Railroads and Mining in Utah's Bingham Canyon, Copper Era 1914-1936
This page last updated on November 3, 2023.
Copper Era, 1914 to 1936
(Utah Copper, Bingham & Garfield, and Kennecott Copper)
Utah Copper's annual report for the year ending December 31, 1913 shows the following:
- Two six-wheel switching locomotives added in 1913
- One eight-wheel combination revolving locomotive crane and steam shovel added in 1913
- 20 standard gauge steam shovels
- 39 standard gauge switching locomotives
- One standard gauge Shay locomotive
- 11 narrow gauge locomotives
- 100 standard gauge 12-yard all-steel dump cars
- 117 standard gauge 6-yard wooden dump cars
- 144 narrow gauge 4-yard wooden dump cars
- Four flat cars of 100,000 pounds capacity each
- One engine tender, used for hauling water
- One combination locomotive crane and steam shovel
January 16, 1914
The community of Upper Bingham changed its name and was incorporated as the new town of Copperfield. Incorporation was first proposed in October 1913, and was approved by the Salt Lake County Commission on December 30, 1913. The initial petition was signed by 93 of 118 registered voters of Upper Bingham. The delay came as protests were filed stating that the petition did not represent the majority. The delay was due to legal questions about the new city issuing liquor licenses to bars and saloons, with license fees being seen as a tax on businesses. The new city was "dry" until a special election was held on June 30, 1914, with the results that a slim majority (63 to 59) of the voting residents voted that the city remain dry. (Coalville Times, October 10, 1913; Salt Lake Tribune, November 9, 1913; December 30, 1913; Salt Lake Telegram, January 16, 1914; Deseret News, July 1, 1914)
March 31, 1914
Underground work on Utah Copper's former Boston Consolidated mine was stopped because enough capping had been removed to allow both mills to be furnished solely from the open cut methods. (Rickard, page 48)
July 30, 1914
The following summary of Utah Copper operations comes from the July 30, 1914 issue of the Salt Lake Mining Review magazine.
- 15 steam locomotives (nine of 100,000 pound weight or larger)
- Six steam shovels (four 100-ton; two 70-ton)
- 125 6-yard waste-rock dump cars
- Five electric locomotives for underground mine (two of 40,000 pound capacity)
- Five miles of standard gauge track, with 65-pound rail
- Two steam shovels added in 1908
- Two locomitives added in 1908
- Four locomotives added in 1909
- 20 dump cars added in 1909
- Boston Consolidated property at the time of the 1910 merger
- Four steam shovels
- 11 steam locomotives
- 146 dump cars
- In 1910, Utah Copper added
- Eight steam shovels
- 12 steam locomotives
- 80 dump cars
- Copperton mill closed on August 1, 1910
- (from a handwritten note dated February 8, 1984)
August 7, 1914
Utah Copper issued orders to reduce its output by 50 percent and ordered a corresponding reduction in payrolls, putting 4000 men at the Bingham mine, at the Magna and Arthur mills, and on the Bingham & Garfield Railway all on half time. (Carbon County News, August 13, 1914)
Bingham & Garfield was shut down, until April 27, 1915, for lack of traffic. Copper was selling at 18.5 cents per pound, the highest price since 1907. (Eastern Utah Advocate, April 30, 1915) (Was Utah Copper shut down also?)
October 31, 1914
From The Engineering and Mining Journal, Volume 98, Number 18, October 31, 1914, page 804:
Utah Copper is treating 12,000 tons of ore daily at the Magna mill. The mine works one shift, except Wednesdays and Sundays—two or two and a half days off a week— which is all that is necessary to keep up the mill supply. A small amount of stripping is being done. All told, eight to 10 shovels are worked. Mining is being done with great economy, and a new system of cost keeping is in use, by which all supplies and expenses are checked up daily, instead of monthly as heretofore. Construction work, repairs, and overhead expenses have been reduced. Between 1000 and 1200 men are being worked at the mine, and 65 men per shift at the mill, exclusive of the machine shop, etc.
Flotation experiments are still being carried on, and a large number of tests have been made with a slide machine, in the laboratory. Twenty-eight flotation cells designed by the Utah Copper are in use. Of these, 14 are installed on the lower vanner floor, and are cleaning the low-grade concentrates. This removes silica satisfactorily, and produces good concentrates, but there have been some mechanical difficulties. Each cell consists of a circular iron casing about 24 in. deep by 36 in. diameter, and is driven by a 10-hp. motor. The second unit of 14 cells is also on the lower vanner floor. These treat the vanner feed from the fourth and fifth spigots of the secondary classifiers, but material from the primary classifiers has also been treated. This unit is still in the experimental stage. The low-grade concentrates from the vanners and tables of the mill are elevated to a Richards-Janney classifier; the first two spigots make high-grade concentrates, and the next two low-grade concentrates containing silica, which is the feed for the flotation. About 200 tons of low-grade concentrates per day are being treated. Three shifts are being worked in the mill, and all men are working half time—two weeks on and two off; the Magna shift changing with the Arthur.
November 14, 1914
From The Engineering and Mining Journal, Volume 98, Number 20, November 14, 1914, page 881:
Utah Copper Company
Report of the Utah Copper Company for the third quarter of 1914 shows production of a total of 28,686,672 pounds of copper, of which 13,768,958 pounds were produced in July, 8,245,520 in August and 6,672,194 in September. Both plants treated 1,466,606 tons of ore, 77 percent at the Magna plant and 23 percent at the Arthur plant. Average ore grade was 1.1356 percent copper, and 68.13 percent the average extraction. (about 15,000 tons per day)
Owing to existing conditions, it was considered advisable to reduce production by half, so the Arthur plant was shut down. Average cost of net copper is 7.760 cents per pound after allowing for smelter deductions and without crediting miscellaneous income. If this income were credited, including that from the Bingham & Garfield Ry., the cost would be 6.951 cents per pound of copper.
Net profit from milling operations and other income was $1,312,738. Dividends paid amounted to $1,218,367, leaving a net surplus for the quarter of $94,371. Earnings are based on 12.48 cents per pound for copper. Total copper on hand and in transit, sold and unsold, at the end of the quarter, was 50,118,797 pounds No income came from Nevada Consolidated Copper Company as its dividends were deferred.
Bingham & Garfield Railway operations were curtailed. An average of 11,515 tons of ore and about 4256 tons of other freight per day were moved.
Transportation of copper ore for Utah Copper was by way of the Denver & Rio Grande and by its own Bingham & Garfield. Other companies were using Utah Consolidated's cable tramway to the International smelter, and the underground Bingham Central Railway, by way of the three-mile Mascotte Tunnel to Lark. (Wegg, page 68)
April 29, 1915
Kennecott Copper Corporation was incorporated in New York on April 29, 1915, to acquire all of the properties and assets of Kennecott Mines Company, which physical property lay at the Kennecott mine three miles from Kennecott, Alaska, and the Beatson mine on Latouche Island, Prince William Sound, Alaska. (Moody's Manual Of Railroads And Corporation Securities, Twenty-Third Annual Number, Industrial Section, Volume II, K to Z, 1922, page 1322) (Moody's Analysis Of Investments for 1917, page 1337, gives the date as May 4, 1915)
May 8, 1915
During 1914, Utah Copper took 98 percent of its ore from the open cut operations. Bingham & Garfield moved 4,829,877 tons of ore, 2 percent (100,466 tons) of which was ore from other companies. (Engineering & Mining Journal, May 8, 1915, page 824)
Utah Copper ordered six "6-wheel locomotives" from the Baldwin Locomotive Works. (Delivered in October 1915; numbered as Utah Copper 71-76)
November 17, 1915
Guggenheim Exploration Company sold its interest and holdings in Utah Copper to the Kennecott Corporation. (Salt Lake Mining Review, November 30, 1915)
Kennecott Takes Utah Stock -- New York, Nov. 17 -- The Guggenheim Exploration Company, which is a holding company for some of the more important interests represented by the Guggenheims in their various mining operations, is to dissolve, according to announcement made today. The Kennecott corporation, in which the Guggenheims and J. P. Morgan & Co. are said to have large holdings, will take over the holdings of the Guggenheim Exploration Company in Utah Copper, giving its on stock in exchange. Guggenheim Exploration will distribute to its shareholders their pro rata share of holdings of Ray Consolidated, Chino, American Smelting & Refining common and Yukon Gold stocks. In addition, each shareholder of Guggenheim Exploration will receive the option of accepting $37 cash for each share of the new Kennecott stock. The Guggenheim Exploration Company is a New Jersey corporation and was organized as a holding company, with stock interests in various mines and mining properties in Alaska, Canada and the United States, including Utah Copper, Chino Copper, Ray Consolidated Copper, Yukon Gold and American Smelting & Refining Company. The capitalization of the Guggenheim Exploration Company is $22,000,000 and the par value of the stock is $25. Guggenheim Exploration sold at the high record price of 79 3-8 on the stock exchange yesterday and, with other issues of the same group, has been a market leader. This afternoon, on announcement of the proposed dissolution of the company, that stock, as well as most other copper issues, declined moderately.
Concerning the creation of Kennecott Copper Corporation, Ray Beebe of Butte, Montana wrote on December 24, 2010.
In his article (Mining Engineering, January 2005, pp. 30-33), Murray Hitzman states "The original Kennecott Alaska deposit. .. provided the muscle for Utah Copper, which launched Jackling's experiment at Bingham Canyon." This was apparently intended to buttress the central theme of the paper. Unfortunately, it is factually incorrect.
The facts are these. After an extensive feasibility study, the Utah Copper Co. was incorporated on June 4,1903. Some of its financing came from the Guggenheim interests. A 300-ton capacity mill was built at Copperton. Asarco got a long-term contract to smelt the concentrates. (Asarco was controlled by the Guggenheim interests.)
In 1908, Stephen Birch approached J.P. Morgan and Co. with an option on what became the Kennecott Mine in Alaska. Morgan referred Birch to the Guggenheims, who agreed to support the project financially and technically.
After an expensive development involving a railway into the Alaskan interior and harbor facilities, the mine went into production in 1913.
Meanwhile, Asarco's Tacoma, Washington, smelter was expanded and a refinery was added to treat the Kennecott concentrates.
Since Asarco was thus smelting and refining the copper not only from Utah, Kennecott Alaska, Ray, Chino, Nevada Consolidated and Braden (Chile), the Guggenheims encouraged a consolidation of the mines themselves. The resulting company needed a name and it was christened Kennecott Copper Corp. This constituted the first corporate connection between Kennecott Alaska and Utah at Bingham Canyon, already a giant.
November 18, 1915
Guggenheim Exploration Company sold its 404,504 shares of Utah Copper Company to Kennecott Copper Corporation, payment being made in Kennecott stock on the basis of 1-1/4 shares of Kennecott for each share of Utah Copper. This gave Kennecott Copper 24.9 percent control of Utah Copper Company. Guggenheim Exploration was to be dissolved in the near future, and this is how Kennecott, owned and controlled by the Guggenheim interests, started its majority interest and ownership in Utah Copper. By December 31, 1916, Kennecott owned 26.7 percent (435,404 shares of Utah Copper's 1,624,490 outstanding stock). (New York Times, November 18, 1915; Moody's Analysis Of Investments, Part II, Public Utilities and Industrials, 1917, page 1337)
December 31, 1915
Utah Copper's annual report for the year ending December 31, 1915 shows the following (selected excerpts):
During 1915, ten 12-yard, all steel, dump cars were purchased, and fifty standard-gauge, 30-yard, all steel, air-dump cars were ordered and will be delivered about April 30, 1916. Some small improvements and extensions were made in connection with the system of water supply for locomotive and steam shovel boilers. A steel frame, corrugated iron, compressor building was erected, and five 6-room brick cottages for heads of departments were built.
The total amount of capping removed during the year was 5,961,367 cubic yards, being an average of 1,490,342 cubic yards per quarter, and an average of 496,780 cubic yards per month, as compared with an average of 1,427,209 cubic yards and 475,736 cubic yards, respectively, for the previous year. The total amount of capping removed prior to January 1, 1916, was 33,795,410 cubic yards, of which quantity 21,194,751 cubic yards were from the Utah Group and 12,600,659 cubic yards from the Boston Group. At the close of the year, the total area upon which stripping operations had been conducted was 203.24 acres, and the actual area completely stripped was estimated at 96.80 acres.
With the exception of a comparatively small amount of development work in the Boston Mine, no underground mining operations were conducted during the year 1915 and, therefore, practically all of the ore produced was mined by steam shovels. The average cost of mining was 24.41 cents per ton, of which 7.50 cents represent charges for stripping and 0.30 cent charges for development, leaving an actual working cost, including the proper proportioning of all fixed and general charges, of 16.61 cents per ton as compared with 22.62 cents per ton for the year 1914. This very notable reduction was due partly to increased output, partly to an improvement in the working conditions on the various steam shovel levels, and partly to increased efficiency in all departments.
During the year, there were milled at the Magna Plant 5,233,300 tons of ore, an increase of 771,839 tons over the previous year; while at the Arthur Plant, which was not operated until January 25th, 3,261,000 tons were milled, an increase of 1,252,295 tons as compared with 1914. The total ore treated at both plants was 8,494,300 tons, as compared with 6,470,166 tons for the previous year. The Magna Plant treated an average of 14,338 tons daily during the year, and the Arthur Plant an average of 9,563 tons daily during the time it was actually operated.
The average grade of ore milled at both plants was slightly under 1.434% copper, as compared with about 1.425% copper for 1914. The average recovery at both plants was 64.13%, corresponding to 18.39 pounds of copper per ton, as compared to 66.04%, or 18.82 pounds of copper per ton, for the previous year. For the last six months of the year, the average daily tonnage milled was 26,537, or about 33% above normal capacity.
The cost of milling at Magna was 30.91 cents per ton, and at Arthur 39.02 cents, as compared with 34.35 cents and 37.55 cents, respectively, for the year 1914. The average cost of milling at both plants was 34.02 cents per ton, as compared with 35.36 cents for the previous year. The average cost for the first quarter was 41.98 cents ; for the second quarter, 30.98 cents ; for the third quarter, 31.66 cents ; and for the fourth quarter, 34.66 cents. The higher costs for the first and fourth quarters were due to winter weather conditions and the consequent decrease in tonnage treated.
About two-thirds of the capping on the westerly side of Bingham Canyon has been removed. On the lower steam shovel levels, stripping has progressed to such an extent that the quantity of capping to be removed from these during 1916 will be only about one-half that moved during 1915. On the levels near the top of the mountain, where the capping was very thick, there is still a large quantity remaining, and it is on this account desirable to continue stripping operations for a time at approximately the same rate as for the past year. It is not likely therefore that any material decrease in these operations will occur until after the close of 1916.
The Directors have authorized the construction of a leaching plant to treat the oxidized capping which has been, and is being, removed from the ore bodies. It is the intention to build this plant with an initial capacity of from 2,000 to 3,000 tons per day, the arrangement being such that this capacity can be readily increased, if an increase is warranted by the experience gained in the operation of the first installation. Construction on this plant will be commenced as early in the summer of 1916 as weather conditions and preparation of designs will permit. For the purpose of furnishing acid for this plant and supplying other local and some commercial requirements, the Company has undertaken to participate equally with the Garfield Smelting Company in financing the construction and operation of an acid works near the smelter.
Utah Copper expanded its original tailings pond near Magna from the original 1500 acres to 5000 acres. This forced the Union Pacific (LA&SL) and Western Pacific tracks to be relocated to the north in 1917. The two railroads created a new station named Garfield as a connection to Utah Copper's railroad. This Garfield station remained in place until replaced by a new Garfield created in 1997 when UP moved its mainline again to allow expansion of the Kennecott tailings pond. (Utah History Cyclopedia; Union Pacific condensed track profile)
Utah Copper sent a representative to Montana to study Butte, Anaconda and Pacific, and Milwaukee Road electrification. (Salt Lake Mining Review, April 15, 1916, page 33)
September 12, 1916
"In July the Bingham property produced 20,000,000 pounds of copper. On one day, no less than 45,275 tons of ore was mined and loaded on cars. Including the surface capping, there was handled an average of over 67,000 tons of material every day. The company's mills have a rated annual capacity of 20,000 tons per day, 12,000 for the Magna and 8,000 for the Arthur. On one day, these mills treated exactly twice this amount of ore, 40,300 tons, and for the month averaged over 36,000 tons of ore per day. Work was started the last of the month on the active construction of the new leaching plant. The acid plant is about half completed. The production for August exceeded that for July. Handling 67,000 tons of material in twenty-four hours calls for 1340 cars of 50 tons each, or 40 trains of 33 cars each." (Ogden Standard, September 12, 1916)
November 28, 1916
"Changes Are Made To Aid Workingmen -- Garfield, Nov. 27. -- Beginning tomorrow morning there will be added accommodations, by of another shift train, for the men who are employed at Magna, Arthur and the leaching plant. The Salt Lake Route train leaving Salt Lake at 6:45 a. m. will he supplied with extra coaches and will arrive in Magna at 7:40 a. m. The regular shift train, heretofore leaving at 7 a. m , will leave at 7:15, and returning will leave Magna at 5.33 p m. This new arrangement will be in full charge of the Bingham & Garfield railroad and the cars will be set out at Garfield junction. Tickets purchased for use on this shift train will also be good on all Bingham & Garfield trains, as follows. Trains Nos. 109, 110, 111 and 112. After setting out the coaches at Garfield junction, the Salt Lake Route train will continue on its way to the smelter with the men going on the morning shift as usual, the regular Bingham & Garfield shift train picking up the extra coaches at the junction. The same plan will be followed by the 5:25 p. m. Salt Lake Route train." (Ogden Standard, November 28, 1916)
December 31, 1916
Utah Copper's annual report for the year ending December 31, 1916 shows the following:
The equipment used in connection with the removal of capping was increased by the addition of fifty standard-gauge 30-yard all-steel air-dump cars. A large additional area of surface was purchased adjacent to the Company's property, for use as dumping ground for waste.
It is estimated that approximately three-fourths of the capping has been removed from the ore body as now developed on the westerly side of Bingham Canyon, and that a total of at least 300,000,000 tons of developed ore yet remains in this part of the deposit. On the lower steam shovel levels, the capping to be removed during 1917 will probably not exceed one-half the quantity removed during 1916; but on the intermediate and upper levels, it will be necessary to continue stripping operations during 1917 at about the same rate as for the year 1916. Therefore, it is not likely that there will be any considerable decrease in such operations during the present year.
In order to furnish acid for the leaching plant and mills, as well as to supply some other local and commercial requirements, the Company agreed to participate equally with the Garfield Smelting Company in the construction and operation of an acid plant near the smelter. The construction of this plant was begun on March 8th, 1916, and the work was far enough along by December 22nd, 1916, to permit commencement of acid production. The operations were hampered by the usual difficulties that are to be expected in starting a new plant, as well as by the unusually severe weather that prevailed all winter. The production has now reached a rate of about 75 tons of 50-degree acid per day. This will be increased gradually to the rated capacity of about 150 tons per day, and it is intended that the plant will be enlarged from time to time to meet not only the requirements of the Copper Company and Smelting Company, but to supply such commercial demand as may be found.
Utah Copper purchased the last of the Wall claims, ending a long series of court battles over the rights to the claims that made up the original Utah Copper property in 1903. (Engineering & Mining Journal, April 28, 1917, page 769)
A 2,000-ton leaching plant was completed at Magna to recover copper from very low grade (less than 1 percent) ore. Construction started in August 1916. (Kennecott notes; Engineering & Mining Journal, July 1, 1916, page 71)
New crusher was installed at Arthur. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Bingham & Garfield hauled an average of 32,019 tons of copper ore per day. (Kennecott Historical Index)
A new Wellman-Seaver-Morgan single car dumper was installed at Arthur. The mill had originally been equipped with a 10,000-ton steel ore bin fed by bottom dumping ore cars. (Rickard, page 53) (Kennecott's Historical Index says that the dumper was a "Hullett Single".)
Operations of new Magna leaching plant began. (Kennecott notes)
March 21, 1918
The United States Railway Administration (USRA) took over the operation of America’s railroads (including Bingham & Garfield) to improve the efficiency of America’s railroads during World War I. It continued to operate and “administer” the railroads until March 1, 1920.
January 15, 1919
First operation of new car dumper at Arthur. (Kennecott Historical Index)
February 26, 1919
Magna mill was closed because of drop in copper demand after World War One. The mill had been working full time since opening in 1908 and needed maintenance. The shut down lasted over 2-1/2 years, until November 10, 1922. (Arrington: Richest Hole, page 70; Parsons 1933, page 87)
May 28, 1920
An agreement was signed for the operation of Utah Copper ore trains over the Bingham & Garfield, by Bingham & Garfield crews. (Kennecott Historical Index)
September 1, 1920
All Bingham & Garfield locomotives and rolling stock were sold to Utah Copper Company, to remove the B&G from interstate commerce, and limit the railway company's net operating income to 6 per cent, the figure established by the federal Interstate Commerce Commission; any amount exceeding 6 per cent was to deposited into a nationwide revolving fund for the benefit of all of the nation's railroads.
During 1921, Utah Copper was using 21 steam shovels, and 49 standard gauge steam locomotives and 11 narrow gauge steam locomotives. (Moody's Manual Of Railroads And Corporation Securities, Twenty-Third Annual Number, Industrial Section, Volume II, K to Z, 1922, page 1235)
Magna leaching plant was shut down permanently due to the low price of copper, and the high cost of the leaching operation. The plant was under construction between September 1916 and September 1917, and had been in operation from January 1918 to February 1919 and again in May 1920 through February 1921. (Kennecott notes)
"Utah Copper company which produces most of the copper in Utah, was active in January, February, and March of 1921, and produced nearly 24,000,000 pounds of copper, but the mine was closed in April." "Utah Consolidated Mining company, a producer of both copper and lead closed its mine at Bingham in February." "The United States Mining company has continued to ship lead-zinc ore from Bingham, but the Utah Apex and Utah Consolidated mines, both large producers of lead, were closed." (Ogden Standard Examiner, July 13, 1921, citing a July 13 report by USGS, "Metal Output To Drop Low, Utah's Production This Year To Show Big Dropping Off")
April 1, 1921
"Effective April 1, the mines and properties of the company were closed down and will remain closed and the production of copper will be entirely suspended until general conditions warrant resumption." (Ogden Standard Examiner, May 19, 1921)
April 2, 1921
Bingham Canyon mine was shut down. (Kennecott Historical Index)
April 4, 1921
Arthur mill was shut down. (Kennecott Historical Index)
May 19, 1921
"There was removed during the quarter (January-March 1921) a total of 304,461 cubic yards of capping, being an average of 101,437 cubic yards per month, as compared with 487,358 cubic yards and 162,453 cubic yards, respectively, for the fourth quarter of 1920. The ore delivery department transported a total of 1,276,461 tons of ore, being an average of 14,183 tons per diem. the Bingham & Garfield railway, operating in its own common carrier capacity, transported a total of 159,411 tons of merchandise, freight, or an average of 1771 tons per diem." (Ogden Standard Examiner, May 19, 1921, citing the 1920 Utah Copper annual report)
First electric shovels were tested at Bingham: two Marion Model 92 shovels with treads and 4-1/2 yard dippers. (USGS Bulletin 398, page 184) Electric shovels had been used in other parts of the world as early as 1914 (an electric Bucyrus Model 100-C having been used in Sweden). (Engineering & Mining Journal, October 31, 1914, page 767)
April 1, 1922
Bingham Canyon mine operations resume. (Kennecott Historical Index)
April 4, 1922
Operations at the Arthur mill resumed. Production at the Bingham mine was to be between 2,000 and 3,000 tons per day for the next several weeks. A total of 550 men were employed by Utah Copper Company: 170 men at the Bingham mine; 80 men on the Bingham & Garfield Railway; and 300 men at the milling plants. Three shovels were at work in the Bingham mine; one making a grade change on the 'F' level, and two loading ore. (Weber River Independent, April 7, 1922, citing a statement from Utah Copper Company, April 4 was a Tuesday)
Modernization of Magna mill began. (Kennecott Historical Index)
October 22, 1922
Robert C. Gemmell passed away. Mr. Robert C. Gemmell became General Superintendent of Utah Copper on January 1, 1906. With Jackling he visited the Mesabi iron mines in Minnesota to observe the methods of steam-shovel mining then in vogue on the range. He kept at the job successfully until the time of his death in 1922.
Magna mill was reopened. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Utah Copper was reported as shipping 250 cars per day (about 25,000 tons) by way of the Bingham & Garfield Railway. "None of this immense tonnage has been handled by Denver & Rio Grande Western for three years." (Salt Lake Mining Review, November 15, 1922)
A test precipitation plant was built in the bottom of the pit to recover the dissolved copper in drain water which collected at the bottom of the pit. (Arrington: Richest Hole, page 74)
Steam shovels were remodeled by placing them on three caterpillar treads, one on each side at front, and a third in center at rear. (Bureau of Mines IC 6234, page 14)
The following additional information comes from Bureau of Mines Information Circular 6234, published in 1930.
- First shovel in 1906
- 115 feet of capping, of completely leached porphyry
- Operations first started on west side of canyon
- Benches A through W, with levels 1, 2, 3 below the A level
- Benches 40 to 70 feet high, with 40 to 50 feet being the most econonical
- Yard tracks (A level) at 6340 feet elevation
- Each level has two switcbacks, one at Carr Fork end, the other at Copperfield end, maximum 4 percent grade
- 60 miles of track in pit
- Average daily production of 40,000 tons
- Stripping 30,000 cubic yards per day
- Rail shovels converted to caterpillar tracks in 1923
- Shovels, 90 to 110 tons railroad type, each had 3-1/2-yard buckets, loaded 2,350 tons per shift in 1923
- In 1928, electric shovels with 4-1/2-yard buckets, each loaded 3,966 tons per shift, a 68 percent increase per shift
- In 1923, steam shovels were converted to electric at Bingham shops; 15 shovels converted, eight shovels purchased new
- 23 shovels in service, eight were powered with alternating current, 15 were powered by direct current
- (from a handwritten original done in 1984)
- (Read the complete circular; PDF, 35 pages, 1.9MB)
Wellman-Seaver-Morgan Twin car dumper was installed at the Magna mill. Magna had originally been equipped with a 25,000-ton wooden ore bin with three tracks dumping into it. Cars being dumped were either wood or steel and either center-bottom dump or side-bottom dump. Bottom dumping was becoming a problem due to large boulders and wet ore freezing during the winter. The new twin car dumper was capable of dumping 720 cars (48,000 tons) per day. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Two electric shovels and 17 steam shovels were placed on caterpillar treads. Treads had been in use on shovels in other mines in country since 1920. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Utah Construction Company began excavation for the new car dumper at Magna. (Mining and Metallurgy, August 1925, page 447)
July 27, 1923
"Bingham -- Ground is being broken for the erection of a clubhouse (Gemmell Memorial Club house) by the Utah Copper company on the site of the old Shawmut mill." (Beaver County News, July 27, 1923)
July 30, 1923
"Ground is being broken for the erection of a clubhouse by the Utah Copper company at Bingham on the site of the old Shawmut mill near the present tramway terminus. The building, 120 by 80 feet, which will be one of the finest of its kind in the west, will be called the Robert C. Gemmell Memorial in honor of General Manager Gemmell, who died recently. The Gemmell Memorial, to be erected at a cost of over $125,000, is but part of the building program now being executed by the Utah Copper company in retaining its position as one of the best equipped mines in the world." (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1923)
(Robert C. Gemmell passed away on October 22, 1922)
(The Gemmell building remained until it was demolished to make way for a new road in Carr Fork in December 1975. -- Kennescope magazine, January 1976, courtesy of Tim Dumas)
First new electric shovel purchased. (U. S. Bureau of Mines, Bulletin 273, pages 2,3)
November 12, 1923
"The first electric shovel, No. 22, was placed in service at Bingham on the north end of 'K' level. It was a Marion Model 92 with General Electric DC electrical equipment." (Utah Copper Chronology, Memo to NWA from R. J. Corfield, dated 11-6-53; courtesy Steve Richardson)
Another source, informally known as the "Kennecott Historical Index" and maintained at the Arthur engineering office, noted that shovel No. 22, a Marion Model 92, was one of eight purchased new. Fifteen steam shovels had been converted to electric at the Bingham shops. (Kennecott Historical Index)
December 12, 1923
"The second electric shovel, No. 23, went into service on the 'J' Level. This was also a marion Model 92 wiith Westinghouse AC electrical equipment for comparison of AC versus DC. Power for these two shovels was over a 5500-volt AC line on wooden poles set in the ground." (Utah Copper Chronology, Memo to NWA from R. J. Corfield, dated 11-6-53; courtesy Steve Richardson)
Magna car dumper yard was completed and the new car dumper was placed into service. (Kennecott notes)
A small precipitation plant was built at Copperton to extract copper from waste dump runoff. (Arrington: Richest Hole, page 74)
March 12, 1924
Upper Carr Fork -- After the main B&G 'A' Level bridge at the mouth of the canyon was completed in 1911, the first railroad bridges across Carr Fork (the 'J' and 'L' steel bridges), were completed in 1924, after Utah-Apex Mining company granted surface rights on the north side of Carr Fork, to Utah Copper to serve as dumping grounds. The initial rights to build railroad tracks were granted in March 1, 1924, and subsequent surface rights for dumping grounds were granted on March 12, 1924. Construction of the 'J' and'L' Dump lines along the north slope of Carr Fork started soon after. (Kennecott engineering department documents)
June 16, 1924
Two 70-ton, 600 volts DC electric locomotives arrive for use at the new Magna and Arthur dumper yards. (Kennecott notes)
(The two locomotives were purchased second-hand from Manufacturer's Railway in St. Louis.)
The Magna and Arthur dumper yards were electrified, using 600 volts DC, and the two 70-ton locomotives go into service, one at Magna on September 8th and the other at Arthur on September 10th.
October 6, 1924
The Gemmell Memorial Club House was opened to the public. "The new edifice will be one of the finest club rooms in the country, being equipped with everything necessary for the comfort of the workers of this great institution." (Bingham Bulletin, October 3, 1924)
Groundbreaking for the building was on July 27, 1923. Named for Robert C. Gemmell, who had died on October 22, 1922. At the time of his death, Gemmell had been General Manager of Utah Copper, and managing director of the entire Utah Copper holdings.
Six new electric shovels arrive. Three steam shovels converted to electric. The decision was made to electrify all remaining shovels. (U. S. Bureau of Mines, Bulletin 273, page 3)
July 8-10, 1925
The annual convention of the American Society of Civil Engineers was held in Salt Lake City, with special meetings and dinners held in other Utah cities and locations. With the formal closing of the convention, large numbers of delegates took side trips provided for them. Among the side trips was a tour of Utah Copper's Bingham Canyon mine. Following are highlights taken from the official souvenior booklet produced for the tour.
- Sub-Level 'A' was at 6249 feet elevation
- 18 steam shovels, nine electric shovels
- 20 levels, 61.5 miles of track
- 51 standard gauge steam locomotives
- 90 30-yard waste cars, 110 12-yard waste cars
- 13 miles of assembly yard tracks
- 20.7 miles of Bingham & Garfield main line tracks
- total of 131 miles of track
- Seven 321-ton Mallet locomotives
- One 175-ton Consolidation locomotives
- 13 121-ton switching locmotives
- Two electric locomotives
- 635 80-ton steel ore cars
The following highlights come from "Electric Shovels and Caterpillar Tractors at Bingham," Mining and Metallurgy magazine, Volume 6, Number 224, August 1925, page 373.
- "The Utah Copper Co. has had for the past year, two railroad-type electric shovels in operation."
- The operating cost of AC (alternating current) electric shovels is about 10 percent greater than DC (direct current) electric shovels.
- Comparisons of steam-powered shovels compared to electric shovels are based on similar operating conditions, "when in good digging and experiencing ordinary delays."
- 18 railroad-type Marion Model 91 steam shovels equipped with caterpillar treads "during last two years."
- Under similar conditions, railroad-type shovels load 1350 cubic yards per shift, and caterpillar-type shovels load 1500 cubic yards per shift.
- "In addition to the increased production per shovel, the caterpillar tractors decrease the operating cost of each shovel by the elimination of three pit men. The somewhat greater cost of maintaining the caterpillar tractors over the railroad traction is more than compensated by the elimination of the track work incidental to the latter."
- "It has been demonstrated that the delays characteristic of electric operation, classified as tranformer or motor generator trouble, motor trouble, control and other electrical troubles, including power interruption, are 70.23 percent of those delays classified [for steam shovels] as waiting for coal, water, steam, taking water and coal, washing boilers and cleaning fires."
- (handwritten note dated June 2, 1988)
On September 21, 1925 Denver & Rio Grande Western sold the Copper Belt Branch, the Yampa Branch, and the upper portion of the Low Grade Line, from a station called Midas to the Cuprum yard. The trackage was sold to Utah Copper, in the name of its Bingham & Garfield Railway subsidiary. (D&RGW Agreement 4163 and Deed U-3267)
The location of the three lines were interfering with the expansion of Utah Copper's open pit mine. The copper company wanted the freedom to move the trackage around to suit the operations of the mine. The Rio Grande retained its yard and depot at Bingham and 7.6 miles of the Low Grade Line outside of the canyon, which they renamed the Bingham Branch Extension. That portion of the line was being used to serve the loading bins of the Congor and Midas mines of the Bingham Prospect Mining company near where the line crossed Midas Gulch, and was later abandoned in 1931.
By the time of the 1925 sale the Copper Belt Branch was thoroughly intermixed with the trackage of the copper company. The Yampa Branch had not been operated since 1913 and had seen very little traffic since the Yampa Smelter was destroyed by fire in 1909. Most of the other mines were owned by the larger companies but were being worked by leasers. Their ore bins would be served by the Bingham & Garfield, as a common carrier.
The five Shay locomotives purchased by the Denver & Rio Grande as part of its purchase of the Copper Belt Railroad had been kept working on the branches in the canyon, above Loline Junction. With the sale of the three branches with steep grades and sharp curves in 1925, Denver & Rio Grande would likely have moved the Shays from their former Copper Belt location at Bingham down to the roundhouse and facilities at Welby. Three of the Shays, road numbers 1, 2, and 4, were sold for scrap within a year and a half. The two others, numbers 3 and 5, were kept in service for another eight and ten years respectively, when they too were sold and cut up for scrap.
By 1926 Utah Copper was shipping 50,000 tons per day over the Bingham & Garfield Railway, compared to the 35,000 tons that the Copper Belt had shipped during the entire month of October 1904.
Capacity of Magna and Arthur mills were raised to 50,000 tons per day. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Construction of "model" townsite of Copperton was begun. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Utah Copper completed six dwellings "on Terrace Heights at Copperfield." The new apartments would accomodate twelve familes. (Bingham News, November 13, 1926)
The following highlights come from the article "Shovel Operations of Utah Copper" in the January 1926 issue of Mining and Metallurgy magazine.
- Steam shovel operations first used for overburden in 1906
- Steam shovels first used for ore in June 1907
- Prior to 1907 ore was taken from underground
- Steam shovel usage gradually increased until 1914 when all material (overburden and ore) was taken by open pit bench method
- 58 standard gauge steam locomotives
- Locomotives purchased before 1916 were 50 tons
- Locomotives purchased after 1916 were 75 ton, which were capable of handling 10 loaded carsup a 4 percent grade
- In 1922 all 650 all-steel ore cars were rebuilt from 70-ton capacity to 80-ton capacity
- The first overburden (waste rock) dump cars were wooden and had 6-yard capacity
- In 1910, steel waste cars were purchased with 12-yard capacity
- In 1916, steel waste cars were purchased 16-yard apacity and were air-dump design
- 14 steam shovels
- 9 electric shovels
- (handwritten note from January 13, 1984)
February 17, 1926
The worst snowslide so far in Bingham Canyon's history came down Sap Gulch in upper Carr Fork. The slide buried a large portion of the community of Highland Boy, and resulted in the deaths of 39 persons, and displaced 25 families from their homes.
April 24, 1926
"The Utah Copper Company has ordered one 60-ton oil-electric locomotive from the American Locomotive Company, the General Electric Company and the Ingersoll-Rand Company, which companies co-operate in its manufacture." (Railway Age, April 24, 1926, page 1177)
April 30, 1926
Utah Copper ordered two locomotives for motive power tests in the Bingham Canyon mine, to be delivered within 90 days; one was to be a 60-ton oil-electric at a cost of $65,000 (given road number 600) and the other was to be a 75-ton combination trolley electric/battery electric at a cost of $50,000 (given road number 700). Both locomotives to be used on 'J' and 'K' stripping levels. No mention of tests involving steam motive power. (Salt Lake Mining Review, April 30, 1926)
"Large shovels at Bingham are already electrified." (Salt Lake Mining Review, April 30, 1926)
May 15, 1926
The order by Utah Copper for a 60-ton "oil-electric" locomotive was announced by the builder, a joint combination of Ingersol-Rand, American Locomotive Co., and General Electric. The following highlights are taken from the article.
- The debut of the oil-electric locomotive at the Utah Copper mines will mark its first invasion in mining operation anywhere in the world.
- The Utah Copper Company owns an entire mountain at Bingham and its 57 steam locomotives haul from it over 30,000,000 tons of material each year. Based upon an average of 526,315 tons hauled by each locomotive during the year, the saving effected by the oil-electric, at four cents a ton, would run to $21,052.60 on its year's work.
- If oil-electric were substituted for the entire 54 steam locomotives, the saving on the 30,000,000 tons of haulage would be over $1,200,000 a year.
- Aside from the saving in fuel, through the use of heavy grade oil, the oil-electric makes further economy possible through the elimination of round-houses, turn-tables, water towers and troughs, hostling service and the handling,of coal and ash pits, all of which run up steam locomotive costs of maintenance.
- (Salt Lake Mining Review, May 15, 1926)
An ALCo-General Electric-Ingersoll Rand 60-ton oil-electric locomotive number 600 was received. (GE construction serial number 10028; Alco construction serial number 66680)
August 24, 1926
Date of photo showing the new 'D' bridge being built across Carr Fork.
February 15, 1927
The following item about "oil-electric" locomotives comes from the Salt Lake Mining Review, February 15, 1927, reporting that Utah Copper's locomotive was in service at Bingham, being one of 13 locomotives in service nationwide.
Growing Importance To Industry Of New Oil-Electric Locomotives -- The recent introduction of oil-electric locomotives is a development which is of importance in considering future railroad fuel consumption. This locomotive is a self-contained power unit in which a Diesel-type oil driven engine operates a generator which furnishes power to railway motors which are geared direct to the driving axles. After four months service in the manufacturer's plant, the first locomotive of this type was placed in service by the New York Central railroad on June 9, 1924, being used in switching freight cars in New York City.
At present, ten 60-ton and three 100-ton locomotives of this type are in use, eleven of which are in switching service in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and St. Paul; one in Utah Copper mining operations; and one by a California lumber company. Of the thirteen locomotives in use, ten were placed in operation during 1926.
May 16, 1927
First electric locomotive, number 700 (GE construction serial number 10258), was put into service on the K-Level dump line and comparative tests between diesel and electric were begun. Electric power to the locomotive was 750 volts DC and came from portable towers of the same design as those being used for the 550 volts DC for the electric shovels. (Kennecott Historical Index)
The first electric locomotive at the Bingham mine was put into service in 1927 on "G" level dump. (Kennescope, no date)
October 2, 1927
The Highland Boy Community House was dedicated. The community house was a major landmark in the community of Highland Boy in upper Carr Fork for 30 years.
The conversion of the 90-ton shovels from the steam railroad type with 3-1/2 cubic yard buckets to electric with caterpillar treads and 4-1/2 cubic yard buckets had allowed a 68 percent increase in productivity, from 2,350 tons to 3,966 tons per shovel per day. Twenty three all-electric shovels were in service, eight using AC controllers and fifteen others using DC controllers. (Kennecott Historical Index)
March 27, 1928
D&RGW converted a retired engine tender for use as a water car for added capacity of its 3400-series 2-8-8-2 (Class L-95) locomotives assigned to the Bingham Branch. (D&RGW AFE 3711, courtesy of Jerry Day)
The New York Times reported on May 2, 1928, that Kennecott Copper Corporation owned 97-1/2 percent of Utah Copper Company, which in turn owned 43 percent of Nevada Consolidated Copper Company. (New York Times, May 2, 1928)
May 1, 1928
Utah Copper announced that they would replace their steam railroad locomotives with combination electric trolley and battery locomotives, some of which would be built with an additional cable reel for "extension cord" operation. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 1, 1928; May 6, 1928)
May 8, 1928
Utah Copper ordered 20 electric locomotives. The first locomotive was to be shipped about August 1, 1928. (Boston Globe, May 8, 1928)
The first of the new electric locomotives arrived. The first to arrive was number 702. Apparently number 701 was wrecked en route and Utah Copper never replaced it. (GE builder data)
September 30, 1928
"Two storage battery type locomotives (Utah Copper 701 and 702) have been delivered to the Utah Copper Company by the General Electric Company. The engines are so designed that they may be operated either from storage batteries or trolleys. They are to be used on the Utah Copper hill in Bingham. The locomotives were shipped to Salt Lake from the General Electric factory in Erie, Pa., and it is understood that more deliveries will be made next month." (Salt Lake Mining Review, September 30, 1928)
(Kennecott 701 was wrecked on September 1, 1928 while in transit to Utah Copper, scrapped by Utah Copper on June 1, 1931. -- Information from Kennecott internal records, research done on February 18, 1983)
Precipitation plant at Copperton was replaced by a more modern one of greater capacity. (Arrington: Richest Hole, page 74)
An excellent description of mining operations at Utah Copper's Bingham mine was included on nine pages as part of the larger Bulletin 298, published in 1929 by the U. S. Bureau of Mines. (U. S. Bureau of Mines, Bulletin 298, Methods, Costs and Safety of Stripping Ore, 1929)
"Electrification of the mine at Bingham was completed early in the year and a new record of more than 141,000 tons of ore and waste in one day was made on May 16." (Ogden Standard Examiner, January 19, 1930)
Early April 1929
"The new precipitation plant at the mouth of Bingham canyon was placed in operation in early April. The plant has a capacity of more than 5,000,000 gallon of copper-bearing water a day and makes a recovery of about 97 percent of the copper." (Ogden Standard Examiner, January 19, 1930)
September 23, 1929
Electric locomotives placed in service in Bingham & Garfield Bingham yard as switchers. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Last (number 741) of the initial 40 (road numbers 701-741) electric locomotives was received. (Kennecott Historical Index)
December 19, 1929
Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) was placed in service at the pit. Forty-one (41) 85-ton electric locomotives are in service. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Sixty miles of track were in service in the pit with an average daily production of 40,000 tons of ore and 30,000 cubic yards of waste removed. (Kennecott Historical Index)
January 25, 1930
Arthur mill was shut down for rehabilitation. All ore was then treated at Magna. The Arthur remained closed until September 1936. (Kennecott Historical Index)
Grading work was begun at Arthur to raise the dumper yard to the level of the car dumper. The project was completed in May. Up to this time the dumper was about ten feet above the tracks of the dumper yard and an electric pusher "mule" was used to push the ore cars up to the dumper. The "electric mule" cable car pusher had become troublesome in the winter and could not handle the desired increased dumping rate. The cost of the project was $100,000 and it allowed for increased daily capacity of 500 cars, or 40,000 tons.
May 3, 1932
Kennecott Copper Corporation, which owned 98 percent of Utah Copper Company, offered to acquire Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, at the rate of one share of Kennecott for two shares of Nevada Consolidated. At the time, Kennecott, through its Utah Copper subsidiary, owned 45 percent of Nevada Consolidated. (New York Times, May 4, 1932, "yesterday")
June 11, 1932
Kennecott's offer to exchange its stock for Nevada Consolidated stock was set to expire on June 15, 1932. To allow for stockholders who were abroad, Kennecott's offer to exchange its stock for that of Nevada Consolidated was extended through July 15, 1932. By June 11, 1932, Kennecott, through its Utah Copper subsidiary, owned 75 to 80 percent of Nevada Consolidated. On July 15, the offer was extended to September 15. (New York Times, June 11, 1932; July 17, 1932)
February 3, 1933
Kennecott Copper Corporation owned 98-1/2 percent of Utah Copper Company. After the distribution of Nevada Consolidated Copper to Utah Copper stockholders (in other words, Kennecott) on or before February 14, 1933, Kennecott would own and control 87 percent of Nevada Consolidated Copper Company. One year before, at the end of 1931, Utah Copper held 31 percent of Nevada Consolidated. (New York Times, February 5, 1933)
A ten-feet wide, electrified railroad tunnel under all of the mines in Bingham Canyon was proposed in a request for a $2.5 million government loan from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. The tunnel was to be 30,000 feet in length and would connect the bottom workings of a "dozen" mines, allowing them to haul their ores down to the new tunnel, rather than hoisting their ore up several hundred feet at great expense. (New York Times, November 19, 1932, "Mine Tunnel Loan Sought")
Bingham Canyon mine and Magna mill operations were at one-fifth of capacity, with staggered shifts to retain as many workers as possible. (Arrington: Richest Hole, page 71)
May 16, 1934
D&RGW retired its 60-foot turntable at Bingham. (D&RGW AFE 5227, courtesy of Jerry Day)
April 1, 1935
Utah Copper's operation of the Bingham & Garfield, known as the Ore Delivery Department, was placed under the administration of the Department of Mills. (Kennecott Historical Index)
September 1, 1936
Arthur mill reopened, after being shut down for nearly six years. The Arthur foundry reopened in October 1932, after closing in January 1932. (Kennecott Historical Index)
November 10, 1936
Utah Copper Company was sold to Kennecott Copper Corporation. Kennecott had organized a new Utah Copper Company in Delaware, as a subsidiary, on November 6, 1936 for the purpose. The original Utah Copper Company had been organized in New Jersey in 1904. On April 29, 1915, Kennecott Copper Corporation had been organized in New York to acquire the worldwide Guggenheim copper interests, including all of the interests of Kennecott Mines Company in Alaska (including its Copper River & Northwestern Railroad) and 25 percent interest in Utah Copper Company in Utah, along with 96 percent interest in Braden Copper Company in Chile. In 1923 Kennecott Copper Corporation acquired 77 percent control of Utah Copper Company and by 1925 Kennecott had acquired 95 percent interest in Utah Copper. (Arrington: Richest Hole, page 68; Kennecott Historical Index)