Silver Shield Mine

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This page was last updated on July 9, 2023.

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The Silver Shield was located in Galena Gulch, near the Spanish claim and mill in the southwestern part of Bingham Canyon, and was among the hundreds of mining claims and active mines at Bingham, Utah, and among the many, many active mines in the original Galena Gulch discovery zone. Like many mines in Bingham, the Silver Shield was only successful for a brief period in their early years. Like so many other mines, they continued to attempt development of their ore bodies, shipping just enough as they dug new tunnels to pay the bills, or to almost pay the bills. Like so many other mines, they had positive listings in the various investment guides, including The Copper Handbook and The Mines Handbook. They were constantly seeking investors, and constantly merging (or trying to merge) with other companies, hoping that the combined properties would finally show some real profit.

Over the years, these small mining companies and their claims were sold to the larger companies, either Utah Copper or U. S. Mining, to gain access to additional mining claims and ore bodies. In the case of the Silver Shield, U. S. Mining bought the Silver Shield's mining claims, and Utah Copper bought surface rights on the claim as it expanded the dumping grounds of its open pit mine.

The Silver Shield was first organized in 1899. The name came up regularly in operations at Bingham mainly because its claim. The ore vein that was part of its claim later became part of much larger underground workings. By 1902 the Silver Shield had expanded down to the water level, and expense and investment was needed to start pumping. The adjacent Niagara mine had a drain tunnel that extended to the east with an outlet at the point where Copper Center Gulch joined the main Bingham Canyon, at a point that later became known as "upper Bingham" and still later as Copperfield. By this time the Niagara was controlled by U. S. Mining, and in 1902 an agreement was made to connect the underground workings of the Silver Shield with the underground workings of the Niagara, giving the Silver Shield an outlet for its ore. This drain tunnel opened up much more ground for development.

In 1902 the Silver Shield company leased the old Niagara tunnel from U. S. Mining, and improved it as a drainage and transportation tunnel, and extended it to reach their property. They never did reach their high-value ore at the depth of the tunnel, so it was considered a failure by 1910. They lost the lease to the Niagara tunnel, including the electric railroad and lighting system, and in that same year Utah Copper took over the lease and turned the lease over to the Bingham Mines company. This allowed the Bingham Mines company to close the surface workings of their Commercial mine in Copper Center Gulch, which in turn Bingham Mines turned over to Utah Copper to use as dumping grounds.

In 1914, U. S. Mining decided to stop using their aerial tramway, and took over the electric haulage system in the Niagara tunnel (which they already owned), and improved the Niagara tunnel opening in downtown Copperfield to become its major shipping point in Bingham. 

(Read more about the Franklin, later Niagara tunnel)

The Niagara tunnel was a project of the Niagara Mining and Smelting company. Begun in late 1890 as the "Franklin" tunnel, it became known as the Niagara tunnel after P. A. H. Franklin, the major promoter and first president of the Niagara company, sold his interest in July 1891 to eastern and British investors. The tunnel reached a fractured belt of mineralized ore on the Niagara company's Spanish claim in lower Galena Gulch in January 1896. Although cross-cut drifts did reach better quality ore, the Niagara tunnel never did reach the Niagara company's fully mineralized and very valuable lead-silver vein that was its purpose. It was considered a failure by October 1896, and the Niagara tunnel lay dormant even after the United States Mining company took over the Niagara property in April 1899.

The tunnel lay idle until 1902 when the Silver Shield company made an agreement with the United States company to repair and extend the Niagara tunnel into the Silver Shield ground, which was reached in mid 1904. At that time the tunnel became the Silver Shield's main haulage and drain tunnel. By fall 1910, the Silver Shield company was running into difficulty making a profit with the quality and type of the ore it was shipping. Its costs had risen sharply after the Tintic smelter had closed in October 1909, forcing the company to market its ore to other smelters. But these other smelters had difficulties treating the Silver Shield ores. The company continued mining, but failed to find high value ore which in turn reduced its continued use of the Niagara tunnel.


May 20, 1899
The Silver Shield group of mining claims was sold on "Saturday" (May 20) to A. Hanauer and A. Mayberry for $60,000. The mines had only been worked to shallow depths, and the new owners would install hoists and begin sinking deeper shafts. The new company would be known as the Silver Shield Mining and Milling Co. The Silver Shield property was located between the Old Jordan and Galena, and the Old Telegraph, both of which were owned by United States Mining. (Salt Lake Herald, May 22, 1899; Deseret Evening News, May 27, 1899)

"The Silver Shield jigged its ore by hand about 1900, then built a mill near the mine in 1910 which operated for a few years before the company merged with Bingham Galena Mining Company in 1921." (Steve Richardson, Facebook Bingham Canyon History, January 3, 2017)

January 30, 1902
"Arrangements had been made with manager Holden of the United States company to open the Silver Shield ground at depth through the Franklin tunnel. Negotiations to that end have been pending for many months, and that permission has finally been secured to go ahead with the work." The Silver Shield had been developed "to a point below the water level, paid a few dividends and then had to quit on account of the expense of pumping." (Salt Lake Herald, January 30, 1902)

February 21, 1902
H. S. Joseph and a number of eastern investors now held controlling shares in the Silver Shield company, holding 210,000 of 300,000 shares. H. S. Joseph was to become the company's new manager. "A most reasonable understanding had been reached with managing director Holden of the United States company, whereby the Shield management would be allowed to extend the old Niagara or Franklin tunnel into the Shield property." "Possibly no more than twenty-five feet will carry the face of the tunnel into the Silver Shield fissure, though in United States ground. To reach the Shield possessions about 700 feet will have to be run, but with Burleigh drills at work it is expected the distance will be covered in from ninety to 120 days." "By this method the mine will be opened 450 feet below the present deepest workings." (Salt Lake Herald, February 21, 1902)

March 15, 1902
"Bingham C & L teams are hauling timbers to the Silver Shield and it is understood work is to begin at once on the working and drain connection with the Franklin (U. S.) tunnel." (Deseret Evening News, March 15, 1902)

April 2, 1902
The Silver Shield property was to be drained through the "old" Niagara tunnel. The work of repairing the Niagara tunnel had progressed to a depth of 408 feet, or about half the distance needed. (Salt Lake Herald, April 2, 1902)

June 18, 1902
"The first 1,000 feet of the old Niagara tunnel, through which the Silver Shield company will develop its mine at depth, is now nearly all cleaned out and retimbered. This portion of the tunnel is wide and laid with double tracks. From the 1,000-foor mark in to the face is about 2,500 feet farther, all in solid rock, and where, it is expected, little work will be required to put it in shape to operate in. Three shifts are still at work." (Salt Lake Herald, June 18, 1902)

July 31, 1902
The manager of the Silver Shield company at Bingham stated "that by the 10th of next month [August] the old Niagara tunnel, through which it is proposed to operate in future, would be cleaned out and put in repair for its entire length of 3,400 feet. This preliminary task completed, the tunnel will be wired and lighted by electricity, a trolley wire will be strung and an electric locomotive will be employed to haul cars through that long avenue. Power will be obtained from the Telluride company, whose line runs within 300 feet of the mouth of the tunnel, and in consequence no delays will be experienced." "According to surveys, it will only be necessary to break through something like twenty-five feet of ground from the face of the tunnel till the Silver Shield fissure is encountered, and the work will be done with power drills, the end of August, at the outside, should disclose what the vein looks like." "These new tunnel workings will tap the Silver Shield at a depth of over 1,000 feet beneath the present lowest workings in the mine." Previously work in the Silver Shield had been suspended due to water in the lowest levels. (Salt Lake Herald, July 31, 1902)

August 2, 1902
"The management of the United Bingham company (owners of the Silver Shield mine) reports that the old Niagara tunnel has been cleaned out a distance of 3,000 feet and work will soon be commenced in the face of the tunnel." (Deseret Evening News, August 2, 1902)

January 11, 1903
The Silver Shield extension of the Niagara tunnel has progressed 50 feet. "Some little water is coming in now and as the territory of the Silver Shield company is approached, there is no doubt that the mine will be drained. That accomplished, the company can go to mining again through the shaft, if it is thought advisable, though there is every prospect that ore in sufficient quantity to pay the cost of development, at least, will be encountered in the near future, and that on top of paying a substantial royalty to the United States company, in whose territory the work will be going on for some time to come." (Salt Lake Herald, January 11, 1903)

January 19, 1903
"At 4,200 feet the Franklin tunnel has cut the Silver Shield vein, reports manager Joseph. It is five feet between walls and showing two streaks of ore." (Salt Lake Herald, January 19, 1903)

May 19, 1903
The management and directors of the Silver Shield company called for a $12,000 assessment to be levied against stockholders to pay for the improvements to the mine, including electric machinery, cars and locomotive for the long tunnel. The tunnel was 50 feet inside of the lines of Silver Shield ground. The company was shipping "considerable" first- and second-class ore. (Salt Lake Herald, May 19, 1903)

May 27, 1903
At the Silver Shield, the face of the great tunnel "is now eighty feet within Silver Shield lines and the vein is looking better at every shift. Yesterday a great flow of water was struck and manager Joseph felt confident that it would result in draining the upper or shaft workings which produced so nicely down to the point where water necessitated either the installation of heavy pumping machinery or a cessation of work." (Salt Lake Herald, May 27, 1903)

June 10, 1903
"The tunnel had been driven in the direction of the Shield ground about 3,300 feet, or within 1,000 feet of the boundary lines of the Silver Shield ground. To clean out, catch up caved ground, re-timber and lay track through this long stretch of territory took lots of money and required until last November to accomplish. Since then the tunnel has been driven between 1,100 and 1,200 feet farther, and until the vein was finally struck, through much difficult ground to handle. The face is now more than 100 feet within the Shield territory and an average of forty-two feet per week, with machine drills and working two shifts, is being made." (Salt Lake Herald, June 10, 1903)

October 5, 1903
"Good reports from the Silver Shield are the rule since its lower workings cut the bed vein. A drift is running in several feet of ore from which an output should be made that will soon make up for lost time and expense of draining the mine." (Salt Lake Herald, October 5, 1903)

February 13 1904
The Silver Shield was "advancing the face of the tunnel, which is now in Shield territory between 600 and 700 feet, at an average rate of eight feet a day. As we figure there is only about 350 feet to run to the ore shoots where they come down from the old upper workings and we expect to reach them within sixty days." (Salt Lake Herald, February 13, 1904)

By late August 1904, and after a total of ten assessments, the most recent being 3 cents per share, the directors of the Silver Shield ordered, in accordance with law and by-laws of the company, stock held by several hundred small shareholders to be sold at public auction to satisfy the assessment. Share quantities from 50 shares to 6,000 shares were involved. Silver Shield stock was selling for approximately 4 cents per share. (Salt Lake Herald, August 29, 1904)

October 30, 1904
The Silver Shield tunnel was 9,000 feet long. (Salt Lake Herald, October 30, 1904)

April 11, 1907
The Silver Shield company announced that it would cut an upraise from the Niagara tunnel level, starting in a new double compartment shaft, upwards for a distance of 540 feet to reach the lowest workings of its mine, making the total distance 950 feet to the surface. This new upraise would reduce its costs of hoisting ore and waste rock, instead of using the 1-1/2 mile long Niagara tunnel. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 24, 1907; April 11, 1907)

July 26, 1908
The Silver Shield company had placed an order for a new electric locomotive to be used in the Niagara haulage tunnel. The company was shipping good ore from its new upraise, but had not yet reached the lower old workings where work had been suspended due to water problems. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 26, 1908)

September 1, 1908
The Silver Shield company had added two upraises from the Niagara tunnel level. One had been sent up 180 feet, and the other was up 460 feet. Both were in the ore, although not high-grade ore. A new 300-ton ore bin had been built (presumably at the mouth of the Niagara tunnel) and a second electric locomotive had been received. The ore was being shipped, about one car per day, to the Tintic smelter. (Salt Lake Herald, September 1, 1908)

December 19, 1908
"The Silver Shield mine is splendidly equipped, and in the long tunnel through which the company is directing its energies, is operated a modern electric haulage system. The tracks are 12 and 20 pound steel and the tunnel and mine buildings are lighted by electricity. Ore bins and chutes contribute to the convenience of loading the cars." "The Silver Shield owns 225 acres of land in upper Bingham, nearly all of which is patented." Three car loads of ore had been shipped to the Tintic smelter this past week. The company makes about $800 profit on each car load. (Deseret Evening News, December 19, 1908)

The souvenir book "Bingham, Greatest Copper Camp In The world," published in 1909, included the following description of the Silver Shield mine.

The Silver Shield Mining Company is a famous old producer lying up the Commercial Gulch (sic: Galena Gulch]. Its property comprises an area of over 80 acres. The mine is under the management of Harry S. Joseph of Salt Lake City, and is operated through the Franklin tunnel which cuts the Silver Shield vein at a depth of 700 feet. At the mouth of the tunnel is a five drill compressor and all the necessary equipment to operate the mine. The ore is brought to the surface by electric traction.

The ore bodies occur as shoots in the veins, breaking into the quartzite and limestone. Large bodies of low grade ore are already blocked out and awaiting shipment. The management proposes to erect a 100-ton concentrator close to the mouth of the tunnel. The foundation for the plant has already been laid and the mill should be completed before the end of the year. With the mine and mill both in operation, the company will resume paying dividends.

"The Silver Shield Mining Company, headed by Harry S. Joseph, was operating its mine through the Niagara tunnel under an operating agreement with the Niagara Mining Company. The Utah Copper Company purchased the Silver Shield Company's electric trolley haulage equipment in the tunnel which was turned over to the Bingham Mines Company and an agreement was drawn between the latter company and the Silver Shield covering the transportation of its ores, waste, supplies and men to and from the Silver Shield siding which was located approximately 2200 feet from the portal." (History of the Bingham Mining District, by T. P. Billings, 1952)

September 1910
Through a joint agreement between and among the Utah Copper Co., Niagara Mining & Smelting Co., and Silver Shield Mining Co., the 1,550-feet upper Commercial tunnel and 2,000-feet lower Commercial were abandoned. The Bingham Mines Co. abandoned its surface locations in Copper Center gulch for Utah Copper to use as a dumping ground, and was allowed the use of the Niagara Mining & Smelting Co. tunnel, which had been lengthened to cut the Commercial ore bodies at a depth of about 1,400 feet on the plane of the vein. (The Copper Handbook, Volume XI, 1914, page 118)

July 8, 1916
"Silver Shield (Bingham) -- Development of the new strikes has proven disappointing, although there is still some ore showing." (Engineering and Mining Journal, July 8, 1916, Volume 102, Number 2, page 117)

March 19, 1921
"A new company, to be known as the Bingham-Galena Mining Co., has been formed to take over the Silver Shield property, consisting of 22 acres, and the New York & Bingham Mining Co., consisting of about 27 acres. All of this property is in Upper Bingham, near the Utah Copper and United States Mining companies' holdings." (Mining & Scientific Press, March 19, 1921, page 404; courtesy of Steve Richardson)

April 2, 1921
"At a meeting of the stockholders of the Silver Shield Mining & Milling Co. on March 24, it was decided to accept the offer to transfer the company to the Bingham Galena Mining Co. on the basis of share for share...." (Mining & Scientific Press, April 2, 1921, page 472; courtesy of Steve Richardson)

The Silver Shield Mining and Milling Co. later became the Bingham Galena Mining Co., which was involved in a stock fraud case in 1921 that resulted in the stock collapsing from 38 cents per share to 6 cents per share. Its holdings mostly consisted of 8,000-feet of tunnels that were connected to the Niagara tunnel, through which the company had haulage rights. (The Mines Handbook, Volume XV, 1922, page 1490)

In late October 1922, because of some questionable practices in marketing and selling its shares on the local stock market, for which the principal offenders were caught and punished by the Utah securities commission, the Bingham-Galena Mining Company changed its name to the Park-Bingham Mining Company. In 1931, the Park-Bingham company was sold to Combined Metals, a subsidiary of National Lead Company.

(Read more about the Park-Bingham Mining Company)

To continue the Silver Shield story after the company lost access to the Niagara tunnel in 1910, the Silver Shield company continued shipping minimal-value ore from its shaft in Galena Gulch, and by 1921 became involved in the Bingham-Galena scandal. The claim continued to pay minimal returns and was the basis of the Park-Bingham company's organization in late 1922 after the Bingham-Galena scandal was settled. The United States company held control of the Park-Bingham company by providing a mortgage to the new company. Control of the Park-Bingham gave the U. S. company access to the new company's claims in Park City, and the former Silver Shield ground at Bingham, which gave the U.S. company more variety of ore for its Midvale smelter (known as flux ores, a balance of ore type and quality makes for better processing and higher quality end product from the smelter).

By 1922 the Butterfield Tunnel was being developed with its outlet in Middle Canyon, southwest and across the ridge from Bingham Canyon. The Park-Bingham (former Silver Shield) company saw an opportunity to access its ore veins below the water level by draining its ground through the Butterfield tunnel, which was 500 feet lower than the Niagara Tunnel.

The United States company became interested in the Butterfield Tunnel as a way to rid itself of waste rock from its underground mine, and the lack of dumping ground near its Niagara tunnel in Copperfield. The U. S. company would pay to extend the Butterfield Tunnel into its own ground, and improve it to allow increased usage as a waste rock transportation tunnel. The extended tunnel would pass through the Park-Bingham (former Silver Shield) ground before reaching the U. S. ground, benefiting the Park-Bingham company and giving them access to the surface in Middle Canyon, and draining their ground.

After completing the improvements, the United States company changed its mind about the Butterfield Tunnel, and instead expanded and improved its Lark Tunnel as a better way to transport both its ore and its waste rock. But the improved Butterfield Tunnel remained in place and became the Park-Bingham's main outlet, allowing the Park-Bingham company to become very successful.

(Read more about the Butterfield Tunnel)