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By the Teachers, Pupils, and Patrons of Carbon District
During the year of 1930, the primary teachers of the Carbon County School District, under the leadership of Lament Poulter, Primary Supervisor, conceived the idea of assembling and compiling data concerning the early history and development of Carbon County. The principal object of this work was to provide a fund of interesting and useful information for use in the social studies of the upper primary grades.
In collecting material for this monograph, every available source of reliable information was contacted. Early settlers of the various communities were interviewed and first-hand information solicited. County and ecclesiastical records were studied. Records of the various fuel companies were made available through the courtesy of company officials, and much interesting and reliable data gleaned from those sources. Various company officials and political officers prepared statements concerning industrial and political phases of our con nu life. In addition, many other records and individuals have aided materially in preparing this work.
In order to assure, as far as possible, accuracy of the data presented, the syllabus has been carefully read by persons qualified to judge its historical value. No effort has been made to present this data as a literary unit in the way of organizing subject matter or presenting it. The different articles are the products of as many different writers. It is believed that this variety of style will, of itself, add to the interest of the work.
In presenting this little monograph for to the teachers and pupils of Carbon District, we desire to express again sincere appreciation to all who have aided in collecting and compiling the material assembled herein. If it aids, even in a small degree, in giving the youth of Carbon County a clearer picture of their homeland and a deeper appreciation of their sturdy pioneer ancestors and others who helped in the development of this section, the effort will not have been in vain, and those who have done the work will be amply repaid.
Carbon County is located in Central Utah, 125 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. It is bounded on the north by the counties of Utah, Duchesne, and Uintah; on the east by Uintah, from which it is separated by the Green River; on the south by Emery, and on the west by the County of Sanpete. From north to south it is 24 miles wide, 74 miles long, with an area of over 1,536 square miles.
"This great coal county is peculiarly situated. Its western end rises from 7,000 to 10,400 feet above sea level to rest upon the Wasatch plateau, down the eastern escarpment of which Price river has cut its canyon to tumble into the beautiful Castle Valley. The valley stretches to the south across the southern half of Carbon into Emery County, while the peaks and cliffs of the Wasatch range hedge it in on the north and east, and the Book Cliffs bound it on the east, extending entirely across the east end of the county. The Wasatch plateau is for the most part a broad upland, whose surface shows smooth, gentle slopes, but whose eastern front is marked by very steep sandstone cliffs, which rise from 1000 to 2000 feet above Castle Valley. These cliffs are breached by deep canyons which extend back as far as 35 miles from the front of the cliffs."
The Price River is the principal water course. Tributary to it are Gordon, Fish, Miller, and Willow creeks and some smaller streams, this system watering the western half of the county. In the eastern part are several small canyon streams, the most important being Nine Mile, or Minimaude, Jack Canyon, Soldier, Coal, Dugout, and Grassy Trail. The climate is moderate with very pleasant winters free from fog, smoke and extreme cold. Carbon County may indeed be called the sunny valley of the state for very few days are without radiant sunshine.
In 1879 the territory surrounding Price, known at that time as Castle Valley, because of the picturesque mountain turrets and battlements, was little more than a rendezvous for Indians, cattle-rustlers and bandits. None of its many thousand acres of fertile lends had yet been upturned by the plow share, nor had its great deposits of coal in the nearby hills felt the touch of the miner's pick. Trapping and fur-trading were the principal industries engaged in by the early settlers while a few struggling herds of cattle and sheep dotting the 300,000 acres of ranges. Today more than 4,000,000 tons of coal are shipped from mines operating in the county. These mines employ approximately 3,500 miners who are paid more than $12,000,000 a year. Although coal mining is the most important industry, agriculture has not been neglected. The soil in the valleys is generally fertile and there are about 26,000 acres of agricultural lands now under cultivation with promise of more in the very near future as the Price River Water Conservation project becomes fully developed. In 1930, 27,000 head of sheep owned in the county were assessed, besides 25,000 more which came into Carbon to graze during the summer. In addition, thousands of head of cattle graze on the deserts and highlands of the county. According to records of the forestry service, 35,712 acres of the Manti National Forest lie in Carbon County.
This is just the beginning in the developments of the natural resources that abound in this section of the state. After the completion of the main line of the D. & R. G. W. Railroad (at first known as the Rio Grande Western), coal mines were opened in various places and branch railroads were built into the mining districts. The branch to the Clear Creek mines was built in 1898, that to Sunnyside two years later, and the Hiawatha branch was opened in 1909. The opening of new coal mines and building of the branch railroads proved a stimulus to settlement, and in 1910 Carbon reported a population of 8,634. In 1920 the population was estimated at 15,489 while in 1930 the records show 17,674.
By an act of the Utah Legislature, approved by Governor West on March 8, 1894, the northern part of Emery County was organized into the County of Carbon, so named because of the rich deposits of coal within its limits. The active settlement dates from the building of the Rio Grande Railroad, which was completed through the county in 1883. On November 20, 1882, the small settlement of Latter Day Saints on the Price River was organized into a ward, with George Frandsen as Bishop. This is the first record of an organized settlement in the county. The first election of county officers was held on Tuesday, May 1, 1894, and resulted in the choice of the following officers: E. C. Lee, E. P. Gridley, and Eugene Santschi, Sr., selectmen (Commissioners); H. A. Nelson, treasurer, S. J. Harkness, attorney; W. J. Tidwell, surveyor, E. M. Olsen, probate judge, and J. W. Davis, Supt. of Schools. At the same election Price was selected as the County seat.
It is estimated that there are about 125 billion tons of coal in Carbon County. This vast amount would keep all the houses warm, would turn the wheels of all the factories in existence and would supply heat for every purpose for all the world for at least one hundred years.
"In 1930, 4,220,660 tons of coal were taken from our mines", says R. J. Vaughn, Superintendent of the Utah Railway Company. He continues, "The ordinary coal car with which we are familiar is of fifty-ton capacity and approximately 45 feet in length. If the vast amount of coal brought from our mines last year were loaded into such cars it would require 83,412 of them to haul it. If these were made into one train the caboose would be at Price and the locomotive would be far beyond the California line and our train would be 720 miles long.
Nearly all of the coal from the Carbon and Emery mines is taken westward of Soldier Summit and down Spanish Fork Canyon. The grade up to Soldier Summit is so heavy that three powerful locomotives are required to pull and push a train of 55 cars of coal up the steep incline. One thousand five hundred and thirty-seven trains, each averaging 55 cars, were necessary to carry away the coal mined last year. If one should imagine that the locomotives used in moving these trains were not in use more than once, he could readily see the total number of locomotives would be about 4,611. If these were coupled together, they would cover almost eighty miles of track. Since there are two engine men employed on each locomotive and a train crew of three men on every train it is readily seen that a comparatively large number of man are employed to transport the coal after it is mined."
It is estimated that approximately 3,500 men are employed in the mining industry of Carbon County. This gives a general idea of the vast extent of the coal industry of Carbon and its importance to the state.
History does not tell us when man first discovered coal would burn, but it is not so very long ago that coal was first used for heating purposes. The discovery of steam by James Watt, and the invention and development of the steam engine led to the extended use of coal. In the United States the early coal miners had a hard struggle to induce the people of Pennsylvania to use coal instead of wood. It was partly because the coal then mined was anthracite, otherwise called hard coal, or "stone coal", which is much harder to ignite than the bituminous or soft coal we are accustomed to.
In Utah, old reports indicate that coal was first discovered in 1849, in the Sanpete Valley, and mention is made of its discovery in 1851 near Cedar City. In January, 1854, the Utah Legislature offered a reward of $1,000.00 to any resident who would open a vein of coal not less than 18 inches thick within forty miles of Salt Lake City, and where it could be profitably worked. This reward was claimed by William H. Kimball and John Spriggs in 1860, but refused on the ground that the mine was more than forty miles distant and the coal was of an inferior quality. In 1863 a mine had been opened forty miles from the capitol and coal sold for $40.00 a ton.
Probably little was done toward developing the coal deposits in the early days because the country was very sparsely settled - the industries of the territory were for the most part confined to agricultural pursuits. There were no railroads and the only means of transportation was by means of wagons drawn by oxen or horses. Inquiry among the settlers might develop the fact that coal was mined for domestic use, but the mines were probably what we now call "country banks". That is, the farmers at the close of the harvest season would go to the coal deposits and dig out enough coal for their winter use. The mines, if such they may be called, were not opened in a systematic way, but the farmers would dig in from the outcrop far enough to get solid coal and would take no more pains with their work than to protect themselves from loose rock. Even to this day these "country banks" are found, although most of them are now opened a little more carefully. In some places in Castle Valley where the coal seams are from twenty to thirty feet thick, the farmers drive their teams into the excavations that have been made and load the coal directly into their wagons. Only the large lumps would be taken, the finer would be thrown away.
With the discovery of precious metals and the more extensive development of lode or underground mining, the need of a more condensed fuel than the timber of the surrounding mountains for power and smelting purposes led to the further development of Utah's coal fields. The advent of steam railroads have impetus to the development of our coal deposits and in 1869, after the completion of the Union Pacific Railroad (then called Pacific Union because it united the Atlantic and Pacific in a peaceful manner) mines began to be opened. Coal was probably brought to Salt Lake City by means of wagons drawn by oxen or horses, and on account of the long distances it had to be hauled it was very probable that only small quantities were used here and its use was very likely restricted to the more affluent citizens. It was not until June 13, 1870, that coal was taken there by rail.
Three kinds of coal are found in the State, namely: Lignite, Bituminous and Anthracite. The grades of coal are determined by the amounts of moisture, volatile matter and fixed carbon. Thus, lignite has the largest amount of moisture and the smallest amount of fixed carbon with a large percentage of volatile matter. Bituminous has less moisture and volatile matter and more fixed carbon, while anthracite has the least moisture and volatile matter and the greatest amount of fixed carbon.
Lignite comes from Coalville, Utah, and also from Wyoming. Almost all of the bituminous coal comes from Carbon County, the next largest amount from Emery, and anthracite comes from Colorado. Geologists estimate that the State has about-15,000 square miles of workable coal measures which contain 197,000,000,000 tons, enough to supply the United States at the 1914 rate of consumption for 386 years.
It is estimated by geologists that approximately 24,000 square miles of the original coal deposits of Utah have been eroded or washed away by waters in past ages, and if we accept the estimates for remaining acreage as being correct, then an amount of coal, at least equal to that remaining in the state has been washed down the forges of the Colorado river into the gulf of California.
Contrary to the general idea most people have as to the mode of occurrences of coal beds, the deposits in Utah, for the most part, are comparatively flat, lying like big, thick blankets so that the proper term to use would be a bed or seam of coal, rather than a vein of coal. In some districts we find as many as four or five workable seams, separated of course, by varying thicknesses of rock. In these places no seam is mined that is less than five feet thick.
Had it not been for the movements of the earth's surface, and the erosive action of water, these beds of coal would not show on the surface as they do now, and would have been worked through shafts, but the canyons and valleys that have been formed have so exposed the coal seams, that they are now visible and can be entered from the surface by drifts or tunnels.
The mines are developed by means of the tree system of rooms and pillars. This system is so called because the map of such workings has some resemblance to a tree.
The main tunnel by which the mine is entered and the coal brought out corresponds to the trunk of a tree. The tunnels branch from each side of the main tunnel and correspond to the branches of the tree, while the rooms correspond to the leaves on the branches. All tunnels are driven in pairs for the purpose of properly ventilating the mine. Fresh air is kept constantly circulating through all parts of the mine, the same as water through pipes, by means of large fans. These fans resemble the paddle wheels of an old-style river steamboat and are caused to revolve rapidly by steam or electricity, thus pulling out from the mines through one tunnel the air which enters by way of the other tunnel.
It is necessary to supply fresh air to the mine workings because most coal mines generate poisonous or explosive gases, and even if they did not generate these gases the good air would soon be used up by the men and animals or would become fouled by the men's lights and the smoke from the blasting. Inside the mine the mining operations are not simply shoveling the coal into cars, for the coal is all in a solid mass which has to be cut or mined first, then blasted down with powder, loaded into the cars and hauled out of the mine. In former times, and even now in some places, the miners would cut the coal with picks. This they had to do by kneeling down, or lying on their sides and cutting three or four feet under. Now this is mostly done by means of machinery. Mining machines are endless chains with little picks in them which are run by electricity. Coal is blasted down in the better regulated mines by using electricity to explode the powder. By this means, all men and animals are permitted to be outside the mine when the shooting is done, thus avoiding all danger from explosions. As a further precaution against explosions the working places are sprinkled with water and are kept thoroughly wet down so that no coal dust can be stirred up by men, animals, or cars, or by the blasting.
In the larger mines the main tunnels called haulage ways and man-ways, are lighted by electricity, but all men carry their own lights with them. These lights are small lamps carried on the caps the men wear. The light comes from the burning acetylene gas which is formed by dropping water on calcium carbide. Before these lights were invented, oil lamps, burning lard oil, etc., were used, but these smoked, burned a great deal of oxygen and were dirty as well as extremely dangerous. In some mines where explosive gases are found, the safety lamps must be used. These are somewhat like smell lanterns with the upper part having a cylinder of very fine wire gauze above the flame. This wire gauze cools the explosive gases so they cannot ignite and explode. These lamps burn gasoline and are so made that the miner cannot open them. Electric safety lamps are now being used in mines in this state in place of the old style safety lamp. They are small globes worn on the miner's cap, the electricity being supplied by a battery which is carried in the pocket or attached to a belt around the waist. The wires go over the top of the miner's cap and down his back.
Coal, as it comes from the mine, is called "run-of-mine". It is dumped by what is called a "tipple" into shaking screens which separate it into various commercial sizes. The modern tipple of today is arranged so that a number of sizes of coal may be made. Slack is the coal that passes through a 1-5/8" screen (steel plate with 1-5/8" round perforations); egg coal is that which passes over a 1-5/8" screen and through a 4-1/2" screen; stove is the coal which passes over a 3" or 4-1/2" screen and through a 6" or 8" screen; nut coal is that which passes over a 1-5/8" screen and through a 3" screen; cobble lump is the coal which passes through a 6" or 8" screen and through a 10" screen; big lump is the coal which passes over a 10" screen; 8" lump is the coal which passes over an 8" screen; domestic lump is the coal which passes over a 1-5/8" screen. When the slack is re-screened to make "pea" (screened slack) and dust, it is passed over a screen with 3/4" perforations; the coal which passes over this screen is called pea coal and the coal which goes through the 3/4" screen is dust. The Spring Canyon tipple is provided with spirals for mechanically removing the impurities from the pea coal. This is believed to be the only spiral plant in the west. The Spring Canyon tipple is considered one of the best in the West and was designed especially for the preparation of domestic coals.
The coal is then loaded into railroad cars and shipped through the state to adjoining states. A large amount is shipped to California and some to the Northwest. The demands for coal in Utah are entirely too small to keep the mines of the state running steadily, and as it is desirable to operate them as nearly full-time as possible, the mine owners must look for outside markets to fill in.
Mr. A. C. Wattis, Chief Engineer and Geologist of the Utah Fuel Company, has given some very valuable information on the formation and mining of coal in the following article:
"Two theories have been advanced to explain the method of formation, or the origin of coal, both of which have their adherents among geologists. One theory is called the "Drift" theory and the other the "Peat" theory or formation "Ensitu". Various coal deposits are known which seem to prove one theory to the discredit of the other, but as the formation of coal is such an extremely slow process compared with the history of man since he became engaged in scientific studies, we have no means now from which to determine definitely which theory is correct.
"On one point all seem to agree and that is, coal is the result of slow decomposition of vegetable matter under water and without contact with air. The accumulation of the immense quantities of vegetable natter necessary to form the great deposit of coal is the main subject of dispute. Adherents to the "Drift" theory claim that trees, loaves, ferns, mosses, etc., were carried to large basins, or sometimes to the shores of prehistoric, inland seas by rivers and floods. Afterwards these great deposits of vegetable natter were covered by sand and earth brought down from higher levels of the earth's surface by water. Adherents to the "Peat" theory claim that coal originated in shallow water and built up and extended into deeper water in the dead forms of its progenitors. It is beyond the power of the human mind to conceive the stretches of time during which the deposits were formed and the length of time they lay while the thousands of feet of rock layers which rest on them were formed. Some scientists estimated that it took thirty years to form a bed of coal one foot thick. At this rate it took 9,000 years to form some of the coal beds now being worked in the state.
"At all events the coal we use in this state was formed ages before prehistoric man made his appearance. We often find carbonized tree trunks and limbs in the coal beds and the rocks forming the roof often have beautifully clean-cut impressions of ferns and palm leaves. These plants grew in a warm, humid climate through the mists of which the sun must have pierced with bright burning rays. As these plants thrive in the tropical sun and depended on it for their lives, coal, the remains of that long-ago life, is sometimes called "stored sunlight"."
This chapter consists of a series of articles by authorities on coal mining, dealing with mine accidents and their prevention. It is apparent that this subject is always uppermost in the minds of those who are responsible for the welfare of those who gain their livelihood by mining.
The following article was prepared by Robert Howard, General Mine Inspector, and read at the regular monthly meeting of the officials of the U. S. Fuel Company, March 31, 1916.
Accidents in coal mines have been known since coal first started to be mined, and as men are human and liable to err, we are very likely to have accidents as long as coal mining continues.
The causes of accidents in mines, and the development of measures for combating or avoiding them, have, for many years past, been the subjects of careful study and experimental investigation at the hands of practical men possessing special knowledge and experience in connection with mines, and also of eminent authorities in science and its application.
Statistics, bearing on accidents in mines, have been collected in England since the year 1835, by commissions appointed by Parliament for that purpose, and these commissions have collected and weighed the results of experience and the opinion of miners, mine officials and scientific experts.
Legislative enactments, both in this country and in other countries, have been made consequent upon these official inquiries, and have from time to time, effected improvement in the working conditions and the supervision of mines, whereby the proportion of accidents to the number of men employed and to the amount of coal produced, has been greatly diminished.
Some of the first requirements to better safeguard life and property were that the men in direct charge of mines should have Certificates of Competency, showing their fitness for the position they were to fill, the use of the furnace for ventilation was abolished and the mine fan used in its stead, inspection of mines for fire damp and other dangerous conditions, the use of safety lamps in place of the old tallow candle in gaseous mines, regulations regarding the use of powder, and special rules made by the mine owners as a protection to life and property.
In Great Britain, in the year 1850, the output of coal was about 50,000,000 tons, and deaths from accidents exceeded 1,000 in the year, which would mean one life for every 50,000 tons of coal produced, while in recent years this percentage of fatal accidents has very much decreased in that country. We find, according to the report of Secretary Lane of the Interior Department, that in the United States the fatal accidents in coal mines for the year 1915, was the lowest in the last eight years, and the report shows that 228,799 tons of coal was produced for every life that was lost. The number of fatal accidents being 2,264 for that year, the fatality rate per 1,000 men employed was 2.95 which is the lowest since the year 1898. The total output of coal in the United States for the year 1915 was 518,000,000 tons.
The greatest improvement that has been affected in the working and managing of mines has been in recent years, and is due partly to the laws passed by the various State Legislatures, and the appointment of State Mine Inspectors, and by the special and general rules laid down by the various coal companies for the conduct of the minus, and special rules defining the duties of the various employees, both outside and inside of the mines.
Although much has been done in recent years in regard to more improved methods of ventilation, better systems of working the mines, more up to date haulage systems, and in protecting the miners and others against accidents, yet we find that accidents continue to happen.
The continued heavy mortality, due to accidents in spite of the good effects of the various legislative enactments, and the special rules made through the various coal companies themselves, was probably responsible for the establishment in 1910, by the United States Government, of the Bureau of Mines, a part of whose duty it is to find out and report on the causes leading up to the various accidents in mines, and if possible to furnish a remedy for them.
In recent years, most of the States where there are coal mines have caused legislation to be passed making it necessary for the men in actual charge of the mines, to have several years of practical experience in mines, and also compelling them to pass an examination and receive a certificate, before they can act in the capacity of Mine Foreman or Fire Boss; in other words, these men are expected to show by this examination that they are not only practical miners, but that they are students of mining and understand proper methods of mining, which, if put in force, will give chance for fewer accidents.
The chief causes of mine accidents are: Falls of roof or coal, explosions of gas or dust, accidents caused by mine cars or machinery, electric shocks, shaft accidents due in course of hoisting, or men falling down the shaft, accidents caused by horses and mules, and from various other causes.
The chief source of personal accidents, which is fall of roof or coal, is often the result of ignorance or carelessness on the part of the miner himself. There is a natural tendency on the part of the miner to postpone the setting of necessary timber until he has finished loading his coal, or at least until he has loaded another car of coal, and he is thus exposed to the danger of falling roof while cleaning up his place. Neglect to properly sprag (to block with a stick or bar) the coal while undermining the same often causes accidents.
Accidents due to the movement of cars and machinery are often due to neglect to sprag the cars, allowing them to attain too high a rate of speed, or from derailment of cars while moving, and these accidents may be greatly lessened by proper care and diligence on the part of those employed in or about the mine, and by those in charge of the movement of the cars, or the machinery.
Accidents due to falling hoisting shafts may result either from carelessness or from the breaking of ropes, etc.
Accidents caused by the explosion of gas and dust, may be largely avoided by maintaining an ample ventilating system, prohibiting the chance for accumulation of gas, either in the working places or in the finished and abandoned places, by care in the daily inspection of the workings, and use and proper handling of explosives, the use of approved safety lamps where such are required, and the use of a good sprinkling system whereby the floor, sides and roof of all places inside the mine are kept in a wet or damp condition, so that no dust is allowed to accumulate in any part of the mine workings.
While in this State, we may not be directly interested in hoisting shafts, yet it will give you as an illustration, the safety with which shaft work is conducted. At two collieries in South Wales, 1,200 men have been lowered and raised a distance of 430 yards or 1,290 feet, for an average of four and one-half days a week for 18 and 20 years in the two pits, representing the passage up and down of nearly 6,000,000 men in that time, during which there was not a single accident.
When the Bureau of Mines was first established, the most urgent work before it was the investigation of the causes and possible prevention of gas and dust explosions in coal nines. This was done by mine investigations, by chemical and physical tests in the laboratory, and such preventive measures as experience has suggested. For conducting large tests with inflammable gas and coal dust, an experiment mine was made at Bruceton, near Pittsburg, Pa., in which these tests were made. They proved conclusively that not only could an explosion be caused by gasses, but that coal dust raised into the air and when ignited might cause mine explosions more widespread and terrible than fire damp. This fact was doubted by many mining men, but was proven by large experiments at this experimental mine. Coal dust from hundreds of mines in different coal fields were tried and experiments were made. The explosability of coal dust in the State of Utah has been known for a great many years, and as far back as the year 1889 a complete sprinkling system was put in the Castle Gate mine of the Utah Fuel Company, by which every accessible part of the mine, both working places and finished places would be reached by men carrying rubber hose, used for the purpose of connecting with the water pipes, so that every accessible part of the mine could be sprinkled by men whose duty it was to do no other work than this.
This was the first mine in this country in which a complete water system was installed, and the entire open part of the mine sprinkled by men whose business it was to do no other work but this.
In an article by Mr. Van H. Manning, Director of the Bureau of Mines, he states that tests are being made to determine the efficiency and cost of rendering coal dust inert by using rock dust in a commercial mine. About 2,000 foot of entry in this mine was sprinkled with limestone dust, and was inspected every two weeks by one of the Bureau's engineers to determine to what extent the rock dust had been contaminated by coal dust, and the results, so far, indicate that unless each coal is spilled along the roadway, this method will give better protection against coal dust explosions, and under the conditions tried, may be cheaper than the use of water on a large scale.
It has often been thought that the use of improper explosives has caused many mine explosions. To do away with this danger, "permissible explosives" that have quick, short flames have been put into practice. Those explosives are much less to ignite gas or dust than the flames of Black Powder or Dynamite. No known explosion has been caused by the use of "permissible explosives", and the use of them makes loading much safer where gases are given off or in a dusty mine.
In the coal mines at the present time we have a great many men of foreign birth, who do not understand the English language, and who never worked in Mines until they came to this country. It is the duty, therefore, of the mine officials, particularly the nine Foreman, fire bosses, and mine inspectors, to instruct these men in such things as will tend to their own safety, as well as to the safety of the entire nine, and the efforts of these parties will be the means of reducing the dangers.
While the matter of revising our State Mine Laws is being discussed, it is possible that they may need revising due to the introduction of electricity into our mines for the purpose of lighting the passage-ways, undercutting the coal, firing the shots, hauling the coal from the face of the working places, causing numbers of wires to become bare and insulated to be used in carrying or conducting the electric current so that this work can be done. If present State Laws were properly carried out, together with the rules laid down at the various mines, and adhered to by all concerned, many accidents which now occur would be avoided. Most accidents that occur daily in the mines are not due so much to the lack of legislation as to the lack of obedience and the closer observance to our mine rules and regulations.
In coming down to the accidents that occur in our own mines from time to time, we know that there is much work to be done, and no one is better prepared than our mine foreman, fire bosses, inspectors and other officials who visit the various working places once, and in some cases, twice a day, to see that this work is done well. It should be the duty of these officials to watch out for dangerous conditions, to see that the mines are kept in safe condition, that the State Mining Laws are carried out, and that the special rules of the mine are enforced as well as to instruct the miners and show them the necessity of protecting themselves, so that the slogan of "Safety First" may be carried out by all concerned, and thus show a decrease in accidents in our mines.
In figuring on the percentage of accidents from various causes, the report from one State shows that for a period of ten years, 60 per cent of all fatal accidents were caused by falls of roof or coal, 15 per cent were due to mine cars and machinery, 14 per cent to explosions of gas and dust, 3 per cent to explosions of powder, 7 per cent to falling down shafts, killed by mules and from other causes, and 1 per cent was caused by electric shocks.
Referring to the last ten fatal accidents that have occurred in our own State, six of these or 60 per cent, were caused by falls of roof or coal. The mine foreman, fire boss, or other persons who notify the workmen of dangerous conditions, have no knowledge of the accidents that are prevented by their warning.
There is no doubt but that a closer and more careful inspection of the working places would bring a better and more strict enforcement of laws and regulations by our officials. The miners' realization of the dangers attending their daily work, and their own efforts to reduce accidents, the more liberal use of the mine prop where needed, the sprinkling of all accessible parts of the mine so that every place is kept in a wet or damp condition, the proper distribution of the ventilating current, so that all places are kept clear of smoke and other noxious gases, the proper use of permissible powder and proper tamping of the same and a spirit of cooperation on the part of all concerned, will show a big improvement and thereby materially lessen the number of accidents in our mines.
To get at this subject so that it can be understood, it must be remembered that all coal beds in their natural state contain a very explosive gas known as "methane". This gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless and it will not explode in its pure state. It is necessary to mix free air with it. Any mixture under 5 percent gas and 95 percent air will not explode. Any mixture between 5 percent and 13 percent will explode. Any mixture over 13 percent will not explode.
Most mine explosions are caused by the presence of this methane gas. It is lighter than air and when it escapes from the coal it collects in the holes in the roof of the mine. In order to make the mine safe it is necessary to force a current of air thru these places sufficient to dilute it to a mixture that has less than 5 percent gas. It is then safe to move it out thru the air ways to the outside. If this gas is permitted to remain in the mine and in some way come in contact with an open flame lamp or an electric arc, it will explode and the extent of the explosion will be governed by the amount of gas present.
When the gas explodes in a dry and dusty mine the concussion of the gas explosion will throw the coal dust into suspension in air and it will in turn become ignited and cause a general explosion throughout the mine. In an explosion of this hind very few people escape alive. There are several ways to detect the presence of this gas. In places where it is known to exist, the old method was to go in and burn it before there was enough to cause an explosion. The modern method of testing for gas today is with a flame safety lamp. This lamp is so constructed that it can be placed in any mixture with safety when it is in the hands of an experienced man. When this is done a small blue cap will appear on top of the regular flame of the lamp. The explosibility of the mixture can be determined by the size of this blue cap. There are other mechanical devices for the detection of gas in coal mines, but they have not come into general use.
When an explosion takes place in a mine, all of the oxygen in the air is burned and this is the cause of another various dangerous gas known as Carbon Monoxide. One breath of this gas is sufficient to kill any person. This gas makes it practically impossible to recover bodies after an explosion. The breathing of methane by a human being is not dangerous and he suffers no ill effects from it.
A great many things are being done to prevent mine explosions that were not done a few years ago. In mines that give off gas, more care is taken of the ventilating system. Rock dust is being hauled into the mine and mixed with the coal dust. The idea of this practice is as follows: The rock dust will not burn and enough of it is used to prevent the flame from traveling from one particle of coal dust to another. All of the mines in Utah are required by law to sprinkle with water all of the dry places. By so doing, the dust is kept wet and will not easily be thrown into suspension. This dust will not explode while piled along the track or in a working place.
King No. 1 mine is a very safe mine from a gas standpoint. It is located high up on the mountain, all of the cracks and crevices in the strata over the coal being free from water, and in ages past the gas has escaped through these cracks. In other locations where gas is present, they are usually driven under the rivers and streams. The water has a tendency to keep the cracks and crevices sealed and the gas cannot escape.
The following information was taken from the "History of the Scofield Mine Disaster", by J. W. Dilley.
The terrible calamity of Tuesday, May 1, 1900, in No. 4 Mine at Winter Quarters.
May Day, or Dewey Day, dawned bright and clear, when about two hundred miners left Scofield for the mines in the miner's coach that is run back and forth at the change of shifts, to the mines of the Pleasant Valley Coal Company at Winter Quarters. Every one of the men that was soon to meet death in its most horrible form was feeling in the best of spirits as evidenced by the pleasant joke that was bandied back and forth through the coach. What had they to fear? Were they not working in one of the safest coal mines situated in the coal region? Each one was looking forward to the evening when there was to be a dance in the new Odd Fellow's Hall, and their children were to have a celebration in honor of the Hero of the Battle of Manilla.
Nearly every man was at his post of duty in the mine when from some cause or other, a most terrific explosion took place and all was changed in the twinkling of an eye.
At about fifteen minutes past ten o'clock the surrounding country was startled by an explosion, but as it was "Dewey Day" nearly everyone supposed that the noise was caused by someone setting off a blast in honor of the day.
But soon women were seen hurrying toward the mine and by their blanched faces one could read that there was something amiss at the mine. Reports came from them that Number 4 had exploded, but this was not believed as this mine in particular was considered to be the safest mine of all the Company's mines. But disaster dire and dreadful had overtaken Number 4. The miners were confined with no chance of escape, caught like rats in a trap. No hope to recover anyone alive, no hope to ever look upon the living faces of those entombed.
A relief committee was soon formed and headed by T. J. Parmley, Superintendent of the mine, started for the levels of Number 4 through Number 1, there being inside connections. They were driven back by the terrible after-damp that had by this time reached the levels of No. 1. The route by the way of No. 1 having been found impracticable on account of the after-damp and the committee hurried to the mouth of No. 4 where the attempt was again made to enter the inferno that raged within.
Attempts were made many times before the actual rescue work began. Hope had been entertained that some of the men, especially in No. 1, would be found alive but the farther the rescuers went, the more apparent became the magnitude of the disaster. Men were piled in heaps, burned beyond recognition.
After a time the dead men were brought to the mouth of No. 1 by car load, sometimes as many as twelve bodies being loaded upon one mine car. Then it was that the horror of the situation began to dawn upon the people on the outside of the ill-fated mine. Then it was that the people realized that it was impossible to expect anything but the burned or mangled bodies of the loved ones that had entered the mine so light-hearted that morning.
The boarding house, the meeting house, the school building, and the barn all were cleared out and used as receiving rooms and washing rooms.
A total of 199 men were killed and seven injured seriously. 103 escaped from No. 1 uninjured and only one escaped uninjured from No. 4, most of the men in No. 4 being killed by force and heat while more than 100 men in No. 1 were suffocated by after-damp which swept down from No. 4.
An inquest was held upon the body of John Hunter. The jury found the verdict as follows: That death was caused through an explosion in No. 4 mine while in the employ of the Pleasant Valley Coal Company. The explosion was caused by a heavy shot igniting the dust.
Gomer Thomas, State Mine Inspector, said, "I inspected the mines here on March 8, 1900, and found them in fair condition. The ventilation was good and the mine was free from gas. In my estimation the disaster was caused by a heavy shot of giant powder or loose powder exploding. The giant powder went off, being the result of a dust explosion. I went to a place where it was claimed they had powder stored away, and the place showed that the explosion had started there and showed further by the action of the explosion and by the body that was found there that it was burned more than the other bodies which we found. In March, at the time of the examination of the mine to check the ventilation, I found the Pleasant Valley Coal Company had complied with the law."
One hundred and fifty bodies were buried in Scofield, the others being sent to all parts of the state and eight outside of the state. There are about 125 graves on a tract a little over an acre in size. The other 25 are in various parts of the cemetery being in the midst of those of the same families who had gone before. All the caskets in Salt Lake City were not enough to bury the dead and a carload was ordered from Denver, Colorado.
There were left 107 widows and 268 orphans. Sons were killed leaving aged fathers and mothers. Brothers lost their lives leaving unmarried sisters and younger brothers to live as best they could.
The Scofield Mine Disaster was truly the most dreadful calamity that ever occurred in the Western county.
The information below was given by Arthur Ridgeway, Chief Engineer of the D. & R. G. W. at Denver, Colorado.
The portion of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad in Utah was constructed as a narrow gauge eastward from Salt Lake City when the Utah and Pleasant Valley railway extending from Springville to the coal mines in Pleasant Valley, was purchased.
On August 1, 1882, a line was completed from Clear Creek (Tucker), a station on the Utah and Pleasant Valley railway, via Soldier Summit to a point at the junction of Fish Creek with the Price river, called Pleasant Valley Junction (Colton).
In October 1882, it was decided to serve the Pleasant Valley from P. V. Junction (Colton) rather than from Clear Creek, and thus avoid the operation of two lines over the Summit of the Wasatch Range. Accordingly, by December 1, 1882, a line was constructed from P. V. Junction following up the course of Fish Creek to a connection with the original Utah and Pleasant Valley Railway about 2-1/2 miles north of Scofield.
The extension from P. V. Junction (Colton) to the Utah-Colorado border was completed April 8, 1883 and a division terminal consisting principally of an eleven stall brick enginehouse was constructed at P. V. Junction. At the time of this construction the only station appearing between Farnham and Castle Gate was one celled Castle Valley, and it is not clear whether this so-called "Castle Valley" referred to the present town of Price or some station in the vicinity of the present town of Helper. In 1887 the station of Price seemed fairly well established, but there still was a station called Castle Valley between Price and Castle Gate. It is quite probable, although not entirely supported by authentic records, that the original "Castle Valley" was some station at least in the vicinity of the present town of Helper. This station of "Castle Valley" occurs in the records as late as December 31, 1887.
The line was standard gauged in 1890, and the first reference to "Helper Terminal" appears in the annual report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1892, during which year a new depot, hotel for trainmen, new coal chute, roundhouse and oil house were constructed. Deeds for the land purchased at Helper are dated 1891, and one of these was a conveyance from the Helper Townsite Company. It thus appears that if it were originally called "Castle Valley" or if it were an entirely new station, the name "Helper" surely was applied to the location at the time standard gauging, was effected, or in 1890.
After the construction of the division terminal at Helper, which evidently occurred in 1891, the use of the terminal previously constructed at P. V. Junction or Colton was abandoned. Subsequent to the original installation of facilities at Helper, almost all were augmented from time to time. The amount of trackage grew rather gradually. The first dwellings for employees were constructed in 1897, and the chapel was constructed by the railroad company in 1899. As the requirements grew, additional dwellings for employees and additions to hotel accommodations were installed. The Y. M. C. A. building was erected in 1906.
Due primarily to the rapid development of the coal industry in Carbon County and the complexity of operation attendant thereon, the division terminal was moved from Helper to Soldier Summit in 1919, and due to the subsequently changed condition, it was returned to Helper in 1929 where railroad facilities were greatly expanded to accommodate its location at that point.