Marysvale Alunite

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The foundations and ruins of an abandoned mill are located today about a mile southeast of Marysvale, Utah, and are situated at the very end of D&RGW's abandoned Marysvale Branch. Research indicates that these ruins date from 1916, and were originally the alunite reduction mill of the Florence Mining and Milling Company.

A second Alunite mill was located about 4.5 miles southwest of the Marysvale mill, at what is now the ghost town of Alunite, near the mouth of Cottonwood Creek canyon. This second site was the mill of the Mineral Products Corp., organized in 1915 by American Fertilizer company, an affiliate of Armour Packing company.


The following comes from "Geology of Piute County, Utah." 1963. Richard R. Kennedy. Department of Geology, University of Arizona:

Widespread interest has been expressed in the alunite deposits of Piute County, since they are the largest known in the United States. The alunite was envisioned as a potential source for potash, aluminum, and sulfuric acid. W. T. Schaller (1911) demonstrated the feasibility of extracting potassium sulfate from alunite.

During World War I imports of potash from Germany ceased and a domestic source was sought. In 1915 the first mill in the United States for the purpose of producing potash from alunite was established near the mouth of Cottonwood Creek south of Marysvale. The mill utilized a calcining and a water-leach process, and had an initial capacity of 100 tons per day, with an estimated recovery of about 25 to 30 tons per day of potassium sulfate. The alumina-rich residue accumulated in a tailings pond adjacent to the mill. The first recorded production was on October 7, 1915, and on October 20, 1915, 28 tons of 95.39 percent pure potassium sulfate was shipped to Armour Fertilizer works at Jacksonville, Florida. Production continued until January 1, 1921.

Due to a resumption of potash imports from foreign sources and a resultant decrease in potash prices, the operation was terminated. The amount of potassium sulfate that was produced is not accurately known but, according to Callaghan (1938), approximately 262,000 tons of alunite ore was mined. If all of this material had been treated at the mill, 40,000 to 50,000 tons of potassium sulfate: or an equivalent of 20,000 to 30,000 tons of potash would have been produced. Later the alumina-rich tailings were sold as a mold wash for casting copper anodes.

During World War II interest in alunite was revived. An experimental plant, for the recovery of alumina and potash, was established in Salt Lake City by the Defense [Plant] Corporation. The plant was operated by Kalunite, Inc. Through 1940-45 about 13,000 tons of ore was shipped to the Salt Lake City plant. According to Fleischer and Glasser (1951), about 2,500,000 pounds of "kalunite alumina" was reduced at a Tacoma, Washington, plant to produce 1,200,000 pounds of aluminum. Following the war and resumption of bauxite imports, the project was discontinued. However, it had been demonstrated that a good grade of aluminum could be recovered from alunite using the so-called Kalunite Process. In recent years there has been some effort to crush and pulverize raw alunite and market it as a commercial fertilizer.

The following comes from "Utah's Mining Industry," published by the Utah Mining Association, August 1967:

Piute County's Nonmetallic Mineral Deposits and Operations -- Alunite: This mineral has long offered a challenge to investment capital, but efforts to develop it have not been encouraging. There are extensive deposits in the Marysvale area. Reserves are estimated by the Bureau of Mines at 30,000,000 tons. An industry spokesman stated that more than half of the reserves are high grade. The Calunite Corporation of San Francisco constructed a 60-tons-per-day crushing plant at Marysvale in the 1950s and shipped considerable alunite to fertilizer mixing plants in Utah and nearby states. The Alunite Corporation of Utah also built a crushing and bagging plant at Marysvale. Part of their product was sold direct to farmers and some to fertilizer mixing plants. These enterprises were not successful, however, and there has been little activity in the last six years (since 1961). Empico Alunite Co. has done some small-scale mining and milling during the 1960s. Efforts have been made to commercialize the pure aluminum sands in alunite ore, but without success.

California Calunite Corporation filed its articles of incorporation in California on January 13, 1955. It was a division of Hyrdocarbon Chemicals, Inc. Its product was known as Calunite and was sold a fertilizer for farming; "Only Calunite Contains Alunite."

The following comes from "The Mineral Resources of the Sevier River Drainage, Central Utah," David T. Sanders, Utah State University, 1962:

Alunite -- In the Marysvale area there are extensive deposits of alunite. Estimates of the total reserve made by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, run as high as 30,000,000 tons. The only mining at the present time is being conducted by the Calunite Corporation. This corporation maintains a crushing plant at Marysvale and makes regular shipments of alunite for use as fertilizer.

The extensive Marysvale alunite deposits have long challenged development. As early as 1916 studies were made on the recovery of potash from this material (Waggaman and Cullen, 1916), and during World War I alunite was mined for this purpose. During World War II mining activity was revived, and experimental attempts were made to extract alumina, potash, and sulfuric acid from alunite mined in this area (Hild, 1946, p 3). Successful processes were devised to accomplish this extraction, but none have proven to be economical.

The full development of the alunite deposits in the Marysvale area is almost entirely dependent on the development of an economical process for the extraction of alumina and potash from this material. Production of this mineral for use as a fertilizer should continue, but its market is restricted.

The Marysvale alunite deposits were the focus of potash extraction in the 1913-1915 time period, as being the only sources for potash in the nation. But from then on, as the two mills were being built at Marysvale in 1916-1917, other potential sources for potash rapidly began developing parallel extraction processes to fill the void of America not having access to the German product due to World War II. Sources for potash were being found in several western locations, including the Great Salt Lake, as well as the Searle lake bed in California. By September 1918 there were at least two new companies and potash plants being developed on the shores of Great Salt Lake, including Utah Chemical company, and Ogden Portland Cement company. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 22, 1918)


Research has found that alunite from the area around Marysvale, Utah, was never really considered as a viable source for aluminum. During the boom years of 1914-1920, production of finished aluminum from alunite was in the hundreds of pounds. The competition from the Alcoa mines at Bauxite, Arkansas, exceeded any output of alunite. After initial discovery in the mid 1890s, and expanded development starting in 1905, production of bauxite ore from the Bauxite, Arkansas, mines rose rapidly, growing from 200,000 tons in 1914, to 560,000 tons by war's end in 1918. Even Bauxite suffered as the worldwide market for aluminum continued to grow rapidly. Additional sources for cheaper bauxite were found in South America, and production of bauxite ore from the Arkansas mines fell to 60,000 tons per year in the mid-1930s.

The limiting factors against alunite appear to be the high costs of mining, the high costs of transporting the ore from the mines to the mills at or near Marysvale, and the difficulty of developing an economical process to extract alumina from the alunite ore. Alumina then needed cheap electrical power to be converted to pure aluminum metal, and cheap power was not available in rural Utah. The lack of cheap power meant added transportation costs to move alumina from the Marysvale mills to locations where it could be converted to aluminum metal.

During World War II, the promoters of Utah's alunite deposits, including Utah's congressional delegation, spoke at length regularly of the shorter distance between Utah and the aluminum plants along the Columbia River, which used the very low cost electrical power furnished by the newly completed dams on the river. Regular comparisons were made showing that the Utah alunite deposits were much closer than were the bauxite deposits in Arkansas, or the bauxite deposits of South America.

Although bauxite was a source for alumina, needed to produce aluminum metal, the bauxite ore does not contain potassium sulphate (potash), a major component of the Utah alunite deposits. And potash is used as an agricultural fertilizer, as well as being used in the manufacture of explosives, vital during wartime.

Germany had been almost the sole source for potash prior to World War I, and when the supply was cut off because of the war, Utah's alunite deposits were considered as a replacement source. There soon developed great interest across the United States, and many other nations to find replacement sources for German potash. Many talented prospectors and chemists got to work, and working with large and small corporations and governments, found many sources that were cheaper than obtaining potash materials from Utah's alunite. Although alunite is almost equal parts aluminum and potassium sulphate (potash), the same high costs worked against the mills producing commercial supplies of potash and sulphuric acid, which might have provided financial resources to develop commercial processes to obtain aluminum metal from alunite.

Mineral Products Mill

The mill of the Mineral Products Corporation was located about 4.5 miles southwest of of the Marysvale mill, at what is now the ghost town of Alunite, near the mouth of Cottonwood Creek canyon. The Mineral Products Corp., was organized in 1915 by American Fertilizer company, an affiliate of Armour Packing company.

The following comes from "A History of Piute County," by Linda King Newell, 1999:

(Portions edited to reflect current newspaper research.)

Like scores of men before him, Thomas Gillan had come to Piute County as a prospector. While searching the ridge along the north fork of Cottonwood Canyon southwest of Marysvale in 1912 he discovered a wide vein of spar that varied in color from a heavy rust to a light pink. He sent a sample to Salt Lake City to be analyzed by A. E. Custer. Custer sent it on to the Foot Mineral Company of Philadelphia, which identified the mineral as alunite, an ore containing potash for making fertilizer and hydrated potassium aluminum sulfate, from which aluminum is made. This particular ore assayed at 38 percent aluminum, 37 percent sulphur and 11 percent potash. The veins of alunite that became the Gillan-Custer claims were fifty-two feet wide and from twenty to thirty-five feet thick. They contained nearly 3 million tons of potassium aluminum sulfate ore. Attempts to extract the aluminum from the ore would come later; at the beginning of World War I the primary utilization of the ore was as potash for fertilizer.

In searching for a company to develop the deposit and to mine the ore, Gillan made a deal with Howard F. Chappel of New York City, president of the Mineral Products Corporation. The company, which was a subsidiary of Armour Fertilizer Works, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, pioneered the effort to extract potash from alunite. Soon the company had constructed reduction works, installed an aerial tram from the mine to the road in Cottonwood Canyon, and build a telephone line from the end of the tram to the plant. In October 1915 the first shipment (consisting of twenty-eight tons of potash) left on the railroad line from Marysvale. The company town that sprang up around the processing plant was named Alunite. At its peak, it had over one hundred inhabitants, a company store, boardinghouse, school, post office, and a number of small houses. In 1916 the Mineral Products Company reported production of over 2,772 tons of potash, with a gross income of $610,488.45 and a net gain of $70,484.67.

February 6, 1914
Mineral Products Corporation received a patent for Custer Lode No. 16 mining claim. In May 1915, the same company received a patent for Custer Lode No. 29 and Custer Lode No. 30 mining claims. (Beaver Press, February 6, 1914; May 14, 1915)

(These mining claims are located across Sections 16 and 21, of Township 28 South and Range 4 West; an early map of the Custer group, without these particular claims, are shown on Plate III of USGS Bulletin 511, "Alunite, A Newly Discovered Deposit Near Marysvale, Utah," 1912; and comprise what is shown on modern maps as "Alunite Ridge")

April 1, 1915
Mineral Products Corp. begins spending $100,000 in development of potash, aluminum and sulfuric acid (Alunite) resources near Marysvale in Piute County. Rumors that Armour Packing was behind the investment were denied, but E. W. Senior of Salt Lake City did acknowledge that friends and associates of J. Ogden Armour were the source of the investment. (Richfield Reaper, April 1, 1915)

April 23, 1915
The Mineral Products Corp. was formed by the Armour Fertilizer company as a result of the British placing an embargo on German potash shipments. The Florence Mining company of Pittsburgh already held "several thousand" acres of Alunite beds near Marysvale. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, April 23, 1915)

May 26, 1915
D&RGW was to build a spur to the mouth of Cottonwood Creek Canyon, to meet the lower terminal of a "ground tram" that was to be built by the Mineral Products company. The Florence Mining company was "making ready to install reduction works." (Ogden Standard, May 26, 1915)

June 30, 1915
The Mineral Products company contracted to Stearns-Roger Manufacturing of Denver, for the construction of an aerial tramway from its mine on the Custer lode, down to Cottonwood Creek, a distance of about a mile, then 3-1/2 miles to the mill site, total of 4-1/2-miles. (Salt lake Mining Review, June 30, 1915) (This distance places the lower terminal of the aerial tramway at what is shown on modern maps as "Alunite.")

August 15, 1915
The mill for the Mineral Products company was to be complete by September 1st. Allis-Chambers was to furnish an 8-1/2x125-foot rotary kiln. (Salt Lake Mining Review, August 15, 1915)

September 10, 1915
"The tramway of the Mineral Products company has been completed. The new plant is nearing completion. The boilers will be fired up next week. It is only a matter of days before the plant will be started. This plant will manufacture potash crystals and will be the first of its kind in America." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, September 10, 1915)

September 27, 1915
The Mineral Products company's mill was to go into production on September 20, but was later delayed until September 27. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, September 12, 1915; Salt Lake Mining Review, September 30, 1915)

September 30, 1915
The potash recovery process being used by the Mineral Products company was experimental. The deposits of alunite at Marysvale had been found to be 23 percent potash, but the extraction process had only been applied in larger and larger tests in laboratories. This (so far) $1 million plant would be used to develop an economical process. After at least 10 years of searching by industry and government agents, there had not yet been found a viable source for potash in America, a much needed chemical for agricultural purposes. (Salt Lake Mining Review, September 30, 1915)

October 8, 1915
Shipments of ore from the mine in the Edna Crater at the top of the mountain started. The mine was using a 14-mile tramway to move the ore to the mill. "The ore runs 28 percent potash and is valuable in the making of explosives and high class fertilizer." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, October 9, 1915, "yesterday")

October 19, 1915
"The tramway will be used for the first time today, which will also mark the opening of the enterprise as a whole." "The first carload will be shipped some time this week. It is consigned to a firm in Florida. This first shipment will consist of 93 percent concentrated sulphate of potash, packed in cotton bags. This percentage is higher than the German product, which this country has in large extent depended on in the past. The German product seldom ran over 90 percent. With our concentrating plant we will be able to run up nearly to 99 percent pure." The plant was capable of turning out 25 to 30 tons of concentrate each day, which, for the time being, would be moved to the D&RG railroad by motor trucks, but a spur directly to the plant was planned. (Ogden Standard, October 19, 1915)

November 25, 1915
The plant of the Mineral Products company was producing a car load (30 tons) of "Sego Lily" brand potash daily, that was 93-1/2 percent pure. (Salt Lake Telegram, November 25, 1915)

In 1916, the Custer 29 and 30 claims of the Mineral Products company were the subject of a mining claim encroachment suit, in which the Log Cabin company (Florence Mining & Milling) sued the Mineral Products company for encroachment of its Custer claims upon the existing claims Log Cabin and Utah Gold Mountain mines held under lease by the Florence company. The case was known as Utah Gold Mountain Mining vs. Mineral Products, with the existence of alunite deposits was the reason for the common interest. The Log Cabin, Utah Gold Mountain, and Snow Bird claims had been under development since 1901 (for gold and silver), and again since 1912 (for alunite). The compromise settlement gave the Florence company (Gold Mountain) the northern half of Custer 29 and 30, and the southern half went to the Mineral Products company. (Richfield Reaper, June 3, 1916; June 10, 1916; June 15, 1916)

January 7, 1916
The Mineral Products potash plant was being expanded to produce 50 tons per day. The D&RG railroad was upgrading the branch line to allow heavier cars. The current tracks only allowed cars of 20 tons capacity. (Salt Lake Telegram, January 7, 1916)

January 20, 1916
The first car load of alumina was shipped from the Mineral Products plant, in addition to the 25 to 30 tons of potash being shipped. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, January 20, 1916)

August 27, 1916
A second unit was added to the Mineral products mill near Marysvale, bringing the daily capacity to 150 tons. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, August 27, 1916)

The Mineral Products company suffered a fire at its mill in mid November 1916, resulting in damages to buildings and tramway of $30,000. The plant was out of commission until mid December 1916. (Salt Lake Mining Review, May 30, 1917)

April 21, 1917
The Mineral Products company reported that it had shipped 2,772 tons of potash during 1916. (Richfield Reaper, April 21, 1917) (Approximately 93 car loads, or about 2 car loads per week)

September 2, 1917
"In Utah there are a half dozen plants which are engaged in the production of potash at the present time. The Mineral Products corporation at Marysvale is the leading institution of this character, and the Capell Salt company, operating at Salduro, is the second largest producer. The Potash Company of Utah, the Florence Mining company, the Boyd Smith Mining corporation and the United States Minerals company are all trying to abstract potash from alunite ores. The Capell Salt company and the Utah Chemical company, which has a plant at Saltair, are extracting potash from the waters of Great Salt Lake and from the salt beds in Tooele County." "At the present time the government is dependent on this state for the mineral, as the Searles Lake, Cal., project and the Dry Lake, Neb., project are not manufacturing in sufficient quantities to be factors in the market." (Salt Lake Tribune, September 2, 1917)

On October 25, 1917, the Mineral Products company suffered another fire at its potash mill, destroying almost the entire plant, for a reported loss of $250,000. The fire was reported as starting in the pulverized coal bin, which fed pulverized coal to the rotating roasting kiln. (Ogden Standard, October 26, 1917; Richfield Reaper, October 27, 1917)

November 27, 1917
The Mineral Products company, incorporated in West Virginia, applied to the Third District Court in Salt Lake City, to withdraw from doing business in Utah. Interested parties had until January 12, 1918 to file any protest. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 27, 1917)

January 15, 1918
The Mineral Products company was having Industrial Engineering in Salt Lake City oversee the reconstruction and expansion of its potash mill near Marysvale. (Salt Lake Mining Review, January 15, 1918; January 30, 1918)

February 15, 1918
The Mineral Products company's new $300,000 mill went into operation, following the complete rebuild of the plant after the fire of October 25th. The kiln was first fired on February 11th, and the plant went into production on February 15th. The new mill had a capacity that was half-again larger than the old mill, and included a new sulphuric acid plant and storage warehouse, spread over the 10 acre site. (Ogden Standard, February 15, 1918)

March 24, 1918
The Mineral Products company was shipping about 20 tons of potash per day. The new mill was "crushing and transforming into potash about 200 tons of alunite ore daily." While the mill was being rebuilt since the fire in October, the mine had been blocking out thousands of tons of ore, ensuring full production from the mine once the new mill was in operation. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 24, 1918)

The potash mill of the Mineral Products company was closed when the armistice was signed in November 1918, but was re-opened on July 1, 1919. By September 1919 the plant was producing 180 tons per day of potassium sulphate. The alunite ore was carried by aerial tramway for 6,000 feet from the mine, then by wagon for the remaining four miles to the mill. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, September 25, 1919)

August 17, 1920
"The Mineral Products company at its plant is installing new equipment for the collection of dust lost in the furnaces. The plant is working 150 men in all and is putting out high grade material." (Salt Lake Telegram, August 17, 1920)

January 1, 1921
The mine of the Mineral Products company, and its mill at the town of Alunite, were both closed abruptly, with no warning or explanation given to workers. (Richfield Reaper, January 6, 1921, "last Saturday")

February 12, 1922
"Excessive freight rates result in the closing of the Mineral Products company potash plant at Marysvale." (Salt Lake Telegram, February 12, 1932, "Not Long Ago; From Ten Years Back To The Day")

June 30, 1923
Although the potash mill of the Mineral Products had been closed since the end of the war, the company had 150,000 to 200,000 tons of alumina stored on the ground at the mill as a by-product of the potash milling process. Each pound of alumina had a half-pound of aluminum metal, but the company was unable to produce the metal due to a lack of cheap electric power. A fire brick manufacturer in San Francisco began buying the alumina, at the rate of 150 tons per week. (Salt Lake Mining Review, June 30, 1923)

March 31, 1932
The Mineral Products company was still in business, shipping fertilizer from a plant located south of Levan. The company was selling both Calcite and fertilizer. (Nephi Times News, March 31, 1932)

December 6, 1936
[Photo caption] Upper, panoramic view of Mineral Products corporation's potash plant at mouth of Little Cottonwood canyon, five miles southwest of Marysvale. Between October, 1915, and December, 1920, this plant treated more than 250,000 tons of alunite. Below, trucks loading potash at the Mineral Products corporation's plant for shipment to Marysvale. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 6, 1936; the actual photo is very poor quality)

October 21, 1942
The closed and abandoned Mineral Products potash mill at Alunite was demolished and the steel was gathered as scrap during a World War II scrap drive. The plant furnished 35 tons of scrap steel, which was loaded into a railroad car at Marysvale, and shipped to the newly opened Geneva steel plant near Provo, Utah. (Ogden Standard Examiner, October 21, 1942)

Florence Mining Mill

The mill of the Florence Mining and Milling Company was located about a mile southeast of Marysvale, and was situated at the very end of D&RGW's Marysvale Branch. The plant was placed into operation in 1917.

The Philadelphia investors that owned the Florence Mining & Milling company had first purchased the Log Cabin mine, located at 11,000 feet elevation, very near the summit of Mount Bingham, at the top of "Alunite Ridge." In 1910, after spending nearly $300,000 in development work, driving a tunnel close to 500 feet, the Log Cabin mine finally paid off for its investors with a strike of very rich gold- and silver-bearing ore. The hauling distance for wagons moving ore to market was 13 miles from the Log Cabin mine to the railroad at Marysvale.

The following comes from "A History of Piute County," by Linda King Newell, 1999:

(Portions edited to reflect current newspaper research.)

Within days of the mill's opening, the Salt Lake Tribune announced that potash would be only a by-product of the Florence Mining and Milling Company's plant. Even more critical to the war effort was the aluminum content of the piles of "sticky repulsive looking mud" left after the potash was extracted. The Utah Potash Company, which had recently taken over the Florence Mining Company, planned to build yet another plant at the Florence site which would extract potassium sulfate and alumina from the slag—the only factory of its kind in the United States. Government employees at Alunite began working around the clock to find ways to extract the alumina there as well.

The Florence company was shipping around fifty tons of processed potash daily to munitions manufacturers in the east. When the war ended, so did the experiments, and much of the plant closed down. The war's end also reduced the market for alunite, and its production became minimal. Between 1928 and 1930 the potash content of the ore made extracting the alumina too expensive and the mines finally closed. The mill had been badly damaged by a fire and was eventually torn down. By the close of the war, almost all mining of alunite in Piute County had ceased. There were periodic spurts of mining activity in the following two decades.

"One of the companies interested in the occurrence near Marysvale is the Florence Mining and Milling company. the company issued a prospectus in 1913 outlining the benefits of potash as a fertilizer and giving concrete data on the company's holdings of alunite near Marysvale. Among the plans for the exploitation of the Marysvale alunite is one for the erection of a roasting and grinding plant which is to be installed this year. Because of the possible injury to the forests from the fumes of the oxides of sulphur given off during the roasting of the mineral, it is thought that the plant will not be permitted in the mountains near the occurrence itself. It is probable, therefore, that it will be built near the Denver & Rio Grande station at Marysvale. An aerial tram is projected to convey the ore from Cottonwood canyon to the point." (Salt Lake Telegram, June 25, 1914)

April 7, 1915
"The Florence Mining and Milling company is taking out a test car of about 30 tons of alunite to send east for treatment. This is the pink spar which carries the best grades of the potash deposits." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, April 7, 1915)

January 22, 1916
Tom Gillian, the original discoverer of the alunite deposits being worked by the Mineral Products company, had prospected a property to the south with similar or better values, with easier access. The claims had been purchased by Philadelphia interests. (Richfield Reaper, January 22, 1916)

April 3, 1916
Officers of the Florence Mining company announced that plans were on hand for the construction of a $200,000 potash mill at Marysvale. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, April 3, 1916)

May 4, 1916
"Competent authorities estimate that the Florence company owns seven-tenths of the alunite deposits so far discovered." "The building and operation of an eighty ton per day plant on the Kelly farm on the edge of town will tend to build up our fair Marysvale camp and the new pay roll will help everybody here." (Marysvale Piute Chieftain, May 4, 1916)

May 11, 1916
The Florence company advertised for contractors to haul 80 tons from its mine in Cottonwood canyon, to its millsite on the J. W. Kelly farm at Marysvale. Hauling was to begin as soon as the road could be put in condition. (Marysvale Piute Chieftain, May 11, 1916)

July 6, 1916
The Florence Mining company purchased 100 acres "but a short distance south of the railroad depot in Marysvale" for its new 100 tons per day potash mill. Construction was to begin within 10 days. (Marysvale Piute Chieftain, July 6, 1916)

August 3, 1916
A. P. O'Brien arrived from the east to begin construction of the potash mill of the Florence Mining & Milling company. Ground was to be broken "today." (Marysvale Piute Chieftain, August 3, 1916)

In a separate item about a visit to the company's Log Cabin mine, located at 11,000 feet elevation, the reporter remarked, "We found about 60,000 feet of lumber at the Florence saw mill, ready to be hauled to the new mill site south of town." (Marysvale Piute Chieftain, August 3, 1916)

August 5, 1916
"The Florence Mining & Milling company has driven stakes for the excavation of the foundations of the mills which are to be built in connection with the potash reduction works, contracted some time ago. J. W. Kelly of Marysvale, representative in the Legislature from Piute county, has been awarded the contract to build a branch of the Denver & Rio Grande, to be used by the Florence company." "Mr. McCarthy [F. B. McCarthy of Philadelphia] says the mill of the Florence company will be different from that of the Mineral Products company, designed by Howard Chappell, chief chemist for the Armour Fertilizer works and former vice president of the General Chemical company." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, August 5, 1916)

(Mineral Products company had started production from its own mill in October 1915.)

August 6, 1916
"Ground will be broken today for the new potash plant for the Florence Mining & Milling company, and it will be pushed to completion as rapidly as possible. A spur track will be built to the mill right away. The plant will be constructed on the J. W. Kelly ranch south of the Denver & Rio Grande depot." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, August 6, 1916)

September 2, 1916
A spur track 1800 feet long had been completed south from the Marysvale depot, to the mill site of the Florence Mining & Milling company, "which will connect the new mill with the end of the Denver & Rio Grande track." The hillside had been "scoured away to make place for the mill foundations," and concrete was being poured into forms. Lumber for the forms and building was hauled from the company's saw mill in Cottonwood canyon. Heavy timbers of the frame work were going up rapidly. The mill was located within the corporate limits of Marysvale. (Richfield Reaper, September 2, 1916)

October 21, 1916
"The Florence Mining and Milling company of Philadelphia, this week let a contract to A. M. Farnsworth of this city to haul ore from the Log Cabin mine to the railroad at Marysvale, a distance of thirteen miles. Mr. Farnsworth has advertised for about 25 work teams and will be ready to begin hauling about the 10th of next month. The alunite deposits on the Log Cabin property are said to be one of the greatest propositions in the district." (Richfield Reaper, October 21, 1916)

(The silver-gold metallic deposits from the underground Log Cabin mine were different and separate from the company's alunite deposits, which were on the same Log Cabin property. The hauling contract let to Farnsworth, set to begin on November 10th, was likely for alunite, since 25 teams would not have been needed for the much smaller quantity of silver-gold ore. And the timetable to have a stockpile of alunite on hand when the new mill was placed into operation was also likely a consideration.)

January 18, 1917
The following description of the Florence company's mine comes from the January 18, 1917 issue of the local Marysvale Piute Chieftain newspaper:

In the two upper tunnels, driven during the past five weeks to open up a supply of ore for the mill now under construction, there is already opened up sufficient alunite to supply a mill of twice the capacity.

In the upper tunnel a vein of forty feet of alunite has been cut about fifty feet below the surface. On the surface this vein has been stripped of all waste for it distance of 150 feet, and covered with timber and slabs to keep the snow out. A "glory hole" has been made from tunnel level to the surface so that when the ore is broken by the miners it drops down to the tunnel base ready for the shovelers. This big ore body looks like a quarry. It is being mined very cheaply.

In the lower tunnel an upraise was driven which caught the big vein 70 feet from the tunnel level and about 80 feet from the surface, like the are body in the upper tunnel. This is a great quarry of pink alunite exceptionally pure and is all clean ore.

On the lower tunnel level a drift was started on a three foot vein of alunite. This drift is now in 30 feet. The vein has widened to nine feet and is getting bigger with every foot driven. It has all the appearance of a vast body of alunite like those cut in the upper workings. This ore body is 200 feet below the surface on dip.

This mine is in splendid shape for cheap production and the ore bodies already opened up insure an abundant and permanent supply for the mill.

On the surface, preparedness for a winter campaign is in evidence everywhere. Ore bins, chutes, compressor building, blacksmith shop, and snow sheds are all completed so the work can go on regardless of the weather. A set of 8-ton scales are in place at the ore bins so the haulers can tell exactly what weight they are putting on their sleighs.

Teams are now at work hauling to the mouth of the canyon where it is dumped into a bin and transfered to motor trucks for transportation to the mill.

January 22, 1917
"The Florence company's mill, within the town limits, is nearing completion. For the present only the crushed, rolled and calcined product will be shipped to fertilizer companies in the east. As an evidence, however, of the tremendous possibilities of the potash-aluminum industry for Utah it should be stated that the crude ore, just as it is mined, at the railroad here, is worth $50 per ton, and the pulverized and calcined product is worth close to $90 per ton." (Salt Lake Tribune, January 22, 1917)

March 31, 1917
The March 31, 1917 issue of the Richfield Reaper newspaper, reporting on a visit of the Richfield Odd Fellows organization to Marysvale:

They were particularly impressed with the new mill of the Florence Mining & Milling company which is located in the south-east part of town.

They visited the mill in company with others, and were shown all around the property. All the machinery and its present uses were pointed out and explained to them. Instead of the cheaply constructed experimental plant they expected to see, they found a splendid up-to-date mill, which for superiority of construction and all-around efficiency cannot be beaten anywhere.

The mill is built on an ideal side-hill location about one-half mile south of the D. & R. G. depot. The Florence company has extended the railroad track to the mill so their product is loaded on the cars automatically. It is a gravity mill and everything is as near automatic as possible. From the time the ore is dumped into the crusher bin at the top of the hill, its passage through the crusher, the kiln and other machines to the railroad cars, it is not handled again.

The present roasting capacity of the mill is from eighty to one hundred tons a day; but Mr. O'Brien, engineer in charge of construction assured them that the splendid big boilers, the mammoth Corliss engine, the air compressors, coal pulverizers, coal dryers, etc., with which the mill is equipped, is ample to take [the output] of two more kilns the size of the present ones, thus enabling the company to triple the capacity of the mill at comparatively small cost.

Every machine is set on a solid concrete foundation. The floors of the mill are all concrete. There is an abundance of room to get all around all the machinery from all sides, in short, the whole plant speaks for economy and efficiency.

May 12, 1917
The following comes from the Richfield Reaper, May 12, 1917:

Saturday, April 21, saw the practical completion of a new potash plant and the inauguration of a great industry at Marysvale. When at nine o'clock on the morning of that day the big steam siren at the plant of the Florence Mining & Milling company was heard for the first time in the valley and the heavy machinery that will give the country American potash was set in motion.

The new plant or the Florence Mining & Milling company is located about half a mile south of Marysvale station on the site purchased by the company in April, 1916. The site contains 107 acres and is admirably situated for the company's purposes lying east of the state highway and running to the river more than a half mile away. For the most part the land lies about 75 feet higher than the tracks of the Denver & Rio Grande railroad at which point it drops steeply to the river bottom land.

Actual construction work on the plant began August 1, 1916, when the first stake was driven and grading for foundations was commenced on the hillside. Since that time the work has gone forward as rapidly as transportation and weather conditions would permit. In some instances shipments of machinery from the East were greatly delayed and an exposed location tended to greatly hinder tile work during the severe winter days of high winds and intense cold. But the work of putting in the massive re-enforced concrete foundations and piers, upon which the enormously heavy pieces of machinery rest, went on steadily.

Very early in the work the necessity of a railroad siding to the plant arose. Many car loads of machinery were on the may from the East; fire bricks for the kiln lining had been ordered and cement and other supplies were coming in daily. But railroad officials do not like to be hurried. Labor was scarce, they said; excuses were made and there was talk of delays. Then the Florence company undertook the work and finished it in short order. Some two thousand feet of grading for main and spur track was finished before the middle of August and as fast as the railroad company could be induced to furnish rails and ties, they were put clown by Florence employees.

(Read the full newspaper report, with its full description of the mill; Richfield Reaper, May 12, 1917)

May 30, 1917
"American Potash To Make More Fertile Fields", article about the potash plant of Florence Mining & Milling Company at Marysvale beginning operation on April 21, 1917. Construction began in April 1916. The company built its own 2,000 foot spur from D&RG's Marysvale Branch. (Salt Lake Mining Review, Volume 19, number 4, May 30, 1917, p.23, includes photo of new mill)

September 2, 1917
The Florence company was processing about 100 tons of alunite ore each day, producing and shipping about one car load (about 30 tons) of potash each day. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 2, 1917)

"In Utah there are a half dozen plants which are engaged in the production of potash at the present time. The Mineral Products corporation at Marysvale is the leading institution of this character, and the Capell Salt company, operating at Salduro, is the second largest producer. The Potash Company of Utah, the Florence Mining company, the Boyd Smith Mining corporation and the United States Minerals company are all trying to abstract potash from alunite ores. The Capell Salt company and the Utah Chemical company, which has a plant at Saltair, are extracting potash from the waters of Great Salt Lake and from the salt beds in Tooele County." "At the present time the government is dependent on this state for the mineral, as the Searles Lake, Cal., project and the Dry Lake, Neb., project are not manufacturing in sufficient quantities to be factors in the market." (Salt Lake Tribune, September 2, 1917)

January 24, 1918
"The company was unable to haul enough reserve ore during the summer to keep the mill running at capacity and on the first of the year orders were issued to close down. Arrangements are now being made to obtain enough ore from outside sources to bring ore supplies up to 100 tons a day. As soon as these arrangements are completed and shipments start, ore hauling from the mine will be resumed and the mill will again go into commission with output doubled." The company hired J. A. Cullen, a chemist who had worked with Dr. Frank Cameron of the federal Bureau of Soils at Washington D. C., to develop an improved process. The Florence company has also hired Jacob W. Young, a mining engineer, to improve its mining practices. (Marysvale Piute Chieftain, January 24, 1918) (By April 1918, Cullen was the superintendent of the new mill.)

March 14, 1918
The Florence Mining company announced that it would build a reduction mill at its mine to reduce its costs of transportation. The new mill at the mine was to be equipped with crushers, roasters and leaching devices and was to be in operation by June 1st. The new mining engineer, Jacob W. Young, had been brought to the mine to hurry the new mill along. The new mill at the mine was at 10,000 feet elevation, and 4,000 feet higher than the railroad at Marysvale, and 13 miles from that same railroad station. (Marysvale Piute Chieftain, March 14, 1918; Salt Lake Tribune, March 24, 1918)

June 13, 1918
Edward A. Noppel, treasurer of the Florence Mining & Milling company arrived in Marysvale, from Philadelphia on Sunday June 9th, and after inspecting "the company's new reduction plant now building at the mine, stated that the "mountain mill" would be in full operation by August 1st. Noppel also stated, "that construction work on the new mill which will be built adjoining the Florence Potash Plant would be rushed to completion in the shortest time possible. The grading is nearly completed and two carloads of brick, for furnace and foundation work, have arrived. The machinery and other supplies are expected shortly." (Marysvale Piute Chieftain, June 13, 1918)

July 11, 1918
Edward A. Noppel, from Philadelphia, would be staying in Marysvale for a month to oversee the completion of the company's two mills. An electric power line was being run up to the mine. The lixiviating (leaching) plant was practically completed, and would be put into commission within a few days. "Some 150 tons have already been placed at the plant for treatment and about 25 tons a day is being hauled from the mines to the old mill." (Marysvale Piute Chieftain, July 11, 1918)

July 30, 1918
"Superintendent A. P. O'Brien of the Florence potash plant at Marysvale, Utah, has the following to say of operations there: The Florence potash plant is being operated by J. R. Chamberlain. lessee, president of the Caraleigh Phosphate & Fertilizer Works, of Raleigh, North Carolina. It was formerly the potash plant of the Florence Mining & Milling Company. We have been doing custom milling for the past six months, making experimental runs on the different alunite urea from properties in this district. Up to the present time we have no definite supply to keep this mill continuously in operation. The lixiviating (leaching) plant of the Florence Mining & Milling Company, located at the mine, is nearing completion and they expect to be in operation about September 1st. The grading work for the new by-product plant of the Florence Mining & Milling Company has been completed. This plant will be located immediately north of the Florence potash plant and will be used for the extraction of alumina and other valuable by-products of the alunite ores of the Florence Mining & Milling Company." (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1918)

August 18, 1918
The potash mill completed by the Florence Mining & Milling company in 1917 was a "calcining" mill, meaning that its purpose was to crush and roast the alunite ore in a rotary kiln to produce calcined potash (potassium sulphate). The company announced that it would build a second mill, equipped with a reverberatory furnace that would produce from a different grade of alunite ore, both alumina and potash, using the newly developed Cameron-Cullen process. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 18, 1918)

December 14, 1918
The Florence Mining & Milling company's potash mill resumed operation, after being idle for two months. The mill will run on three shifts, using 400 tons of ore moved to the mill from the Florence company's mine "last fall." Upon completion of the run of Florence company ore, additional ore from the mine of the Nebraska-Utah Potash company would be run through the mill. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 15, 1918, "yesterday")

September 25, 1919
The American Potash and Chemical company had purchased the old Florence mill and was to install a new mill on the property. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, September 25, 1919)

(The new reduction mill at the mine was not yet in operation by late September 1918 -- Salt Lake Herald Republican, September 27, 1918)

June 19, 1920
W. A. Fitzpatrick, secretary of the Florence Mining & Milling company, together with engineers and associates, visited the Log Cabin mine (with its large deposits of alunite ore) with the view of "blowing in the Florence mill," with apparent hopes of resuming activity at the mine and mill. (Richfield Reaper, June 19, 1920)

August 17, 1920
"The American Aluminum Potash company of Marysvale, has under construction the installation of an aerial tram from its mine to the mill-site, a distance of two miles. The towers are already completed and all equipment for the tram is on the ground for erection. This company has purchased the old Florence mill and will be ready for a large output in a few weeks. The Florence Mining company has an engineer from Pittsburg on the ground going over the mill equipment at the (Log Cabin) mine with the idea of beginning operations within a short while." (Salt Lake Telegram, August 17, 1920)

April 2, 1921
"The properties of the Florence Mining and Milling Company, are located at Marysvale, Utah, 13 miles from a railroad. The company was organized in 1909 with a capitalization of $2,000,000, par value $1 per share and has been engaged In development, work since. We are told that $300,000 has already been spent on the properties and that $500,000 more may be expended before the hopes of the organizers are realized. Stock is taken from the treasury and sold from time to time as money is needed. There are but 20 stockholders, we are told, and all are in more or less close touch with the situation. The company is engaged in mining alunite from which aluminum is obtained. By products are potash and sulphuric acid. The company has expended $275,000, we are told, on two plants one of which is on the railroad. The plan is to make caustic potash and chemically pure sulphuric acid both of which bring a much higher price in the market than ordinary potash and acid. These, it is expected will pay the cost of operations while the company is engaged in establishing a market for its chief product aluminum. Up to date the company has not made a ton of metal. The alunite deposit is near the top of a mountain and is said by geologists to contain 20 million tons. The company has got a long way to go yet. Just now the potash mill is shut down until the market picks up. It is hoped to get into production in the spring. There has been no public offering of the shares of this company, we are told, but some $150,000 was disposed of last year at $1.50 a share." (United States Investor, Volume 32, Number 4, April 2, 1921, page 43)

June 21, 1923
The following comes from the June 21, 1923 issue of the Richfield Reaper newspaper:

For years an effort was made to get commercial potash from the pink colored ore which abounds in unlimited quantities in Marysvale properties. The Mineral Products company, the Utah Potash company, and several other minor producers tried the production of potash and thousands of tons of alunite were put through the reduction process. The town of Alunite was founded and considerable prosperity prevailed at Marysvale for a time. Suddenly operations ceased, and Marysvale again experienced defeat.

The officials of the Florence company sought for the production of aluminum as the principle content of alunite, and viewed potash as something of a byproduct. Samples of alunite were sent to various chemists, but it remained for a Detroit man to perfect the process that would separate the aluminum from the potash and sulphuric acid, and at the same time save all three products.

June 28, 1923
The old Florence mill was being fitted up for alunite reduction by the U. S. Potash Company, under lease. (Richfield Reaper, June 28, 1923)

June 30, 1923
The Florence Mining company had developed a process that extracted pure aluminum from its alunite ore. Starting with 1,000 pounds of alunite ore, the company had extracted 360 pounds of alumina, which in-turn had been converted to 180 pounds of 99 percent pure aluminum metal, in the form an aluminum "pig" and sheet aluminum as thin as tin foil. They had extracted all of the aluminum contained in the 1,000 pounds of ore. The reduction process had also recovered pure sulphuric acid, and potash. The crude ore was to be shipped to Detroit where the three byproducts would then be extracted. (Richfield Reaper, June 21, 1923; Salt Lake Mining Review, June 30, 1923)

October 13, 1927
"One carload of alunite ore has already been shipped to New Jersey and at the present time a road is being built up to the mine to facilitate transporting the ore to the railroad station. The work on the road is progressing very satisfactorily and a good highway will be completed in about thirty days. As soon as this is done one carload every week will be shipped to the plant up to February 1, and starting in February, two carloads each week will be transported, and larger quantities then will be shipped as business develops." (Richfield Reaper, October 13, 1927)

October 20, 1927
An eastern chemical company signed a contract to buy all of the output of the alunite mines of the Florence Mining & Milling company. The road from the mine was to be rebuilt after being neglected for many years, including Cottonwood creek having washed the road out in several places. Shipments of alunite were to begin after the winter season and after needed repairs to the road. (Richfield Reaper, October 20, 1927) (The road was completed on October 31, 1927 -- Richfield Reaper, November 4, 1927)

After The 1930s

Two of the most tireless boosters of developing the alunite deposits near Marysvale died in 1936. Michael F. Murray died on May 27, 1936, at age 73. Murray had been part owner and manager of the Florence company. Charles C. Kenyon, former superintendent of the Florence company, died on December 5, 1936, at age 62. Kenyon had spent considerable time in 1934 promoting the benefits to the U. S. government, of obtaining aluminum metal from the alunite deposits in Utah.

Throughout the 1930s the Marysvale mill of the former Florence Mining & Milling company languished likely in its most recent condition from the mid 1920s. There were numerous plans to resurrect the mill and the process of recovering commercial quantities of alumina from raw alunite ore, but none were successful. Although alunite continued to be shipped as raw ore for various tests, and small fertilizer projects, the mill sat unused and was apparently dismantled in July 1946.

The following comes from "The Role of the Federal Government in the Industrial Expansion of Utah During World War Two, Anthony T. Cluff, 1964:

The Florence Mining and Milling Company is reported to have produced 12,000 tons during World War I. The alunite from this mine was hauled to a treatment plant just outside the city of Marysvale. The plant was still standing in 1941 and was owned and operated by Aluminum, Incorporated, of Cleveland, Ohio. Aluminum, Incorporated, had patented the Moffat process which was designed to utilize alunite as a raw material for the production of pure alumina, potassium sulfate and other products. The original patentee, R. W. Moffat, is reported to have said that the process had been tested in the laboratory and had successfully produced high-grade alumina which had in turn been made into aluminum.

In June 1939, Aluminum, Incorporated, mortgaged its property and obtained a loan of $50,000 from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. The company agreed to repay this loan at the rate of $5,000 per year, but no principal payment was ever made on the loan, and only one small payment of interest, the sum of $380.82, was paid by the company. The company also failed to pay the taxes on the property for the years 1941 to 1943.

The following comes from "A History of Piute County," by Linda King Newell, 1999:

(Portions edited to reflect current newspaper research.)

In 1933 United States Representative from Utah Abe Murdock began a campaign to bring Utah's idle alunite deposits to the attention of national leaders. He relied on a survey made the year before that estimated there were 3 million tons of unmined alunite reserves at Marysvale containing 1 million tons of alumina—what was considered a twenty-year supply for national needs.

(Abe Murdock served as one of Utah's two representatives from 1933 to 1941, then as one of Utah's two senators, 1941-1947.)

Aluminum, Inc., of Cleveland, Ohio, had patented an ore process that utilized raw material in alunite in the production of pure alumina, potassium sulfate, and other mineral products. In 1939 the company mortgaged its property near Marysvale to obtain a $50,000 loan to process the ore. However, the only payment it ever made on the loan was $380.82 in interest; it did not even pay the taxes on the property from 1941 to 1943.

U.S. Senator Abe Murdock from Utah and S.P. Dobbs, Democratic national committeeman from Utah, met with defense council assistant George L. Batt in an effort to interest the defense department in providing funds for the expansion of Aluminum Incorporated at Marysvale. Batt showed no initial interest in building new plants, as he believed the country needed an immediate supply of alumina. Only when he realized that the plant at Marysvale was already operating, albeit "in a somewhat retarded condition," did he agree to look into the matter.

Within a short time Reynolds Metal Company of Raleigh, North Carolina, contracted with Aluminum, Incorporated, for all the alumina the company could produce at a competitive price. As part of the package, the Reynolds company advanced $200,000 to bring the output to fifty tons a day.

Senator Murdock met with President Roosevelt to interest him in further developing Marysvale's alunite. He also introduced an amendment to an Interior Department Appropriations bill which earmarked half of an $85,000 appropriation "for investigation of alunite ores and aluminum clays." The bill passed in October 1941. Through a series of bureaucratic juggling acts, however, a plant proposed for Marysvale ended up being built in Salt Lake City. Although Murdock kept working on behalf of the Marysvale mining interests, each new hope slipped through his hands. By the close of 1943 alunite stockpiles were accumulating at such a rapid pace that the government ordered production cuts of 30 percent by July 1944. This ended any further expansion of Aluminum Incorporated facilities at Marysvale.

January 20, 1939
Ralph M. Moffat was vice president and general manager of Aluminum, Incorporated, at the time the company received the loan from the federal Reconstruction Finance Corporation. (Piute County News, January 20, 1939)

August 11, 1939
"After a cessation of operations covering a period of several months, the alunite reduction mill at Marysvale, will resume operations at a material increase of tonnage handled, on approximately August 15th," according to Ralph Moffat. "To obtain this increase in tonnage the company will install two additional ore digesters, filter station equipment, retubing of an additional steam boiler, replacement of the present wood water line from the highway to the mill with iron pipe, additional pulverizing equipment..." (Piute County News, August 11, 1939)

January 18, 1940
"Tom Monks, of the Aluminum, Incorporated, successors to the Florence Mining an Milling company, returned several days ago from the east. The mill is reported to be working three shifts of men, and to be progressing satisfactorily." (Richfield Reaper, January 18, 1940)

March 4, 1940
The D&RGW railroad sold a consignment of freight delivered to Marysvale, Utah, at auction on March 4, 1940 for non-payment of freight, demurrage and storage fees of $1,083.50. The shipment consisted of two 6x6 used Oliver filters, shipped by Consolidated Products Company of Sparrow Point, Maryland, consigned to Aluminum, Incorporated at Marysvale. (Piute County News, March 1, 1940)

May 9, 1940
"Considerable rumor and speculation is circulating in Marysvale, concerning Aluminum, Incorporated, recipients of the R.F.C. government loan of $50,000. Federal representatives visited the shut-down plant last week, and rumor has it they will return soon." (Richfield Reaper, May 9, 1940)

July 30, 1940
The following comes from the July 30, 1940 issue of the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper:

The alunite plant of Aluminum, Inc., of Cleveland, Ohio, has been operating on a retarded basis the past three months.

Ralph M. Moffat, vice president, announced that tests completed three months ago proved the aluminum extracting process a success and that only capital is required to assure continuous operation of the plant.

About $1,000,000 was estimated as necessary for installation of machinery and operation until returns begin. The company was granted a $50,000 loan by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation for test and development purposes two years ago, but further loans were refused. The alunite deposits are in Sevier, Piute and Beaver counties.

August 7, 1940
Reynolds Metal Company expressed an interest in buying alumina from Utah alunite, based on information provided by Representative Abe Murdock, and Tom Monks, president of Aluminum, Inc. Reynolds told the two men that if samples of alumina from Utah alunite proved successful, that Reynolds would advance the $200,000 needed to install the needed equipment in the Marysvale plant of Aluminum, Inc., and would take the entire output of the updated mill. Reynolds had the previous week obtained a government loan for $15 million, to build a plant for the manufacture of aluminum metal. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 7, 1940)

November 14, 1940
Senator-elect Abe Murdock pointed out during a tour of the Marysvale plant of Aluminum, Inc., "that aluminum going into the national defense program from processing of bauxite imported from Dutch Guiana has no by-products, but alunite from the Marysvale district, besides being a source of aluminum, produces potash, sulphuric acid and silica as by-products. This silica from the reduction of Marysvale alunite is in strong demand for the filtering of crude oil and gasoline and is of a particularly high grade." (Richfield Reaper, November 14, 1940)

September 1, 1941
"R. M. Moffat, vice president and general manager, showed the Aluminum, Incorporated mill to the visitor, and Mr. Granger [Congressman Walter K. Granger, served 1941-1953] said he was not aware before of the existence of this alunite reduction plant, which is now about 80 percent completed. Mr. Moffat explained that with an additional $500,000 this mill could handle 250 tons of alunite ore a day. This quantity of ore would produce 70 to 75 tons of alumina and in addition 42 tons of potassium sulphate, or potash, used in the manufacture of high explosives." (Salt Lake Tribune, September 1, 1941)

During September 1941, there was a comparison in the public media of two processes to convert alunite to alumina, with back and forth exchanges. One was called the Kalunite process, which used an autoclave to extract the mineral from the ore. The second, known as the Moffat process, used dry roasting. Both had been proven in laboratory tests, but neither had been proven to produce economically commercial aluminum metal, derived from alunite ore. The Moffat process was being tested by the federal Bureau of Mines in Salt Lake City. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 16, 1941; Piute County News, October 24, 1941)

(Read more about the Kalunite company, and their alunite mill in Salt Lake City)

May 18, 1943
Aluminum, Inc., received a $775,000 loan from Reconstruction Finance Corporation, $450,000 for the construction of a mill, and $325,000 for operation. The Marysvale mill would use the "modified" Moffat Process to produce alumina from alunite. After extensive testing of the Moffat Process during the summer and fall of 1942 by the Bureau of Mines laboratory in Salt Lake City, the Bureau had made change recommendations, and Moffat, as the holder of the patent, had accepted the changes. The Marysvale mill would allow the modified Moffat process to be compared to the Kalunite Process being used by the Kalunite Corporation at its plant in Salt Lake City (which itself had been built with an RFC loan of $3 million). (Salt Lake Tribune, May 18, 1943; includes a description comparing the two processes of obtaining alumina from alunite) (similar coverage in the Piute County News, May 21, 1943, and in the Beaver Press, May 28, 1943)

May 28, 1943
The Associated Civic Clubs of Southern Utah held their May meeting in Beaver, Utah, on May 22, 1943. One of the speakers, Frank Martines of Richfield reported that the club had promoted the alunite industry in Marysvale, and that 300 tons of alunite was shipped each day to the calunite (Kalunite) mill in Salt Lake City. Also, that the government had appropriated $775,000 to build a mill at Marysvale. (Beaver Press, May 28, 1943)

May 31, 1943
The Marysvale mill of the Aluminum, Inc., company was being rebuilt to produce alumina using the modified Moffat process. During a recent visit to the plant by Utah Senator Abe Murdock, as well as officers of the aluminum company, including Ralph Moffat, it was announced that Dorr Engineering had been retained by the federal War Economic Board of Aluminum to design and construct a plant that used alunite to produce alumina, for later conversion to aluminum metal. The chief advisor of that federal board would also be the manager of the new plant. The cost of the new plant was reported as $775,000. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 31, 1943)

October 14, 1943
The War Production Board issued an order that no more federal money was to be spent on producing aluminum from clay (or raw materials other than bauxite). In response to the WPB order, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation placed a stop order that no more of the RFC loan was to be used on the Marysvale alumina plant being built for Aluminum, Inc., placing the project on hold pending further policy decisions. The WPD specifically stated that funds were to be used for the production of aluminum for the war effort, and not to test unproven and experimental processes that would be of benefit to post-war industry. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 14, 1943)

(The stop order by the WPB and the RFC was rescinded on October 29th, and work resumed, using plans developed by Ferguson Engineering of Cleveland, Ohio, and submitted to Washington D.C. for approval. -- Salt Lake Tribune, October 30, 1943)

November 8, 1943
Ralph M. Moffat, vice president of Aluminum, Inc., died suddenly of food poisoning while working at the plant in Marysvale. (Piute County News, November 12, 1943)

July 1, 1944
The federal Reconstruction Finance Corporation filed suit to foreclose on its first mortgage and force the sale of the property and assets of the Aluminum, Inc., company, to satisfy a loan for $50,000, plus interest, issued in 1939, as well as the expended portion of the $775,000 made available in 1943. The property and assets included the mill near Marysvale, and the mining claims of the former Florence Mining & Milling company, and the Caraleigh Phosphate & Fertilizer Works, and the defunct Tri-State Fertilizer company. (Salt Lake Telegram, July 1, 1944)

(Research suggests that these four companies were all in the hands of several, less than 20, persons in Cleveland and Philadelphia. Although the companies were public corporations, almost all shares were in the hands of these same persons.)

(The RFC won its case and the court issued a judgment against Aluminum, Inc., for the $80,000 in back payments, interest, and court costs. The case was filed by the RFC to recover the unpaid loan of $50,000, and the spent portion of the $775,000 promissory note issued in 1943, because the aluminum company had failed to complete the mill by June 1, 1944, as called for in the loan agreement. The aluminum company appealed, and on February 2, 1945 the case was moved to the Tenth District Court of Appeals. -- Salt Lake Telegram, November 8, 1944; Salt Lake Tribune, February 3, 1945)

December 28, 1945
All of the property of the Aluminum, Incorporated, was to be sold at a U. S. Marshall's sale on January 24, 1946, following a suit brought by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, a federal corporation. The defendants in the case included the Florence Mining & Milling company, and the Caraleigh Phosphate & Fertilizer Works, and the defunct Tri-State Fertilizer company, as well as seven private individuals associated with the three corporations. The sale was delayed until July 10, 1946. (Piute County News, December 28, 1945; June 14, 1946, plus other public notices)

(The mill equipment at the Marysvale mill was apparently purchased at auction by Brill Equipment, with offices at Hotel Utah in Salt Lake City. Starting on July 23, 1946, Brill began advertising for the sale of the equipment located in Marysvale. -- Salt Lake Telegram, July 23, 1946)

June 27, 1954
The Calunite Corporation of California acquired rights to the alunite deposits in Utah, for the purpose of producing low cost fertilizer. The principle source to be used were surface deposits near Marysvale, Utah, where a $175,000 processing mill was nearing completion. (Arizona Republic, June 27, 1954)

"The only mining at the present time is being conducted by the Calunite Corporation. This corporation maintains a crushing plant at Marysvale and makes regular shipments of alunite for use as fertilizer." (The Mineral Resources of the Sevier River Drainage, Central Utah, David T. Sanders, Utah State University, May 1962, page 19)

(The Calunite mill at Marysvale was dismantled during the 1960s. The mill site was listed as owing back taxes to Piute County, from 1957 through 1964, using both the Cal-U-Nite name, and the Empico Alunite Corp. name.)


Photo of the Marysvale potash mill, from the May 30, 1917 issue of Salt Lake Mining Review

More Information

Marysvale Potash Mill -- The text of a newspaper article in May 1917 about the opening of the potash mill at Marysvale.

Alunite -- Read the Wikipedia article describing what Alunite is. Alunite was the raw ore that was mined by the various companies in the Marysvale area, and processed by the Mineral Products and Florence Mining companies to produce "potash" which was actually potassium sulphate.

Potassium Sulphate -- Read the Wikipedia article describing what potassium sulphate is; also known as sulphate of potash.

Bauxite -- Read the Wikipedia article about Bauxite, alunite's rival as a source material for aluminum production.

Marysvale Newspapers -- Newspaper clippings covering the alunite mills at Marysvale.


Research in online newspapers, using Publishers Extra.

Butler, B. S. 1912. Alunite: a newly discovered deposit near Marysvale, Utah. U. S. Geological Survey Bulletin 511.

Christiansen, F. W. 1937. The Geology and Economic Possibilities of the Alunite Deposits in Sevier and Piute Counties, Utah: Unpublished Master's thesis, Univ. of Utah.

Hild, J. H. 1946. Exploration of alunite deposits, Marysvale, Piute County, Utah. U. S. Bureau of Mines Report Investigations 3972.

Loughlin, G. F. 1916. Recent alunite developments near Marysvale and Beaver, Utah. U. S. Geological Survey Bulletin 620, p. 237-270.

Sanders, David T. The Mineral Resources of the Sevier River Drainage, Central Utah, Utah State University, May 1962

Waggaman, W. H., and J. A. Cullen. 1916. The recovery of potash from alunite. U. S. Department of Agriculture Bulletin 415.