History Of Salt Lake City

(Return to Mining Index page)

by Edward W. Tullidge

(scanned and edited by Don Strack, September 3, 2003)



We reach here the mining industries of our Territory, which since 1870 have changed the very face of Utah history, and reconstructed the trade and commerce of Salt Lake City.

When Utah was first settled, General Taylor said, "The Mormons have got on the backbone of the continent." President Lincoln made a parallel statement: Utah will yet become the treasure-house of the nation."

The early history of the Territory is familiar to our readers; it constitutes one of the most wonderful chapters in the religious annals of the world. Three important circumstances have combined to excite an interest in the public mind regarding Utah, not as the abode of an independent religious community, but as a region in which American enterprise and American ideas are destined to prevail. These are: 1. The discovery of silver mines everywhere in the Territory; 2. The opening of the Pacific railroad, followed by the building of Utah railroads; 3. The influx of a Gentile population, influential in numbers, abounding with men familiar all their lifetime with grappling with large enterprises and experienced in mining operations in the Pacific States and Territories, and these backed both by American and European capital. The mining population that began to pour into Utah about the years 1869-70, from the onset caught a glimpse of a new era and saw in the future of Salt Lake City one of the principal centres of the continent. They saw a vast Territory--once devoted exclusively to Mormon colonization and Mormon ideas--transformed under their new auspices into an important section of the nation occupied by millions of United States citizens. They have also believed that ultimately the Gentile population would largely predominate, and that the Mormon community would be substantially blotted out, while the Mormon people, as the tillers of the soil, the workers in iron, and as home manufacturers and mechanics, would survive as the bone and sinew of the country. This prospect has been very pleasing to the Gentile view, but as distasteful to the Mormon view: hence the social discords of our local history.

The first mining record of Utah is that of the Jordan Mine in favor of one Ogilvie and some others. Ogilvie, in logging in the canyon, found a piece of ore which he sent to Colonel Connor, who had it assayed. Finding it to be good ore, [p. 698] Connor organized a party of officers and ladies of his camp and went over and located the mine--the Jordan. A day or two afterwards, Colonel Connor wrote mining laws and held a miners' meeting at Gardner's mill on the Jordan River, where the laws were adopted and Bishop Gardner elected recorder. The district was called the West Mountain Mining District.

It was thereupon that General Connor issued a circular announcing to the world that he had "the strongest evidence that the mountains and canyons in the Territory of Utah abound in rich veins of gold, silver, copper and other minerals, and for the purpose of opening up the country to a new, hardy and industrious population, deems it important that prospecting for minerals should not only be untrammeled but fostered by every proper means. In order that such discoveries may be early and reliably made, the General announces that miners and prospecting parties will receive the fullest protection from the military forces in this district in pursuit of their avocations, providing, always, that private rights are not infringed upon."

In March, 1864, another circular was issued by General Connor, which was considered to be very threatening towards the leaders of the Mormon community in regard to the Utah mines; and in July of the same year he wrote to the War Department an account of his action and policy, in which he said:

As set forth in former communications, my policy in this Territory has been to invite hither a large Gentile and loyal population, sufficient by peaceful means and through the ballot-box to overwhelm the Mormons by mere force of numbers, and thus wrest from the church--disloyal and traitorous to the core--the absolute and tyrannical control of temporal and civil affairs, or at least a population numerous enough to put a check on the Mormon authorities, and give countenance to those who are striving to loosen the bonds with which they have been so long oppressed. With this view, I have bent every energy and means of which I was possessed, both personal and official, towards the discovery and development of the mining resources of the Territory, using without stint the soldiers of my command whenever and wherever it could be done without detriment to the public service. These exertions have, in a remarkably short period, been productive of the happiest results and more than commensurate with my anticipations. Mines of undoubted richness have been discovered, their fame is spreading east and west; voyageurs for other mining countries have been induced by the discoveries already made to tarry here, and the number of miners of the Territory is steadily and rapidly increasing. With them, and to supply their wants, merchants and traders are flocking into Great Salt Lake City, which by its activity, increased number of Gentile stores and workshops, and the appearance of its thronged and busy streets, presents a most remarkable contrast to the Salt Lake of one year ago. Despite the counsel, threats, and obstacles of the church, the movement is going on with giant strides."*

Thus the understanding grew prevalent in the public mind throughout America that Brigham Young and his compeers were implacably opposed to the opening [p. 699] of the Utah mines; but it is only common justice to them to give a passing exposition of the real facts of the case.

It has been seen that the Mormons migrated to the valleys of the Rocky Mountains as a religious community and to preserve themselves as such, and that they had not the remotest idea of coming west for the discovery of gold or silver.

Their brethren, however, of the Mormon Battalion were strangely fated to discover the gold of California jointly with Mr. Marshall. This actually produced a crisis more seductive, and dangerous to the existence of the community than anything which had occurred in their history from the beginning; and perhaps no people in the world but the Mormons could have withstood the awful temptation of gold. It was most consistent in the case that these Mormon high priests should steady the ark of their own covenant and counsel the community which they had transplanted to these Valleys not to go to the mines. The California gold seekers wrote home and told the public of Brigham's sermons on the subject of gold, "showing the wealth, strength and glory of England, growing out of her coal mines, iron and industry, and the weakness, corruption and degradation of Spanish America, Spain, etc., growing out of their gold, silver, and idle habits." This passage indeed, from his sermon on gold and silver hunting, delivered in the summer of 1849, is the very index of his social policy as regarding the Mormon community, to whom, as their leader, it was his duty to speak and counsel upon such a vital question of the hour. The following is his counsel to the first company of emigrants from Europe brought out by the P.E. Fund:

Do not any of you suffer the thought to enter your minds, that you must go to the gold mines in search of riches. That is no place for the Saints. Some have gone there and returned; they keep coming and going, but their garments are spotted, almost universally. It is scarcely possible for a man to go there and come back to this place with his garments pure. Don't any of you imagine to yourselves that you can go to the gold mines, to get anything to help yourselves with: you must live here; this is the gathering place for the Saints. The man who is trying to gain for himself the perishable things of. this world, and suffers his affections to be staid upon them, may despair of ever obtaining a crown of glory. This world is only to be used as an apartment, in which the children of men may be prepared for their eternal redemption and exaltation in the presence of their Savior; and we have but a short time allotted to us here to accomplish so great a work.

And in the light of the full history of our Territory: as it reaches down to this day the impartial sociologist would be compelled to admit that the policy and counsel of Brigham Young as a leader of a peculiar people were well grounded. Utah is unquestionably destined to become a great mining State of the Union; but it will be found (as the author believes) a century hence that the Mormons will share it as a great manufacturing community, iron workers and farmers; while the Gentiles will chiefly be the owners and developers of the Utah mines: a blessed prospect for all when the country shall rest from its turmoils. Leaving the social exposition induced by General Connor's communications and circulars, we return to the mines themselves.

[ed. note: on pages 700-705, Tullidge quotes several paragraphs from Chapter 57, pages 715-724, of Stenhouse's "Rocky Mountain Saints", published in 1872.]

[Tullidge continues:] The above [excerpt from Stenhouse] is a comprehensive history of the growth and development of the mining interests of Utah from the day when General Conner and his men first discovered the Old Jordan in 1863 until the time when mining was no longer an experiment, but had become one of Utah's chief industries. Since then the searching pick of the prospector has been actively bringing to the light of day mineral deposits in all parts of the Territory; until an account of even the valuable mines of each district would require a more extended article than the most industrious reader would desire. There are excellent mineral indications on the Idaho line; and developments in the extreme south of the Territory have shown rich deposits of a peculiar character that have surprised and perplexed the most practiced mining experts. So, also, the Clifton and Rose Bud districts to the west give promise of future wealth, and from the almost unexplored southeast come frequent tales of rich placers and gold bearing quartz veins.

While research has thus been made as to the extent of the mineral bearing portions of Utah, there have been many splendid results from individual mines since the day when as it is said, mining was at its hey day flush of prosperity, the owners of such mines as the Ontario, Mono, Horn Silver, Flagstaff, Old Telegraph, Great Basin, Crescent and others innumerable have all made great fortunes. True, to offset this; some then considered permanent and of great value, have become worthless But who shall lay this to the fault of the mines themselves? Who shall say that, in many instances, the supposed durability of these played out mines was not, in the main, the misrepresentations of scheming operators? In other cases, these seeming failures are not real. Mines currently reported of great prospective value in those days were rich only in the conscientious, but hopeful and visionary minds of their owners. Still others retain their value, but the operators are financially unable to carry on the developments necessary to reach a paying condition of the mines. By this fair method of elimination, it will be seen that the real and true failures of the mines of Utah are very few indeed; on the contrary, it is considered by miners of extended experience that Utah presents an unusually safe field for mining adventure.

The mines of Utah have held and will hold their own. The field is so large, the precious yield so rich and varied, the fortunes in the-past so conspicuous, and the domain of the future so hopeful, that it will be a phenomenon in the economy of events if Utah does not become a great mining success.

Millions on millions of dollars have been dug from the dark breasts of Utah's mountains. Towns have been built, expensive works have been erected, the busy hum of toil has gone on for years; the mountains have echoed with the miner's blast and the valleys have been made dark with the smoke of furnaces. Piles of dingy ore have been dragged from the secret chambers of the hills, and streams of glittering metal have flowed from the smelters. Men and fortunes have come and [p. 706] gone; but the buried wealth of the Territory has only been trifled with. The restless activity of the American mind has allowed only a superficial examination of our treasures. The readiest road to a quick fortune has been the only one traveled. Gold, silver and lead--the cream on the surface of the dish--are all that have as yet been sought after. Our real treasure trove, the base and foundation of future eminence, our iron and coal, are almost untouched. Within the borders of' this promising Territory lie beds of coal of an immense extent and value. Near by, are enormous quantities of purest iron which will, one day, enable Utah to rival and outvie any State in the Union. At other points have been discovered the useful minerals necessary to make these principal ones of complete utility, such as sulphur, paraffine, graphite, etc. Other metals are also to be procured, including copper, antimony, quicksilver, bismuth and tin.

It is not the purpose nor within the capacity of this chapter (which is but as a link in the history) to deal with the voluminous detail of the Utah mines; but, before closing the subject, it seems proper to review briefly the general mining operations of the Walkers, who, undoubtedly, were the chief instruments in working out success for Utah mines in 1870.

At the opening of the year 1870, when the Walker Brothers took hold of mining, there had been but very little legitimate mining done in Utah, though considerable prospecting had been carried on as shown in the preliminary history of Utah mines as written by Mr. Stenhouse. Placer mining had been carried on to a limited extent in Bingham canyon, a few men making a living of it; but sagacious men of enterprise, like the Walker Brothers, whose attention had for years been attracted to the mines of Utah, through the prospecting of General Connor and his troops, saw that quartz mining only could benefit the country, and it this time quartz mining was very limited. The Walker Brothers' financial help having been sought by the discoverers of the Emma prospect, they went to look at it; and becoming fully assured that the vast mineral resources of Utah could be successfully worked, if sufficient capital was brought to the help of the discoverers of good mines, and being also convinced that the Emma prospect was such a mine, they purchased an interest in it with Messrs. Woodhull, Woodman, Chisholm, Reich and others. The new combination was most fortunate; and as the Walker Brothers, like the family of the Rothschilds, were known to have attached to their lives that magic something called "luck," a settled faith grew in the public mind at home that the Utah mines at length were indeed opened, and soon a kindred faith in the mines of Utah spread throughout America and Europe.

The Emma was the first silver-lead mine in Utah that obtained a paying status. At the time of its development there were no silver-lead reduction works in the United States excepting one or two which had just started, the most noted of which is the Balbach, New Jersey, reduction works.

After becoming interested in the Emma developments, which soon opened up large bodies of ore, it became apparent to the company that a market should be opened for the product of the mine; and as there were no works in the United States available to reduce or smelt the products of the mine, correspondence was opened with parties in Liverpool and London, and it was soon ascertained that the ores of the Emma mine could be shipped to the English market at a profit. This [p. 707] problem of the mining enterprise of Utah once solved gave the company a solid base to work upon, and the Walker Brothers pushed with all their financial might into the undertaking of making the Utah mines a marked success in the mining history of the great West which had already so stirred the civilized world since the discovery of gold in California. From time to time large shipments of the Emma ore were made to the English market, which soon gave an impetus to silver mining in Utah, and caused a large number of our citizens to scatter throughout the mountains prospecting for mines. The fame of the Emma mine reached the Territories and simultaneously a large influx of miners and prospectors poured in to join in the work of prospecting with the Utah men, thus adding experience to the local enthusiasm. Capital of course soon followed, in the wake, a new era dawned in the history of Utah, and the Gentile, equally with the Mormon, claimed the country as his own. The pertinency of this line of review in connection with the Walker Brothers is that they were at the onset, as capitalists and business men, principally instrumental in bringing this result about, but for which the Utah mines would not have become so famous in 1870, though ultimately of course they would have been developed by the aid of foreign, if not local, capital.

And here it may be noted, as a suggestive fact, that the Emma was the cause of the opening up of this class of mines (silver-lead), and also the immense smelting interests in various parts of the United States, embracing millions of capital. It is no longer necessary to ship the products to Swansea, Wales, as this industry in the United States now competes with the smelting works of the Old World.

Of the first Emma company it may be noted that they made a Utah corporation of it and Mr. Joseph R. Walker was elected president of the company. Treynor W. Park and Baxter bought half interest in the Emma and they took the mine to England and placed it upon the English market, where it was sold. Its subsequent history was not enviable. Utah mines, exemplified in the Emma, under the controlling hands of the Walkers, grew in honest fame in the hands of foreign capitalists the Emma benefited neither Utah nor its British purchasers.

After their initial undertaking in the Emma mine the Walker Brothers became interested in numerous other mining operations in the Territory. They engaged in Ophir District, East Canyon (as noted by Stenhouse), and built the first quartz mill in the Territory, which is known as the Pioneer Mill; and they afterwards branched out into other Territories, notably into Montana.

In the year 1876, Mr. J. R. Walker went to Butte to view the outlook of that district. A sample of ore having been sent to Mr. J. R. Walker, he went to look the country over with a view to make ample investments if he found a mine to warrant it. This led to the purchase of the now famous Alice mine and other adjacent properties, and the erection of large reduction works. These embrace the largest dry crushing chloridizing works in the United States for the reduction of silver ores. Subsequently the mine and works were transferred to a Utah corporation bearing the name of the "Alice Gold and Silver Mining Company of Utah." It still runs under the management of the Walker Brothers, with J. R. Walker president of the company, they owning a large majority of the stock. Their mining operations since 1870 have extended into many districts, notably [p. 708] the Cottonwoods, Ophir, Bingham, the Park, American Fork, Montana, Idaho and Nevada.

The foregoing is simply the history of the opening of the Utah Mines; we cannot attempt, in a chapter, to grapple with the voluminous record of the mines of Utah to the present day.

*These circulars and the communication to the War Department will be found entire in Chapter XXXVI [36] of this history.