Marysvale Potash Mill

This page was last updated on March 15, 2019.

The following text comes from the Richfield Reaper newspaper, 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.

While the country rings from coast to coast with the call to war and the word "preparedness" is on every lip; while men are being urged to till the soil as it was never tilled before and "conservation of resources" has become the watch-word of the nation, a great measure of conservation and preparedness has become an accomplished fact—American potash to make more fertile fields! Potash for the farms that will be called upon to feed, not only the millions of our own people, but to feed the millions of war crushed and starving Europe.

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.

The company's engineer was quick to recognize the value of this natural hillside and he utilized it to its utmost possibilities in his plans to construct an up to date plant where all material passes by gravity from one stage of treatment to another until the finished product is delivered at the trackside ready for shipment. The gravity idea in treating large quantities of material is brought to a high state of perfection in practice in the Florence mill, there is no rehandling of material. It is handled once when it goes into the hopper of the crusher, at the highest point in the plant. After that, it automatically goes where it is wanted; from crusher to rotary screen; to the crushed ore bin; to the kiln where it is roasted; to the rotary cooler and then either directly to the cars for shipment or to the steel storage bins waiting shipment.

In this type of mill, efficiency and economy is developed into a science.

A very few highly trained men on each shift will meet all the requirements in a plant designed to get out the maximum output at the minimum cost. The men who will run the plant are the men who took the dismantled machines out of the cars, assembled them and then ran them. They know the machines, because they built them.

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.

During August, also, the company put in twenty two hundred feet of five-inch water main extending from the state road, where it connects with the city water system, to the mill, where it is connected to fire hydrants on the hill overlooking the mill and to other hydrants distributed throughout the several buildings.

The plant is built in two sections, or two separate buildings. The first is a long narrow building beginning at the top of the hill. It descends to the east and is 137 feet long. In this building, beginning at the top, is the crusher, with a capacity of 400 tons of crushed ore per day; the rotary screen for dividing the fine from the course crushed ore; the big re-enforced concrete bins with a capacity of 500 tons of crushed ore and, at the lowest point, the feed end of the great 110 foot rotary kiln.

The kiln extends through the end of this building, across an intervening space of 20 feet and enters the second or main building which is 109 feet 6 inches long and fifty feet wide. This building has a floor space of 5475 square feet and houses the power plant, consisting of two 150 horse power bricked-in boilers and a 200 horse power Frick-Corliss engine; an air compressor and compressed air container. In this building also is the rotary coal dryer and the Fuller-Lehigh ball mill for pulverizing the dried coal used in firing the kiln. Here too, is the driving mechanism of the kiln which can be regulated to any given number of revolutions per minute; the fire box end of the kiln and the ample steel storage bins for pulverized coal, and for the finished product awaiting shipment.

In planning the present mill, the Florence company has kept well in mind the future needs of the company inasmuch as the entire plant, with the exception of the kiln, is dessigned to handle several hundred tons of material per day. While only abotit 100 tons can be treated by the kiln, the crusher has a daily capacity of 400 tons and the power plant, coal drier and coal pulverizer can easily supply power and material enough for the installation of at least three additional kilns of the capacity of the present one.

With improved transportation facilities from the mine, the additional kilns will be installed, but until a tramway can be built from the mine to the mill, it is considered doubtful, that more than 150 tons can be brought down by teams.

A more immediate improvement and one that will be made during the coming summer is the installation of a separating or lixiviation plant which will separate the potash from the alumina and give the company two high grade products to market for which there is great demand at high prices. Until this installation is made, the company will ship calcined or roasted alunite which will be ground fine and go into fertilizers without further treatment.

The building of a mill along modern and approved lines was by no means the end of Florence activities during the past year. Having a mill, they must necessarily keep it running. To do that new roads must be built and old roads repaired and mine developed and opened up for a large daily tonnage.

So early in the spring of 1916, the order came from the home office in Philadelphia to the local representative of the company, to get ready to supply 130 tons of alunite per day from January. first. At the same time the compauy called for surveys and estimates for a new wagon road from Cottonwood canyon to the mine.

During the summer months the road building was completed, with the exception of a dugway on the north side of the canyon about 2200 feet long. Enough work, however, had been done on this small piece of road before the winter storms came, to permit ore hauling during the winter months. As early in the spring as the company could put its men at road work, this piece was finished.

This gives the Florence company several miles of splendid road from the old canyon road at the creek level to tho Log Cabin camp, which, by the way, has been greatly enlarged and improved by the addition of a number of new buildings. From the camp the road follows an easy grade to the big ore bins, also built last summer to facilitate the loading of ore into wagons.

While this work was going on, active preparations were immediately started to meet the demands of the new mill for a large tonnage. Two tunnels were driven to the alunite vein and a third that will give a depth of 450 feet was started. Work on the third tunnel was stopped a few weeks ago because the development in the two upper tunnels will meet all possible demands of the present mill for the next eighteen months.

The construction of the new plant was placed in the capable hands of A. P. O'Brien, a building engineer well known in the Southern States as the builder of a number of successful fertilizer plants. Mr. O'Brien rendered valuable aid to the officers of the Florence company in the selection of the machinery that has gone into the plant. He inspected each machine as it was purchased, visited the shops where the machines were made and in other ways familiarized himself with the work he has brought to so successful a conclusion.

The "Reaper" reporter induced Mr. O'Brien to talk of his work and obtained from him the following detailed description of the mill.

"The alunite is received by auto trucks and teams, weighed and stored in a concrete floored stock pile of 25,000 tons capacity. This will be our reserve stock pile to be used to keep the mill going to capacity should the road or other conditaona delay the hauling from the mine.

"When the mill is running most of the ore is dumped from wagons or trucks into the crusher hopper, which has a capacity of 25 tons. Should we need more ore at any time than the teams can haul, we load from the stock pile in 3 ton quarry cars and run these cars over a 6 ton industrial track scale and on to the track dump over the crusher hopper. Usually the trucks and teams haul a surplus which, after weighing, goes to the stock pile.

"From the discharge spout of the No. 5 McCully crusher, which has a capacity of 400 tons per day, the ore passes over a 4x12 foot revolving perforated screen. The rejections go to a Jeffry continuous bucket elevator and thence to the crusher hopper to be further reduced and the fines pass by gravity to a 500 ton reinforced concrete bin from which in turn the crushed and sized ore passes to an automatic weigh hopper of one ton capacity, thence to the kiln feeding machine, which can be adjusted to feed from 0 to 200 tons per day. Here also is drawn the sample of ore for our daily analysis.

"This feeder is driven by the kiln and at this end is the dust arresting and gas scrubbing apparatus and also a stack to the atmosphere for the cleaned and cooled gas to escape. Means are provided for removing the dust continuously, as this is a valuable part of the product.

"The rotary kiln, 6x110 feet, is fire brick lined throughout, and is driven by a variable speed mechanism with a range of speed from 0 to 2 revolutions per minute. The kiln fire box is adjustable on a track to or from the kiln end and can be withdrawn 10 feet so as to facilitate cleaning or repairs to either kiln or fire box.

"The kiln is fired by the finely pulverized coal which is dried before grinding. This powdered coal is fed to the kiln by a Mosser variable speed coal feeder, and is sprayed into the fire box by a compressed air jet. All the kiln and fire box mechanism is under control of one man, and at this end is the testing apparatus and pyrometer and here also is drawn the calcined samples for the daily analysis, also the hourly test by the kiln man.

"From this kiln end the hot calcined ore is delivered to a 6x30 foot rotary cooler, which reduces the temperature so that the prodict can be loaded direct to box cars. Should we be short of cars, we can deliver to a steel bin of 75 tons capacity, which is high enough to spout by gravity with sufficient force to reach each end of a car. This bin is fitted with gates and flexible spouts for quick loading. A 150-ton railroad track scales is at this point where we weigh both in and outgoing cars. From this scale our tracks have a down grade through the yard sufficient for safe coasting. We can also bring down the empties for loading by gravity from the empty car storage track to the south of the mill.

"The power plant consists of two 150 H. P. high pressure Erie City tubular boilers with feed pumps, injectors, etc. in duplicate. The main engine is a 200 H. P. Frick-Corliss with exhaust connected to ample feed water heaters. All condensation is returned to a hot well and is pumped to boilers. The steam piping is assembled with long radius bends and all fittings and valves are for high pressure.

"The main shaft is 4-7/16 inch and extends across the main building and is belted east and west to countershafts for the different machines. All the heavy shafts are on concrete piers with cast iron adjustable sole plates. All the pillow blocks chain and shaft hangers are ring or chain oiling. Compression grease cups are used where necessary. All pulleys, gears, sprockets and set collars are split; either steel or cast iron clutches are used to cut out the heavier machines and tight and loose pulleys for the lighter machines.

"The bulk of the coal used is taken from the car to an elevator over a screen where the fine goes to a storage bin to feed the coal dryer, and the coarse to the boilers. From the coal dryer the coal goes to a steel bin over the Fuller Lehigh pulverizer and after grinding, is elevated to a powdered coal steel bin for use in the kiln. All bins have capacity for over 24 hours run, should this be necessary, and it is planned not to run several of these machines more than 8 hours per day. This will be sufficient to keep the one kiln going 24 hours. The crusher, air compressor, cord dryer and pulverizer will keep three kilns supplied if necessary. We have a coal storage pocket of ten car loads capacity for our surplus and reserve coal kept for emergencies.

"Our water or fire protection system consists of a main from the Marysvale water works, which gives 100 pounds pressure at the hydrants, which are standard. We also standard 2-5/8 inch Underwriters' hose in approved hose houses and at several points in the mill we have 1-1/2 inch rubber hose in 50 foot lengths. Barrels of water with covers and pails are also placed at convenient points. Our pumps can deliver into the main or to independent hose connections. We have a 5000 gallon elevated tank for emergency use, filling both boilers and washing out boilers and to be used should city supply be cut off. All the building, machinery, stock bases and other foundations are concrete. The roofing is 18 gauge galvanized, corrugated, iron riveted. The mill machinery room floors are concrete. All hoppers, bins, chutes, etc., where there is hot ore or wear are either concrete or steel.

"We have an extension of the main line of the Marysvale branch of the D. & R. G. railroad up to and past our mill; also a spur of sufficient length to serve for some time. The track is well ballasted with gravel and well drained with sufficient culverts.

"We have a complete repair shop equipped with both hand and machine tools to do most of our repairs and construction. In connection with the shop is a store room for general suppiles and duplicate parts. Our oil house is a safe distance from other buildings. We have a good wagon road from the Marysvale depot alongside the R. R. track, also a good road connecting with the state highway from Salt Lake City to the Grand Canyon. Owing to the great importance of the potash industry at present we have put on additional watchmen to guard against possible damage.