Yampa Mine and Smelter

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The Yampa mine was located in Carr Fork, a branch of Bingham Canyon. The Yampa smelter was situated lower in Bingham Canyon, very near the town of Bingham, which was the site of the Rio Grande railroad depot.

The Yampa mine was organized to develop the Yampa group of claims, which had been sold to Tintic Mining and Development Company in February 1901 by Colonel Enos A. Wall, for cash and 5000 shares in the Tintic company. The purchase of the Yampa group in Bingham would allow the Tintic company to expand its operations outside of the Tintic mining district, where it also owned the Sioux-Ajax group, with the intent of operating the Tintic and Bingham properties under one management. (Salt Lake Mining Review, February 28, 1901)

Tintic Mining and Development Company was organized as a subsidiary of the Tintic Company, in August 1896 in West Virginia, and reorganized in January 1906 in Maine. A joint mortgage was made in 1910 that included Yampa Smelting Company and West Mountain Tramway Company as security. (The Copper Handbook, Volume 11, 1912-1913, page 879)

The Yampa mine was owned by the Tintic Mining and Development Company, which also owned mines in the Tintic mining district. The Tintic company owned 30 claims on 180 acres, located on Carr Fork in Bingham Canyon, but development was confined to the Yampa mine, situated on less than six acres that were completely surrounded by the claims of the Utah Consolidated company. The opening to the surface was known as the Craig tunnel. Ore from the Yampa mine was transported by way of the West Mountain Tramway Company, also controlled by the Tintic company. The tramway was 12,270 feet in length, built to the Leschen design, and was the longest in the Bingham district, with a 700 tons daily capacity. The mine had ore bins of 600 tons capacity. Production was sent to the Yampa smelter, but in 1909 a contract was made with the Garfield smelter. (The Copper Handbook, Volume 11, 1912-1913, page 879)

Yampa Smelting Company was organized in 1903, with its stock being controlled by the Tintic Company. The property included the smelter located in lower Bingham Canyon, built in 1904 and enlarged in 1906 to 1000 tons daily capacity. The smelter was connected to the Yampa mine by the aerial tramway of the West Mountain Tramway Company. The Yampa smelter included ore bins, a calcining building, and a blast furnace building, all with steel frames. A converter section, in its own building, was added in 1907, but was shut down in 1909. The smelter was a small plant that could not compete commercially with the much larger custom smelters located in the Salt Lake valley, and at Garfield. The Yampa smelter processed the low-grade copper ore from the Yampa mine, but when that mine made a contract with American Smelting Company at Garfield, the Yampa smelter shut down its plant in August 1910. (The Copper Handbook, Volume 11, 1912-1913, page 981) The smelter equipment was sold in 1914. (The Mines Handbook, Volume 13, 1918, page 149)


March 21, 1903
An artist rendering for the new Yampa smelter were published, showing a smelter with 250 tons capacity, designed by J. M. Callow, who was to also be the company's mechanical engineer. George H. Robinson was the general manager, and James W. Neill was the chief metallurgist. (Deseret News, March 21, 1903)

April 12, 1903
The Yampa mine was "...to be equipped at once with an aerial tramway of the same pattern as that employed at the Silver King at Park City. It will parallel the Highland Boy's tram from mine to the depot and, if material can be gotten onto the ground, it will be completed in between sixty and ninety days." "The distance between the mine and depot is 10,000 feet..." "The building of the tram was decided upon the moment it was found that satisfactory arrangements for the extension and use of the Copper Belt road, running between the depot and the Bingham company's Commercial mine, could not be made." (Salt Lake Herald, April 12, 1903)

April 18, 1903
The Yampa mine had 5,910 feet of openings, all of which had been made since April 1901 when the mine was merely a prospect, being idle after that until August 1901. Plans were in place for the Yampa mine to begin full production on May 15th. (Deseret News, April 18, 1903)

May 19, 1903
The location of the Yampa smelter was announced as being "at a point a short distance south of the Rio Grande depot and only a few hundred feet below the Roberts coal yards. The ground was acquired from W. C. Hall and others and signatures were attached to the deeds yesterday." (Deseret News, May 19, 1903)

May 27, 1903
"The Bingham Copper Belt Railroad may yet arrange with the Tintic Mining & Development Company to extend its lines to the Yampa mine and transport the ores of that property to the proposed smelter just below the town of Bingham. If the Copper Belt company shows its ability to do this the management of the Tintic company is ready to talk business. In the meantime, however, the latter company will stand prepared to build an aerial tramway. The Copper Belt company has a force of engineers in the field surveying a feasible route to the Yampa mine and the results of their labors will no doubt be known within a few days. While the grade up to the mine is not an easy one by any means, yet there is no difficulty but what can readily be overcome." "Consulting engineer James W. Neill of the Tintic company, returned last night from Bingham, where he spent several days measuring up the elevations to fit the plans already made for the new buildings." (Deseret News, May 27, 1903)

June 8, 1903
The plans for Yampa to build an aerial tramway "has been practically given up, after assurances from Manager Hall, of the Copper Belt Railroad, that he would agree to a schedule of tonnage rates quite satisfactory to all concerned. This will mean the extension of the line without delay to the Yampa and other mines in upper Bingham." (Deseret News, June 8, 1903)

June 29, 1903
The contract for the construction of the Yampa smelter was awarded to Jones & Jacobs of Salt Lake City. A well had been dug at the smelter site, and good pure water was found at 77 feet. (Deseret News, June 29, 1903)

July 31, 1903
"It is expected that the Yampa smelter, now in the process of construction, will go into commission about Nov. 1. It will handle from 150 to 175 tons of ore and fluxes daily." (Deseret News, July 31, 1903)

October 3, 1903
The caption to a photo showing the Yampa smelter under construction stated that the overall cost of the smelter was $120,000. Its initial capacity was reported as 250 tons daily, with arrangements already in place to increase the capacity to 750 tons daily. It was to be ready for "blowing in" some time in December. A separate item reported that the mine was ready for full production and that the smelter "will be ready to blow-in, by the first of January." (Deseret News, October 3, 1903)

December 5, 1903
"The first consignment of Yampa ore has come out over the Copper Belt railroad. It started last night for the Bingham Consolidated smelter." "The mine has been sending ore to the smelter for some time, but it has been by the rather slow means of teams." (Deseret News, December 5, 1903)

December 22, 1903
"First Smoke From The Yampa" The first fire at the Yampa smelter was for the purpose of testing the new smokestack, which was 275 feet tall. Enough ore was crushed to feed one furnace, to test the draft of the smokestack in the canyon and the peculiar shape of the smokestack. The smelter was to be blown in in January. (Deseret News, December 22, 1903)

December 26, 1903
"Early in the week fires were started in the roasters of the Yampa smelter, and they are now answering all expectations, operating without a hitch save such as are incident to the limbering up of new plants. With the blowing in of the furnaces the production of matte will begin. This may be delayed a few days, pending the arrival of several hundred tons of coke, now on the road. Meantime since the 19th ore has been coming from the mine via the Copper Belt railroad, and it is now reaching the bins at the rate of 100 tons a day. Directly after the holidays the Yampa smelter will without doubt be in full and successful operation." (Deseret News, December 26, 1903)

January 4, 1904
"The blast furnace at the Yampa smelter was blown in yesterday and the entire plant is now in commission." (Deseret News, January 4, 1904, "Concentrates")

April 28, 1904
The Yampa smelter had been shut down to allow changes to be made in the smelting process, due to the changing character of the ore. The Yampa mine remained in production, shipping about 200 tons daily to the Bingham Consolidated smelter. The Yampa smelter would likely be shut down for about 60 days. (Deseret News, April 28, 1904)

January 23, 1905
"Yampa Smelter Transformation" The changes to the Yampa smelter were almost complete, with plans to restart production after February 1st. The changes included a reverberatory process and a second roasting furnace. About 400 tons of ore had been run, producing about 50 tons of copper matte, which contained about 18 percent copper, with improvements to the quality of the matte expected as more changes were made. The area surrounding the smelter had been very congested with structural material for a long period of time. "The perpendicular location of the Yampa smelter site has handicapped those in charge of the construction work. Not only has it been perplexingly inconvenient, but the cost has been much greater than it would have been had the original designers sought a level place. The experiences of the Yampa company ought to be an everlasting argument against side-hill smelter sites." (Deseret News, January 23, 1905)

January 31, 1905
The reverberatory furnace at the Yampa smelter was "nearing completion, but it will probably be several weeks before it is placed in commission." "In the meantime, the two roasting furnaces are in operation and producing about 50 tons of matte daily." (Deseret News, January 31, 1905)

February 28, 1905
The new reverberatory furnace and roaster at the Yampa smelter were placed in commission. Full production would follow in a few days "drawing on the mines for a tonnage of anywhere between 600 to 700 tons daily" At the mine, "The electrical equipment, which was several weeks overdue, has arrived at Bingham and will be installed as rapidly as possible and the mules which have furnished the power necessary to move the cars in and out of the mine will be out of a job." (Deseret News, February 28, 1905)

May 11, 1905
Furnace No. 1 at the Yampa smelter, which had been undergoing some important changes to make it identical to furnace No. 2, went into commission "today." (Deseret News, May 11, 1905)

January 18, 1906
The Yampa smelter was equipped with two blast furnaces and one reverberatory furnace. A converting plant was to be added to permit the making of blister copper. During 1905, the Yampa mine produced 500,000 pounds of copper. (Deseret News, January 18, 1906)

March 29, 1906
"Engineers in the employ of the Tintic Mining & Development company, owner of the Yampa mine at Bingham, has begun the surveys for the proposed tramway to connect the mine and smelter." (Deseret News, March 29, 1906) The tramway was to be about two miles in length, paralleling the tramway of the Utah Consolidated company. A tramway would be able to furnish the quantity of ore needed to keep the furnaces at the smelter in continuous operation, and at a lower cost than the present method using the railroad. (Inter-Mountain Republican, March 29, 1906)

January 19, 1907
"Yampa Smelter Out Of Ore And Fuel" The Yampa smelter was forced to shut down "twice this week owing both to lack of ore and fuel." The cause was reported as "...an accident on the Copper Belt railroad has interrupted traffic between the mine and plant and consequently not enough ore could be brought through to keep the furnaces supplied." "The Yampa smelter has capacity for the treatment of 600 to 800 tons of ore a day..." "...much trouble had been experienced of late in keeping the smelter going on account of the lack of motive power on the Copper Belt. But the scarcity of fuel has probably been the worst drawback." (Deseret News, January 19, 1907) Two cars of coal mine slack had been held at the Castle Gate mine, as part of about 500 other cars, due to Rio Grande's lack of sufficient motive power to move the cars to customers in Salt Lake City and Ogden. "The fuel company consigns most of the slack and coke to the smelters and large factories." (Inter-Mountain Republican, January 27, 1907)

February 9, 1907
The parent company of the Yampa mine and smelter, Tintic Mining & Development Company was controlled by Capt. Henry Stern of New York City, and his associates. Yampa Smelting Company was a subsidiary, along with the Britannia mine in British Columbia, the Britannia smelting company, with works in Crofton, Vancouver Island, and a large copper mine in Alaska. The Yampa smelter at Bingham was capable of receiving 400 to 500 tons per day, but was not operating at full capacity due to poor transportation facilities, and lack of fuel. (Deseret News, February 9, 1907)

August 26, 1907
The right of way for the new Yampa aerial tramway had been purchased, and construction was under way. The tramway was to be 2-1/2 miles long and was to run "on a bee line" between mine and smelter. There would be 32 towers, including four tension towers. The foundations for the towers were almost complete, and a few of the towers were being erected. The tramway was projected to be in service within two months, and would make the smelter completely independent of the uncertain service of the Copper Belt. (Inter-Mountain Republican, August 26, 1907)

October 4, 1907
"Yampa Closes To Make Improvements" "Hampered in its operations by scarcity of fuel and inability to get cars for transporting its ores to the smelter, the Tintic Mining and Development company has decided to close down its Yampa mine and smelter, possibly until the close of the present year, or until the new tramway now being built is ready to go into operation." The shut down would be used to make changes at the smelter to increase capacity from 600 tons per day, to at least 750 tons per day. The order to close was given "yesterday," putting 450 out of work. The last day was to be "Saturday." The Yampa mine was a sulphide mine. (Inter-Mountain Republican, October 4, 1907)

Later news items reported the work force at the mine was only reduced, and that repairmen and machinists remained at the smelter to make the needed improvements, which would take about five weeks. The plans included the completion of the tramway and smelter improvements at about the same time. It was stated that the current low price of copper was not a factor in the decision to reduce operations. (Inter-Mountain Republican, October 14, 1907)

October 5, 1907
There was an announcement that the Yampa mine and smelter were to be closed. The news item reported that the railroad could not deliver ore in quantities that matched the smelter's capacity, stating that the smelter could have processed 4000 tons of additional ore during September 1907, if the railroad had been able to deliver the ore. (Deseret News, October 4, 1907, "tomorrow")

November 30, 1907
During the shut down of the Yampa smelter, a new compressor was installed at the Yampa mine, powered by electricity furnished by the Telluride company, doing away with the old steam plant. Ore bins at the mine were enlarged and reinforced, as were the ore bins at the smelter, almost doubling their capacity. The smelter was to start using ore on November 25th, and the mine was to put on a force of 225 miners to bring the mine up to full production on December 1st.

December 1907
Construction of an aerial tramway to serve the Yampa mine was begun in April 1907, and finished in early December 1907. The tramway was 12,000 feet in length and operated between the mine and the smelter in lower Bingham. (Deseret News, December 14, 1907, "about ten days ago")

December 31, 1907
The contractor for the Yampa aerial tramway turned the tramway over to the owners on December 31, 1907, "the day before yesterday." (Deseret News, January 2, 1908)

May 18, 1908
The Yampa smelter had two blast furnaces and three reverberatory furnaces in operation. More improvements were under construction that would raise the capacity to 1000 tons daily, from the current 800 tons. When the smelter opened, its capacity was 500 tons daily. The improvements would allow the smelter to ship copper that was 99 percent pure to the refinery, instead of shipping copper matte that was 20 percent copper, which would require additional processing. The aerial tramway was delivering 600 tons of ore daily, with 1000 tons being possible when two shifts begin being used. In addition to smelting ore from the Yampa mine, the smelter was processing 100 tons daily of ore from the Centennial-Eureka mine at Eureka; making the daily total 800 tons, including the processing of 100 tons of copper matte that had not been sold prior to the improvements in the smelting process. The fuel and material problems had been solved by constructing large storage bins capable of storing thousands of tons of coke, coal, and lime rock. Operations were going so well that the company was considering becoming a custom smelter for other mines in the Bingham district. (Deseret News, May 18, 1908)

August 12, 1908
Improvements at the Yampa smelter had increased its capacity to 1000 tons daily. Over the past year, the company had spent $300,000 for improvements at the mine and the smelter, including the aerial tramway. At the mine, the main haulage tunnel had been straightened and improved, electrical power had been installed, including an electric air compressor, along with an electric mine locomotive and a triple-compartment shaft that was sunk 200 feet. Electric power had been adopted due to the difficulties in obtaining coal for the mine's steam plant. The tramway was installed due to the difficulties the Copper Belt had in supplying the cars needed to move the ore to the smelter, thereby depriving the railroad an income of 20 cents per ton. Similar fuel delivery problems by the railroad had forced Boston Consolidated, Utah Consolidated and other mines to convert to electric power. The nine roasting furnaces, three reverberatory furnaces, and three blast furnaces at the smelter were using up 700 tons of ore daily, to produce 800,000 pounds of copper monthly. (Deseret News, August 12, 1908)

November 13, 1908
The Victor Consolidated mine in Eureka shipped three carloads of 12 percent copper ore to the Yampa smelter. (Eureka Reporter, November 13, 1908)

December 30, 1908
The sulphide copper ore being mined at the Yampa mine "is practically self-fluxing with the exception of needing a small amount of limestone. The mine is now putting out a tonnage of 700 to 800 tons per day, the cost of transportation being seven cents per ton." The smelter treats about 200 tons daily of custom ore. (Salt Lake Mining Review, December 30, 1908)

May 8, 1909
The Yampa smelter at Bingham was treating 23,000 tons of ore a month which is received over the company's tramway from the Yampa mine about two and a half miles distant." (Emery County Progress, May 8, 1909)

August 17, 1909
A cloudburst brought a flood and torrent of mud and rock the swept over the storehouse and ore bins of the Yampa smelter, and caused an explosion of the No. 1 reverberatory furnace, causing $50,000 in damages. Two men were injured. (Carbon County News, August 20, 1909)

On August 17, 1909, a cloudburst above the north side of Bingham Canyon created a flood of water, mud, and rocks that swept through and down the main street of Bingham city. The majority of the financial damage caused by the flood came from an explosion of a furnace at the Yampa smelter.

"The flood at Bingham was one of the most disastrous in the history of the camp, the damage exceeding that of the memorable flood of 1889. A succession of heavy cloudbursts, accompanied by an electric storm, turned Bingham creek and its branches into a raging torrent, water to a depth of two or three feet rushing down the main street of the camps of Upper Bingham, Highland Boy and Bingham. When the two torrents from Highland Boy and Upper Bingham converged, the stream became a small-sized river, which rushed with incredible swiftness through the camp." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, August 19, 1909; Salt Lake Tribune, August 21, 1909; "on Tuesday last")

Production for the month of August 1909 for all of Utah copper mines was 10,400,000 pounds of copper, reduced by 325,000 pounds due to the explosion at the Yampa smelter. (New York Times, September 13, 1909)

October 15, 1909
The tramway between the Yampa mine and smelter was of the Bleichert patent, and was about a mile and a half long. It carried buckets holding 1500 pounds each, which were dumped by hand, every tenth bucket being dumped separately as a sample. (Salt Lake Mining Review, October 15, 1909, including a description of the sampling process, and the roasters)

(This same author, Leroy A. Palmer, wrote an expanded article with similar details about the entire smelter process at the Yampa smelter that was included in Volume 2, Number 4 of Industrial Progress, dated April 1910, and published monthly in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.)

January 1, 1910
There was a large question concerning what the Yampa smelter would do with its copper matte product after the planned closure of the United States copper smelter at Midvale on January 15, 1910. The mine and smelter were both in full production, producing and processing over 600 tons of ore a day. (Deseret News, January 1, 1910)

August 1, 1910
The Yampa smelter was closed on August 1, 1910 due to high costs and low profits. An expired contract between Utah Consolidated and American Smelting and Refining company caused the American company to look for other sources for ore, and the American company made an offer to the owners of the Yampa smelter. Production from the mine was to be reduced to about 300 to 400 tons per day. (Deseret News, July 24, 1910)

(The contract between Utah Consolidated and American Smelting had been put in place after the Utah Consolidated, with its mine at Highland Boy in Carr Fork, had been forced to close its own copper smelter at Murray on January 1, 1908. The new Utah Consolidated smelter in Pine Canyon (above Tooele) opened on May 1910, and the aerial tramway between the Highland Boy mine and the new smelter had opened in early January 1910.)

"The Yampa smelter of this city [Bingham] will be closed down indefinitely on August 1, meaning the loss of work to 250 men and the monthly payroll expenditure of $20,000." "The announcement that the smelter would close was made by Frank Murphy, superintendent of the smelter, to his men today noon. The only reason given for the closing was that for the past two years it had been a losing proposition and that the ore from the Yampa mine, which has been keeping the smelter running, could be shipped to the American Smelting and Refining company's plant at Garfield at a better profit." "The Yampa smelter has been running for about seven years. During this period it has handled exclusively the ores from the Yampa mine, which amounted to 800 tons per day. During this period there have been from 250 to 300 men employed each day. The closing down of the smelter will not materially affect the mine. The mine at the present time is employing 250 men. This force will be reduced some, but the mine will still continue to produce and the output will be sent to the Garfield smelter." (Salt Lake Herald, July 27, 1910)

"The Yampa smelter has been operating for about seven years and a number of alterations have been made in the plant from time to time. A few years ago a blast furnace was added to the equipment, and in addition to its own ores some of the copper product from the United States Smelting company had been handled. Several months ago the blast furnace was discontinued and copper matte was forwarded to the Garfield plant. Since the Garfield company is desirous of getting more sulphide ore, it offered the Yampa a lower treatment charge than the Yampa could secure by handling it ores in its own furnaces." "This sulphide ore will take the place of the shipments formerly sent out by the Utah Consolidated mine." (Salt Lake Telegram, July 27, 1910)

April 23, 1912
The Utah Consolidated was interested in buying the old Yampa property. "It is known that the Yampa smelter has been dismantled and the machinery and building material sold." "The Yampa property has been closed down for some time, and no offices are maintained here [Salt Lake City] or at the camp by the company. The mine never paid profits to shareholders and was unfortunately managed from the outset." "The Yampa had some good ore, and at times it is said the mine made some money. Its operating expense was always too high by reason of running its own smelter, without sufficient custom ores to make it pay." "This ore is said to carry from 60 cents to $1.20 in gold, 3 to 5 ounces silver, and most copper production will show 2 percent. The tunnel was developed to a depth of approximately 2000 feet and there is a large tonnage blocked out in the various workings above tunnel level." (Salt Lake Telegram, April 23, 1912)

Yampa property sold to Utah Consolidated in 1918.

October 19, 1940
"Down Comes Old Smokestack -- Blast Wrecks Landmark Near Bingham -- Bingham -- A 125-foot brick smokestack that marked the last vestige of the old Yampa smelter in the mouth of Bingham canyon was just a pile of bricks Sunday. The stack came tumbling down late Saturday [October 19] after workmen carefully planted a load of dynamite at its base. It was erected in 1904, one of four stacks that served a smelter handling 1000 tons of ore a day. What was left of the more than 100,000 bricks will go into the new $30,000 Copperton L. D. S. ward chapel now being erected. Officials of the Utah Copper company gave the bricks to the L. D. S. church. The basement and walls of the new chapel are practically complete." (Salt Lake Tribune, October 21, 1940)