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Utah Coal Men, Biographical Information

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This page was last updated on August 11, 2016.

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The growth of Utah's coal mining industry would have never taken place without the personalities of the men who built the companies. Below are just some of the names, with what little information that has come to light.

(Listed alphabetically)

E. L. (Leon) Carpenter

From 1884 to 1902, E. L. Carpenter was with the Pleasant Valley Coal and Utah Fuel companies. During the 1890s, his name is shown as secretary or treasurer of at least two mining ventures that included as their officers, other officers of Rio Grande Western interests. The largest of these mines was the Sunbeam Consolidated, and the Tintic Mining & Milling Co., both in the Tintic district. But his formal title was shown regularly as general sales agent for the Pleasant Valley Coal Company. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 31, 1891)

Carpenter was cashier and paymaster of Castle Gate Mining Company when the safe was robbed by Butch Cassidy on April 21, 1897. In an account of the robbery, given in the Anaconda Standard newspaper on September 17, 1897, Carpenter was shown as general sales agent for Pleasant Valley Coal Company.

August 29, 1903
E. L. Carpenter resigned his position as general sales agent with Utah Fuel Company, to go to New York and take a position with William G. Sharp and the Fairmont Coal Company, one of the largest of the eastern coal corporations with huge interests in West Virginia. Carpenter had held his position in Salt Lake City for 21 years, since 1882, when he became auditor and cashier for Denver and Rio Grande Western under Captain Colton. In October 1882, he became paymaster and general sales agent for the Pleasant Valley Coal Company. (Deseret Evening News, August 29, 1903)

November 1904
William G. Sharp was general manager of Fairmont and other coal companies in New York. At that time, E. L. Carpenter was "placed in charge of the New York offices of the Consolidation, Fairmont and Somerset companies. Prior to his advancement, Carpenter had been general sales manager of Utah Fuel company, and had been sent for by Sharp. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 24, 1904)

In 1903, E. L. Carpenter went east to manage the New York office of Consolidated Coal company, a West Virginia corporation. He resigned in 1906 to become general manager of Phelps-Dodge in Dawson, New Mexico, and in 1909 he resigned Phelps-Dodge to return east and became assistant to W. G. Sharp, president of United States Smelting Refining and Mining Company. He returned to Utah in 1912 to become the general manager of the newly purchased coal interests of USSR&M which in 1915 became United States Fuel Company. He oversaw the construction of Utah Railway.

In July 1914, in the annual meeting of the company shareholders, he was shown as president of Castle Valley Coal Company. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1914, page 32)

He resigned U. S. Fuel and Utah Railway as of February 1, 1916. Public statements were that he was to take his wife "on a long trip in an effort to restore her health, which had been poor for the past two years." Speculation was that he would soon replace W. G. Sharp (see below) as the head of United States Smelting Refining & Mining. (Eastern Utah Advocate, January 7, 1916)

(Carpenter was replaced by A. B. Apperson, recently resigned from D&RG.)

(Read more about A. B. Apperson)

William G. Sharp

William G. Sharp was the major moving force behind the development of coal mining in Carbon County, including United States Fuel Co., and Utah Railway. By age 28, in 1885, he was superintendent of the coal mine in Pleasant Valley, gradually working his way to the top by 1900 as the general manager of Rio Grande Western's subsidiary Utah Fuel Co. Sharp moved east in 1902 to manage the largest coal mining company in Pennsylvania, and in 1906 when United States Smelting Refining and Mining Co. was formed to consolidate several metal mining and coal mining companies, along with several smelting companies, Sharp was appointed as the new company's president, with offices in New York, and later in Boston.

(Read more about William G. Sharp)

George Alfred Storrs

April 12, 1907
"American Fork, April 11 -- Former Sheriff George A. Storrs arrived here yesterday from Beckwith Pass, California, where he has had charge of the Straw, Storrs and Baxter Railway Construction company, who have a million dollar construction contract with Western Pacific Railway company. Mr Storrs, after attending to some business matters and a few days visiting friends in this county, will return to the Pass." (Inter-Mountain Republican, April 12, 1907)

May 30, 1912
Five or six miners are at work developing a six foot vein owned by Jesse Knight. Work is in charge of ex-sheriff Storrs. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, May 30, 1912, p.5)

George Storrs wrote in his autobiography that Jesse Knight loaned him the $675,000 needed to build the railroad branch to the Storrs coal mine (later the Spring Canyon Coal Co.), along with the mine, the houses and the hotel. (Steve Horsfield, email dated January 16, 2014)

September 26, 1912
George Storrs general manager of the Knight interests at Spring Canyon was advised tb through the clerk that the county is to expend five hundred dollars on the wagon road to that coal camp upon receipt of details of the work to be done. (Eastern Utah Advocate, September 26, 1912)

January 2, 1913
There were four new mines in 1912. Neslen, Willow Creek, Panther Canyon, and Storrs, where a new method of conveying is being tried. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, January 2, 1913, p.2)

January 23, 1913
The locomotive for the six-mile, privately owned railroad of Jesse Knight's Spring Canyon Coal Company arrived "last week". George A. Storrs, former Utah County sheriff, was superintendent of both the railroad and the coal company's mine. (Eastern Utah Advocate, January 23, 1913, p.6, "Still Another Big Coal Camp Property To Ship Soon")

June 12, 1913
"Word comes from Salt Lake that George Storrs of Utah County is liable to be the next U. S. Marshal for Utah." (Carbon County News, June 12, 1913)

July 8, 1913
F. A. Sweet, president of Standard Coal Company, announced a new railroad to be built from the Standard coal mine to Storrs. (Coal Index: Carbon County News, July 8, 1913, p.6)

February 12, 1915
George A. Storrs mentioned as manager of Spring canyon Coal Company. (Eastern Utah Advocate, February 12, 1915)

July 15, 1915
News item about Standard Coal Company letting a contract to build a three and a half mile railroad from Storrs to its mine. (Salt Lake Mining Review, Volume 15, number 7, July 15, 1913, p.30, "Around the State")

May 27, 1921
George A. Storrs organized the Gordon Creek Coal Company in May 1921. The mine was to be located about eight miles up Gordon Creek Canyon. (Coal Index: The Sun, May 27, 1921, p.5)

October 14, 1921
Great Western Coal Company organized by George A. Storrs. Plans included a railroad up Gordon Creek Canyon. (Coal Index: The Sun, October 14, 1921, p.6)

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

June 19, 1925
Storrs, the townsite for the Spring Canyon Coal Company, was changed to Spring Canyon after permission was received from Washington. Population was 1,100 people. Spring Canyon Coal Company shipped 166,000 tons in 1924, an average of 1,860 tons per day. (Coal Index: The Sun, June 19, 1925, p.4)

June 30, 1925
News item about the town of Storrs changing its name to Spring Canyon. Also that the Spring Canyon Coal Company had completed a new tipple. (Salt Lake Mining Review, Volume 27, number 6, June 30, 1925, p.18)

December 17, 1926
George Storrs cleared of mail fraud charges. (Coal Index: The Sun, December 17, 1926, p.4)

From the Pleasant Grove Review, May 7, 1937:

George Alfred Storrs was born in Springville, July 5, 1863, a son of George and Lydia M. Kindred Storrs. When only 15 years of age he entered the contracting field, and later became a partner in the firm of Baxter, Strong and Storrs. He was construction manager when the Western Pacific ran its route through Feather River canyon in California.

Becoming interested in mining he formed an association with the Jesse Knight interests in Spring Canyon and Carbon Canyon. He directed the building of the town of Storrs which was named in his honor.

From 1916 to 1920 he was warden of the Utah state prison. He is credited with introducing the "honor system" at that institution. He placed implicit trust in the prisoners and was able to send them to the open road camps, losing but one prisoner during their four years of freedom.

At the time of his death he was affiliated with the Utah State prison in the capacity of finding employment for idle parolees, under Acting Warden Owen Nebeker. Mr. Storrs was a former sheriff of Utah county, and a former marshal of Springville.

He suffered a stroke Friday while on duty in the east part of Salt Lake City which culminated in his death early Monday.

His wife, Cecilia Oakley, whom he married November 12, 1883, died eight years ago in Glendale, California, where Mr. Storrs had resided in recent years. He returned here about a year ago.

Surviving are the following sons and daughters: Mrs. Beulah Lewis, Mrs. Vera Shankling, Vere Storrs and Kindred Lane Storrs, all of Los Angeles; Fred O. Storrs, Price; J. Lewis Storrs, Garden Creek and Russell Storrs, Provo.

Also surviving are two brothers, Joseph H. Storrs and William S. Storrs, a sister, Mrs. Ella Olsen, all of American Fork; 26 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

The body was sent to Los Angeles where interment will be made in the Forest Lawn cemetery.

Charles Nelson Sweet

The Aberdeen mine was leased to C. N. Sweet by the Independent company. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, November 14, 1907, p. 1) Sweet produced fifty carloads during mid November 1907. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, November 21, 1907, p. 5)

The coal lands of the Peerless Coal Company were first owned by the Crystal Coal Company in 1916. The land was sold to William H. Sweet and Charles N. Sweet. The Sweets developed the Peerless property, including the construction a gravity tramway and a tipple on the canyon floor at the railroad spur. In 1917 the property was sold to the Peerless Coal Company, organized by James Murdoch and Ezra Thompson, both of Salt Lake City. Thompson was a former mayor of Salt Lake City. The first superintendent was Robert Howard, a former state coal mine inspector. As development proceeded, burned coal was encountered and the estimates of mineable coal in the already thin seams was reduced sharply from the original 310 acres. By the end of operations in 1930, just 97 acres had been mined. The mines owners feared that the returns would not cover their initial $300,000.00 investment. The boom that stemmed from World War One allowed the debt to be paid and a small profit was recovered. This profit was used to develop the New Peerless property near Castle Gate, beginning in the mid 1920s. (Cederlof, pp. 1,2)

The 440 acres that composed the land of the Peerless mine were sold on August 8, 1917 by the Ogden owners to a group of capitalists headed by C. N. Sweet in Salt Lake City. The group organized the Peerless Coal Company, with C. N. Sweet as president, James C. Murdoch, as vice president, W. H. Sweet, as secretary-treasurer. Other officers include Ezra Thompson, L. H. Thompson, both of Salt Lake, C. M. Croft and W. I. Norton, both of Ogden. The Peerless company was to be filed as a corporation "probably today". (News-Advocate, August 10, 1917)

The Peerless property was located by William H. Sweet and Charles N. Sweet in 1916. The Sweets sold the property to the Peerless Coal Company in 1917. The Peerless company had been organized by James Murdoch and Ezra Thompson, a former Salt Lake City mayor. The coal mined by the Peerless company was hard to wrest from the ground because of the split seams and burned portions of the coal seam. Peerless' fortunes varied, with a coal boom coming because of World War One. The mine closed at least once in the 1930s, and was only opened again after new mining technology came along which reduced the cost of mining. (John Senulus; an unpublished manuscript completed in support of the mine reclamation and clean up program.)

The contracts for the construction of the tramway, tipple, and other improvements were let in September 1917 to Ely Construction Company and Wasatch Grading Company. The tramway was to be a gravity tramway and 3,700 feet long. The company consisted of C. N. Sweet, W. H. Sweet, Ezra Thompson, J. D. Murdoch, I. W. Boyer, Lawrence Green, and Leon Sweet, all of whom were "prominent business and mining men in Salt Lake." (News-Advocate, September 27, 1917)

Peerless Coal Company was to go into production about April 15, 1918. The company president was C. N. Sweet. (Salt Lake Mining Review, March 15, 1918, p. 36)

Gordon Creek Coal Company was organized on July 10, 1920 by Norman W. Lacey of Los Angeles and F. A. Hutchens of Salt Lake City to operate coal mine on property deeded to corporation by Norman W. Lacey, incorporated July 12, 1920; name changed to Sweet Coal Co. on March 11, 1925, with C. N. Sweet as president. C. N. Sweet still president in 1931, dissolved involuntarily on November 9, 1974 (Utah #14529)

Frederick Arthur Sweet

During early spring 1904, Heber J. Stowell, a resident of Spring Glen discovered veins of coal showing on the surface while exploring the region. He took a sample into Price and showed it to William H. Lawley. The next year, Lawley and Stowell began prospecting as time and money allowed. James Wade of Price and Fred Sweet of Salt Lake City became interested and financed increased development of the potential mine [Independent Coal & Coke at Kenilworth]. (Madsen, p. 43)

In October 1905, the local newspaper ran an item saying that the property first owned by Wade, Sweet and Lawley was "likely to open soon." (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, October 12, 1905, p. 5, "Opening Of Coal Mines Above Price")

In late 1906 a group of independent businessmen began to develop the coal reserves in the region east of Helper near what is now Kenilworth. A coal company, appropriately called Independent Coal & Coke Company, was organized by L. H. Curtis, F. A. Sweet, W. C. Orem, C. N. Strevell, and James H. Patterson, all of Salt Lake City, and A. J. Orem of Boston. The organizers chose the Independent name because of the new company's independence from any large corporate or railroad interests. The new coal company was incorporated on October 13, 1906 in Wyoming to develop coal property north of Price. (Utah corporation, index number 6054; Wyoming 429)

In mid February 1909, general manager Sweet purchased twenty-one miles of 56-pound rail in Chicago for use in the construction of the Southern Utah Railroad. He also made arrangements for the purchase of the road's Shay and one other locomotive. Construction work was at a complete standstill because of the bad weather. (Eastern Utah Advocate, February 18, 1909)

In April 1909 the railroad's general manager, F. A. Sweet, announced on the 26th that the company had purchased an eighty-ton, consolidated, direct connected locomotive and that it would be delivered in about seventy-five days. The company had also purchased a six-passenger gasoline passenger car to run between Price and the mines for the convenience of the officers and to carry the mail and express. Construction work on bridges was to begin the next week, using a home-made pile driver. Switch stands, frogs, and turnouts, along with other needed construction tools and equipment were ordered and were to be delivered within a week. Ties for the connection with D&RG were being laid. (Eastern Utah Advocate, April 29, 1909, "Engine And Materials For Southern Coming")

In July 1909 Southern Utah leased D&RG 4-6-0 number 503 for use in the construction of its line. The delivery of their own locomotive had been delayed due to the builder having a large backlog of orders. F. A. Sweet, general manager, just returned from the East where he had purchased all the machinery and equipment for the Miller Creek mine, stating that everything would be electrical and would be the best coal mining machinery ever brought into the state. The Price River bridge was being strengthened after being weakened by a recent flood. (Eastern Utah Advocate, July 29, 1909, "Southern Utah Pushing Along")

In an inspection trip in October 1909 with some of his Salt Lake City friends, general manager Fred Sweet rode out to the end of track in mid October, using the gasoline motor car. He was "well satisfied" with the road's progress. (Salt Lake Mining Review, October 15, 1909, p. 23, from the Advocate, Price, Utah)

Hiawatha was chosen as a name for the mine by Fred Sweet, and was named after a famous coal mine in Pennsylvania, which itself was named for Hiawatha, a famous chief of the Five Nations. (Sun Advocate & Helper Journal, January 2, 1975, p. 2)

(Another, undocumented, version has it simply that Longfellow's famous 1855 poem, Song of Hiawatha, was one of Fred Sweet's favorites. The version of him naming it after a larger, more famous mine in Pennsylvania makes a bit more sense.)

"Among those connected with the company [Consolidated Fuel] are F. A. Sweet, B. F. Bauer, A. A. Sweet, L. H. Curtis, F. W. Francis, W. H. Sweet, C. T. Lemley, E. D. Miller, C. M. Sweet, W. J. Burton, C. W. Reece, and J. H. R. Franklin." (Eastern Utah Advocate, March 24, 1910)

Business was good for the two coal companies. To show off the success, on Sunday August 7, 1910, Fred Sweet accompanied noted Salt Lake photographer Harry Shipler out on the railroad line and at the Miller Creek mine, where Shipler took twenty-five views that would be used in the promotion of the coal companies' products. (Eastern Utah Advocate, August 11, 1910)

On March 25, 1912 the Helper Western filed an amendment to its corporation papers that allowed it to have a joint agreement with the National Fuel Company. The name of the Helper Western was changed to the National Coal Railway on July 16, 1920 and amended its intended route to include a three-mile branch along the south fork of Gordon Creek and a one-mile branch along Coal Creek, from where Coal Creek joined with Gordon Creek. F. A. Sweet was shown as the president. (Utah corporation, index number 7779)

Helper Western Railway was organized in 1909, but no action was taken. In July 1920 it was renamed National Coal Railway, with F. A. Sweet shown as its president.

The Standardville mine was opened by the Standard Coal Company in 1913. The company was organized in 1913 by F. A. Sweet, who had previously organized and developed the Independent Coal & Coke Company at Kenilworth in 1907, and the Consolidated Fuel Company at Hiawatha in 1908. (Centennial Echos from Carbon County, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers of Carbon County, 1948, p. 226)

Standard Coal Company was incorporated on June 3, 1913. The contract for the grading of the new 3-1/2 mile railroad had been let to the Wattis Construction Company. The railroad was to connect with the railroad of the Spring Canyon Coal Company at Storrs. (Eastern Utah Advocate, July 3, 1913, "Sweets Back In Coal Game")

F. A. Sweet, president of Standard Coal Company, announced a new railroad to be built from the Standard coal mine to the Spring Canyon coal mine at Storrs. (Coal Index: Carbon County News, July 8, 1913, p. 6)

In a July 1925 amendment to allow an increase of its stock shares, the shareholders of the railroad company were shown as Great Western Coal Mines Company (4,960 shares), Frank F. Lahut (Latuda?) (4,900 shares), National Coal Company (3,550 shares), Sweet Coal Company (3,100 shares), Union Coal Company (2,910 shares), and F. A. Sweet (2,410 shares). Another 350 shares were owned by C. N. Sweet, T. Sato, Consumers Mutual Coal Company, George A. Storrs, D. E. Jenkins, C. N. Strevell, George S. Payne, and C. T. Worley. (Utah corporation, index number 7779)

The coal companies interested in the construction of the National Coal Railway included: Great Western Coal Company (Heber C. Jex), National Coal Company (F. A. Sweet), Consumers Mutual Coal Company (Donald E. Jenkins), Sweet Coal Company (C. N. Sweet), and Union Coal Company (C. N. Strevell). All but the Gordon Creek company were involved in the construction, management, and later sale of the line to Utah Railway. The railroad company in its application for the construction of its line stated that it could not finance its construction into Helper as originally considered, but would be able to finance its construction to a connection with the Utah Railway. The application was approved on August 14, 1925, knowing that the new railroad would most likely not be profitable, but at least self supporting, and that the Utah Railway intended to purchase the line from the coal companies for the cost of its construction. (99 ICC 570)

An early prospector in the National area was a man by the name of Williamson in 1908. The property was developed by Fred Sweet. (Carbon County: A History, Price, Utah, April 12, 1947, 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)

The Utah Terminal Railway was incorporated on May 12, 1920 to construct a railroad line from a connection with Utah Railway at or near the mouth of Spring Canyon, up said canyon to Standardville, a distance of about four miles. The company's incorporators included F. A. Sweet of Salt Lake City, with 2,500 shares, L. H. Curtis of Salt Lake City, president, with 2,500 shares, Lynn H. Thompson of Salt Lake City, vice president, with 2,000 shares, R. E. Allen of Provo, secretary-treasurer, with 1,500 shares, and J. Will Knight of Provo, with 1,500 shares. The corporation was involuntarily dissolved on November 9, 1974, along with hundreds of other inactive Utah corporations on the same day. (Utah corporation, index number 14450)

(F. A. Sweet was president of Standard Coal Company, L. H. Curtis was president of Utah Railway, Lynn H. Thompson was president of Peerless Coal Company, and J. Will Knight was president of Spring Canyon Coal Company.)

During late 1922, the MacLean mine near Rains was leased to the Sweets, who controlled the Standard mine. (Coal Index: The Sun, December 29, 1922, p. 6)

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)

The company [Standard Coal Co.] was unable to meet its payroll on January 25, 1939. The 265 miners voted unanimously to work only for food to save the mine from closing. Fred Sweet, Jr. was company president and general manager. (Ogden Standard Examiner, February 1, 1939, p. 5)

William H. Sweet

On November 30, 1909 the Southern Utah Railroad purchased the entire flow of Miller Creek from William H. Sweet, secretary of the company. (Carbon County Miscellaneous Records Book 3-B, p. 59)

The coal lands of the Peerless Coal Company were first owned by the Crystal Coal Company in 1916. The land was sold to William H. Sweet and Charles N. Sweet. The Sweets developed the Peerless property, including the construction a gravity tramway and a tipple on the canyon floor at the railroad spur. In 1917 the property was sold to the Peerless Coal Company, organized by James Murdoch and Ezra Thompson, both of Salt Lake City. Thompson was a former mayor of Salt Lake City. The first superintendent was Robert Howard, a former state coal mine inspector. As development proceeded, burned coal was encountered and the estimates of mineable coal in the already thin seams was reduced sharply from the original 310 acres. By the end of operations in 1930, just 97 acres had been mined. The mines owners feared that the returns would not cover their initial $300,000.00 investment. The boom that stemmed from World War One allowed the debt to be paid and a small profit was recovered. This profit was used to develop the New Peerless property near Castle Gate, beginning in the mid 1920s. (Philip Cederlof, The Peerless Coal Mines, 1916-1953, unpublished manuscript, Utah State Historical Society, MSS A 2202, 1975, pp. 1,2)

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)

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