U. S. Mining's Evans Tunnel

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This page was last updated on November 7, 2023.

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The Evans Tunnel was a transportation and drainage tunnel that connected to the Telegraph mine, in Bear Gulch in the upper parts of Bingham Canyon, Utah. It allowed the U. S. Mining company to move ore from its Telegraph mine to ore bins that were served by the Copper Belt railroad. The tunnel's elevation was about 6,750 feet.

The Evans Tunnel had its opening (at its north end) at the junction of Bear Gulch, at the top (south end) of Bingham Canyon, and Galena Gulch, where U. S. Mining's Jordan and Galena mines were. The Evans tunnel was announced in late 1900, about 18 months after the U. S. company was organized to take control of the Telegraph, Jordan, Niagara, and Galena mines.

The tunnel's initial purpose was to open up access to the lower parts of the Telegraph mine, being 80 feet below the lowest existing workings. The tunnel and its associated extension was completed to allow the Copper Belt railroad to serve the Telegraph mine's ore bins, with the railroad and ore bins being completed at the same time. The Copper Belt railroad was built to replace the problem of using the existing combination of wagons and primitive horse tramway.

(Read more about the Copper Belt railroad)

To allow transportation of ore from the Telegraph mine, the underground mine tracks of the Evans Tunnel were extended along the hillside for a distance about a quarter mile to the north, and covered with a wooden snowshed to allow ore to be moved during the winter months. At the north end of the snowshed was a mine car dumping station, connected to a short inclined tram that moved the ore downhill to the ore bins located at the junction of Bear Gulch and Galena Gulch. At first, the ore bins were served by a spur of the Copper Belt railroad, but with the completion of the aerial tramway in 1902, an additional inclined tram was built to dump the ore directly into ore bins of the aerial tramway's transfer station for movement to the lower terminal at Bingham station, and subsequent loading into the standard gauge rails cars of the Rio Grande railroad.

In 1902, the U. S. company had announced that it would build a two-mile aerial tramway from the Evans Tunnel, north and east across the ridge to a new terminal loading station at the Rio Grande railroad's Bingham depot. The new "main line" of the aerial tramway went into service in late October 1902.

The U. S. company's aerial tramway was in service from late 1902 until 1914 when the Niagara tunnel became the main haulage tunnel for the U. S. company, and loading into rail cars at Bingham was replaced by loading into rail cars directly at the opening of the Niagara tunnel.

The following comes from the February 5, 1902 issue of the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper.

It was about fifteen months ago [from February 1902] that the management decided to put an avenue from a point overlooking the bend of the railway at the head of Bingham canyon into Old Telegraph territory that would afford a permanent and economic outlet, and the driving of the Evans tunnel followed. Connection was finally made with the great ore-bearing chute in the property at a point 80 feet below all previous workings. Above the plane of the tunnel had already been blocked out a volume of ore in which expert measurement revealed the presence of over 1,000,000 tons. And to open it up below, a winze was dropped down into the unbroken column a depth of 100 feet, where a level was established. That was four months ago [November 1901]. Since that time and from that point, the management has been striking out in every direction, with every drift and cross-cut extending in ore until it is now demonstrated that below the tunnel level is a volume of ore as large as has been revealed above.

The Evans Tunnel can be seen in photographs of the area during the 1900-1915 period. The tracks of the Telegraph mine that exited the tunnel were covered by a wooden structure to protect the tracks from snow. The wooden structure is visible on the hillside, southeast and about 150 feet above the aerial tramway's angle transfer station at the bottom of the canyon where Galena Gulch and Bear Gulch meet to form the larger Bingham Canyon. At the north end of the wooden structure, two incline tracks were built to allow ore to be moved down to the ore bin that was part of the aerial tramway's angle transfer station.

The "Evans" name for the new outlet for the Telegraph mine likely came from Robert D. Evans, then-president (and second largest shareholder) of the newly organized United States Mining Co., owner of the Telegraph mine. Evans was formerly the president of U. S. Rubber, and was reported as being one of the richest men in both Boston and New England. After the organization of successor company, United States Smelting Refining & Mining in 1906, Evans retired from the active management of the company. Robert Dawson Evans died on July 6, 1909, at age 67, after being thrown from his horse on July 1st while riding near his summer home in Beverly, Massachusetts. At the time of Evans' death, U. S. President William Howard Taft and his family were en route for a summer-long vacation residence at Stetson House (or Hall), owned by the Dawson family and adjacent to Dawson Hall, the summer residence of Robert Dawson Evans and his family.

(View a photo of the ore bin of the new Evans Tunnel)

The photo linked above shows a large building at the center that was the aerial tramway's angle transfer station, which included ore bins for the Evans Tunnel. Before the aerial tramway was completed in late 1902, these same ore bins allowed ore from the Telegraph mine to be loaded into rail cars on a spur of the Copper Belt railroad. After late 1902, the ore from the Evans Tunnel and the Telegraph mine was then transported by aerial tramway to the railroad station at Bingham.

At the left edge of the photo, the cables of the Galena Gulch line of the aerial tramway extend from the head house and up into Galena Gulch. As noted below, by the end of 1902, the main line of U. S. Mining's new aerial tramway extending 11,000 feet from this location, would go into service crossing over the ridge and down to the railroad station area at Bingham.

(View a photo of the same location in 1910, looking south)

The photo linked above shows the transfer station ("head house") of the U. S. Mining aerial tramway. Galena Gulch is off to the upper right, Bear Gulch and the Telegraph mine is straight ahead. The incline tracks from the Evans Tunnel down to the ore bin can be seen at the left edge of the photo, and a portion of the wooden structure of the Evans Tunnel itself can be seen on the hillside, at about the 11 o'clock position of the photo.

The Galena Gulch part of the aerial tramway was covered by the wooden structure laid atop the hillside, visible in the photo's upper right. The cables of the main line of the aerial tramway to Bingham station can be seen as they exit the head house, taking the ore buckets off to the center right of the photo. The curved trestle at the lower right was Utah Copper's early 'H' Dump line that crossed the canyon from the west side to the east side.

(View a map showing where the Evans Tunnel was in relation to the junction of Bear Gulch and Galena Gulch; with red lines highlighting the road junction of the two canyons.)

(The map also shows the location of the Niagara Tunnel, a major part of U. S. Mining's operation after 1914.)

By June 1914 the Evans tunnel had been extended into the Telegraph ground a distance of 1342 feet. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, June 28, 1914)

(This is the last reference to the Evans tunnel in available online newspapers. The area around the "mouth of Bear Gulch," the site of the transfer station of the U. S. Mining aerial tramway, changed considerably after 1914 when the aerial tramway was replaced by the improved Niagara tunnel. Photos of the area show that the head house transfer station was soon removed, along with the wood structure that crossed the ridge to the west.)

More Information

Aerial Tramways -- Information about the aerial tramways used by mining companies at Bingham (including United States Mining), to get their ore from mine to rail car, then to mill and smelter.