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United States Fuel Company

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This page was last updated on December 27, 2014.

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

Coal Properties of USSR&M

Utah Railway's parent company was United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Company, or USSR&M.

The following comes from the 1937 corporate history of Utah Railway:

"In 1911 and the early part of 1912 the United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Company acquired extensive interests in the coal regions of Carbon and Emery counties, Utah, with a view of opening up the properties and putting them in condition to produce coal on a greatly increased scale; and it being wholly apparent that existing railroad facilities could not render competent service, their plans for new development and increased output necessarily involved new and adequate railroad service. In the minds of the people who were financing the enterprise it was deemed absolutely essential, not only that there must be additional facilities, but these facilities must be in the form of a railroad efficient and up to date in every respect, capable of providing an independent through operation from the coal mines to a point of direct connection with lines over which the product would be distributed to consumers. Upon this basis and with this understanding the railroad and the enlarged coal proposition were financed." (Utah Railway: Manual, page 21)

The mines of what would later become United States Fuel Company, a direct subsidiary of USSR&M:

Consolidated Fuel Company -- Information about the coal company that opened the original Hiawatha coal mine in Miller Creek Canyon.

Castle Valley Coal Company -- Information about the coal company that opened the original Mohrland coal mine in Cedar Creek Canyon.

Black Hawk Coal Company -- Information about the coal company that opened the Black Hawk coal mine, later known as Hiawatha or King Mine.

Panther Coal Company -- Information about the Panther Coal Company and its mine near Castle Gate, served by Utah Railway; opened in 1912, closed in 1937.

The Utah Company was incorporated in Maine on March 26, 1912, as a holding company subsidiary of USSR&M. The Utah Company was shown in 1916 as holding 100 percent of the following companies, except as noted. The Utah Company would later transfer its assets to United States Fuel Company

Questions about the need for new mines and new railroads had been asked earlier. In early 1910 a local mining engineer of prominence openly wondered, with the "immense profit of the coal carrying trade" (D&RG netted over $1,500,000), and with the fact that the Utah mines were closer to all of the markets than were the Wyoming and Colorado mines, why development "capital can much longer be kept out of so promising an opening" of serving the potential markets, which were seen as Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, northern and southern California, and Arizona. To illustrate the growth of demand, it was pointed out that in 1903, Utah produced 475,000 tons more than the state consumed, while in 1909, Utah consumed 42,000 tons more than it produced. Demand was far outstripping production, forcing the importation of coal from Wyoming and Colorado. The nearest Wyoming mine was seventy miles farther from Salt Lake City (the largest market) than the farthest Utah mine. Indignantly he asked, "Why should Utah send from seventy to a hundred miles farther, or pay out $1,000,000 annually, to get coal which is not a particle superior to its own product, and is inferior to part of it." (Harrington, pages 22,23)

In April 1908, David J. Sharp (brother to W. G. Sharp of USSR&M) sold coal property adjoining the Independent property to United States Smelting, Refining & Mining. A tramway was to be built and the mines producing by June 1908. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, April 23, 1908, page 1)

The Utah Company

In January 1912, James H. Mays purchased the Orem interests in the Castle Valley Coal Company and the Castle Valley Railroad. (Salt Lake Mining Review, January 15, 1912, page 23)

In February 1912 the United States company began four months of negotiations with the aim of buying control of the Castle Valley Coal Company and the Consolidated Fuel Company.

The United States Smelting Refining and Mining Company was organized in 1906 largely through the efforts of W. G. Sharp and other eastern capitalists. Sharp was familiar with the coal resources in Utah, having organized the Pleasant Valley Coal Company in 1885. He moved east in 1902 when Rio Grande interests purchased control of the Pleasant Valley mines. (Read more about W. G. Sharp)

February 29, 1912
Utah Coal & Coke company was incorporated to own 2000 acres of coal lands in Emery County. The president of this company was J. R. Sharp, brother of W. G. Sharp. W. G. Sharp had already taken all of the stock and bonds of Castle Valley Coal company, Black Hawk Coal company, and an option for Consolidated Fuel company. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 29, 1912)

Utah Coal & Coke Company was incorporated for the purpose of "absorbing" Castle Valley Coal, Black Hawk Coal, and Consolidated Fuel. (The Salt Lake Mining Review, March 15, 1912, page 17, "New Railroads For Eastern Utah Coal Fields")

(This company may have been very short lived, because a very similar company had been organized in October 1900, and two weeks later changed its name to Utah Fuel Company, a subsidiary of Rio Grande Western Railway. It is possible that RGW still held the rights to the name.)

June 1, 1912
United States Smelting Refining and Mining company acquired control of the Consolidated Fuel and Castle Valley Coal companies. The United States company had already acquired control of the Black Hawk Coal Company, and they also owned the former Orem family interests in the Castle Valley Coal Company at Mohrland in Cedar Creek canyon. (Eastern Utah Advocate, June 6, 1912, "last Saturday")

At the time of its purchase by the United States company, the Castle Valley Coal Company consisted of 4,000 acres of coal lands, 1,200 acres of agricultural lands, with water rights, the town of Mohrland, the Castle Valley Railroad, the Mohrland Mercantile store, Western Fuel Company of Salt Lake City, and Western Pacific Fuel Company of San Francisco. The United States company owned 923,000 shares (virtually all shares issued) of the 1.5 million shares authorized. (Eastern Utah Advocate, January 30, 1913, "Carbon County's Mining Interests")

(The two railroads which were owned by the two companies, the jointly operated Southern Utah Railroad and the Castle Valley Railroad, were known to be inadequate for the projected increase in production for the mines, so the United States company had already organized the Utah Coal Railway in January 1912, name changed to Utah Railway in May 1912.)

(RESEARCH: What was the connection between James Mays, W. G. Sharp, David Sharp, and United States Smelting, Refining & Mining?)

United States Smelting, Refining & Mining paid $1.2 million for control of Consolidated Fuel Company. Included in the sale was 5,000 acres of land, 3,600 acres of which had known coal reserves. The sale also included the Panther Coal Company and its mine near Castle Gate, the Hiawatha townsite, and Consolidated Fuel's one-half interest in the Southern Utah Railroad between Price and Castle Junction. Consolidated's Hiawatha mine was producing 2,200 tons of coal per day. (Coal Age, July 20, 1912, page 105)

To finance the acquisition of the coal interests in Carbon County, the United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Company organized a subsidiary called The Utah Company, whose debt was fully guaranteed by the United States company. The Utah Company was organized to purchase the Black Hawk Coal Company, the Consolidated Fuel Company, and two-thirds interest in Castle Valley Coal Company, and to finance the construction of a 80-mile railroad between Spanish Fork and the mines in Carbon County. (Coal Age, July 27, 1912, page 140)

The Utah Company, incorporated in Maine, controlled 11,226 acres of land, 7,526 acres of which was designated specifically as coal land. The combined coal mines were producing 500,000 tons per year. (Coal Age, September 14, 1912, page 383)

To support its financial needs, the Utah Company planned on selling $10 million in notes to raise $5 million in cash. Another alternative was to raise its stock dividend from four percent to six percent to make the stock more attractive to investors. (Coal Age, September 21, 1912, page 416)

(PHOTOGRAPHS: Photos the main opening of the Black Hawk mine and a locomotive and mine trip at Castle Valley Coal were in Coal Age, page 747, and of the Black Hawk tipple, page 749, in Coal Age, November 30, 1912.)

(PHOTOGRAPHS: Photos of the Consolidated Fuel tipple was in Coal Age, Volume 2, number 22, January 25, 1913, page 135)

(PHOTOGRAPHS: Photos of the Black Hawk tipple, powerhouse, and yards were in Coal Age, Volume 5, number 9, February 28, 1914, page 367)

Prior to 1912 and the organization of the Utah (Coal) Railway, the only outlet for the coal mines at Mohrland and Hiawatha was the single track railroads of the Southern Utah Railroad and the Castle Valley Railroad. "These railroads were poorly and inadequately constructed, with impracticable grades, lacking in equipment, and incapable of being put into condition to serve this region and handle the output of the mines, to say nothing of making possible increased output and new development." (Utah Railway: Manual, page 21)

On January 24, 1912 the Utah Coal Railway was incorporated to build, or acquire and operate a standard gauge railroad from coal mines in Carbon and Emery counties, Utah, to a point of connection with the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad. Less than five months later, on May 4, 1912 the company name was simplified, from Utah Coal Railway to just Utah Railway. (Utah Railway: Manual, page 21)

Utah Coal Railway was incorporated on January 24, 1912 to build a ninety mile railroad from Provo, south and southeast through Utah, San Pete, and Emery counties. The corporation also showed an intended thirty-five mile route from Nephi, in Juab County, east through Juab and San Pete counties, to a connection with the first route. William M. Bradley of Salt Lake City was shown as president and owner of 1,246 of the authorized 1,250 shares. On May 4, 1912 the name was changed to Utah Railway. On September 10, 1912, an additional route was filed. This route was from the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake line at or near Spanish Fork. (Utah corporation, index number 9369)

In March 1913, the Utah Coal Sales Agency, also called the Utah Coal Sales Company, was organized and incorporated in Utah to market the coal output of the newly combined Consolidated Fuel, Castle Valley, Black Hawk, and Castle Gate coal companies. James H. Mays was mentioned as one of the directors. (Coal Age, Volume 3, number 10, March 8, 1913, page 390)

Shipments on Utah Railway were made in the name of the Utah Coal Sales Agency, which acted as the selling agent for USSR&M's mines, from 1913 until July 25, 1930, when it was replaced by the United States Fuel Sales Agency. United States Fuel Sales Agency remained as the sales agent until January 1, 1936, when Utah Railway began making shipments directly in the name of United States Fuel Company. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

United States Smelting also organized the Carbon Purchasing Company to act as the purchasing agent for all equipment and supplies for the Carbon County coal mines. Its officers were the same as the United States company. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1914, page 32)

In August 1914, the annual meeting of the Castle Valley Coal Company was held in Evanston, Wyoming. Officers present at the meeting were: J. H. Mays, president; E. L. Carpenter, first vice president; Moroni Heiner, second vice president; J. E. Forrester, secretary-treasurer. D. H. Livingston, W. S. McCornick, H. R. MacMillian were directors. The old board of directors was re-elected. (Eastern Utah Advocate, August 6, 1914)

(By August 1914, United States Smelting did not yet own all of Castle Valley stock, a fact that would come up later with the organization of United States Fuel.)

The progress of the war in Europe interfered with the expected growth of United States Smelting's combined mines in 1914. Coal production for the year 1912 for the United States companies was 620,688 tons; in 1913, 869,522 tons, an increase of forty percent. Additional contracts to supply coal were signed in 1914 but the war in Europe intervened with a general curtailment of activity in the region. As a consequence, the production for 1914 was for 703,936 tons, a nineteen percent drop from the 1913 figure. (Salt Lake Mining Review, April 15, 1915, page 21)

Hiawatha and Black Hawk were originally two separate towns. The original Hiawatha, at the Hiawatha mine and stretched out along Consolidated Fuel Company's tramway to the loading tipple at East Hiawatha, was located about a mile up canyon, and west of Black Hawk. The Town of Hiawatha had been incorporated in September 1911. The town government was established on September 26, 1911. (Madsen, page 40)

(Black Hawk was originally located at the mouth of the canyon, south of the location of the loading tipple of the Black Hawk Coal Company, at the lower end of the tramway to the Black Hawk mine. The town of Black Hawk later grew to the west side of the tipple.)

In 1915 the post offices of the two towns were combined (along with the town governments). The new town consolidated all of the homes and businesses in the Miller Creek area under the Hiawatha name. (Madsen, page 40)

Black Hawk changed its name to Hiawatha in about September 1915. (Salt Lake Mining Review, October 15, 1915, page 21, "about a month to six weeks ago.")

All coal was being shipped over the Utah Railway, except "what little coal is used in Price and east of here". All local freight, passenger, express and mail business was going out of Price by way of the Southern Utah and Castle Valley roads. (The Sun, August 13, 1915)

March 1916
The entire capital stock of The Utah Company was held by United States Smelting Refining and Mining company. (New York Times, March 23, 1916)

United States Fuel Company

March 19, 1915
"Mammoth Coal Merger -- Four Big Utah Mines to be Consolidated -- Salt Lake City -- It is reported here that four large Utah coal companies will be merged on April 1 into one company, to be known as the United States Fuel Company, with a total capitalization of $10,000,000. The companies whose holdings are to be taken over by the big new company are the Castle Valley Coal company, the Consolidated Fuel company, the Black Hawk Coal company and the Panther Coal company. These four companies are the owners of extensive tracts of coal lands and producing coal mines in Carbon and Emery counties." (Carbon County News, March 19, 1915)

March 30, 1915
United States Fuel Company was incorporated in Nevada on March 30, 1915. (Nevada Secretary of State, entity C208-1915; revoked in December 1991, reinstated in February 1992, still active as of July 2013, offices in Memphis, Tennessee)

April 30, 1915
"Merger May Go Through -- Word comes from Boston that those stockholders of the Castle Valley Coal company who have brought suit to prevent the sale of the property of that company to the United States Fuel company have been placated and that there is now a likelihood of the merger becoming effective May 10th." (Carbon County News, April 30, 1915)

May 1915
U. S. Fuel was operating the Black Hawk and Hiawatha mines; "Word comes from Hiawatha to the effect that R. N. McGraw, late of Castle Gate, has succeeded J. F. Healey as general manager of the United States Fuel company, which absorbed the Consolidated Fuel company and its allied interests at Hiawatha and Blackhawk." (Carbon County News, May 7, 1915)

In 1915, at the time of the organization of United States Fuel, there was still a severe car shortage. (The Sun, October 15, 1915)

October 15, 1915
A settlement was made with the minority shareholder of Castle Valley Coal Co., who was blocking the merger that was to form the new United States Fuel Co. (Eastern Utah Advocate, October 15, 1915):

The decision to merge the companies was reached about six months ago but owing to a suit being filed in the federal court by R. K. Cobb of Boston, a minority stockholder of the Castle Valley company, an injunction was issued restraining the transfer of the property to the new company. Recently a meeting was arranged in the East between McMillan [attorney for U. S. Fuel interests], Cobb and other interested persons. The negotiations extended over a month and in the end Cobb agreed to a settlement and withdrew his objections to the merger. It was announced by attorney McMillan that the incorporation of the United States Fuel Company will be had this week in Nevada. E. L. Carpenter will be president of the new company. The properties of the companies which are in the merger are located in Carbon and Emery counties and have been producing mines for a number of years.

Moroni Heiner is president of the Castle Valley Coal Company and it was mainly through his efforts that the merger was put through. The United States Smelting Refining and Mining is the principal stockholder in the United States Fuel Company. For several years past there has been an effort put forth to get all of the "independent mines" in the Carbon and Emery district under one head but until recently the plan has failed. The Castle Valley Coal Company which is the principal company in the merger is a Wyoming corporation. A meeting was held at Evanston this week at which the stockholders ratified the merging of the several interests. The Consolidated Fuel Company at Hiawatha also comes into the deal. This property was bought from the Sweets and was the first to be developed of the four in the merger.

During October 1915 the negotiations for the merger of United States Smelting's coal properties under the name of United States Fuel Company were made public. The $10 million merger included Castle Valley Coal Company, Panther Coal Company, Black Hawk Coal Company, and Consolidated Fuel Company. The merger was being blocked by the minority stockholders of Castle Valley Coal Company. (The Sun, October 15, 1915, page 2, "The United States Fuel Company Merger Put Through Down East")

October 29, 1915
The charter for United States Fuel Company was issued by the state of Nevada. Stockholders will meet soon to elect officers and directors; E. L. Carpenter will be president. (Eastern Utah Advocate, October 29, 1915)

In January 1916 the United States Smelting, Refining, & Mining Company consolidated all of its coal mining interests in the state of Utah under the name of a new corporation called United States Fuel Company, incorporated in Nevada. The sale of the coal properties took place on January 3, 1916. These holdings included the Consolidated Fuel Company in Miller Creek; the Castle Valley Coal Company in Cedar Creek; Panther Coal Company near Castle Gate; and the Black Hawk Coal Company at the mouth of Miller Creek. USSR&M had purchased control of the Black Hawk company in about June 1912. (Utah corporation, index number 11540; The Sun, January 7, 1916?)

January 3, 1916
United States Fuel Company filed articles of incorporation with Utah secretary of state. Capitalized for $10 million, with incorporators being E. L. Carpenter, Moroni Heiner, E. R. Gibson, G. E. Forrester and H. R. Mcmillan. the company was to take over the interests of Consolidated Fuel Company, Castle Valley Coal Company, Black Hawk Coal Company, Utah Coal Sales Company, and a number of smaller coal mines in Emery and Carbon counties. United States Fuel Company was organized in Nevada. (News Advocate, January 7, 1916, page 1, "Monday")

January 3, 1916
The property of Consolidated Fuel Company was conveyed to United States Fuel Company on January 3, 1916. (Carbon County Miscellaneous Records Book 3-D, pages 254-259)

The property of Castle Valley Coal Company was conveyed to United States Fuel Company on January 3, 1916. (Emery County Book A-5, pages 315-318; Carbon County Miscellaneous Records Book 3-D, pages 254,256)

(The Emery County recorders office, Book F-6, page 472, shows United States Fuel filing a $6 million mortgage to Columbia Trust on April 1, 1915. This recording shows that United States Fuel, at least as a corporation, existed prior to the January 1916 consolidation.)

The mines of United States Fuel Company were in full production, or at least producing coal that could be sold and shipped. At times coal was sitting at the mine tipples waiting for cars to load, and other times the coal was sitting in cars on sidings waiting for locomotives. United States Fuel could see that the D&RG operation of its Utah Railway was unsatisfactory, and not able to keep up with the demand for cars and locomotives to ship the company's coal. To ease the situation the Utah Railway served notice to the Rio Grande that they would take over operation of their line as of November 1917. To accomplish this, Utah Railway purchased half interest in 1,500 coal cars already ordered in May 1917 by the Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad, a Union Pacific subsidiary, adding to the already existing 500 Utah Coal Route cars delivered from Pressed Steel Car Company in 1914 and 1915. These original 500 cars had been purchased by Utah Railway, and LA&SL purchased a half interest in them in February 1917, when the Utah Coal Route marketing concept was agreed on. The additional 1,500 cars were also lettered for the Utah Coal Route. The Utah Railway also purchased six of their own steam locomotives. (Utah Railway: Manual, page 23)

November 1, 1916
Utah Railway gave notice to the Denver & Rio Grande that the company would take over the operation of its own trains on November 1, 1917. The one year notice was a requirement of the joint operating agreement signed in 1913. The original agreement between Utah Railway and D&RG contained a stipulation that after two years, Utah Railway could take over the privilege of operation of its own line at the end of the following (third) year. The smelting company was dissatisfied with the service, especially to its U. S. Fuel mines. (News-Advocate, January 18, 1917, page 1)

On November 1, 1916, United States Smelting served notice to D&RG that the Utah Railway would take over the operation of its own line on November 1, 1917. (The Sun, January 19, 1917, page 1, "Smelting Company To take Back Road")

During early 1918, the three mines (Hiawatha, Black Hawk, and Mohrland) of United States Fuel were producing 6,000 tons of coal per day. (News-Advocate, January 18, 1918)

In early 1918, the coal properties of United States Fuel were working five days a week. On one day in mid February 1918, the Black Hawk mine produced 3,343 tons, a record for Utah. (Coal Index: The Sun, February, 22, 1918, page 1)

By mid February 1918, Utah Railway was shipping 600 carloads (30,000 tons) a week, mostly to Pacific Coast markets. (Salt Lake Mining Review, February 15, 1918, page 35)

By early May 1918, the Utah Railway alone was shipping 4,000 tons of coal per day into Provo, using two trains. (News-Advocate, May 2, 1918)

During mid 1918, United States Fuel's customers were in the Northwest, California, Honolulu, and South Africa. The company shipped about 100,000 tons per month. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1918, page 30)

United States Smelting, Refining & Mining had been incorporated in Maine. The corporation was moved to Utah in January 1918. The filing fee of $18,758 was one of the largest yet in the state. (Coal Index: The Sun, January 25, 1918, page 3)

The tonnage handled by Utah Railway for the year 1919 was 1,196,314 tons, of which 1,185,818 tons (or about 23,716 carloads, about 65 carloads per day) was coal, leaving just 10,496 tons (or about 210 carloads) of non-coal tonnage handled. (141 ICC 560,564)

In March 1923, United States Fuel started a dairy at Hiawatha to furnish fresh milk to the residents of Hiawatha, Mohrland, and West Hiawatha. (Coal Index: The Sun, March 30, 1923, page 1) Fifty Holstein cows arrived at the dairy in early October 1923. (Coal Index: The Sun, October 26, 1923, page 1)

In August 1924 United States Fuel Company began selling Crescent-brand anthracite fuel from Crested Butte, Colorado. (United States Fuel: Firing Line, Volume 1, number 5, August 1924, page 2)

On May 9, 1925 the Consolidated Fuel Company's corporation was dissolved because all shares of the company were owned by United States Smelting, Refining & Mining. (Utah corporation, index number 6612)

United States Fuel installed a new, 20-inch, 720 Type I Manierre Box Car Loader on track number 1 at King Mine No. 1 on December 7, 1927. The loader was ordered on June 23, 1927, and delivered on October 1, 1927, from the Manierre Engineering & Machinery Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for $6,875.43. (United States Fuel: Mechanical Record, Form 60)

On January 27, 1925, United States Fuel changed the names of it mines. The Black Hawk mine, located at the town of Hiawatha, and at Kingmine Station on Utah Railway, became the King No. 1. The Mohrland mine became the King No. 2 mine. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

To improve screening and preparation of coal, in 1925 United States Fuel built a new coal preparation plant at the original Hiawatha mine, also known as East Hiawatha. Cost was $200,000.00. (Coal Index: The Sun, February 27, 1925, page 8)

In December 1924 the United States Fuel Company completed a new all-steel and concrete, five-track tipple at Hiawatha. The design and construction work took nearly a year. The new tipple included a seven by sixty-four foot long Marcus Horizontal Picking table, along with a slack re-screening plant and loading booms to load the coal into the railroad cars. (United States Fuel: Firing Line, Volume 1, number 8, December 1924, page 1)

(United States Fuel Company published "The Firing Line", a monthly foldout brochure for its retailers and customers. Each issue was 7x10 inches and folded out to 14x20 inches. Volume 1, number 1 was April 1924, with successive issues published monthly, except Volume 1, number 10, which was February-March 1925. This was also the last issue, possibly due to the declining coal market. All ten known issues are available at the Utah State Historical Society, accession numbers 17995 to 18004.)

United States Fuel closed King No. 2 mine at Mohrland in March 1925 due to low demand. Utah coal mines were working at about forty percent capacity, usually only two days per week. (Coal Index: The Sun, March 6, 1925)

The mine at Mohrland was reopened in September 1926 after being closed for eighteen months. (Coal Index: The Sun, September 10, 1926, page 4, the article mistakenly says the mine was closed for two years.)

The Hiawatha mine (the original Consolidated Fuel mine) was closed on September 11, 1926. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

The original Consolidated Fuel Hiawatha mine was closed in 1926, after which, United States Fuel's coal production centered on the Mohrland, Black Hawk, and Panther mines. (United States Fuel: Thirty Years, page 8)

During the year 1929, approximately two-million tons of coal (about 6,600 tons, or about 133 car loads, per day for a 300 day year) originated on the Utah Railway. This figure represented about forty percent total Utah coal production. (Anderson, page 3)

In 1930, United States Fuel began full mechanization of its mining operations and within a few short years the mines were completely mechanized. Early in 1944 mining operations were further modernized with the use rubber-tired, self-propelled shuttle cars, which replaced electrified rail haulage in both the mine face and gathering operations. Main haulage remained as electrified rail operations, moving the mined coal out the original Black Hawk opening and down the Black Hawk gravity tramway to the Hiawatha tipple. (United States Fuel: Thirty Years, pages 8,9)

United States Fuel installed a new Manierre Box Car Loader at King Mine No. 2 (Mohrland) on September 27, 1930. The loader was ordered from the Manierre Engineering & Machinery Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 10, 1930, and delivered on September 5, 1930, at a cost of $5,918.00. (United States Fuel: Mechanical Record, Form 60)

In 1931 the Hiawatha-Wattis-Mohrland area was considered by mining experts to have the most attractive set of conditions of any in the Wasatch Plateau coal field as far as the commercial value of the coal was concerned. It contained the largest number of thick beds and was favorably situated for mining and shipping. It was relatively undisturbed by faults, and structural conditions were considered desirable for mining. (Sun Advocate & Helper Journal, January 2, 1975, page 3)

In 1938 the town of Mohrland was abandoned. (Sun Advocate & Helper Journal, January 2, 1975, page 2)

Improvements at Hiawatha were completed in September 1938. (Coal Index: Sun Advocate, June 23, 1938, page 1)

King No. 2 mine (at Mohrland) was closed on October 29, 1938, after its production was consolidated with the King No. 1 mine (at Hiawatha). (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)

In 1939 the King No. 1 mine, formerly the Black Hawk mine, and the King No. 2 mine, formerly the Mohrland mine, were connected with a haulage tunnel and the two operations consolidated. Also in 1939, a new tipple was completed at Hiawatha (formerly Black Hawk). Construction began in 1937. (United States Fuel: Thirty Years, pages 8,19)

During mid 1946, United States Fuel's King No. 1 and King No. 2 mines were producing 4,000 tons per day, with 410 employees. (Coal Index: The Sun, May 2, 1946, page 13)

By 1946 the mines of the United States Fuel Company had produced over 24 million tons of coal, a little over twenty percent of the total commercial production in the State of Utah, which to date and for the same period produced approximately 119 million tons. (United States Fuel: Thirty Years, page 7)

UV Industries and Later Events

United States Smelting, Refining & Mining over the years diversified its business interests. In 1972 the corporate name was changed to better reflect, for potential investors, the company's mission. The name chosen was UV Industries, using the ticker tape symbols for the company. In 1978 control of UV Industries went to Vincent Posner's Sharon Steel Corporation. Posner remained in control until its bankruptcy in December 1990. The strongest component of the former UV Industries interests in 1990 was Mueller Industries, formerly Mueller Brass. Mueller Brass had been a major component of the United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Company, along with both United States Fuel and Alaska Gold. The interests of United States Fuel have passed to a new component of Mueller Industries called Arava Natural Resources (including the management and operation of Utah Railway) who is in the process of reclaiming its former coal mining activities. The coal mined by United States Fuel, beginning in 1915, was taken under lease from U. S. government lands, called "C" coal. By 1993, Mueller made the business decision to end their coal mining activities and pursue other interests more closely associated with brass. (telephone interviews on October 31, 1994 with John West, general manager of Utah Railway, and Mike Watson, general manager of Arava Natural Resources.)

The inactive corporation file at the Utah Secretary of State's office shows a United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Company incorporated on January 22, 1918. On October 17, 1965, this corporation was merged its financially stronger subsidiary Mueller Brass Company. The company name was changed back to USSR&M on the same day. (Utah corporation, index number 13150)

The United States Fuel mine at Hiawatha, and the Utah Railway, along with other assets, were sold by UV Industries to Sharon Steel Company in November 1979. UV Industries had been holding talks earlier with Reliance Group, but those talks broke down. A group of railroad employees had hoped to be able to buy the railroad. The announced sale brought those hopes to an end. (Deseret News, November 27, 1979)

U. S. Fuel lost $4 million during 1982. The April 1983 Thistle slide forced U. S. Fuel to postpone its call back of 289 workers until July 1st. Survival of the company depended on a production figure of 20 tons per man shift. (Coal Age, Volume 88, number 6, June 1983, page 33, "Coal in Brief, Utah Mudslide")

In July 1988, U. S. Fuel's parent company, Sharon Steel, filed for bankruptcy. (Wall Street Journal, July 19, 1988, page 10)

December 30, 1988
United States Fuel Company laid off sixty-six miners because of reduced amounts of coal going to Nevada Power and to the Intermountain Power Plant at Delta. The reduction would shut down King No. 6, leaving King No. 4 as the only operating mine of United States Fuel. Each of the mines used a continuous, longwall mining machine to produce its coal. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 24, 1988)

April 19, 1991
The folowing comes from the April 11, 1991 issue of the Salt Lake Tribue newspaper:

HIAWATHA, Carbon County - U.S. Fuel Co. will lay off nearly 90 percent - or all but 18 of its 152 employees - here April 19 because of "adverse mining conditions and poor coal quality" in its only active mine, the King No. 4.

But U.S. Fuel's Gary Barker, president and general manager, told The Salt Lake Tribune Wednesday the company will continue to meet its long-term coal contracts by drawing down its large stockpile and using coal produced daily by the remaining miners.

Those long-term contracts - which Mr. Barker said represent about 15 percent of U.S. Fuel's production - are with Nevada Power Co. and the Intermountain Power Agency. The latter contract is for 108,000 tons a year.

Mr. Barker said U.S. Fuel recently lost a contract to supply Utah Power's Castle Gate power plant because of insufficient coal quality.

The U.S. Fuel president explained miners have encountered a thin seam of coal, resulting in "spiraling" mining costs. He added, "By a thin seam, I mean the roof and floor {of the mining area} are very close together."

Mr. Barker said if that isn't enough, the coal's ash and sulphur content is unacceptably high to many buyers. "And unfortunately, since this is an old mine we have no where else to go," he said.

Mr. Barker said the U.S. Fuel's mine operations at the town of Hiawatha, south of Price, does have other coal reserves. But he said because spot coal prices have plummeted so low - it's currently under $20 a ton - that isn't enough to financially justify U.S. Fuel to develop the reserves.

"If the price of coal improves, we'll take a new look {at developing the reserves}," said Mr. Barker. But he said he expects the layoff to last "a long time."

Last year, U.S. Fuel, whose parent company is Wichita, Kansas.-based Mueller Industries, produced 700,000 tons of coal.

Mr. Barker said last year U.S. Fuel filled a significant coal order for a Pacific Rim customer. But he said the mine has been unable to "firm anything up" for a repeat order this year because of difficulties with coal pricing and the problems it is facing with mining conditions and poor coal quality.

June 24, 1992
The following comes from the June 24, 1992 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper:

LEVELING OF 18 HOMES LEAVES HIAWATHA ON VERGE OF DISAPPEARING INTO HISTORY -- Jerry Cowan does not have a magic formula for saving Hiawatha, but he plans to continue living there as long as he can. But the company town, once the winner of a state model town award and noted for its beautiful lawns, trees, flower and vegetable gardens seems to be disappearing around him. Only four homes remain occupied.

Cowan, who serves as town marshal, town board president, a Carbon County deputy sheriff and a U.S. Weather Service observer, lives in one of them. Another giant step toward oblivion was taken recently when the company, U.S. Fuels, bulldozed and burned 18 of the homes.

While the move elicited some concern among Carbon County residents, many of whom grew up in Hiawatha, Michael Baum, general manager of U.S. Fuels, said the move was taken only to remove buildings considered unsafe. He said there are no immediate plans to demolish about 20 remaining buildings including homes, the old office building, store and boarding house.

The big tipple, no longer used by the 12 miners still working in the mine, will be torn down and materials and equipment salvaged. The tipple was used to sort coal, but coal is now shipped as it comes from the mine.

Baum said the company has an interest in preservation but also has an obligation to restore the land under the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Act. He said the company has a $3.5 million bond that could be forfeited if the land is not returned to its original contours. Although a petition to save Hiawatha is circulating, Baum said the company has not been approached with an offer with funding to save it.

Located 18 miles southwest of Price at the base of Gentry Mountain, the community grew following the opening of the first mine in 1908. Another nearby mine was opened soon after, and for a time there was East and West Hiawatha and Blackhawk. In 1912 the U.S. Fuel Company purchased and consolidated the two mines, and the Hiawatha post office was closed. The town government moved to Black Hawk and the name changed to Hiawatha. Population fluctuated with the boom and bust cycles of mining, but the community had a store, post office, church, amusement hall, doctor and doctor's office, a boardinghouse and dormitory and school through the eighth grade along with rows of neat frame homes.

Cowan, who attended elementary school in Hiawatha, can remember when two large buses were needed to transport the older students to Price. He also remembers fondly the sleigh riding, the weekend movies, skating parties and dances in the amusement hall and when he had the best job in town for a youngster. He delivered the daily Salt Lake morning and afternoon newspapers, a total of 250 at the time.

The demise of Hiawatha began with improved transportation and the decision of many miners to live in larger communities. This was accompanied by layoffs at the mine, the last of which occurred a little more than a year ago when 134 miners were laid off. If Hiawatha disappears, it will join a host of Carbon County ghost towns and abandoned mining sites - Castle Gate, Spring Canyon, Standardville, Latuda, Rains, Mutual, Morhland and Winter Quarters.

October 1992
The coal washer and loader at Hiawatha was being demolished. A photo by Warren Johnson in October 1992 shows the job to be about half completed.

March 1993
United States Fuel Company stopped producing coal from its Hiawatha mine (King No. 4), the last of its operating coal mines. In 1994 the company completed negotiations to sell its 12,700 acres of coal property (10,000 owned and 2,700 leased), but by 1995 the sale was not yet completed. The sale was completed in 1997. (Mueller Industries, SEC Form 10K, 1995, 1996, and 1997)

In Don Marson's article "The Utah Railway" in the December 1996 issue of Pacific RailNews, he mentions that the Mohrland loadout was still active, loading 200,000 tons per year, destined for the Southwest Portland Cement plant at Victorville, California.

December 12, 1997
According to the Utah Division of Natural Resources, the permit for this mine complex was transferred from the U.S. Fuel Company to Hiawatha Coal Company on December 12, 1997. (Documents on file with Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining)

The large coal processing and loading facility at Hiawatha was demolished in (?), and the rest of the site and Hiawatha townsite reclaimed under the federal mine reclamation act.

More Information

Consolidated Fuel Company -- Information about the mines in Miller Creek Canyon, including the original Consolidated Fuel mine at East Hiawatha or Old Hiawatha, and Southern Utah Railroad.

Black Hawk Coal Company -- Information about the Black Hawk Coal Co. mine at Black Hawk, later known as Hiawatha or King Mine, sold to United States Fuel Company, served by Utah Railway.

Castle Valley Coal Company -- Information about the parent company of Castle Valley Railroad

Panther Coal Company -- Information about the Panther Coal Company and its mine near Castle Gate, served by Utah Railway; opened in 1912, closed in 1937.