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Utah Fuel Company

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This page was last updated on November 9, 2013.

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

Utah Fuel Company Mines

Overview

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)

Up to the turn of the century, most of the mining effort in Carbon County had been towards the development of the coking industry, in part to serve the "Smelting Capital of the West" at Salt Lake City. Sunnyside had built 200 coke ovens by 1902 and its coke production had reached 139,792 tons (about 2,800 carloads) for that year. By 1907 Sunnyside had 650 coke ovens and together with the 104 ovens at Castle Gate, along with some smaller operations, the total coke production for Carbon County was 324,692 tons, or over 12,800 railroad cars of coke. However, in 1908, with a major drop in demand, the coke production dropped over fifty percent to 134,195 tons. (Powell, Labor, p. 19)

Timeline

Pleasant Valley Coal Company was organized about 1876, at about the time the San Pete and Winter Quarters mines were opened. Utah Fuel Company was organized in 1887. The consolidation of the two companies took place in 1899 or 1900. (Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Our Pioneer Heritage, Volume 7, page 75)

December 11, 1875
Commercial development of the coal resource in what is now Carbon County began in 1875 with the organization of the Pleasant Valley Coal Company by Milan O. Packard, M. P. Crandall, and Nephi Packard, all of Springville. At the same time, on December 11, 1875, these same individuals also organized the Utah & Pleasant Valley Railway to build a rail line between Provo and their new mine in Pleasant Valley. (Utah corporation, index number 4301)

(click here for more information about the development of the Winter Quarters mine, the first mine opened by Pleasant Valley Coal Company.)

(When D&RGW purchased control of the Utah & Pleasant Valley Railway from Scofield as early as October 1880, and definitely by June 1882, the sale included the Pleasant Valley Coal Company, which was owned by the same people as Utah & Pleasant Valley Railway.)

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 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)

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.)

Coal was discovered in the vicinity of Whitmore canyon in 1898 by cattlemen from Wellington. The land for the Sunnyside mine was purchased by Robert Forrester for Utah Fuel Company for $250.00. The excellent coking properties of the Sunnyside coal was discovered when Forrester sent a sample to the coke ovens at Castlegate. Work began on the Sunnyside mine in 1898. (Madsen, p. 52)

The first coal from Sunnyside was shipped on November 19, 1899, the first day of railroad operations from the coal camp. (Gibson: Sunnyside, p. 203)

The Clear Creek Mine at the head of Pleasant Valley was opened in 1899. (United States Fuel: Thirty Years, p. 6)

The Carbon County Railway (of 1899), in addition to its line from Mounds to Sunnyside in the eastern part of the county, also built the present six-mile D&RGW branch south from Scofield to the Clear Creek Mine of the Utah Fuel Company. (Utah corporation, index number 2749, projected to be seven miles long.)

1901
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)

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)

In 1901, about thirty miners were used during 1901 in the No. 1 mine, producing 350 tons per day, and about 200 miners worked in the No. 2 mine, producing about 1,000 tons per day. Sunnyside No. 1 was located in the main Whitmore canyon. Sunnyside No. 2 mine was originally located about 400 yards up the side canyon. (Higgins: Industries, p. 12)

March 16, 1901
Utah Fuel Company purchased 2,400 acres of land, including mining apparatus and coking plant from Royal C. Peabody. On the same date, Utah Fuel Company filed a $1,000,000 trust deed with Morton Trust Company of New York for 7,564 acres of coal lands in Carbon and adjoining counties. (New York Times, March 16, 1899, "today")

April 17, 1901
Utah Fuel Company was incorporated in Utah. (Utah corporation, index number 3111)

During late 1901, slack coal from the Sunnyside mine was shipped to Utah Fuel's Castle Gate mine and used in the 201 coke ovens there to produce about 5,000 tons of coke per month. (Higgins: Industries, p. 14)

Up to the turn of the century, most of the mining effort in Carbon County had been towards the development of the coking industry, in part to serve the "Smelting Capital of the West" at Salt Lake City. Sunnyside had built 200 coke ovens by 1902 and its coke production had reached 139,792 tons (about 2,800 carloads) for that year. By 1907 Sunnyside had 650 coke ovens and together with the 104 ovens at Castle Gate, along with some smaller operations, the total coke production for Carbon County was 324,692 tons, or over 12,800 railroad cars of coke. However, in 1908, with a major drop in demand, the coke production dropped over fifty percent to 134,195 tons. (Powell, Labor, p. 19)

All coal from Sunnyside from 1899 to 1902 was sent to Castlegate 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. At its peak in the 1920s, there were 1,100 men on the Utah Fuel payroll at Sunnyside. In 1929 coking operations were practically suspended. Coke production was suspended at Castlegate in 1905. (Madsen, p. 53)

1902-1903
There were rumors that Utah Fuel Company and Colorado Fuel and Iron Company were about to be merged. (New York Times, December 27, 1902; July 28, 1903)

June 18, 1902
The first mention of Utah Fuel Company in the property records was on June 18, 1902 when E. L. Carpenter (paymaster at Castle Gate Coal Company; more) sold 2,446.93 acres at Castle Gate to Utah Fuel Company. (Carbon County Miscellaneous Records Book 3, p. 575)

In 1904 the Utah Fuel Company was furnishing 100 to 200 tons of coke per day from Sunnyside to the Anaconda smelter in Montana. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1904, p. 30)

1905
Utah Fuel opened the Somerset, Colorado. (Gibson: Sunnyside, p. 205)

September 10, 1906
U. S. Attorney General Moody filed a suit in Federal Court in Trenton, New Jersey, against Utah Fuel Company, to recover possession of coal land in Utah that the government said had been obtained through fraud, by using "agents" to apply for federal land grants, then turn the land over to Utah Fuel Company. (New York Times, September 11, 1906)

November 8, 1906
"Salt Lake City, Nov. 8 -- Suits instituted by the Federal Government to recover thousands of acres of coal lands now held by Utah Fuel and Pleasant Valley Coal Company, came up today before Judge John A. Marshall in the United States District Court. These coal companies are known as Gould corporations, and are controlled in the interest of the Denver & Rio Grande Railway system." The defense argued that the Utah court did not hold jurisdiction because the coal companies were incorporated in New Jersey, and the co-defendant Morton Trust Company of New York, was a New York corporation. The defense also argued that the federal law allowing land grants to individuals, in this case forest and timber lands, did not make any exception or exemption as to how the land could be disposed of after the land had been granted by the state land board. (New York Times, November 9, 1906)

During late 1909 the first steel loading tipple in the state was erected at Utah Fuel's Winter Quarters mine. (Watts: Carbon County, p. 404)

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 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)

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.)

June 20, 1918
As part of its receivership and foreclosure proceedings, D&RGW was forced to sell 100,000 shares in Utah Fuel Company to William Salomon & Company, for the amount of $4 million, for the Western Pacific Railroad and others. The suit for foreclosure had been brought by Equitable Trust Company to recover bonds in the amount of $36.9 million. (New York Times, June 21, 1918, "yesterday") (100,000 shares of Utah Fuel Company were all of the company's shares, and all were owned by D&RG; all were sold at the above mentioned sheriff's sale. -- New York Times, November 22, 1921)

June 1923
As part of the reorganization of Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, its interest in Utah Fuel Company was to be converted to 300,000 shares of common stock that were to be owned equally by Western Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads. (New York Times, June 21, 1923)

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)

Utah Fuel Sold To Kaiser, 1950

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 Sold to Independent, 1951

In December 1951 the Independent Coal & Coke Company purchased from Kaiser, all interests of Utah Fuel Company except the Sunnyside mine, 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)

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)

Operations at the mines of the Independent Coal & Coke Company were reduced in early 1960 due to the depressed coal market, with the company cutting back from a five day week to a four day week, and laying off 91 miners from their operations, 50 from Castle Gate, 28 from Kenilworth, and 13 from Clear Creek. Clear Creek was producing about 800 tons per day. (Deseret News, February 5, 1960)

Independent Coal & Coke Company sold its coal interests at Clear Creek and Castle Gate/Kenilworth to North American Coal Company in 1968. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 17, 1973)

North American Coal sold the Clear Creek and Castle Gate properties to an undisclosed company in February 1973. North American Coal closed the Castle Gate mine in 1972 when Utah Power & Light purchased the Deseret Mine for 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. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 17, 1973)

North American 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)

Later Utah Fuel Company

The Utah Fuel Company name was used again in the late 1970s by Coastal States Energy Company, a subsidiary of Coastal States Gas Corporation, for its newly developed Skyline Mine. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 18, 1979)

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