To Move A Mountain
Railroads and Mining in Utah's Bingham Canyon
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This page was last updated on March 12, 2022.
Early Copper Era, 1900-1914
During the early years of copper production in Bingham Canyon, several mining companies used either railroads or aerial tramways to transport their ore. In the 1895-1910 period, these included the following (in roughly chronological order):
Porphyry Copper vs. Sulphide Copper Ore
Porphyry ore bodies typically contain between 0.4 and 2 percent copper with smaller amounts of other metals such as molybdenum, silver and gold. Porphyry copper deposits are currently the largest source of copper ore at Bingham. (Porphyry Copper at Wikipedia)
In the earlier years, the underground mines were mining sulphide copper ores, also known as copper-iron ore, or black copper ore, which were much higher percentage of copper, as high as 40 to 60 percent. (Sulphide Copper [Chalcopyrite] at Wikipedia)
Utah Consolidated (Highland Boy mine)
Highland Boy Gold Mining Company was organized in October 1896 as the U.S. subsidiary of Utah Consolidated Gold Mines, Ltd. of London. Between 1898 and 1900, the company shipped the majority of the copper from Bingham district, as sulfide ores. By 1901, the Highland Boy mine was the "chief" producer of copper in the Bingham District. (USGS Professional Paper 38, pp. 265, 268)
In November 1896, Utah Consolidated began development work in Highland Boy mine and soon discovered that the ore body contained 25 percent copper. (Hansen, p. 268)
Utah Consolidated shipped 5,000 tons of copper sulfide ore from the Highland Boy mine in December 1896. All of this ore production resulted from development work (developing access tunnels) rather than actual mining operation. (USGS Professional Paper 38, p. 85)
In 1897, Utah Consolidated constructed a 12,500 foot aerial tramway from its Highland Boy mine down to the Rio Grande Western station at Bingham. (Mines and Minerals, October 1907, p. 106)
In May 1897, Utah Consolidated's Highland Boy mine shipped its first copper ore. (Hansen, p. 268)
Bingham Copper and Gold Mining Company
The Bingham Copper and Gold Mining Company was the first of the mining company consolidations that would be the main force in the development of the Bingham as one of the richest and most productive mining districts in the United States.
In 1895, Bingham Gold Mining Company bought the "old" Commercial claim, near the Old Jordan claim in upper Bingham Canyon. The new owners of the Commercial mine soon found that the gold ore was playing out and that they were finding more and more of the copper ore. In late 1896, the Highland Boy mine of the Utah Consolidated Gold Mines, Ltd., in another part of Bingham canyon, had begun shipping large quantities of copper ore. The owners of the Commercial mine found that their mine was in the same geologic formation and that they had copper ore reserves equal to those of the Utah Consolidated company.
Bingham Copper and Gold Mining Company started construction on its Midvale smelter in October 1899. Construction was completed in January 1901, with test runs begun on January 15th. Full production began on January 31st, at the same time as the completion of the Copper Belt railroad. Throughout 1900, prior to full production, and to stockpile ore stocks, the mining company began shipping ore from the mine to the smelter in what was called "a steady stream of wagons". To get the smelter into full production, in addition to their own ore, the mining company used custom ores from the Grand Central and the Tesora mines in Tintic, along with reprocessing the slag dumps from the old smelters at Stockton. (Economic Geology of the Bingham Mining District, USGS Professional Paper No. 38, 1905, page 254)
In May 1901, the Bingham Copper and Gold company purchased the Dalton and Lark Group, which was made up of several mines in Copper Center Gulch, including the Dalton and Lark, Yosemite No.2, Richmond, Lead, Sampson, Antelope, Wasatch, Miner's Dream, and Silver Gauntlet. The Dalton and Lark vein continued across Bingham Canyon to the east in Yosemite Gulch, becoming part of the Brooklyn and Yosemite claims. The entire group was known as the Yosemite-Lark vein. (Economic Geology of the Bingham Mining District, USGS Professional Paper No. 38, 1905, page 315)
Copper Belt Railroad
Bingham Copper and Gold Mining Company, as part of its expansion to exploit the copper sulphide ore found in its claims, built a smelter near the Jordan River. To improve the economics of its mining operation, the mining company decided to control its own transportation facilities. This was done by leasing the horse tramway in Bingham Canyon, rebuild it as a standard gauge railroad and operate it by Shay steam locomotives. Since the new railroad was to be a common carrier railroad, an added benefit would be that the mining company would profit from the shipment of adjacent mining companies. The first car of ore moved over the Copper Belt in February 14, 1901, moving the car load of copper ore from the loading bin of the Commercial mine in Copper Center Gulch, down to the connection with Rio Grande Western at Bingham station.
There had been some hope that with the Copper Belt completed as a common carrier, standard-gauge railroad, the United States Mining company would use it to move its ore from Galena Gulch (immediately south of Copper Center Gulch), to their smelter at Midvale. The United States company had been organized in April 1899 to consolidate 62 mining claims. As the United States Mining company developed their properties, they decided that an aerial tramway would better suit their needs. The company soon completed their aerial 11,400-foot tramway between their mines in Galena Gulch and the Rio Grande Western's Bingham station, with operating costs that were about two-thirds those of using the new Copper Belt rail line; with the resulting loss of traffic to the railroad.
In 1902 and 1903, Copper Belt added new spurs to serve the Boston Consolidated and Yampa mines in Carr Fork, and the Yampa smelter on the west side of the canyon at Bingham station. In 1904 a spur was built just above Bingham station on the east side to serve the old Winnamuck mill, which was reopened to process ore from the Ohio Copper mine. In 1907, after Rio Grande Western took control, a spur was built in the lower part of Carr Fork to serve the ore bins at the lower terminal of the Utah Apex aerial tramway.
The Boston Consolidated Mining Company had been organized in November 1898 to develop a copper producing property from 51 mining claims located in the upper portion of Carr Fork, with all of the copper coming from sulfide ores. Boston Con was involved in development work until late 1903 when they went into actual production. Up to that time, they had been shipping some sulfide copper ore taken as part of their development work. With the Bingham Consolidated smelting contract in 1903 they were ready for full production.
Boston Consolidated Mining Company organized in November 1898 as the U.S. subsidiary of Boston Consolidated Copper and Gold Mining Company, Ltd. of London. This new company was organized to consolidate 51 claims (350 acres) and develop them as a porphyry property. (USGS Professional Paper 38, p. 281) During the year from October 1899 to October 1900 the company drove 2,811 feet of development tunnels. (Engineering and Mining Journal, December 29, 1900, p. 762)
But within two years the mine was mostly shipping sulfide copper ores. In 1897, three years before the Copper Belt was built, and to overcome the lack of cheap transportation, Utah Consolidated constructed a 12,500 foot long aerial tramway between the Highland Boy mine and the Rio Grande station at Bingham.
Open cut mining started in summer 1906, and expansion continued until Boston Consolidated merged with Utah Copper in 1910.
Utah Copper Company
In September 1899 a study had been made of the copper producing potential some of the mining properties in Bingham Canyon. The study showed that there existed vast reserves of very low grade copper ore throughout the canyon. That low grade ore is called porphyry ore, and the study showed that the ore averaged 1.5 to 2 percent copper. This compared to the sulfide ore being processed at the time, with an average content of about 15 to 20 percent. The Boston Consolidated company, the Bingham Consolidated company, the Yampa Consolidated company, and the Utah Consolidated company were all shipping this higher grade sulfide copper ore, in addition to whatever higher value silver and lead carbonate (very high grade) ores that they could.
The mining engineer that had done the 1899 study, Daniel C. Jackling, also put into his report that this low grade ore could be processed at a profit, if the ore could be mined in quantities greater than was possible with the then current underground techniques.
The method that Jackling proposed was to use steam shovels to strip off the surface overburden, and then to also remove the actual ore itself with shovels, a process called open cut mining. The overburden would be moved in trains to other locations for disposal. The ore would then be moved by train to mills that would be designed and constructed to have the capacity to process the large amounts of ore needed to be profitable.
After shopping his proposal around to several potential investors, Jackling was finally able to organize his Utah Copper Company in July 1903, for the purpose of mining the low grade copper ore using his proposed, and as yet untried new methods. Utah Copper Company was formally incorporated on June 4, 1903, in Colorado. (Arrington: Richest Hole, p. 38)
In August 1903 Utah Copper began construction of an experimental concentrator mill located at the mouth of Dry Fork Gulch, about two and a half miles down canyon from their mine, and about a mile and a half down canyon from Rio Grande Western's Bingham station. The new mill would have a daily capacity of accepting 300 tons of unprocessed low grade copper ore. (Arrington: Richest Hole, p. 39)
The Copperton Mill, as the new mill was called, was built to test the new methods required to concentrate the low grade ore down to the 30 percent level that could be handled by the smelters.
In November, within three months of the start of construction of the experimental Copperton mill in August, Utah Copper began underground development of the mining property that was the basis for the formation of the company. (Rickard, p. 47; Arrington: Richest Hole, p. 40, says that the development work began in September) The Utah Copper mine was located very near the Copper Belt's route in Bingham Canyon, about a mile above the Rio Grande's Bingham station.
Utah Copper commenced development of its copper mine. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1914)
December 26, 1903
"Delays in delivery of iron for the Utah Copper company's concentrator buildings are becoming positively disgusting. According to advices roofing and side material has been over a month on the road, long enough, if Utah had iron works, for the raw material to have been dug, manufactured, delivered and put to use." (Deseret News, December 26, 1903)
March 12, 1904
Utah Copper General Manager D. C. Jackling announced that the new 500-ton mill at Bingham was to be placed in full operation, either "today" or on the following Monday [March 14, 1904]. The new mill was designed to concentrate the low-grade ore on a 15 into 1 basis, giving a 25 percent copper product, with a gold value of between $7 and $8 per ton. (Deseret News, March 12, 1904)
The new mill, placed in operation in April 1904 and located at Copperton, was an experimental mill with an initial capacity of 350 tons per day. By 1908, the capacity had been increased to 800 tons per day. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1914)
The railroad siding on the Rio Grande Western where the new mill was built was known as "Terra Cotta" at the time, located at mile post 12.8 on the RGW Bingham Branch. It was renamed to Copperton when the mill went into operation. Possibly the first reference to the Copperton name comes from the June 12, 1904 issue of the Salt Lake Herald newspaper, noting that Colonel Enos Wall was to visit the new Utah Copper mill at Copperton. (This site was where Dry Fork canyon met Bingham canyon, and later became known as Old Copperton when the current town of Copperton was created as a company town in 1923.)
Utah Copper completed their Copperton mill in April 1904, and commenced operations in September, shipping its low grade ore from the mine to the Copperton mill, by way of the Copper Belt and the Rio Grande Western railroads. (Arrington: Richest Hole, p. 39; Kennecott's own Historical Index says that operations commenced on July 1, 1904)
On April 29, 1904, Utah Copper was reorganized as a New Jersey corporation. This new company was organized to provide the finances necessary for further expansion of both mining operations, and milling operations, assuming that the experimental mill at Copperton would be successful. (Kennecott Historical Index)
April 30, 1904
Utah Copper Company was incorporated under the laws of New Jersey on April 30, 1904 as a reorganization of another company of the same name. Utah Copper owns 740 acres of mining claims in Bingham Canyon, Utah, as well as a mill site and lands of 1,240 acres at Copperton, Utah, and another mill site at Garfield, Utah, comprising 3,360 acres. The company, in addition to the above properties, owns all of the capitol stock of the Bingham & Garfield Railway. The company also owns a majority of capital stock of the Nevada Consolidated Copper Company. (Moody's Analysis Of Investments, Part II, Public Utilities and Industrials, 1917, page 1244)
Until June 1907, all of the ore came from the underground mine. The concentrates from the Copperton mill were shipped to the Bingham Consolidated smelter at Midvale, by way of the RGW. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1914)
A photo dated in May 1904 shows Utah Copper's first ore loading bin, on the east side of the canyon, opposite the opening of the original underground mine. The tunnel shown in the photo was the Quinn Tunnel, which became the "East Tunnel" in later years. The track off to the right crossed the canyon to the original Utah Copper mine portal.
A later photo dated 1907 shows the same structure just three years later.
All of this growth of mining activity in Bingham Canyon brought with it the companion growth in the canyon's population. To better serve the canyon's residents, and to gain the benefits of having its own government, the City of Bingham Canyon was incorporated in March 1904. (Kennecott Historical Index) This would allow the city to tax its citizens and make necessary improvements. With the mostly male population, having a town organization would also allow the concerned residents to have their own police force.
With the sudden increase in traffic, the Copper Belt needed more locomotives. Additional power came in 1904 in the form of two more Shay locomotives, numbered as 2 (delivered in January) and 3 (delivered in April). (Koch, Shay locomotive builder's list) The new traffic began to tax the capacity of the Copper Belt. As an example, during October 1904 the Copper Belt handled 35,000 tons of ore, more than 1,000 tons per day. (Salt Lake Mining Review, November 15, 1904, p. 31) The ore was coming mostly from the sulfide mines, but Utah Copper's porphyry ore was becoming an important source of traffic.
On January 1, 1905 the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (not the hometown Rio Grande Western) purchased William Bayley's interest in the Copper Belt Railroad and took over the operations of the railroad. (Interstate Commerce Commission Reports, Volume 26, p. 927; 26 ICC 927)
The acquisition of the Copper Belt by the D&RG was part of George Gould's expansion plans to rebuild the rail empire of his robber baron father, Jay Gould, but which had fallen apart following the elder Gould's death in December 1892. The story of George Gould's expansion of the Denver and Rio Grande and his goal of the west coast has been told by others. When viewed in the context of Gould's plans for the Denver and Rio Grande, that road's control of the Copper Belt, comes as no surprise, since the Copper Belt was the originating carrier for all but two of the district's biggest producers: Bingham Consolidated, Boston Consolidated, Utah Copper, and Yampa Consolidated. The two other mine consolidations, Utah Consolidated and United States Mining, used aerial tramways from their mines down to loading tipples at RGW's Bingham station. In May 1901 the Denver and Rio Grande (in Colorado) had taken control of the Rio Grande Western (in Utah), and began operating the two roads as one system, so even these two users of aerial tramways depended on RGW to get their ores out of the canyon and to the smelters.
The traffic levels from the Bingham mines continued to increase so that in November 1905 the Copper Belt purchased another locomotive, Shay number 4. Still more power came when Shay number 5 was received in December 1906. Ownership of all five Copper Belt Shay locomotives passed to Denver and Rio Grande in 1908 with the consolidation which formed that company.
Utah Copper Expansion
The year 1905 was one of great expansion for the mines and mining companies in Bingham Canyon, especially for Utah Copper and Boston Consolidated. Utah Copper's experimental Copperton mill was proving Jackling's theory of economies of scale, and the copper company was looking to build a large mill at a location outside of Bingham Canyon. Several things seemed to happen at the same time, and were likely all dependent on each other. During 1905, Utah Copper announced that it would build a mill on the south shore of Great Salt Lake, and American Smelting and Refining Company announced that they would build a smelter at a nearby location. The benefits for this location were twofold; first, there was plenty of fresh water from wells and springs that flowed into the lake. Second, there was ready railroad transportation to get the finished smelter product to market.
The expansion of Utah Copper's operation came from the Guggenheims, who also held majority interest in Standard Oil. One of their investment vehicles, the Guggenheim Exploration Company, provided the funding for Utah Copper to build its new mill at Magna, and the reorganization of Utah Copper in April 1904 was the result of the influx of Guggenheim money. The Guggenheims were also the majority owners of American Smelting and Refining (ASARCO), who had bought majority interests in most of the Salt Lake Valley smelters, wanting to consolidate the smelting operations in one large location to benefit from economies of scale that such an operation would provide. To tie their two new properties together, i.e., funding the expansion of Utah Copper, and consolidating the Utah smelters into a new large smelter at Garfield, Utah Copper signed a 20-year contract with ASARCO that would both guarantee a market for Utah Copper mining operations, and through their new mill at Magna, provide copper concentrates for the new Garfield smelter. Construction on the new Utah Copper mill began in November 1905. (Engineering and Mining Journal, March 17, 1906, p. 534; Arrington: Richest Hole, pages 46, 50)
Construction of the smelter began at the same time, in late 1905. To formally get the new smelter organized and under construction, the Garfield Smelting Company was incorporated on November 17, 1905, as a subsidiary of the American Smelting and Refining Company. The smelter began operations in August 1906. (Utah corporation files, index 5411; Arrington: Richest Hole, p. 47)
Also in 1906, in an unusual example of cooperation, ASARCO, Utah Copper, and Boston Consolidated organized the Garfield Improvement Company to build the Garfield town site for the workers at their mills and smelter. Three-fifths was owned by ASARCO, with one fifth each owned by Utah Copper and Boston Consolidated. The three companies also organized the Garfield Water Company to develop and supply water to their mills and smelter and to the new town site. (Arrington: Richest Hole, pp. 47, 50)
(RESEARCH: smelter suit in Salt Lake valley)
Utah Consolidated closed its smelter in January 1908. (Mining Science, January 2, 1908, p. 29)
After the settlement of the smelter suit in 1907, in which several area farmers sued the smelters at Midvale and Murray over crop damage from sulfuric acid emissions, the smelters either closed or changed their operations. United States Mining Company closed the copper portion of its Midvale smelter and Bingham Consolidated closed its Midvale smelter completely due to smoke litigation (sulfur fumes from smelting of copper sulfide ores). (Hansen, p. 274; Kennecott Historical Index)
For the United States company, the changes were so extensive that they organized a new company to fund the changes in its Midvale smelter. The new company, named United States Smelting Company, was organized on March 7, 1907 as a new subsidiary of the larger United States Smelting, Refining and Mining Company. (Utah corporation files, index 4172)
Ground was broken on Utah Copper's new Magna Mill during mid 1905, and all necessary concrete foundations were in by late in the year. Contracts for the steel structures were let in late December, and actual construction began during the first week of March 1906. (Engineering and Mining Journal, Volume 81, January 6, 1906, p. 24, ground was broken "several months ago"; March 17, 1906, p. 534, item dated March 9, 1906, construction to commence "this week") Full operation began in November 1908. (Rickard, p. 51)
During a visit with the Chief Engineer at the Arthur mill in 1983, he showed the visitor a newspaper article saying that the construction of both the Boston Consolidated and Utah Copper mills was delayed due to a shortage of steel needed to rebuild San Francisco after their earthquake in April 1906. Photos of the two mills under construction taken in early and mid 1906 show the foundations finished and a obvious lack of steel on the construction sites.
The Engineering and Mining Journal, a national mining trade publication reported that Utah Copper had ordered its first three shovels, and later that month they reported that the first shovel was shipped from the factory in mid month. It was expected to arrive in Utah by February 1st. (Engineering and Mining Journal, Volume 81, January 6, 1906, p. 24; January 27, 1906, p. 198, item dated January 17)
Open cut mining had yet to start, and all copper ore from Utah Copper's Bingham mine is being mined by underground stoping methods. Prior to November 1904 all ore was taken in development work, with the Copperton mill having been placed into operation in April 1904. (Engineering and Mining Journal, Volume 81, February 10, 1906, p. 289; Rickard, on page 47, states that all ore taken previous to March 1907 was in development work.)
To observe successful use of open-cut mining methods, in April 1906 Utah Copper's Jackling and Gemmell traveled to iron mines in Minnesota. Their September 1899 report showed that open-cut methods were intended from the start, but the purchase of the shovels was delayed due to costs of construction of the experimental Copperton mill. (Rickard, p. 47; Arrington: Richest Hole, pp. 40, 52)
The Salt Lake Mining Review reported in April 1906 that Utah Copper had ordered its first shovel, a standard gauge 95-ton model from Vulcan, for open-cut mining operations. The shovel was ordered from S. G. Shaw and Company of Denver, along with three Davenport locomotives, and fifty K&J-brand dump cars. (Salt Lake Mining Review, April 30, 1906, p. 14, "Trade Notes"; June 15, 1906, p. 32)
The following comes from Parsons' "The Porphyry Coppers", published in 1933, page 76:
"The first small Vulcan steam shovel started stripping in the spring of 1906 at the rate of about 100,000 tons per month. By the end of 1908, the mine equipment consisted of eight steam shovels and seventeen steam locomotives. Only two-thirds of the ore was derived from open-cut operations, but stripping was going ahead as rapidly as practicable to the end that underground mining could be abandoned."
The Salt Lake Mining Review reported that Utah Copper had ordered an additional single locomotive from S. G. Shaw and Company. (Salt Lake Mining Review, Volume 8, Number 7 (July 15, 1906), p. 32)
In 1906, Utah Copper began constructing its steam-shovel loading tracks. It was about this time that the Rio Grande Western Railway Company began the construction of the Bingham Low-Grade Line to connect Utah Copper's mill at Magna with its mine at Bingham. Utah Copper connected the steam-shovel levels, which at that time had been constructed, with the Bingham Low-Grade Line by a system of switchbacks and yard tracks for assembling and delivering cars of ore to the Rio Grande Western Railway Company. (Utah Copper Chronology History, citing an internal "Descriptive History of Utah Copper Company and B&G Railway")
March 2, 1906
Several D&RG officials from Denver arrived by private car to attend a special meeting of the Rio Grande Western stockholders. The special meeting was held in Salt Lake City to "vote on the proposed extensions of the line at Bingham. The changes were agreed on and work will start immediately at a point between Garfield Junction and Dalton, to extend through to form a connection with the Carr Fork branch of the Copper Belt system. Although the new branch will be short, a heavy grade will be encountered to make connection with the Copper Belt." (Salt Lake Herald-Republican, March 2, 1906)
July 22, 1906
"Utah Copper will soon begin the stripping of its copper-bearing porphyry deposits in the same manner as Boston Consolidated. One huge steam shovel and a large number of cars are already on the ground and others will soon be added. With these in commission, four shovels with a combined capacity of 10,000 to 12,000 tons per day, will be moving rock within rifle shot of each other." (Salt Lake Herald, July 22, 1906)
"When steam-shovel operations were started in the summer of 1906 on "C" and "D" Levels, the equipment was all second-hand and consisted of two Marion shovels, one Vulcan shovel, four small Davenport locomotives, and 6-yard wooden dump cars." (Utah Copper Chronology History, citing L. F. Pett's History of Utah Copper, completed in 1953)
First steam shovel started on the Utah Copper surface workings. (Utah Copper Chronology History, citing the Souvenir of Bingham, published in 1909)
"As far as copper mining in the United States is concerned, the first shovel work was done by Jackling and Gemmell, when in August, 1906, the commenced to strip overburden from the porphyry ore at Bingham Canyon." (A. B. Parsons, The Porphyry Coppers, page 371)
The records of Utah Copper's later parent company, Kennecott, show that a second shovel, a second-hand model also from Vulcan, was added in December 1906. (Kennecott Historical Index)
The first use of steam shovels for open cut mining purposes in Utah was at Samuel Newhouse's Cactus Mine in Beaver County, where one shovel was used to strip capping from the ore bodies. (Engineering and Mining Journal, Volume 81, March 3, 1906, p. 436)
Open-cut operations began on the canyon slope directly above the opening to Utah Copper's underground mine. The trackage at the level of the underground mine became the ‘A-Level,' the starting point for the method of designating the 50 to 75-feet levels for open-cut operations. Utah Copper steam shovel open-cut operations begin in August 1906 on C-Level and D-Level, between 100 and 150 feet above the mine opening. Open-cut operations began with second-hand equipment, consisting of two Marion shovels, four small Davenport standard gauge locomotives, and several wooden six-yard dump cars. (Arrington: Richest Hole, p. 52)
A large portion of underground mining is done using the stoping method, which is the removal of ores from the ore body, and building a scaffolding of wood timbers to support mine roof and provide a working platform for the miners as they continue to remove ore from the face of the ore body. The structure of wood timbers is called a "stope."
Utah Copper was working 165 men in both underground and open cut operations. (Engineering and Mining Journal, September 8, 1906, pp. 435, 436)
"The Vulcan Shovel was started on "B" Level and the waste from this shovel formed the major part of the fill on which the Auxiliary Yard is located." (Utah Copper Chronology History, citing L. F. Pett's History of Utah Copper, completed in 1953)
In January 1907, Utah Copper stopped development work on its underground mine, with enough ore having been blocked out to last for several years. (Arrington: Richest Hole, p. 53)
July 30, 1907
Utah Copper was using a total of five steam shovels. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1907, page 18, "Dips Spurs and Angles")
September 7, 1907
Utah Copper enlarged the openings to the main haulage tunnels of its underground mine to allow standard gauge gondolas to be moved inside loaded from the ore bins inside the mine. (Engineering and Mining Journal, September 7, 1907, p. 437)
Just a year earlier, Utah Copper had been using five-ton, 500 volt electric locomotives on 24 inch gauge track, hauling the ore in 2-1/2 ton side dump cars to the ore bins on the route of the Copper Belt railroad. (Engineering and Mining Journal, September 8, 1906, pp. 435, 436)
By the end of 1907, Utah Copper was taking a third of its ore from the underground mine. (Mines and Minerals, January 1908, p. 262)
Utah Copper's expansion included the start of open cut mining, using steam shovels to strip waste from above the low grade copper ore. That stripping operation would produce large amounts of waste rock, which had to be disposed of. In the initial proposal, Jackling had suggested that the various side canyons and gulches would be filled with the waste material. But Utah Copper only controlled the surface rights for a small number of empty gulches in the immediate vicinity of its mine. To give itself more room, Utah Copper made arrangements for surface rights to other properties in the canyon, both above its mine, down the south side of Bingham canyon, and across Carr Fork. To gain access to the down canyon property, they made surveys for a rail line that it would build. Rio Grande Western had offered to transport the waste rock themselves, but Utah Copper objected to the RGW's price of 7 cents per ton.
In the Spring of 1907 surveys were made for the "C" Line down the east side of Bingham Canyon. This line had a level grade and went to the waste dumps in McGuire and Tiewaukee gulches. This line as constructed had a switchback connection and a low bridge on timber trestle across the Canyon. (Utah Copper internal history, completed in 1929)
Work on Utah Copper's new 6,000-ton capacity concentrator mill, located on the new Garfield Branch at Magna, had began in November 1905 and the mill was placed into partial operation in June 1907. (Rickard, p. 51) The mill was formally completed and placed into full production in November 1908.
August 18, 1907
The following comes from the August 18, 1907 issue of the Bisbee [Arizona] Daily Review newspaper.
The Utah Copper company, says the Bingham Bulletin, is now working upon its third year. In this period a magnificent tonnage of copper ore has been placed in sight. In all a total of approximately 17 miles of openings have been accomplished an about one-fifth of the total area of the property, or about one-fourth of the total porphyry area.
Fully 40 acres of ore-bearing ground have been opened. The company has blocked out 40,000,000 tons of ore that contains 40 pounds of copper to the ton and 60,000,000 pounds of ore that averages slightly lower in grade. The actual cost of mining la close to 45 cents per ton but, counting in all expenses, such as administrative taxes and so forth, the cost is about 68 cents per ton.
The company is meeting with good results in building the railroad from the mine down the canyon, and in October this accessory is expected to be in operation to the great advantage of the company. This company road is to take care of the stripping from the ores, and will simplify greatly the transportation question as far as the waste material is concerned. This waste material will he dumped on the Tiewaukee group.
September 7, 1907
Because of lack of space in the Main Canyon, Utah Copper began grading down canyon for a new dump line, to be located above Rio Grande Western's new "Low Grade Line." Rio Grande Western had offered 7 cents per ton to remove the waste over its own line. (Engineering and Mining Journal, September 7, 1907, p. 437)
Early Dump Lines
The above item from September 1907 is unclear as to which of the three dump lines was being graded, the 'C' Dump Line, the 'E' Dump Line, or the 'H' Dump Line. Photos in the Library of Congress dated in 1907 show the new 'H' Dump Line and its newly completed curving trestle that crossed the upper end of Bingham Canyon, above the Niagara Tunnel.
The elevation of these dump lines matched the corresponding levels in the open-pit mine itself as it grew from the initial 'A' level. The first steam shovels began removing waste material in August 1906 at the 'B' and 'C' levels, removing waste material from above the ore-bearing 'A' Level, where the underground entrance had been.
The 'C' Dump Line was accessed by way of an S-curved bridge known as the C-A Line that crossed the canyon from the 'A' Level to the 'C' Dump Line.
The 'E' Line at first crossed the canyon by way of a curved trestle. In 1912 the curved 'E' Line bridge was replaced by the long-straight trestle that became one of the landmarks in Bingham Canyon, and is visible in countless photos of the Utah Copper mine in which the south rim is visible. This later 'E' Line bridge was demolished in 1940.
All three new dump lines built in 1907 were along the south side of lower Bingham Canyon, with the 'C' Line being just above the Rio Grande Western's Low Grade Line (completed in February 1907). The 'H' Line was the highest and the 'E' Line was located between the other two dump lines. All three dump lines passed across various mining claims to which Utah Copper obtained surface rights. The stated destination of all three lines was to be able to fill the gulches above the Tiewaukee and McQuire claims. These two claims were immediately above the lower part of Bingham town where the RGW depot was located. The depot was located across from Freeman Gulch, and what became known as Frogtown, the informal name for the residental and business area that surrounded the railroad depot and lower terminals of two aerial tramways at the mouth of Freeman Gulch.
Rio Grande Western's Bingham Low Grade Line
(Started April 1906; Completed February 1907)
The expansion of Utah Copper to feed the new Magna mill, along with the likewise expansion of Boston Consolidated, would need a much better transportation system to get the very large quantities of low-grade copper from Utah Copper's Bingham mine, out of Bingham Canyon and 16 miles north to the new Magna mill. At the center of all this was the Rio Grande Western, and its Copper Belt connection at Bingham. With the Copper Belt being the only way to get Utah Copper ore out of the canyon, it was obvious that it would immediately be a serious bottle neck in the transportation process.
The construction of Rio Grande's Bingham Low Grade Line, which the local press called the "Bingham Sky Line," was in response to the need for higher capacity rail transportation in the booming Bingham Mining District. Both Utah Copper and Boston Consolidated were building mills outside of the district and both would soon be needing transportation facilities to move the projected vast quantities of low grade copper ore.
The Copper Belt railroad, then in use, was both too steep, with 7 percent grades, and was not constructed to allow movement of the tonnage needed to keep the two companies mills in operation.
April 22, 1905
To alleviate traffic congestion in Bingham Canyon, as early as April 1905, Utah Copper had its own engineering crews surveying a new railroad route to move its copper ore from the mine, down to the mil it had completed in the lowest part of Bingham Canyon. The projected route for this particular, but early version, was a grade of 2-1/2 percent down to a point opposite the Yampa smelter. The line would descend to the bottom of the canyon by use of switchback tracks, about a mile in length, to the Utah Copper mill. This method would allow the use of standard locomotives and heavy trains. (Deseret News, April 22, 1905)
The Low Grade Line was surveyed starting in late July 1905. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1905, p. 31)
January 2, 1906
The route surveyed by Utah Copper for its own rail line to haul ore from its mine to its newly completed mill brought speculation that Rio Grand Western would also build a rail line in Bingham Canyon, making a total of three railroad routes in the canyon, which were to include the existing Copper Belt in combination with RGW's existing Bingham Branch, a new line to be built by Utah Copper, and a new line to be built by Rio Grande Western. "The new railroads, which will in all probability be begun in the near further, will be on either side of the canyon. The road on the east side where Copper Belt's tracks lay, will be a considerable distance above the Belt and will not interfere with it in any way." "For some time past the Rio Grande officials have been trying to find a solution of the ore-moving problem. The rapid construction of the Utah Copper mill at Garfield, the capacity of which will be 11,000 tons of ore daily, has aggravated the situation and makes it necessary for Rio Grande to make haste. This large tonnage to be handled properly and profitably, necessitates more facilities, as the Copper Belt will be wholly inadequate to transport it." "Whether the east side of the mountain will be tunneled has not been decided upon, although rumor has it that a tunnel will be recommended." "With three roads hauling ore it is thought that the ever-increasing output will be handled in first-class shape." (Deseret News, January 2, 1906)
Utah Construction Company began the grading work in April 1906. (1909 Bingham Commercial Club Souvenir booklet)
June 9, 1906
"The sky line of the Copper Belt now being constructed on the west side of main town, high up on the mountain, is being rushed with all possible speed. The grading has now reached a point above Wall's mill and is being pushed as fast as men can be found to move the dirt." "The new road enters the canyon at Copperton and makes a gradual ascent upon 2 percent grade and its destined for the Utah Copper and Boston Consolidated ore bins. The rails of the new road will parallel the Copper Belt through town and will be almost directly over the present tracks, and the grade cut into the vertical side of the mountain." (Deseret News, June 9, 1906)
June 10, 1906
"The past week has been a hard one on the producers of Bingham. The four engines of the Copper Belt railroad have been out of service most of the time and all are now in the repair shops. Accidents to the Telluride power lines have also added to the worry and inconvenience of the mine and mill operators. For two days the Ohio Copper company's mill was out of commission because the Copper Belt line could not deliver ore and following that its power was entirely cut off through the accident to the Telluride company's power lines." "The Utah Copper and all the other mines which have to depend on the Copper Belt for delivery of ore have been registering kick after kick, but without avail, as the bad weather and crippled locomotives have made it impossible for the road to handle its trains properly. The mine bins of both Utah Copper and Ohio Copper companies are said to be full to the point of breaking and the companies are praying for a chance to get it moved and relive the strain." "The sky line of the Copper Belt road now being constructed on the west side of Bingham and high up on the mountain side, is being rushed with all possible speed. the graders have now reached a point above Colonel E. A. Wall's mill, with the objective points, the Utah Copper and Boston Consolidated ore bins, within easy striking distance. This new road enters the canyon at Copperton, and makes a gradual ascent upon a 2 percent grade. The rails of the new road will parallel the tracks of the present line through town and almost vertically above, where the grade has been hewn out of nearly vertical cliffs. Over this road will roll the thousands of tons of ore per day that will supply the big mills and smelters at Garfield. (Salt Lake Herald, June 10, 1906)
June 18, 1906
A preliminary survey for a 2400-foot track to run from the Utah Apex to the Yampa mine spur of the Copper Belt has been started during the past week by Rio Grande engineer H. C. Goodrich." "The steam shovel to be used by the Utah Copper is now on the ground. Workmen have been busy during the past few days in rigging up the machinery and within the next fortnight it will be in use." "The big tunnel of the Utah Copper is progressing as rapidly as can be expected and according to the report from the mine superintendent, everything is progressing satisfactorily." "A tunnel nearly 4000 feet long will be driven through the mountain for the new Sky Line of the Rio Grande running to the Boston Con. and Utah mines. The tunnel will start in the east side of the mountain just above the depot and will come out opposite the brick schoolhouse." (Deseret News, June 18, 1906, "Bingham Mining Notes")
June 26, 1906
Rio Grande Western filed suit for right-of-way against the Frederick L. Bemis and the Bingham Copper Hill Mining company. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 26, 1906) (The Bingham Copper Hill later became the Bingham-Butte, and later the Montana-Bingham.)
In September 1906 the shovels of the construction company struck copper ore while excavating for the new line. (Salt Lake Mining Review, September 15, 1906, p. 39)
The construction of the new line included a new assembly yard called Cuprum, located high on the south slope of the canyon, about 200 feet above the Rio Grande Western's depot for the town of Bingham. The new Low Grade Line connected with the Copper Belt's line about a mile further up the canyon, at Copper Belt Junction, just up-canyon from the surface workings and ore bins of the Utah Copper Company. The grade of the new line was kept low by building south along the east slope of the Oquirrh Range, outside of Bingham Canyon, and gaining elevation by looping back north, using a spectacular horseshoe curve, thereby entering the canyon about 500 feet higher than the Bingham Branch at the same point. The abandoned roadbed of the loop is still visible in aerial photographs of the area today.
Rio Grande Western's new Low Grade Line was about 13 miles in length, between the lower end at Loline Junction and the upper end at Copper Belt Junction. This compared to less than six miles for the combined RGW Bingham Branch and (by this time) D&RG's Copper Belt Railroad that the new line replaced between the same two stations.
January 27, 1907
"Tomorrow morning the Sky Line road of the Rio Grande company into Bingham will be opened to traffic between the mines and smelters of the valley and Garfield. " "From Garfield Junction on the flat below the mouth of the main Bingham canyon to the upper terminal, at the Utah Copper company's property, the distance by the road is a little more than seven miles; in a direct line it is not half that far. By making the circuitous climb, however, the grade is kept down to the maximum of a trifle over 2 percent, so that heavy trains can be handled over the line with perfect safety and good speed." A special trip for shippers was made over the line "on Friday," who praised the manner with which the road had been built. Boston Consolidated had been trying to market 500 tons of sulphide ore per day, but had been unsuccessful due to the inability of the Copper Belt road to keep the company supplied with cars to its sulphide ore bins in Carr Fork. The completion of the Sky Line would allow Boston Con to ship 500 tons of ore every day without problem. Utah Copper company would now be able to move forward with its plans to begin treatment of porphyry ores at its new Garfield mill, starting on March 1st. (Salt Lake Herald, January 27, 1907)
(Salt Lake Mining Review, October 30, 1911, p. 18, reported that the first day of operation was January 2, 1907)
January 27, 1907
"The Rio Grande Railroad company's new high line at Bingham will be opened for traffic Monday." ("Monday" was January 28, 1907) "The present output of Boston Consolidated should be 500 tons a day, but its actual output has been 200 to 300 tons a day because that was all the railroad could handle." "The Sky Line, as it is called, is completed as far as the Utah Copper company's mine, and hereafter all ores from the upper part of the district will be moved over the new track, only such ore as are needed to keep the Yampa smelter and the Utah Copper mill in operation being brought over the Copper Belt line below the point of junction of the two lines." "The maximum grade of the Sky Line from the Utah Copper plant to Garfield Junction does not exceed 2-1/2 percent., it is said. The railroad company has built a switching yard just below the Utah Copper mine. Four tracks have been laid, which will suffice for the present, but as the big steam shovels tear down the mountain side the yard will be enlarged." (Inter-Mountain Republican, January 27, 1907, "Bingham Sky Line Open For Traffic")
The line was not formally completed and turned over to the operating department until February 1907. (Mines and Minerals, May 1908, p. 454)
(Other sources, including 26 ICC 809; Arrington: Richest Hole, p. 55; and the Utah Copper 1906 Annual Report, mistakenly state that the line was completed in April 1906, the date construction started.)
As part of the same expansion of railroad line capacity that saw the construction of the Low Grade Line, in August 1905 Rio Grande Western began work on the construction of a new branch to Garfield, to serve the new Utah Copper concentration mill, and the new ASARCO smelter. (Salt Lake Mining Review, August 15, 1905, p. 31) The new line would be built from a connection with the Bingham Branch at a new station called Garfield Junction (later Welby), and continue northwest to the new smelter site at Garfield, and was completed in November. (Salt Lake Mining Review, October 31, 1911, p. 18)
The new Garfield Branch (sometimes called the Garfield Beach Extension) connected with the Bingham Branch at a new station called Garfield Junction, later renamed Welby after A. E. Welby, the General Superintendent of the combined Rio Grande Western/Denver and Rio Grande system. The 16 mile Garfield Branch was completed to the new smelter site in November 1905 and work on the expansion project was stopped for the winter. Construction resumed the following April, with the grading work on the Low Grade Line.
In an agreement dated January 22, 1906 between Rio Grande Western on one side and Utah Copper, Boston Consolidated, and American Smelting and Refining on the other side, the railroad agreed to provide for the movement of ores and concentrates between the mines at Bingham and the mills and smelter at Garfield. (source not recorded)
On April 19, 1907 Utah Copper shipped its first train of low grade copper ore to its new Magna mill, by way of the new Low Grade Line and the new Garfield Branch. (Kennecott Historical Index)
After the completion of the Rio Grande Low Grade, taking all of the high-volume traffic from Utah Copper and Boston Consolidated, the Copper Belt line was kept busy by shipping ore from the other mining companies down to the concentrating mills (Markham mill and Dewey mill). There was also plenty of small shipments (two, three or four cars daily) from the smaller mines that shipped their ore direct to the smelters, through the connection with RGW at Bingham station. These small shipments continued well into the early 1920s, until the upper portions of the Copper Belt, as well as the upper portions of the Rio Grande Low Grade line itself, were in the way of the expanding Utah Copper open pit mine. Utah Copper bought a large portion of the Low Grade line, which it used as part of its waste rock dump lines. With the closure of the small concentrating mills in the 1919-1920 time period, the Copper Belt was essentially abandoned above the Montana-Bingham tunnel, leaving it as just a spur, less than a half-mile up-canyon from the Bingham depot. This spur to the Montana-Bingham (later Bingham Mines) loading bins remained in place until the early 1940s.
Bingham & Garfield Railway
Almost as soon as the mining companies began shipment of their ores to their respective mills, they started having troubles with the Rio Grande Western management, and the road's ability to move the copper ore out of the canyon. The mining companies wanted to move as much ore as possible and they wanted Rio Grande Western to buy more locomotives and cars and increase the capacity of the rail lines between the mines in Bingham Canyon and the mills at Garfield.
On August 27, 1907, because of Rio Grande Western's reluctance to make improvements that were needed to increase its capacity, Utah Copper interests organized the Bingham Central Railway as an alternate method of transporting its ore from Mine to mill and smelter. This new railroad was to build a new rail line between Bingham and Salt Lake City. The new railroad would also serve the adjacent smelting and mining districts. (Utah corporation files, index 6542; Railway Gazette, Volume 43, number 10, September 6, 1907, p. 277; Railway Gazette, Volume 44, number 19, May 8, 1908, p. 655)
The national railway press at the time was too far removed to know the specifics, saying that the projected line was said to include the construction of a long tunnel. In fact, the long tunnel already existed, in the form of the Mascot tunnel (at times shown as the Mascotte tunnel), 9000 feet in length, which already existed as a drain tunnel under the Dalton & Lark and other mines on the east side of Bingham, with its opening just below the mouth of the Dalton & Lark mine.
August 29, 1907
"Last Saturday morning The Herald announced that a combination had been formed to build a railroad from this city to the camp of Bingham..." "The company is given the title of the Bingham Central Railway company." A. C. Ellis, Jr., is named as president; T. W. Sloan, vice president; John Weir, Jr., second vice president; W. T. Gunter, secretary; W. F. Adams, treasurer; these with A. C. Ellis and R. G. Schulder, completing the list of directors and incorporators." "As stated last Saturday, there is no question in the world but that this corporation has had its birth in the necessities of the big companies operating in Bingham, these including the Bingham Consolidated, Ohio Copper, United States company, Boston Consolidated, Utah Copper, Utah Consolidated and other great mines of the Bingham camp. It is also certain that the Bingham terminal of the road will be the mouth of the Mascotte tunnel of the Bingham Consolidated company, which will be electrically equipped to handle any amount of freight in and ore out from the mines, even up to 15,000 tons per day of ore alone." "From what it is possible to gather on the outside, it seems that the Mascotte tunnel of the Bingham Consolidated company has been and is being constructed with a view of handling the business of the new road at camp. It is said to be seven by ten feet in the clear..." "This tunnel is declared to be more than 14,000 feet long now..." (Salt Lake Herald, August 29, 1907)
In 1907, the drain tunnel was a single track line used to transport ore to loading bins on the Dalton & Lark spur, a rail line that already existed between Revere (later Dalton) station of Rio Grande Western, and the drain tunnel located at what would later become the town of Lark. The spur had been built by Bingham Consolidated, but was engineered by RGW and operated by them until they bought the spur in late 1903. All of the officers of the new Bingham Central company were also officers of Utah Copper, including A. C. Ellis, Jr., who was president of both the railroad and the copper company. The projected road would connect with the newly completed lines of the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake, and the Western Pacific at Salt Lake City. Then, either the San Pedro or the WP would move the ore trains over their own lines along the south shore of Great Salt Lake to Utah Copper's new mill at Garfield.
July 1, 1908
Utah Copper organized the Bingham & Garfield Railway. (Utah corporation files, index 7037)
March 30, 1910
Utah Construction Company was awarded the contract for construction of the Bingham & Garfield Railway. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1914, p. 15)
April 1, 1910
All of Utah Copper's mine trackage (over 25 miles) was transferred to the B&G subsidiary, then leased back to Utah Copper. (Interstate Commerce Commission Reports, Volume 106, p. 452, 106 ICC 452)
April 22, 1910
Construction of the Bingham & Garfield began on April 22, 1910 when Utah Construction began work. (Utah Copper annual report, year ending December 31, 1911)
"It was necessary for B&G to construct a double-track, electrically operated, incline tramway, 554 feet long to handle passenger and express business because of a difference in elevation of 201 feet between the railway's Bingham Station (up beside the tracks) and the town of Bingham. This was placed in service in 1911." (Utah Copper Company Chronology, citing "Brief History of the B&G Rwy. Co. 1-31-39", page 13)
Merger of Utah Copper and Boston Consolidated
The 1910 merger was the result of the intense competition between the two mining giants in Bingham Canyon. The workings of the Boston Consolidated were high above those of Utah Copper and there were continuing safety problems with the control of loose materials and slides from above. Both companies wanted to expand their operations but each was hindered by the other. Jackling was quoted as saying "I knew that either they would take us or we would have to take them".
During early 1906, preliminary talks were started, but mid March, the talks broke off because the two parties could not agree on the tonnage of ore reserves that each company had available. The talks had been between Samuel Newhouse for Boston Consolidated, and Daniel Guggenheim, president of American Smelting Securities, which held controlling interest in Utah Copper. (Engineering and Mining Journal, Volume 81, March 31, 1906, p. 630, item dated March 24, 1906)
By 1909, the initial success of Boston Con's open-cut operations was dimming. The company found that the high iron content of the ore it was taking by open-cut operations made the difficult to concentrate, and the costs were too high. The company announced that they would end their open-cut operations, but continue to mine both sulfide and porphyry ores from their underground operations. (1909 Boston Consolidated annual report)
On March 1, 1910 the Boston Consolidated Mining Company was merged with the Utah Copper Company, with two and a half shares of Boston stock being traded for each share of Utah stock. (source not recorded)
After the merger of Utah Copper and Boston Consolidated, and with the completion of the Bingham & Garfield, the traffic levels for the Rio Grande in Bingham Canyon were greatly reduced.
Most of the ore was going by the Bingham & Garfield and the other mines were also making changes to reduce their transportation costs.
Utah Copper purchased more equipment in 1910, including eight shovels, 12 standard gauge locomotives, and 80 12-cubic yard all-steel dump cars. (source not recorded)
Some of the Utah Copper ore continued going to their original mill at Copperton. But that mill was closed and dismantled in August 1910. (Rickard, p. 51; Arrington: Richest Hole, p. 40; the mill was formally closed on August 1, 1910) The mill had been built to have a 300 ton per day capacity. By the time that it was closed, the Copperton Mill had been expanded to the point that Denver and Rio Grande was delivering 1,000 tons per day. When the mill was closed, its machinery was installed in Utah Copper's Arthur Mill, formerly the Boston Consolidated mill, about a mile west of the company's Magna Mill. The 1,000 tons per day that Denver and Rio Grande had been moving to the Copperton Mill then began moving over the Bingham & Garfield to the mills at Magna.
Between 1908 and 1911, while the Bingham & Garfield was being built, the traffic patterns from the mines in the canyon were changing. The three large smelters that had been built in Salt Lake Valley, starting in 1899, were the subject of a suit brought in 1905 by farmers over crop damages from air pollution in the agricultural areas surrounding the smelters. The settlement of the suit called for the mining companies to stop processing copper sulfide ores at their Salt Lake Valley smelters.
The increased traffic on the Bingham Branch, along with the ore trains coming off the Low Grade Line was causing a bottle neck at Loline Junction. To relieve some of the congestion, the railroad added a second track from there down to Welby in 1910. Additional traffic was also coming to the Bingham Branch from the Lark Branch, which Rio Grande Western had purchased in November 1903.
Further Expansion of Operations
During the period of 1909 to 1916 the United States Company and its subsidiary, the Niagara Mining Company, granted 29 surface tracts of land located in Bingham Canyon, on the north slope of Copper Center Gulch, and the south slope of Galena Gulch, for the extension of Utah Copper tracks A to Z all inclusive, also for dump rights upon the above cited slopes for the disposal of its overburden. (Billings, page 28)
"In 1910, 8 steam shovels, 12 standard gauge locomotives, and 80 12-yard all-steel dump cars were purchased." (Utah Copper Chronology, citing the Utah Copper Company 1910 annual report, dated December 31, 1910)
Utah Copper stopped taking ore from its underground mine in February 1910, with all mining taking place by way of the "more modern" open-cut method. Four new shovels had been put to work on removing the overburden, bringing the total to 19 steam shovels working for the newly combined companies. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, March 11, 1910, "last month")
September 24, 1910
To allow the expansion of its dumping grounds, Utah Copper purchased the surface rights in Copper Center Gulch from the Bingham Mines company. The purchase forced Bingham Mines to move about 12 buildings in Copper Center Gulch down about one half mile, to a place near the Niagara tunnel. "According to information that reached Salt Lake yesterday, the work of dumping waste in the newly-acquired territory will take place Monday." "Arrangements have been made with the United States company and H. S. Joseph for the use of the [Niagara] tunnel." The move started on September 15th and was almost complete. With the move, Bingham Mines company abandoned its use of the Lower Commercial tunnel and would close the mine. The Niagara tunnel would be expanded and extended about 300 feet to get under the old workings of Bingham Mines company's Commercial mine. The expansion would give Bingham Mines an additional depth of 200 feet, and about 500 feet on the dip of its ore body. "Until the work is extended under the ore bodies, shipments from the property will be stopped." A spur of the Copper Belt railroad served the portal of the Lower Commercial mine, and would be put down the canyon to serve the Bingham Mines as soon as the work had been advanced to the point that shipping could resume. (Salt Lake Herald, September 24, 1910)
November 22, 1910
Utah Copper filed a condemnation suit against the still-existing Niagara Mining and Smelting company to condemn portions needed as dumping grounds. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, November 22, 1910)
"Underground mining operations at the Boston Mine were continued throughout the year, and tor a portion of the time at irregular intervals, some underground mining was done in the original Utah Mine on the east side of Bingham Canyon. Of the total ore mined during the year, 74% was obtained by steam shovels from the original Utah Copper Mine 4% was mined underground in the Utah Mine, and 22% was mined underground in the Boston Mine." (Utah Copper Chronology, citing the Utah Copper Company, 1911 annual report, dated December 31, 1911)
In October 1911, Utah Copper equipment consisted of 25 steam shovels, 53 locomotives, and 408 cars. (Salt Lake Mining Review, October 30, 1911, p. 19)
Utah Copper's annual report for the year ending December 31, 1911 shows the following:
- During the year there were added to the mine equipment 20 standard gauge 12-yard steel dump cars, 2 steel under-frame flat cars and 2 standard gauge 50-ton locomotives, making the complete list of this class of equipment at the end of the year: 22 standard gauge steam shovels, 35 standard gauge switching locomotives, 1 standard gauge Shay locomotive, 11 narrow gauge switching locomotives, 100 standard gauge 12-yard dump cars, 117 standard gauge 6-yard dump cars, 144 narrow gauge 4-yard dump cars and 4 100,000-pound capacity flat cars.
- It was found necessary during the year to change the location of the machine shop and the compressor plant at the Utah Mine in order to provide more capacity in the auxiliary yard for the use of the Bingham & Garfield Railway.
- The total ore treated at both plants for the year was 4,680,801 tons, as compared with 4,340,245 tons for the previous year. The Magna Plant milled 3,725,404 tons, an increase of approximately 515,000 tons, as compared with the previous year. The Arthur Plant, the full capacity of which was not required throughout the year, milled 955,397 tons, an increase of about 18,000 tons as compared to the previous year.
- The average copper content of the ore treated at both plants was 1.51%, as compared with 1.54% for the year 1910. The average recovery at both plants was 69.53%, corresponding to 21.03 pounds copper per ton, as compared to an average extraction of 66.55% and a recovery of 20.51 pounds per ton for the previous year. The average extraction at the Magna Plant was 69.28% and at the Arthur 70.49%.
February 22, 1912
The new Bingham passenger tram between the B&G depot and Bingham town, 225 feet below, went into service on or about February 22, 1912. The article in the Salt Lake Tribune states that the trains leave the Harriman (Union Pacific) Salt Lake City depot at 7:30am and 2:50pm, with the round trip from Salt Lake City to Garfield (over what are now UP tracks), then on B&G tracks from Garfield to Bingham, taking about three hours. Passengers rode a single train (likely with UP locomotive and cars), without having to change trains at Garfield. An associated photo shows a pasenger train, with UP locomotive, crossing the B&G's Markham Gulch bridge, possibly showing a specail train that gave officials and special guests a preview of the upcoming service. Photos show that the long and winding wooden stairs between the two points remained in place for a number of years after the tram went into service. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 22, 1912; headline reads "Tramway For Bingham; Stairs Are Abandoned")
A strike was called by the Western Federation of Miners on September 17, 1912 for all underground miners, for an increase of 50 cents per day. To replace the striking workers, on October 9, Utah Copper and Utah Consolidated brought in strikebreakers and most producers were back in reduced production by mid October. The strike resulted in Utah Copper closing the underground workings of its original mine due to costs (76 cents per ton) being much higher than open cut mining (35 cents per ton). Work resumed in November in the former Boston mine, with costs of 66 cents per ton. (Engineering and Mining Journal, May 17, 1913, p. 1008; Rickard, p. 48)
The strike ended on December 1, 1912 when Utah Copper raised wages of surface labor to $2.20 for a 10-hour shift (an increase of 20 cents), "as long as copper stays above 17 cents". (Engineering and Mining Journal, January 11, 1913, p. 87)
During 1912, Utah Copper removed 4,835,479 cubic yards of overburden, and during the same period, the company mined and shipped 28,720,234 tons of copper ore. (Wegg, p. 89)
The company was taking 78 percent of ore from the open cut mine, 18 percent from the former Boston underground mine and 4 percent from the original Utah underground mine. (Engineering and Mining Journal, May 17, 1913, p. 1008; Wegg, p. 93)
The 1913 Utah Copper annual report shows the following Bingham & Garfield equipment: four Mallet locomotives; eight heavy switcher locomotives; one light switcher locomotive; 375 steel hopper bottom ore cars; 75 steel concentrate cars; and 50 general service hopper bottom gondolas.
Utah Copper production for 1913 saw an increase in mill production of 41 percent, over the same period in 1912. Most of the increase came from converting the former Boston Consolidated Arthur mill to match the methods used at Utah Copper's own Magna mill. During 1913 both mills were processing 24,000 tons of ore daily, with 14,000 tons going to Magna and 10,000 tons going to Arthur. Arthur managed an 81 percent increase, from 1,860,521 tons in 1912 to 3,376,692 tons in 1913. Magna's 19 percent increase resulted in 4,142,700 tons in 1913 compared to 3,454,800 tons in 1912. Also the grade of the ore being mined was going down; 1912 saw 1.36 percent ore (18 pounds of copper per ton of ore mined) and production for 1913 was from 1.25 percent ore (16 pounds of copper per ton of ore mined). (Wegg, pp. 43,45)
Ore production for 1913 had 91 percent of the ore coming from the open cut operations at a cost of 29 cents per ton. The cost of underground mining, in the former Boston mine, was 69 cents per ton. (Engineering and Mining Journal, August 8, 1914, p. 270)