Bingham Railroad Bridges

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This page was last updated on June 16, 2018.

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Bridges are always landmarks in any scene, especially in photographs. Being able to determine dates for photographs is helped by knowing the dates that bridges were built, and when the same bridges were removed.

Lower Bingham Bridges

(Lower Bingham is generally the area around the D&RGW railroad depot. It was the lower terminal for the Highland Boy and United States Minings's aerial tramways, as well as the 1870s horse tram, which was rebuilt in 1900 as the Copper Belt Railroad.)

One of the first bridges in lower Bingham canyon was the wooden trestle for the Rio Grande's spur to the Yampa smelter. Built in 1903, the bridge was condemned by Salt Lake County in April 1915 and removed. (Salt Lake Telegram, April 23, 1915)

Middle Bingham Bridges

(Middle Bingham is generally the area around the locations of the original underground mines and loading bins of Utah Copper, on the west side, and Ohio Copper, on the east side, as well as the pioneering Rogers mill.)

The first bridge in the middle part of Bingham Canyon carried the Copper Belt spur to the Boston Consolidated's workings in upper Carr Fork. The two-mile spur was completed in March 1906.

The second bridge in middle Bingham was built to allow Utah Copper's open pit mine to expand. Completed in November 1907 as Rio Grande Western's spur to the Boston Consolidated's steel ore bin in lower Carr Fork, the second bridge in middle Bingham allowed Utah Copper access to the bottom of its open pit mine, known as the 'A' Pit. This long wooden trestle bridge remained in place for several years. In its early years, this line included a tunnel through the ridge that separated Carr Fork from Bingham canyon. This line to the steel ore bins later became Utah Copper's main 'A' level Auxiliary Yard

Also at middle Bingham were two S-curve bridges, up-canyon and down-canyon from the Ohio Copper ore loading bins. The lower S-curve bridge was owned by D&RG railroad and connected the D&RG spur above Cuprum yard, across the canyon to Utah Copper's main assembly yard, also known as the 'A' Yard.

The upper S-curve bridge, known as the C-A Line bridge, connected Utah Copper's South Auxiliary Yard on the 'A' Level, with the 'C' Dump Line. The 'C' Dump Line extended from middle Bingham, north and east around the south side of the canyon, to Tiewaukee Gulch, above the D&RG/RGW depot, and above the RGW Low Grade Line, which was completed in January 1907. The new dump line was surveyed by Utah Copper in Spring 1907, and construction began in September 1907.

Upper Bingham Bridges

(Upper Bingham is generally the area around Copperfield, the Commercial mine in Copper Center Gulch, the Old Telegraph mine in Bear Gulch, and the Old Jordan mine at the far upper part of Bingham Canyon.)

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)

Copper Belt Commercial Spur

The first bridge in Upper Bingham carried the Copper Belt spur to the Commercial mine in Copper Center Gulch. It was completed in 1900.

'H' Dump Line

The second bridge in Upper Bingham is shown in a panorama photo at the Library of Congress, dated in 1907. The 'H' Line bridge carried the Utah Copper's first extended dump line, known as the 'H' Dump Line, across Copper Center Gulch and across upper Bingham canyon, to the east side of the canyon, giving Utah Copper access to the dumping grounds recently acquired from Ohio Copper.

By 1914, the 'H' Line extended around the east side and down the south side of lower Bingham canyon, above the D&RG's Cuprum yard and Low Grade Line.

Also by 1914, Utah Copper had extended two other dump lines into the same area. The 'C' Line was just above D&RG's Cuprum yard, and the 'E' Line was between the 'C' and 'H' lines.

By the 1920s, this 'H' Line bridge was replaced by a simple wye switch located above Copperfield.

'E' Line Bridge

The most notable bridge in the upper part of Bingham's main canyon was the E-Line bridge at Copperfield. This wooden trestle bridge was built in 1912, as part of the expansion (completed in 1914) of the Niagara tunnel as U. S. Mining's main haulage tunnel. The 'E' bridge sat in a southwest-to-northeast direction. At the south-western end of the 'E' Line bridge, Utah Copper and Denver & Rio Grande provided common carrier rail service and access to the U. S. ore loading bins at the Niagara tunnel opening, and its north-eastern end the new bridge was connected with a switchback track that connected with Utah Copper's 'A' Level Auxiliary yard.

This longer 'E' Line bridge was straight, and replaced the previous curved bridge that had provided cross-canyon access to the 'E' Dump Line when it was added in about 1907.

When the United States company made the Niagara tunnel its main haulage tunnel in 1914, Utah Copper built the large 'E Line' wooden trestle bridge at Copperfield, or Upper Bingham. Utah Copper was providing railroad common carrier access to the U. S. company through its Bingham & Garfield subsidiary, and the United States company needed access to the D&RGW tracks to ship its ore to its Midvale smelter. The large wooden trestle bridge across the canyon was the only way to provide access to the Rio Grande tracks, and was removed in the winter of 1940-1941 after the U. S. company began using the Mascotte tunnel to Lark as its main haulage tunnel.

This same bridge is shown on some company maps as the U. S. Line, because it was built to serve the Niagara tunnel of the United States Mining Company.

The 'E' Line bridge was a permanent wooden structure and remained in place after numerous changes to track work on both ends. It was at the south edge of the open pit mine for almost 30 years and became a landmark in many photographs.

The earliest visitor observation point overlooked the open pit mine on the north side of the 'E' Line bridge, at its eastern end near where the county road into Copperfield passed under the bridge.

The 'E' Line bridge was removed in mid 1941 to make way for expansion of the open pit mine.

Bingham & Garfield Bridges

"The total length of tunneling on the line 4795 ft., in four tunnels of the following lengths: 682, 754, 2079, 1280 ft. There are three steel bridges on the upper end of the line, one across Carr Fork, adjacent to the main delivery yards of the Utah Copper Co., having a length of 690 ft., and a maximum height of 190 ft. The bridge across Markham Gulch is 640 ft. long and 220 ft. high, and the Dry Fork bridge, about three miles from the upper end of the line, is 670 ft. long and 185 ft. high." (Mining & Scientific Press, Volume 103, July 1, 1911, page 18)

There were three large railroad bridges on the Bingham & Garfield Railway in Bingham Canyon. From south to north, they were:

B&G Carr Fork Bridge

B&G Markham Gulch Bridge

The earliest reference to Markham Gulch has been found in the March 14, 1874 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper, in a discussion of the gold diggings and placer claims in Bingham, "Force & Garrett's Claim, situated near Markham Gulch, presents a busy scene. Already a large amount of work has been performed, $8.00 per man is daily cleaned up. Nearby are the old Freeman & Dixon Bars, although nearly worked out, yet pay from $10 to $20 per day. Around these claims, running parallel with the mountain can be seen two miles of flumes, used for the purpose of bringing water."

Starting in 1944, after B&G operations were moved down-canyon to the new Central Yard, the Markham Gulch bridge was used as part of what was known as the 'A' Dump Line, which ended at Dry Fork Gulch after the removal of the B&G bridge that spanned Dry Fork.

After serving as access to the 'A' Dump line for almost 40 years, the Markham Gulch bridge was demolished in September 1981.

B&G Dry Fork Bridge

In 1944, or soon after, the Dry Fork bridge was removed and the 'A' Dump Line, at its end, was extended up the Dry Fork gulch and was used to fill Dry Fork with waste rock. A USGS aerial photo from 1951 shows that the Dry Fork bridge was gone, and the gulch itself was half-filled in.

(Read more about Bingham & Garfield Railway)

Carr Fork Bridges

The Carr Fork branch of Bingham Canyon runs in a general northeast-southwest direction, meeting the main Bingham Canyon at a point about 5-1/2 miles from Copperton at the mouth of Bingham Canyon. The well-known Highland Boy mine was at the top of Carr Fork, close to its highest and most southwestern end.

(Read more about the mines of Carr Fork)

The first railroad bridge in Carr Fork was completed in 1911 at its east end where the canyon met the main Bingham Canyon. This first bridge was part of the Bingham & Garfield Railway, and was used to move ore trains from the main Bingham yard of Utah Copper, across and over Carr Fork to a new gathering yard for B&G trains before they were moved to the mills at Magna, 16 miles north.

There were seven railroad bridges that crossed Carr Fork. Six of the seven were built by Utah Copper to access new dumping grounds for waste rock from their open pit mine. The company needed a place to dump its waste rock, and the mountain slopes to the north were seen as an ideal site. But the expanse of Carr Fork prevented the construction of well-built and permanent railroad lines to access these new dumping grounds. By the mid 1940s, there a total of seven permanent railroad bridges crossing Carr Fork.

In 1924, 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. The construction of the four ('D', G', 'J' and 'L') steel bridges and north-side dump lines started soon after.

(View a photo of Carr Fork, looking west, with six of the seven bridges visible)

As Utah Copper continued to mine the copper ore from the original "Hill", the ridge that separated the open pit from Carr Fork began to shrink.

By December 1958, two of the bridges had been removed, including the Carr Fork bridge, and the 'D' Line bridge. "Major repair work on five steel bridges in Carr Fork Canyon above Bingham Canyon was completed early in December." (Bingham Bulletin, December 19, 1958)

From lowest to highest, these seven bridges were:

B&G Carr Fork bridge

(see above; steel curved bridge built by Bingham & Garfield Ry. in 1911; demolished in 1957)

This bridge was on the original 'A' level of the Bingham mine, and after the B&G closed in 1948, this bridge was used as part of the new 'A' Dump Line used to fill in Dry Fork Gulch.

New 'A' Line Bridge

'D' Line Bridge

New 'D' Line Bridge

'G' - Apex Connection Bridge

'G' Line Bridge (Apex Bridge)

'H' Line Bridge

'I' Line Bridge

'J' Line Bridge

'L' Line Bridge