor belt system and its supporting stuctures were demolished in the fall of 2002 as part of the overall reclamation of the entire Castle Gate and Willow Creek mine sites.
New Willow Creek Mine
Historically, the original mines in Willow Creek canyon were the Utah Fuel (later Castle Gate) mine no. 2 and Utah Fuel (later Castle Gate) mine no. 4. These two mines produced coal that was transported by a tramway (which included two short tunnels) to the Castle Gate coal preparation plant that straddled the D&RGW mainline. Also in the Castle Gate area was Utah Fuel (later Castle Gate) mine no. 1, located on the west side of the railroad mainline, south and west of the Castle Gate coal preparation plant. Castle Gate No. 3 was opened in 1922 and was located about 3/4 mile north and west of the coal preparation plant, and was the first vertical shaft coal mine in Utah. Castle Gate No. 3 was closed in 1937 due to flooding from the Price River.
In 1995, the newly-formed company Cyprus Amax began development of a new mine in Willow Creek Canyon, to replace the production of its Star Point mine near Wattis. The Star Point mine was reaching the end of its production life, but Cyprus Amax had coal contracts that it still needed to keep active.
(Read more about Cyprus Amax, Cyprus Plateau, and the later RAG American Coal Company -- including the corporate succession to today's Alpha American Coal Company, LLC.)
U. S. Fuel's Panther Mine
Frank N. Cameron was working 30 men during late 1911 at the Panther mine and expected to open the mine soon. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, January 4, 1912)
Cameron was working 20 men at the Panther mine, where the development work was providing about four cars of coal per week. The coal was hauled to the D&RG cars by wagon. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, May 30, 1912, p. 5)
The Panther mine was located only about a half mile south of the Castle Gate rock formation. (USGS: "Castlegate", 1 to 62,500, 1916)
In July 1912 Cameron sold his mines at Panther and Castle Gate to the W. G. Sharp interests. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, July 11, 1912, p. 1)
Castle Gate Coal & Coke Co., corporation was dissolved in July 1912. The coal lands of the Castle Gate Coal & Coke Co., consisted of about 700 acres, and were sold to the W. G. Sharp interests. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, July 18, 1912, p. 4)
The "Willow Creek" and "Castle Gate" properties of F. N. Cameron were taken over by the W. G. Sharp interests. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, July 18, 1912, p. 6)
The Castle Gate Coal Company was incorporated on August 5, 1912. (Utah corporation, index number 9704) The Castle Gate Coal Company became the Panther Coal Company on September 8, 1913. (Utah corporation, index number 10280)
(This was the second of three companies with the Castle Gate Coal Company name, and may have been the corporate vehicle used by United States Smelting to purchase Cameron's Panther coal mine.)
(A third company with the same Castle Gate Coal Company name was actually incorporated as the Castle Gate Coal, Coke & Fuel Company on September 8, 1913. This third company became the Castle Gate Coal Company on July 29, 1948, which was sold to the Bamberger Coal Company (incorporated on June 30, 1939) on January 17, 1949. This was the third of three companies with this name, and may have been a retail coal dealer.) (Utah corporation, index number 10281)
Panther mine was incorporated on August 5, 1912 by the Castle Gate Coal Company. Succeeded by the Panther Coal Company on September 8, 1913. The Panther mine began operation in 1914. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)
First coal shipment from the Panther mine was on February 12, 1914. The Panther mine was leased by W. G. Sharp to Frank Cameron and John Crawford, the mine's first superintendent. Improvements at the Panther mine during 1914 included a new mine opening into the Castle Gate coal vein, along with a cable operated tramway between the mine and the tipple, located on a spur of the D&RG. (Salt Lake Mining Review, October 30, 1914, p. 21)
The Panther mine was served by D&RG until Utah Railway began their own operations in December 1917, then the Panther mine was served by Utah Railway. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)
The Panther spur was shown in 1919 map of Utah Railway as being the property of the United States Fuel, and was located about a half mile north of Utah Railway Junction. (map of Utah Railway, as of January 1, 1919)
The lease to Cameron and Crawford expired on April 1, 1918 and United States Fuel, who had taken over all of the Sharp coal interests, took over the operation of the mine. (Madsen, p. 39)
A town for the mine workers was built in a flat area located at the mouth of Panther canyon, about one mile south of the mine, along the Price River and the mainline of the D&RG. The town was known as Panther, served by the Carbon post office, a branch of the Helper post office (USGS: "Castlegate", 1 to 62,500, 1916)
At first, Frank Cameron named the town at the mouth of Panther canyon as Panther, after the canyon. Later the name was changed to Carbon for short period of time. Finally the town was known as Heiner. (Zehnder, p. 14)
A post office was established at Panther in October 1918. At that time, the name was changed to Heiner, named for Moroni Heiner, vice president of United States Fuel Company. (Coal Index: The Sun, October 18, 1918, p. 6)
(The Sun-Advocate & Helper Journal, January 2, 1975, page 3, states that the exact reason Panther wasn't chosen for the town's name is unclear, but that early newspaper accounts state that the U. S. Post Office would not accept the name of Panther because it was the name of a wild animal. The 1916 USGS map shows the town as "Panther, Carbon PO")
The Panther mine was established by the United States Fuel, which operated a cable tramway from the coal mine down to the tipple and the railroad. (Clark, p. 109)
An upgrade to the tipple at the Panther mine was completed in October 1924 to include better screening and a loading boom for Panther-brand nut and 3-inch by 8-inch lump coals. (United States Fuel: Firing Line, Volume 1, number 7, November 1924, p. 2)
In 1931 the Panther mine was leased to another operator and eventually closed in 1937. (United States Fuel: Thirty Years, p. 8)
The Panther mine only worked what was called the B seam throughout the 23 years of its operation. After that seam was exhausted in 1937, the Panther mine was closed. (Sun Advocate & Helper Journal Special Edition, January 2, 1975, p. 3)
The Panther mine was closed because United States Fuel Company could obtain coal more economically from their other properties. (Madsen, p. 39)
The Panther mine was closed on April 17, 1937 due to depletion, and the Utah Railway's spur line was removed. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)
Bear Canyon Mine
(NOTE: First called Cameron, then later known as both Rolapp and Royal; H. H. Rolapp was the name of the owner of the Royal Coal Co.)
Cameron Coal Company was organized by F. N. Cameron for new mine at Castle Gate. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, November 6, 1913, p. 4)
Cameron Coal Company was incorporated on September 26, 1913. The corporation was involuntarily dissolved on April 29, 1965. (Utah corporation, index number 10303, or 10313)
(The Cameron mine was located at the Castle Gate rock formation, and two miles northwest of Frank Cameron's previously developed Panther coal mine, which he had sold to United States Smelting in July 1912.)
The new tipple was completed during early April 1914, having been built by Sam C. Sherrill of Salt Lake City. The coal company owned 360 acres and was producing about five to six hundred tons per day. (Salt Lake Mining Review, April 15, 1914, p. 28, "The Cameron Coal Mines")
The company store and twenty-two new worker's cottages were completed in late July 1914. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1914, p. 32, "Coal Notes & Personals")
The Cameron Coal Company mine was located near Castle Gate. (Coal Index: News Advocate, June 23, 1916, p. 4)
Frank Cameron first developed the Bear Canyon mine near Castle Gate in 1913. The first mine worker's cottages were completed in August 1914. The town was first named Cameron. (Cunningham: Tours, p. 15)
The mine was located at Cameron, at the Castle Gate rock formation. (USGS: "Castlegate", 62,500 to 1, 1916)
Sometime in October 1914, the Cameron mine was purchased by "the Browning interests" of Ogden. (Salt Lake Mining Review, October 30, 1914, p. 21, "Cameron property recently purchased by the Browning interests")
The Bear Canyon mine was sold to Henry H. Rolapp in November 1919 and the town's name was changed to Rolapp, then later to Royal, after the mine's owner, the Royal Coal Company. In 1919 the Royal Coal Company was sold to the Spring Canyon Coal Company. (Cunningham: Tours, p. 15) (Rolapp was also a District Judge in Ogden, and an officer in the Amalgamated Sugar Co.)
In 1917 Henry H. Rolapp bought the Cameron interests, after which the Royal Coal Company was the owner. In 1930 the property was sold to the Spring Canyon Coal Company. (Madsen, p. 54)
The Royal mine was operated by the Spring Canyon Coal Company from 1930 until the mine was closed in 1962. (Sun Advocate & Helper Journal, Special Edition, January 2, 1975, p. 3)
(Stephen Carr, in Ghost Towns, page 72, wrote that the mine was sold to Rolapp in 1917. The Sun-Advocate & Helper Journal, January 2, 1975, page 3, says 1917. The newspaper also states that the mine was sold to the Spring Canyon company in 1930.)
(RESEARCH: Find a definite date for the sale the Bear canyon mine to both Rolapp [1917 or 1919] and to Spring Canyon Coal [1919 or 1930].)
Production for August 1918 was 12,000 tons. (Salt Lake Mining Review, September 15, 1918, p. 30)
The Bear Canyon mine was referred to as the Royal mine in 1924. (Coal Index: The Sun, February 15, 1924, p. 1)
The Bear canyon mine was referred to as the Royal Coal Company in 1934. (Coal Index: Sun Advocate, June 7, 1934, p. 2)
In 1947, the stated capacity of the Royal mine was 1,000 tons per day. (Madsen, p. 54)
In 1951 the Royal mine at Royal was still being operated by the Royal Coal Company. (D&RGW: Traffic Circular 36-E, p. 86)
The town of Royal was deserted by the late 1950s. The site is now the water treatment plant for Price City. (Cunningham: Tours, p. 15)
The mine was closed by the Spring Canyon company in 1962. During its fifty-seven years of operation (1905 to 1962), the mine produced 7,101,000 tons of coal, or about 124,000 tons per year (413 tons per day for a 300 day year). (Sun-Advocate & Helper Journal, January 2, 1975, p. 3)
New Peerless Mine
Development of the coal lands of the New Peerless mine were started in the mid 1920s, using the modest profits gained by the Peerless Coal Company as it "phased-out" its operations in the Castle Gate A seam in its Spring canyon mine. (Cederlof, pp. 3,12)
The mine at New Peerless was located about a mile north from the Royal mine. The mine was opened in 1930 by the Thompson brothers, sons of Ezra Thompson. owner of the Peerless mine in Spring Canyon. The mine used a thirty degree incline to reach two coal seams, one was 1,900 feet below the surface and the other was 2,300 feet below the surface. The mine opening was located on top of the canyon walls above the tipple, which was located adjacent to the D&RGW mainline. The mine opening was connected to the tipple by use of a tramway. The tipple was reported to have cost about a half million dollars to construct. The new mine was forced to shut down just a year later, in 1931, due to financial conditions in the country. (Madsen, p. 46)
The New Peerless mine was located adjacent to the Royal mine in Price River canyon. The mine itself was a tunnel driven at a thirty degree downward incline into the Castle Gate B (twenty-four feet thick) and D (sixteen to eighteen feet thick) seams on property owned by and leased from Emmett Olsen and Culbert Olsen. At this point, the seams were 1,100 feet below the Price River. Railroad yards were built, served by the D&RGW, and a new McNally-Pittsburgh Steel tipple was built. The New Peerless mine "made gas", and there was an explosion in March 1930 in which five men lost their lives. The mine began operations in about 1929 and continued until June 1931, when the mine was closed. The reason stated was because of the stock market crash of 1929. The tipple was sold to Utah Fuel in 1943 and was incorporated into Utah Fuel's plant at Sunnyside. (Cederlof, pp. 13,14)
(The actual reason for closure of the New Peerless mine may have been the financial stress from paying claims to the miner's families, if the cause for the explosion was found to be negligence on the part of the coal company.)
The Peerless Coal Company remained in operation, leasing its original Spring Canyon property to the former superintendent, for a royalty of twenty-five cents per ton of coal mined. The coal mined was taken by mining the pillars and allowing the rooms to collapse. (Cederlof, pp. 13,14)
The original Peerless mine had produced 1,500,000 tons from the 'A' seam between 1917 and 1930, and from 1931-1932. The New Peerless produced 100,000 tons from the Price canyon property between 1929 and 1931. Mining of the low seams at the original Spring canyon mine by the successor company, Peerless Sales Company, from 1932 to 1953 produced 1,900,000 tons. (Cederlof, p. 47)
Hardscrabble Canyon Mine
(NOTE: The Utah Railway shops at Martin are located at the mouth of Hardscrabble canyon.)
The Carbon Fuel Company's mine is located in Hardscrabble canyon. Carbon Fuel is owned by Braztah Corporation, a subsidiary of McCulloch Oil Company. Carbon Fuel started out as the Helper Coal Company, organized by John and George Diamanti in 1916 to mine coal in Hardscrabble canyon. During the 1930s, John Diamanti and his sons, Steve, Jim and Chris organized the Hardscrabble Coal Company and began to mine the low coal in the Castle Gate Sub II seam in Hardscrabble canyon. During World War Two, another son, Lee, joined the family run business. In 1945 the family moved to another location in the canyon. The mine was operated under a lease from Utah Fuel, and in 1950, after Kaiser bought Utah Fuel, the Hardscrabble property passed to Salt Lake City attorney James White in return for his legal work for Kaiser. White later sold the Hardscrabble property to the Diamanti family. The name of the company was changed from Hardscrabble Coal Company to Carbon Fuel Company, after that name became available with the closure of the earlier company's mine at Rains in Spring Canyon. During 1975 the company planned on opening already worked coal seams in Spring canyon, calling the new workings No. 4 and No. 5, conveying the mined coal underground to the Castle Gate coal preparation and stockpiling facilities of McCulloch Oil Company. (Sun Advocate & Helper Journal, January 2, 1975, p. 9)
Carbon Fuel Wins Hanford Contract -- Carbon Fuel Co., Helper, Utah, submitted the low bid on supplying 120,000 tons of coal to the Hanford Works of the Atomic Energy Commission in the state of Washington.
The bids for the 1961 fiscal year were received July 6. Carbon Fuel bid on coal shipments from its Castle Gate, Utah, mines. The AEC indicated that it plans to purchase 320,000 tons, but no more than 120,000 tons from any one bidder. Plans are to purchase 200,000 tons from other bidders in the labor surplus areas if they agree to meet the price in Carbon Fuel's bid, which was 30,000 Btu's delivered for one cent." (Coal Age, Volume 65, number 8, August 1960, p. 53)
Reclamation started in 1992 in Sowbelly Canyon (the former Spring Canyon Coal Co. in Spring Canyon) and 1993 through 1999 in Hardscrabble Canyon. Phase I bond release was approved for Hardscrabble and Sowbelly in February 2001; Phase II bond release on June 5, 2003. Hardscrabble and Sowbelly Substations and Adit #1 received Phase I bond releases in May 2006. Johnny Pappas received the OSM reclamation award for the Hardscrabble area in 2003. Final Phase III Bond Release was approved on July 15, 2014. This mine has been fully reclaimed. (Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, Permit C0070004)
Castle Gate Town Site
The town of Castle Gate was dismantled in 1974, and the remaining 200 residents relocated to sixty new homes in a new Castle Gate subdivision, located at the mouth of Spring Canyon. The new community was annexed to Helper. (Sun Advocate & Helper Journal, January 2, 1975, p. 4)
The Town of Castle Gate, Utah, was disincorporated in June 1974. (Greeley Daily Tribune, August 12, 1974, citing Associated Press)
July to December 1974
The move of 61 houses from Castle Gate to the new Castle Gate Annex of Helper, began in July 1974, and was completed in mid December 1974, although the new streets were not yet paved and there was not yet telephone service. (Greeley Daily Tribune, December 23, 1974, citing Associated Press; "five months ago" and "last wwek")
"When McCulloch Oil Corporation, through its subsidiary Braztah Company, purchased all the Castle Gate, Utah property from the Valley Camp Coal Company in 1973, an incorporated company town built in 1888 was included. While the land on in the which the town was built became the property of McCulloch Oil and the place where a coal preparation plant and unit train loading facility were to go, the houses had been sold to the miners years before. The company then notified the homeowners of their land lease clause whereby the land upon which their homes stood was leased to them by the mining company subject to a 120-day notice to vacate. Two reasonable options were offered the homeowners by the company: 1) acceptance of a purchase price above market value, whereupon if accepted the house was demolished or 2) the moving of the house at company expense. Approximately 95 percent of the homeowners (72 houses) opted for the movement of their house to a lot, gratis of McCulloch, with a,basement in a new subdivision on the oucskirts of Helper, Utah, 5 miles away. So in 1974, following the relocation of the 72 houses (destruction of 15 houses), the town site lost its incorporated status and the old company town "City of Castle Gate" became a part of a subdivision surrounded by modular homes. (29)" (William C. Metz, Socioeconomic Impact Management In The Western Energy Industry; Brookhaven National Laboratory, Policy Analysis Division, National Center for Analysis of Energy Systems, Upton, New York; January 1979; Research carried out under the auspices of the United States Department of Energy; citing: 29. Communication with Garth Condie, American Electric Power System, Helper, Utah, July 26, 1977 and William Corbitt, American Electric Power Service Corporation,·New York, New York, September 21, 1977.)
(See also: Industry Initiatives In Impact Mitigation, William C. Metz, August 1982; Prepared for the proceedings of the Alaska Symposium on Social, Economic, and Cultural Impacts of Natural Resource Development Anchorage, Alaska, August 25-27, 1982; National Center For Analysis Of Energy Systems Department Of Energy And Environment Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York; page 16)
Sixty of the 72 homeowners took the option to have their houses moved to Helper. The remaining homeowners chose to sell their houses and move in with family members in Helper, Price, or other locotions. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 25, 1974)
(Zehnder, pp. 12,13, includes information about the move of the houses at Castle Gate, but his dates are not correct.)
Castle Gate Highway Tunnel -- Information about the highway and tunnel that passed the Castle Gate rock formation, including a timeline for the demolition of the west portion in 1964-1966.
Amax, Cyprus Amax and RAG American Coal -- Information about the Amax, Cyprus Amax and RAG American Coal ownership of the Wattis and Willow Creek coal mines.