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Gordon Creek Coal Mines

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This page was last updated on December 17, 2018.

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The coal mines and railroad service (originally known as the National Coal Railway) in Gordon Creek Canyon.

(Read more about the National Coal Railway, later the Utah Railway's National Branch)

Coal was first mined in the Gordon Creek district as early as 1907 by W. C. Brooker and five others on 1,000 acres of the Sheya Ranch, where two coal seams of seven feet each showed at the surface. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, September 19, 1907, p. 3)

In 1928 four retired boxcar bodies were moved from Martin to National for use as section material sheds. In 1937 an old caboose body, Outfit Car 06, formerly caboose number 50, was placed at Union for use by section laborers. All of the bodies still existed at their locations in 1951. (Utah Railway: Engineer's Report, 1951; Utah Railway: Manual, equipment lists)

During late 1943, Utah Railway was moving three loaded trains a week off of the National Branch. During the winter months there was a train a day, with helpers. (Utah Public Utilities Commission, case 2750, "K. L. Storrs")

Gordon Creek Coal Company

Prior to the passage of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, George A. Storrs secured a lease on the land which was known as the Gordon Creek mine. (Gibson: Gordon Creek, p. 241)

There were three Gordon Creek Coal Companies. The first, Utah corporation number 14529, was incorporated on July 12, 1920. This corporation became the Sweet Coal Company on March 20, 1925. The second, number 17158, was incorporated on October 24, 1925. This second company was "revoked" on April 4, 1932. The third was number 20917 and was incorporated on January 23, 1934. This third company was "revoked" on May 6, 1941. (Utah corporation records)

Great Western Coal Company

October 21, 1921
Great Western Coal Mines Company was incorporated on October 21, 1921. This corporation was "revoked" on April 20, 1936. (Utah corporation, index number 15138)

Coal shipments of the Great Western Coal Mines Company from the Great Western mine began in December 1924, being hauled by wagon to Wildcat Siding on the Utah Railway. Shipments via the National Coal Railway began in March 1926. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

There was also a Great Western Mines, Incorporated, incorporated on November 10, 1925. This mining company may have been a metal mine rather than a coal company. (Utah corporation, index number 17184)

February 26, 1926
Great Western Coal Company was located at Coal City and by February 1926, the company was in bankruptcy. (Coal Index: The Sun, February 26, 1926)

Coal City was originally to be called "The Great Western", but by the time that the townsite had been laid out and approved by the Carbon County Commission, on August 21, 1921, that name had become Coal City. The town's notoriety was enhanced in 1923 and 1924 when Jack Dempsey apparently came regularly to train for his fights. (Madsen, p. 34)

Coal City in Gordon Creek was originally to be called "Dempsey City" after potential investor Jack Dempsey. The town's name became Coal City after Dempsey decided not to invest. The adjacent coal mine was Great Western Coal Company, on 1,600 acres. (Coal Index: The Sun, February 29, 1924, p. 8)

November 7, 1924
George A. Storrs was indicted for mail fraud by soliciting through the U. S. Mail investment in bonds for the townsite on Gordon Creek. Storrs was president of Great Western Coal Company. (Coal Index: The Sun, November 7, 1924, p. 6)

By late December 1926, Storrs had been cleared of the charges. (Coal Index: The Sun, December 17, 1926, p. 4)

February 26, 1926
During late February 1926, Great Western in bankruptcy. (Coal Index: The Sun, February 26, 1926, p. 8)

Operations of Great Western Coal Mines Company discontinued in December 1926, resumed in October 1928, and discontinued again in December 1928. Property in possession of Federal Land Bank of Berkeley, California from 1931. Property not developed to economical production, and production was always limited, with shipments being on a very small scale. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

Operations of Great Western mine taken over by Atlas Utah Coal Company, in conjunction with its operations of the Gordon Creek mine. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

(The map of the National Coal Railway as completed in 1925 shows Great Western Coal mines at a completely different location than near Coal City. The map shows the Great Western lands as being south of the National Coal property.)

National Coal Company

An early prospector in the National area was a man by the name of Williamson in 1908. The property was developed by Fred Sweet. (Madsen, p. 46)

Prior to the passage of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, F. A. Sweet secured a block of coal lands in Gordon Creek canyon. (Gibson: Gordon Creek, p. 241)

Coal shipments from the National mine began in August 1927. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

January 17, 1935
F. A. Sweet resigned as president of National Coal Company in early 1935 due to ill health. Replaced by C. D. Craddock. (Coal Index: Sun Advocate, January 17, 1935, p. 10)

Operations at the National mine were discontinued on July 23, 1938. National Coal Company sold under foreclosure on December 2, 1938, to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. The tipple was dismantled and machinery and trackage removed and sold in March 1940. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

The remaining physical assets of the National Coal Company was sold in May 1940 by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to Carl Nyman. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

October 3, 1940
National coal mine sold to Carl Nyman of Price in June 1940. Operations to begin in late September. A new tipple was built. (Coal Index: Sun Advocate, October 3, 1940, p. 5)

A new 540 foot long spur, with nine car capacity, from Utah Railway's National Branch was completed on November 9, 1940. Coal shipments resumed on November 12, 1940. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

The coal mine at National was still known as the National mine in 1948. (Gibson: Gordon Creek, p. 241)

Consumers Mutual Coal Company

Prior to the passage of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, Arthur E. Gibson secured 1,480 acres that was operated as the Consumers mine. (Gibson: Gordon Creek, p. 241)

There was a Consumers Fuel Company incorporated on December 27, 1911. This may have been a reorganization of an earlier company with the same name, or the renaming of another company, incorporated on May 11, 1911. (Utah corporation, index number 8991)

There was also a Consumers Coal Company, incorporated on July 16, 1934. This corporation was involuntarily dissolved on May 2, 1946. (Utah corporation, index number 21077)

During the winter of 1921-1922, Arthur E. Gibson began the development of a seven foot seam of coal he had discovered and had analyzed in 1920. He hired men to work the new mine and during that winter they were able to mine thirty-four carloads of coal, which they hauled down Gordon Creek canyon by wagon to be loaded into cars at Utah Railway's Wildcat siding. (Madsen, p. 36)

In 1924 the Consumers Mutual Coal Company began development of its mine in Gordon Creek canyon. (Carr: Towns, p. 81)

Consumers Mutual Coal Company was organized by Donald Jenkins and J. Tracy Wootten, with Jenkins was president, Gibson as vice president, and Wootten was secretary-treasurer. Further development of the mine was delayed until E. J. Radditz became interested and funding became available to build the needed railroad bridge and tipple facilities. The town adjacent to the mine was originally called Gibson, but the name was later changed to Consumers. The coal company later became the Blue Blaze Coal Company, using the trade name "Blue Blaze Coal", formerly used by the Consumers Mutual company. (Madsen, p. 36)

Consumers Mutual Coal Company was incorporated on February 16, 1924, and became the Blue Blaze Coal Company on September 21, 1927. (Utah corporation, index number 16190)

Coal shipments by Consumers Mutual Coal Company from the Consumers mine began in February 1925, being hauled by wagon to Wildcat Siding on the Utah Railway. Shipments by rail over the National Coal Railway began in November 1925. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

January 8, 1926
In late 1925, the Consumers Mutual Coal Company contracted with Allen & Garcia of Chicago to build their tipple, which served two mines on the east fork of Gordon Creek. (Coal Index: The Sun, January 8, 1926, p. 1)

April 30, 1926
Consumers Mutual Coal Company announced that it would build a steel bridge to connect its two mines on each side of the canyon. The bridge was to be built by American Bridge Company, with a capacity to hold two Utah Railway Mallets and sixty loaded cars. The cost was to be about $60,000.00. Morrison Knudsen had the contract for the grading work for the rail yard, and for the concrete work for base of the trestle and the abutments of the bridge. (Salt Lake Mining Review, April 30, 1926, p. 18)

November 1926
The tipple of the Consumers Mutual Coal Company was completed in about November 1926. Construction of the new tipple was contracted to Pittsburgh Boiler & Machine Company of Pittsburgh, Kansas, with an estimated completion date of August 1, 1926. It was said to be one of the biggest and most modern coal producing plants in the West. The bridge built across the canyon was double track and was eighty feet high, and was built in order to get the railroad tracks of the National Coal Railway right up to the mouth of the company's two mines, which opened onto the tipple from each side of the gulch. The gulch was spanned by the tipple structure. The construction of the large bridge did away with the need to construct a long surface tramway to transfer the mined coal from the mine opening down the mountainside to the tipple at the railroad level, such as found at practically all the Utah mines. The Consumers mine was the first in the state to use conveyor belt haulage to move the coal from the mine opening to the tipple, doing away with trains of mine cars moving between the mine and the tipple. The elimination of a surface tramway at Consumers was expected to reduce costs considerably. The new tipple separated coal into five different grades, and the five tipple tracks allowed all five sizes to be immediately loaded into waiting railroad cars. At the time, it was the only five-track loading tipple in the state. While the tipple was under construction, the coal company was shipping six to eight carloads per day over the National Coal Railway. The company's trade name for its coal was "Blue Blaze Coal". (Salt Lake Mining Review, March 30, 1926, p. 15; December 15, 1926, p. 18)

The Consumers Mutual Coal Company was succeeded by the Blue Blaze Coal Company on September 10, 1927. Rail shipments continued. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

Operations by the Blue Blaze Coal Company at the Consumers mine were discontinued on January 31, 1938, at which time the company entered receivership. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

February 17, 1938
Blue Blaze Coal Company at Consumers was in receivership, with the mine closed and not likely to reopen. (Coal Index: Sun Advocate, February 17, 1938, p. 1)

March 24, 1938
Walker Bank & Trust was the lending bank and in March 1938 sued for the full amount of money due, from a trust indenture of $1,233,000 in bonds. (Coal Index: Sun Advocate, March 24, 1938, p. 13)

July 9, 1938
The property of the Blue Blaze Coal Company was sold under foreclosure to the bondholders on July 11, 1938. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines; Salt Lake Telegram, July 9, 1938)

August 25, 1939
The property of Blue Blaze Coal Company was sold at auction on August 25, 1939. (Salt Lake Telegram, August 12, 1939; Coal Index: Sun Advocate, August 3, 1939, p. 1)

October 12, 1939
Operations of the Consumers mine by the MacGowan Coal Company began on October 12, 1939. Terry MacGowan was the owner. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

March 1, 1945
The MacGowan Coal Company was operating the Consumers No. 3 mine during early 1945. (Coal Index: Sun Advocate, March 1, 1945, p. 9)

In 1951 the National Coal Company was operating both the Consumers mine and the National mine. (D&RGW: Traffic Circular 36-E, p. 86)

(How and when did the Consumers Mine become the Horizon Mine?)

As the Horizon Mine, from documents on file at Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, permit C0070020:

Coal mining began in 1924 in this area of the North Fork of Gordon Creek when the Consumer Mutual Coal Company was organized, and opened an underground coal mine in the Consumer's Canyon. This operation continued into the 1940s.

The Horizon Mine, which was owned by Horizon Mining, LLC, received its mining permit in October 1996. This permit was transferred to Lodestar Energy in 1999. Lodestar filed for Chapter 11 on March 30, 2001 and Chapter 7 on July 15, 2003. Lodestar transferred the permit to Hidden Splendor Resources, Inc. in 2003, at which time mining commenced.

A federal lease was approved in 2005. Room and pillar mining methods are used in the Castlegate 'A' Seam and the Hiawatha Seam. The Horizon Mine is currently operating and produced 286,000 tons in 2005.

Sweet Coal Company

Prior to the passage of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, Will Sweet secured a lease on coal land that was the location of the Sweet mine. (Gibson: Gordon Creek, p. 241)

March 20, 1925
Sweet Coal Company was changed from the Gordon Creek Coal Company on March 20, 1925. The Gordon Creek Coal Company, the first of three corporations with that name, was incorporated on July 12, 1920. (Utah corporation, index number 14509)

No operations were conducted by the Gordon Creek Coal Company prior to its becoming the Sweet Coal Company. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

Coal shipments by Sweet Coal Company from the Sweet mine began in January 1926. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

December 31, 1926
Sweet mine in Gordon Creek canyon began production in September 1926, producing 500 tons per day. (Coal Index: The Sun, December 31, 1926, p. 2)

March 27, 1941
Sweet mine closed by March 1941, and in possession of county for non-payment of taxes. (Coal Index: Sun Advocate, March 27, 1941, p. 5)

March 31, 1941
Sweet Coal Company entered receivership on March 26, 1940, mine property leased by receiver to Hudson Coal Company on March 1, 1941. Shipments resumed on March 31, 1941. All assets of Sweet Coal Company sold by receiver to Hudson Coal Company on October 22, 1942. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

Sweet mine being worked by Hudson Coal Company. (Coal Index: Sun Advocate, February 21, 1946, p. 4)

In 1951 the Sweet mine at Union was being operated by the Hudson Coal Company. The same company also operated the Maple Creek mine at Maple Creek in Spring Canyon. (D&RGW: Traffic Circular 36-E, p.)

Hudson Coal Company was owned and operated by the Sweet family. At the time of his death in 1960, William H. Sweet, the oldest of the four Sweet brothers, was secretary-treasurer of the Hudson Coal company.

Union Coal Company

(at Union)

March 10, 1911
Union Coal Company was incorporated at Provo, to "own and operate coal mines, build and operate railroads, etc. It takes over as a basis of capitalization, 900 acres of coal land near Castle Gate, into which a railroad will be constructed from Helper." (Carbon County News, March 10, 1911; Salt Lake Mining Review, March 15, 1911; Eastern Utah Advocate, March 30, 1911).

October 4, 1923
A new Union Coal Company was organized and incorporated. Principal owner was C. N. Strevell of Salt Lake City, who owned 498,000 of the initial 500,000 shares. (Salt Lake Mining Review, October 15, 1923)

December 30, 1923
Union Coal Company won the bid from the U. S. land office for the lease 1120 acres of coal land in Gordon Creek Canyon. (Salt Lake Mining Review, December 30, 1923)

Property originally owned, but not operated, by Union Coal Company. Leased, then sold in 1928, to Gordon Creek Coal Company (not the same as the predecessor of the Sweet Coal Company). (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

January 10, 1927
Gordon Creek Coal Company leased the property of Union Coal Company, in Gordon Creek Canyon, comprising 1600 acres of coal land, together with tipple, rights to the railroad yards, all water rights, along with a store, a butcher shop, a picture house, and utilities. the lease took effect on January 10, 1927, a full year before it was filed with Carbon County. The lease agreement allowed the Gordon Creek company to begin immediate operations. (News Advocate, January 13, 1928)

Coal shipments began in November 1927, by the Gordon Creek Coal Company. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

September 8, 1932
The property of Gordon Creek Coal Company was to be sold to the highest bidder on the steps of the Carbon County courthouse, in accordance with an order of the federal District Court dated July 30, 1932, resulting from a suit brought by Columbia Trust Company, and M. H. Lewis & Company. (News Advocate, August 4, 1932)

The property was in primitive stages of development, with shipments being about two to three car loads per week. Mining activity was sporadic, and mining was done by various different individuals after the Gordon Creek Coal Company's receivership in June 1930. Shipments were made from November 1927 to July 1, 1930, then November 19, 1936 to January 16, 1937, then September 23, 1937 to March 1938. Mining activity discontinued in March 1938. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

Atlas Utah Coal Company operated the Gordon Creek mine from February 1939, along with its operation of the Great Western mine. Infrequent shipments resumed in January 1940. Operations discontinued in November 1942. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

Limited operations Gordon Creek mine resumed by Utah Coal Company. Shipments resumed in November 1942, then discontinued on February 6, 1944. Utah Coal Company was incorporated in Utah on May 2, 1942, for the purposes of development of the old Gordon Creek Coal Company. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

February 21, 1946
Gordon Creek mine being worked by Utah Coal Leasing Company. (Coal Index: Sun Advocate, February 21, 1946, p. 4)

In 1951 the Gordon Creek mine at Union was being operated by the Western Chemical & Refining Company. (D&RGW: Traffic Circular 36-E, p. 86)

Swisher Coal Company

(Unless noted, the following comes from documents on file at Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining; Permit C0070016)

1967 -- Mining began in the North Fork of Gordon Creek in the early 1920s. Swisher Coal Company founder Ura Swisher opened the Swisher No.1 mine in 1967 on the south side of Bryner Canyon.

1974 -- Swisher Coal Company was purchased by General Exploration in 1974.

October 1975 -- Swisher Coal Company was purchased by General Exploration Company.

In 1976 and 1978, the newly organized Swisher Coal Company took control of four separate federal coal leases, including the original lease held by Ura Swisher.

July 1978 -- General Exploration Company announced that its subsidiary, Swisher Coal Company, would build a new preparation plant and a unit-train loading facility, and will add a third mine (two are already operating) in order to produce 1.5 million tons per year of coal. (Coal Age, Volume 83, Number 7, July 1978, page 152)

(Read more about the Swisher loadout at C. V. Spur)

January 3, 1980 -- General Exploration Company sold its Utah coal reserves and operations, including Swisher Coal Company, to Anaconda Minerals , a subsidiary of Atlantic Richfield Company, for a reported $38 million.

Swisher Coal company was sold to Beaver Creek Coal Company (a subsidiary of ARCO). Swisher operated Gordon Creek No. 2, No. 7 and No. 8.

Atlantic Richfield Company had renamed its Synthetic Crude and Minerals Division as Arco Coal Company in 1979. (Coal Age, Volume 85, Number 5, May 1980, page 121)

November 1990 -- Mining at the Gordon Creek mines ended in November 1990. Reclamation began the fall of 1995, and was completed in November 1998.

(After the Gordon Creek mines were closed in 1990, in May 1991 Beaver Creek transferred ownership of its Trail Mountain mine in Huntington canyon to another Arco subsidiary, Mountain Coal Company, which also operated the West Elk mine in Somerset, Colorado. Arco had purchased the Trail Mountain mine in 1987.)

(Arco Coal sold the coal preparation plant and unit train loadout at C. V. Spur to Savage Industries in September 1994.)


National Coal Railway -- A Google Map of Utah Railway's National Branch, built in 1925, abandoned in 1954.