Emery County Coal Mines
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This page was last updated on January 24, 2024.
As a general statement, prior to becoming captive to Utah Power & Light, all of the coal mines mentioned in this article were small operations, shipping 50 to 100 tons per day by wagon, and later by truck to local markets. The lack of railroad transportation in the 1905-1920 period hindered the development of the mines west of Huntington and Castle Dale. The coal seams were known to exist, but other coal deposits and reserves were closer to available railroads and were developed earlier and received greater financial support.
The change came in the post-World War II period when Shirl McArthur came to the LDS Church mine west of Castle Dale and developed it as a successful truck mine that shipped coal to LDS sites throughout Utah and Idaho, either by truck or by single-car rail shipments. By the mid 1950s production of the church mine grew to the point that some minor part of the output was found to be surplus, and rather than have employees and volunteers work less hours, and therefore reduce production, the surplus was sold to Utah Power and Light for use in its existing Hale and Gadsby coal-fired power plants. (The UP&L Carbon power plant at Castle Gate had its own captive coal supply.)
Then in 1964, Peabody Coal, the largest coal producer in the nation at that time, came to Utah and began buying coal from Carbon County mines and shipping it by rail to the Nevada Power Company's new power plant at Moapa, Nevada. This was to fulfill the specifics of the contract that the coal being furnished must come from Utah mines. Utah Power & Light was aware of the quality of the coal from these mines (low ash and low sulphur), and its usefulness in power plants. UP&L was planning to build an additional coal-fired power plant in Wyoming near a coal mine it already owned, but Shirl McArthur showed them a better alternative and UP&L decided to build its new power plant in Emery County. The new plant was the Huntington power station and was located close to the Deer Creek mine, and close enough to the church mine and the Wilberg mine that would allow truck shipments in quantities that would support the needs of a coal-fired power plant. UP&L bought the mines in 1971 and the Huntington power station went on line in 1974. The Hunter power station followed in 1978. Both Huntington and Hunter increased their power production with additional units as more coal was produced by the captive mines.
This was a slack time for Utah's coal industry. But during the same period, production of the UP&L coal mines, captive to UP&L's own power plants, regularly exceeded production of the other coal mines in the region.
The coal mines owned by PacifiCorp, as successor to Utah Power & Light, were closed in 2015 and the portals and surface facilities reclaimed in 2018. PacifiCorp continues to buy coal for the Hunter and Huntington power plants from area coal mines.
The Coal Mines
The following about the history of coal mining in Emery County comes from the Emery County history, published in 1996 as part of the Utah centennial.
The LDS church initially opened the Deseret mine in the Grimes Wash area on East Mountain in 1938 as a project of the Church Security Program (later renamed the Welfare Program). The lack of water to settle the coal dust led to closure of the mine in 1941. The end of the war brought a renewed effort to develop a fuel supply not only for the Welfare Program but also for LDS chapels, the church's hospital system, and Brigham Young University. Shirl McArthur was "set apart" in 1946 as superintendent of what was then called the Deseret Mine. With the support of church officials, McArthur solved the water problem by piping water from springs on East Mountain to a reservoir inside the mine and in other ways developed the workings into a productive mine. A major development push starting in 1948 included construction of a new tipple at the mine mouth, an improved access road, a power line, and shipping and warehouse facilities on the bench road between Orangeville and Castle Dale.
Diesel powered equipment (at that time still rare in underground mines) made efficient access possible to all areas of the mine. Capacity reached 200 tons per day in 1949 and 500 tons by 1951. The first continuous miner was installed in 1961, increasing productive capacity still further. With a captive market, the Deseret Mine, almost alone among the county's coal operations, was able to maintain its production and employment through the 1960s.
In 1961 Shirl and Bessie McArthur mortgaged their home for capital to establish Castle Valley Mining Company. The company [in 1967] did some exploratory drilling followed by prospect entries in Peabody Coal Company's Wilberg property, which had been closed for lack of market. Castle Valley Mining then drove three prospect entries in Peabody's Deer Creek property. As the quantity and quality of coal were established, Utah Power shifted its attention from the Kemmerer, Wyoming, area to Emery County. Shirl McArthur played an active role in promoting the county's advantages as a site for major power generation facilities and in encouraging local officials and farmers to make the necessary water available to meet Utah Power's needs. By 1970 Castle Valley Mining had almost one hundred employees and was shipping coal from the Wilberg Mine to Nevada Power's generating plants near Las Vegas.
In 1972 Utah Power purchased the Deseret and Beehive mines from the LDS church. McArthur organized American Coal Company and contracted with Utah Power to operate the mines. By the end of 1973, even before the local power plants went into operation, American Coal was employing 140 miners and forty-five truck drivers.
Coal production increased dramatically as the power plants went on line. By mid-1976 307 miners were working at Deer Creek to supply the Huntington Plant. In December 1976 Utah Power and Light purchased the Deer Creek and Wilberg properties from Peabody and contracted with American Coal to operate them in addition to the Deseret, Beehive, and Little Dove complex (Des-Bee-Dove). By April 1977 American Coal had 709 employees. Two years later the number had increased to 1,167 at five mines.
Growing differences over management policies and practices became public in March 1979 when Utah Power demanded that American Coal either sell its operations or face the loss of its contracts. In May American Coal sold almost all of its assets with the exception of its name to Savage Brothers, whose Western Coal Carriers already held the Utah Power haulage contract. Savage Brothers named the company Emery Mining.
Including the mines and the trucking operation, Savage Brothers interests employed about 1,600 in the county by mid-1979. By 1980 Emery County had become the largest coal producer in the state, with 6.32 million tons to Carbon County's 5.49 million and Sevier County's 1.82 million.
Castle Valley Mining Company was organized in 1961 by Shirl McArthur and his wife Bessie. Its purpose was to develop and operate coal mines. Both the Wilberg mine and the Deer Creek mine were developed and operated by Castle Valley Mining under contract to Peabody Coal.
"Castle Valley Mining Co. is a corporation set up for prospect development and promotional work on a private enterprise basis." (Sun Advocate, March 19, 1970)
American Coal Company was organized in 1972 by Shirl McArthur, his wife, and a partner, James Jensen, to operate the Wilberg mine, the Deseret (Des-Bee-Dove) mine, and the Deer Creek mine under contract to Utah Power & Light. (James Jensen was a local area lawyer and was active in many local organizations. His name was seldom mentioned in association with American Coal after late 1974.)
The Power Plants
The Huntington Power Plant is located eight miles west of Huntington, in Huntington Canyon, at the junction where Deer Creek Canyon meets Huntington Canyon. The Huntington power plant's coal comes from the Deer Creek mine by way of a two-mile conveyor system. Water comes from Huntington Creek.
- Construction started in January 1972.
- Huntington No. 1 went online in July 1974.
- Huntington No. 2 went online in June 1977.
- The Huntington power plant was off-line from June 1976 to December 1977 due to a damaged steam turbine.
The Hunter power plant is located just over three miles south of Castle Dale. Originally to be called the Emery Plant, the name was changed in October 1978 to the Hunter Power Plant in honor of longtime UP&L president E. Alan Hunter. The Hunter power plant's coal comes mainly from mines west of Castle Dale, primarily the Wilberg mine, by way of trucks traveling along a purpose-built private 12-mile highway. Water comes from Ferron and Cottonwood creeks.
- Plans were announced in May 1974.
- Construction started in January 1976.
- Hunter No. 1 went online in June 1978, with plans to build a total of four units.
- Hunter No. 2 went online in June 1980.
- Hunter No. 3 went online in mid 1983.
- Hunter No. 4 was canceled in September 1983.
The other coal-fired power plants in Utah included the 250-megawatt Gadsby plant in Salt Lake City, the 160-megawatt Carbon plant at Castle Gate, and the 57-megawatt Hale plant near Provo.
"UP&L's 430-Mw Huntington Plant is scheduled for operation in June 1974. To consume 1.2 million tons per year from Peabody Coal in Deer Creek Canyon. A second 415-Mw unit is scheduled for completion by 1977, and two more 415-Mw units are scheduled for 1978 and 1979 on sites to be selected. The four units will require 5 million tons per year" (Coal Age, Volume 79, Number 5, May 1974, page 94)
In August 1977 UP&L announced it would build two additional 400-megawatt units at the new Emery (later Hunter) plant, instead of adding them to the Naughton plant in Wyoming. The reason given was the cost of construction and fuel, and meeting government regulations at the Wyoming site. Two units were currently under construction at the Hunter site, and were to be completed in 1978 and 1980. The two new units at the Hunter plant would go online in 1983 and 1985. (Spanish Fork Press, August 17, 1977)
The first unit of the new Hunter plant (400-megawatts) was formally dedicated and put into full production on October 4, 1978. The second 400-megawatt unit was still under construction. In November 1978 UP&L received state regulatory approval for the third and fourth 400-megawatt units to be built. (Provo Daily Herald, October 5, 1978; Emery County Progress, November 9, 1978)
(Hunter No. 2 was planned to go on line on June 1, 1980, but the actual start date was overshadowed by a controversy over partial ownership of the plant by a group of municipal power companies. The actual start date was not published.)
(There was no apparent newspaper coverage of a start date or dedication of UP&L's Hunter No. 3 unit, which took place in mid 1983. As shown below the No. 4 unit was never completed, and Hunter today  stands at three units with an approximate capacity of 430-megawatts each; numbers vary for its total capacity.)
"Utah Power & Light Co.'s Hunter No. 4 Power Plant has been placed on the back burner once again as the company announced Monday it would delay completion of the project until 1991. The deferral is the second in the history of the Emery County plant. Originally scheduled for completion in 1987, the construction was put off for the first time in March of 1982 as the anticipated demand for power failed to materialize when the national economy slipped." (Sun Advocate, September 28, 1983)
West Of Huntington
"The Huntington Creek mines are situated on Huntington Creek in Emery County. There are over one hundred small openings on this creek, fifteen of which are about two miles south of Connelleville, owned and operated by Carlston, Lund and Company. In these openings they have veins of clean coal from six to seventeen feet thick, which lays in four different veins. The other openings are situated lower down the creek and are owned and operated by Don Robins and the people of the surrounding towns, and are on the same vein as mentioned above." (Report of Utah Coal Mine Inspector, 1899-1900)
Huntington Creek Coal Mine -- Owned by the Huntington Creek Coal company and operated by Don C. Robbins. This property is situated some ten miles north of the town of Huntington, on Huntington creek. There are a large number of openings on this property, showing the vein on both sides of the canyon for a number of miles. There have been some 1670 short tons of coal taken out by this company and sold in Castle Valley." (Report of Utah Coal Mine Inspector, 1903-1904)
"Huntington Mines -- These mines are located, one in Deer Creek, which employs four men. The coal mined is sold in the valley to the farmers. One in Bear Canyon, which employs ten men, under the instructions of Mr. D. C. Robbins as agent. There are several other openings in the canyon, all being worked under the same management." (Report of Utah Coal Mine Inspector, 1905-1906)
Deer Creek Mine
The Deer Creek mine was located in Deer Creek Canyon, about 2.5 miles directly southwest of the Huntington power plant. It was connected directly to the power plant by a conveyor belt system.
The old Deer Creek mine was active from 1896 to 1916, then again in 1937-1956. This later period was by Malcolm McKinnon's American Fuel Company, with the mine being commonly called the McKinnon mine, the American Fuel mine, and the Deer Creek mine.
"The Deer Creek mine is located in Deer Creek Canyon, a canyon leading off Huntington main canyon, to the south, and eleven miles west of Huntington, situated on Section 11, Township 17 South, Range 5 E., and owned by J. H. Mays and the McCornick Banking Company of Salt Lake. R. T. Davis is in charge of the property, employing six men. The product is hauled to Huntington and vicinity. The mine has but one opening. A survey has been made of the present workings, which have been in operation during the winter seasons for thirty years. A second opening to the south is in course of construction. The mine is naturally damp." (Report of Utah Coal Mine Inspector, 1911-1912)
The old Deer Creek Mine was opened by Owen Smith and Charley Barnes, but these men failed to have it patented. Joseph B. Johnson and three men from Logan, Utah, had it patented and borrowed $12,000 from Jesse Knight of Provo for payment. It was later sold to J. H. Mayes of Salt Lake City who lost it to the county because of failure to pay taxes. By 1934 it was owned and operated by Byron Howard.
By 1934, Byron Howard, a resident of Huntington, was shown as operating the "Byron Howard coal mine" at the head of Deer Creek Canyon. He was cited for selling coal at less than the price set by the code of fair competition for the bituminous coal industry. (Emery County Progress, February 9, 1934; Sun Advocate, March 22, 1934) (Byron Howard was elected as a state senator in November 1938.)
(The American Fuel name as a coal mining company in Huntington Canyon does not come up in available online newspapers until July 2, 1939.)
In 1941, the 47 non-union miners working at McKinnon's American Fuel mine went on strike in support of union miners at other mines. Similar strike action took place again in 1949. (Sun Advocate, January 30, 1941; Salt Lake Tribune, September 30, 1949)
June 2, 1943
By 1943 the Howard mine was employing 15 men. (Salt Lake Telegram, June 2, 1943)
During the late 1930s and the early 1940s, both the McKinnon American Fuel mine, and Byron Howard's Deer Creek mine were in operation, separated by several hundred yards and 250 feet in elevation.
"The Byron Howard mine is located in Section 11 of T17S, R7E in Deer Creek Canyon (a subsidiary of Huntington Canyon), Emery County, Utah, The mine has been opened on the Blind Canyon bed. The coal bed is roughly fourteen feet in thickness, and the excellent roof and floor of this mine affords good mining conditions. The entries and rooms are all spacious, The mine is accessible over a fairly good dirt road in Deer Creek Canyon. According to Mr. Howard, the present output of the mine is roughly 200 tons per day [about 52,000 tons per year]." (Resinous Coals in Salina and Huntington Canyons, Utah. Utah Geological And Mineralogical Survey, Circular No. 23, January 1943)
"The American Fuel Mine, controlled by Malcolm McKinnon, is several hundred yards to the southwest of the Howard Mine [in Deer Creek Canyon] and at an elevation of some 250 feet above it. McKinnon has probably developed the Blind Canyon vein, as the thickness of the vein, quality of coal, percentage of resin contained therein and the geologic stratigraphic position of this mine is the same as the Howard Mine. The area containing the Howard's holdings have been down faulted, thus accounting for the differences in elevation of the two properties. The mine is accessible over a fair dirt road that serves both mines. The American Fuel Mine produces approximately 45,000 tons of coal per year [about 173 tons per day]." (Resinous Coals in Salina and Huntington Canyons, Utah. Utah Geological And Mineralogical Survey, Circular No. 23, January 1943)
During 1943 McKinnon was using the truck unloading site on Second East at Fourth South in Price to load coal into rail cars. McKinnon was furnishing coal from his Deer Creek mine to all U. S. Army facilities in Utah. The coal shipments had previously been all by truck, but in 1943 McKinnon began shipping by rail. In May 1944 he had shipped 117 cars of coal to customers. (Sun Advocate, September 30, 1943; June 15, 1944)
(In 1969, McKinnon sold a 480-acre parcel to the LDS church as an expansion to its existing mine at the head of Grimes Wash, about three miles due south of the Deer Creek mine.)
The area southwest of what later became the Deer Creek mine was under lease to Malcolm McKinnon, who operated it as the American Fuel Company. According to Doelling (1972) the McKinnon leases in 1970 encompassed over 17,000 acres throughout Carbon County and were the largest coal holdings in the state, right behind U. S. Fuel's 18,600 acres. (Doelling, H.H., Central Utah Coal Fields, 1972)
In February 1973, Malcolm N. McKinnon offered 6419 acres of coal land for sale, noting that it was located "in the heart of the Carbon-Emery coal fields, 3 miles the the D.&R.G. RR". (Sun Advocate, February 1, 1973)
(Malcolm N. McKinnon died at age 65 on September 10, 1975 as the result of an automobile accident in Parleys Canyon, east of Salt Lake City. He had opened the American Fuel coal mine in Huntington Canyon in 1935, and leased the property to Peabody Coal in 1968.) (In later years, as late as 2002, the property had separate property lines and continued to be called the McKinnon Lease as part of the original Deer Creek mine.)
March 19, 1970
Utah Power & Light and Castle Valley Mining were in negotiations for UP&L to purchase the Deer Creek mine. (Sun Advocate, March 19, 1970)
The new Deer Creek mine was opened by Utah Power & Light in 1971, working the same coal seam, but from a different entry point. The surface workings of the previous Howard and McKinnon mines in Deer Creek were demolished.
January 18, 1973
Peabody Coal Co., headquartered in St. Louis, purchased the Deer Creek mine, which was being operated by Shirl McArthur's Castle Valley Mining Company. Prior to this, Peabody had been leasing the coal property. No major changes were to be made at the Deer Creek mine after Peabody installed its own chief engineer, chief of construction and chief clerk. All other employees remained as local. The Deer Creek mine, in Huntington Canyon had been developed in 1963 ("ten years ago") by Shirl McArthur after he had found that coal from his Oliphant mine in Straight Canyon held too much ash to be sold to Nevada Power. He was developing the property that would become the Wilberg mine at the head of Grime's Wash, but stopped development due to the property being economically unsound because of expected high costs of transportation. To replace the potential source of low ash coal from the Grime's Wash property, McArthur purchased the Deer Creek property from Byron Howard. The Deer Creek mine was taking coal from the same seam as the Grime's Wash property, but on the north side of the mountain. McArthur drove new entries and proved the known reserves of the Deer Creek property. Eighty men were employed at the Deer Creek mine, and the mine was capable of shipping 2000 tons daily, first to Nevada Power, then later by conveyor to the new UPL&L power plant at the mouth of Deer Creek Canyon. (Sun Advocate, January 18, 1973)
(Peabody Coal had been shipping coal from Carbon County to the Nevada Power power plants in Nevada since 1964, with the coal coming from the mines of U. S. Fuel and from Spring Canyon Coal, both from mines located on Utah Railway.)
The new Deer Creek Mine began operation in 1974. UP&L's Huntington power plant went on line in July 1974, with the Deer Creek mine as its sole source of coal.
January 9, 1975
"The Western Coal Carriers, a subsidiary of Savage Brothers, haul coal from the Peabody Coal Deer Creek mine on a forty mile round trip to the Mohrland railroad loading ramp for shipment to Moapa. The road was graded, widened and paved by Peabody and Savage funds with County equipment and men. Deer Creek mine employs 265 men." (Emery County Progress, January 9, 1975)
May 12, 1975
Peabody Coal's Deer Creek mine was the sole source for coal for Utah Power & Light's Huntington power plant, at the time of a cave-in at the mine that killed two and injured two others. The mine was closed for a week to allow an investigation. Power from the power plant was reduced by half because of the mine closure, with coal being drawn from the power plant's stock pile. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 14, 1975)
March 11, 1977
The Utah Public Service Commission held public hearings on February 17, 1977 as part of its approval of the sale of Peabody Coal's Deer Creek and Wilberg mines to Utah Power & Light. On February 25, 1977 the Federal Trade Commission approved the sale of the two coal mines to Utah Power & Light. The Utah commission approved the sale on March 11, 1977, thus allowing the sale to go through. UP&L reported that its purchase of the two mines would save $5 per ton from one mine, and $2 per ton from the other mine.
(Additional coverage of the Deer Creek mine after 1977 took place under Utah Power & Light ownership.)
West Of Castle Dale
Straight Canyon lies directly west of Castle Dale, and terminates at Joe's Valley, 14.5 miles to the west. The water course in Straight Canyon is Cottonwood Creek. Two major canyons intersect Straight Canyon along its north side. First is Grimes Wash, about 5.25 miles west of Castle Dale, and second is Cottonwood Creek Canyon, about 9.5 miles west of Castle Dale.
The mines west of Castle Dale included the old Wilberg mine, at the head of the Left Fork of Grimes Wash. The Deseret-Beehive-Little Dove (Des-Bee-Dove) complex is at the head of the Right Fork of Grimes Wash.
Also in Straight Canyon were the Black Diamond and Oliphant mines, but these were small wagon (later truck) mines that sold their coal locally. Cyrus Wilberg developed the Oliphant mine, which he later renamed as the Straight Canyon mine. "The Black Diamond mine east of the Oliphant and higher on Straight Canyon wall probably operated intermittently. The amount of coal mined is estimated to be about 10,000 tons. Coal in the Oliphant is from the Hiawatha seam which is 4 to 6 feet thick with a good sandstone roof. About 34,000 tons have been mined from the Oliphant." (Doelling)
The Oliphant mine was listed in the 1910 report of the state coal mine inspector, producing 400 tons with 3 employees. The mine is listed in the 1912-1916 annual reports as being operated by the Oliphant Brothers, but without any production or employees.
In 1906 the state coal mine inspector described the Otteson mine (often misspelled as the Otterson mine): "Otteson Mine. A coal bed at the base of the series, located very near the south side of the NE 1/4 of Section 26, Township 17S, Range 7E [at the later site of the Deseret mine], is mined occasionally for domestic consumption at Castle Dale. The workable part of the bed is 11 feet, 10 inches thick, but is divided by a thin parting of shale. The coal seems to be of the average grade of coals in the Book Cliffs field."
The Otteson mine was operated by H. P. Otteson, as shown in the 1909 state coal mine inspector report. The Otteson mine was in operation as early as 1906 ("40 years ago" from 1946).
Des-Bee-Dove Mine Complex
The original mine workings of the Deseret mine date from as early as 1901 and were known as the Reid & Griffith Mine, but mine production was limited due to the rugged terrain and poor access. The Griffith workings were purchased at some time before 1936 by two men, George Edwards and Clinton Broderick, who built an access road and mined coal for the local market until 1938. The Edwards mine trucked its coal as far away as Delta. (Known as the Edwards-Starley mine in 1932; known as the Edwards-Broderick mine by 1936.)
There were three separate and distinct mines at the head of the right fork of Grimes Wash, all within 50 to 100 feet of each other. They were the Castle Valley Fuel company's (former Otteson) mine, the Edwards mine (near the Castle Valley Fuel Co. mine), which opened in September 1939, and the L.D.S. "church security mine" which was transporting much coal to Salt Lake City.
(Based on newspaper ads, the Edwards mine was actively mining, selling and delivering coal as late as December 1946.)
In August 1938, on the recommendation local church leadership, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased 400 acres of coal land that included the former Griffith mine. In November 1938, the first shipment of coal from the former Griffith mine, now called the Deseret Coal Mine, was shipped to church buildings and facilities in Utah Valley. Work was done by local volunteers, with operations being overseen by Shirl McArthur as the unpaid volunteer mine foreman. It was a part time business for McArthur, who continued to work full time at other coal mining locations in Carbon and Emery counties.
(The Deseret mine, or Church Mine was also known other names including the Church Security mine and the Church Welfare mine.)
(There were three coal mines adjacent to each other at this location. These were the new Church mine, and the existing Otteson mine, which was taken over the the newly formed Castle Valley Fuel company, and the existing Edwards mine.)
September 30, 1938
"Work has started on the road to the new Howard mine and the Church mine, located near the old Otteson mine." (Emery County Progress, September 30, 1938)
October 14, 1938
"Castle Dale -- Extensive preparations are being made by the Castle Valley Fuel company, which recently took over the coal property formerly known as the old Otteson mine, eight miles north of Castle Dale, with the intentions of developing new deposits of coal on the property. A new road is being built which will serve both the Castle Valley Fuel Co., and the new L. D. S. Church Security mine in the same locality." (Emery County Progress, October 14, 1938)
(The Castle Valley Fuel Company was incorporated on September 15, 1936. Its president was E. A. Child; Dorothy Howard was vice president; and John I. Howard was secretary-treasurer. -- Salt Lake Telegram, September 15, 1936)
November 11, 1938
The following comes from the November 11, 1938 issue of the Emery County Progress newspaper.
New Castle Valley Fuel Co. Ships First Carload Of Coal -- Castle Dale -- After several months of extensive development work on their coal property, eight miles northwest of Castle Dale, the Castle Valley Fuel Company shipped its initial carload of coal from Price the latter part of last week.
This mine is known as the old Otteson mine, and while only a small wagon mine in the past, owing to the inaccessibility of the property, contains a huge body of high grade coal. Since the Castle Valley Fuel Company has taken over the property, several thousand dollars have been expended on building a tipple second to none in this part of the country and a 400 ton storage bin, assures immediate delivery to all trucks calling at the mine.
The company will truck its coal to Price and ship by rail to outside points, marketing it under the name of "Castle Valley Coal," as well as custom selling at the mine.
Members of the Castle Valley Fuel Co. firm are John I. Howard, president and general manager; H. R. Fisher, vice-president, and Dr. Burtis F. Robbins, secretary-treasurer. The latter two being residents of Salt Lake City.
The Castle Valley Fuel company adopted the trade name "Burn Brite Coal." They had sales offices in Salt Lake City, and their delivery trucks used the trade mark.
The adjacent Castle Valley Fuel Company continued to operate until 1947. The LDS Church purchased Castle Valley Fuel's operation in 1947 and combined operations to form Deseret Coal Company, a Church welfare project. Deseret Coal Company continued operations until Utah Power & Light Company (UP&L) acquired the property in 1972.
(In 1947, Reed G. Starley and George Q. Edwards sued three other principals of the Castle Valley Fuel Company, R. Glen Davis, R. Burtis F. Robbins, and J. H. Fisher, as owners and stockholders of the Castle Valley Fuel Company, for trespass and illegal removal of property when, between October 1945 and April 1947, the three persons illegally removed 37,000 tons of coal, valued at $92,500. -- Deseret News, August 26, 1947)
The Church Mine operated from 1938 until 1943 when it was closed due to World War II. At the time, all three mines adjacent to each other at the head of Grimes Wash suffered from a lack of water which prevented any meaningful development, and for that reason the church was able to buy out both the Edwards mine and the Castle Valley Fuel, former Otteson, mine. Frank Killian, who was managing the church mine as part of his duties as a local church leader, was able to develop a water source. This water source came from the Burnt Stump Spring three miles away using of a 2-inch water line that traveled across two canyons and two ridges to reach the mines in Grimes Wash. Production resumed in 1946, after the war.
Active operation of the Deseret mine came under direct church headquarters management in late 1946, as part of the church's welfare program. A formal company, Deseret Coal Company, was organized to own the mine (the combined church mine, the Edwards mine, and the Castle Valley Fuel mine). The original church mine had previously, from 1938 to 1947, been operated on a small scale by the the church's local welfare region. By late 1956, the Deseret mine supplied all the coal required by the church's welfare program, in addition to supplying coal to all church institutions and chapels in Utah and Idaho.
In late 1946 the LDS Church took over direct management of the Deseret coal mine, and hired Shirl McArthur, first as the mine's full time foreman then later, as mine superintendent. McArthur's previous full-time position was as the "face boss" at Independent Coal & Coke's Kenilworth mine. McArthur successfully opened and developed the Deseret mine. Improvements in the 1946-1948 period included electric power to the mine. In November 1949 the Church mine was designated by the United Mine Workers as a welfare mine, neither a union mine nor a non-union mine.
The L.D.S. church's Deseret mine went into production in mid December 1946, "last week." The improved and modernized coal mine was operated under the welfare program of the church. "The present property was purchased last summer [summer 1946] from the Castle Valley Fuel company to enlarge old holdings of the Deseret Coal company, a unit of the church welfare program which had been operated near by for eight years [since 1938]. The modernization included an electric locomotive, which was hauled up to the mine on December 2. "Operating from current supplied by a diesel power unit, the locomotive and cars replace former horse-drawn vehicles." "Production of 100 tons of coal a day now can be maintained" with a crew of six welfare workers. (Sun Advocate, December 19, 1946)
In May 1950, the Church Welfare mine announced plans for the completion of a modern all-steel tipple at the mine. The mine had produced 30,000 tons over the past year, and the new tipple was planned to have the capacity to produce coal at 100 tons per, 500 tons per shift, and 50,000 tons per year, in five grades of coal, and three grades of oiled slack. At the same time, the access road was being graded and oiled to improve the surface.
In 1955, Deseret No. 2 mine was opened in the coal seam 50 feet above the Deseret No. 1 mine. The new opening was named the Beehive Mine, and full production began in 1957. Coal from the Deseret and Beehive mines was transported by truck and single-car rail shipments to church-owned locations in Utah and Idaho.
In February 1961 a new Goodman Model 420 Borer continuous miner was installed at the Deseret mine, along with a new 4400-volt power line by UP&L to power it. The continuous miner was to be used on the mine's lower seam. (Emery County Progress, February 16, 1961, with photos)
(In 1969, McKinnon sold a 480-acre parcel to the LDS church as an expansion to its existing mine at the head of Grimes Wash, about three miles due south of the Deer Creek mine. McKinnon held a large block of federal coal leases southwest of his Deer Creek mine, and in 1969 he sold some portion to the church. Later, the church purchased an additional 640 acres. In 1972 McKinnon sued the church because it leased the 640-acre parcel to Peabody Coal, without retaining his underground right-of-way access to his adjacent mine.)
By February 1971, the church's Deseret mine was known as the Orangeville mine, or the Castle Valley mine, named for Shirl McArthur's company, Castle Valley Mining, which was operating the mine under contract.
With the sale of the Deseret mine to Utah Power & Light in late 1971, Castle Valley Mining's contract with the church became inactive, and a new contract between UP&L and Shirl McArthur's newly organized American Coal Company went into effect.
December 16, 1971
The first reference in available online newspapers to the Deseret mine being owned by Utah Power & Light was in the December 16, 1971 issue of the Sun Advocate newspaper. The reference was part of a news item about test drillers working for UP&L test drilling from locations at high elevations at the top of East Mountain, where temperatures were 12 to 15 degrees below zero.
February 7, 1972
Utah Power & Light's purchase of the Deseret mine was finalized. On January 26, 1972 UP&L announced "today" that the company would exercise its option to purchase the coal properties owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints near Orangeville in Emery County. UP&L had taken the 90-day option on November 8, 1971, and the purchase was to take effect on February 7, 1972. "The contract with North American Coal Co. which supplied the Carbon Plant will end in March. The contract with Standard Oil of California to supply the Gadsby Plant with residual oil will terminate in September." (Deseret News, January 26, 1972, with photo) (The contract for the supply of residual oil was renegotiated and "petroleum pitch" remained as a fuel for Gadsby No. 1 for another 30 years.)
In 1972, the combined Deseret and Beehive mine properties were sold to Utah Power & Light, which hired Shirl McArthur's American Coal Company as a contractor to operate the mine.
(There were no references to the American Coal Company in available online newspapers prior to April 1972.)
May 1, 1972
The mine of the American Coal company was set to begin production, after being closed to allow installation of a new Jeffery continuous mining machine, new power lines, new exhaust fans, and new shuttle cars, all to bring the mine into compliance with the recently passed amendments to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act. "American Coal Company, Inc. lists Shirl McArthur as president, Jim Jensen as vice president and legal counselor and Bessie McArthur as secretary and treasurer. The private enterprise is acting as independent contractor for Utah Power and Light. Production will supply Carbon, Gadsby and Hale plants as well as continuing to furnish the fuel needed to heat LDS schools and churches." (Sun Advocate, April 27, 1972)
May 11, 1972
One of the first modernizations that American Coal put in place with its new contract for operation of the Desert and Beehive mines, was the use of four new continuous miner machines that would increase production to 4000 tons per day. The Beehive mine was in the upper coal seam, and the Deseret mine was in the lower seam, and had been inactive for the past six or seven years. The Deseret mine would be returned to production after federal Bureau of Mines approval, expected very soon. The coal was being trucked to Price by MacFarland and Hullinger Trucking of Moab. (Sun Advocate, May 11, 1972)
September 11, 1972
American Coal shipped its first 2500 tons of coal from the Deseret and Beehive mines in a unit train bound for UP&L's Gadsby power plant in Salt Lake City. The unit train was made up of 25 100-ton D&RGW hopper cars, with a total of 53 100-ton cars being assigned to the service. The new unit train of 25 cars was to operate on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of every week, a total of 7500 tons per week. The trains were being loaded at the coal yard in south Price on 400 South street. (Sun Advocate, September 14, 1972)
June 20, 1974
The first unit train of coal loaded at the new Acco loading site was operated to Utah Power & Light's Carbon power plant at Castle Gate. The new service by D&RGW was to deliver 9000 tons of coal per week to the power plant, in the form of unit trains made up of 31 rail cars, three time per week. D&RGW upgraded 1500 feet of existing track, and added 330 more feet of track to accommodate the new service. (Helper Journal, June 27, 1974)
By 1976 the Deseret and Beehive mines were better known as the American Coal mine of the American Coal Co., a local company. The mine was controlled by Utah Power & Light, and UP&L was in negotiations with Peabody to purchase Peabody's Deer Creek and Wilberg mines. (Emery County Progress, August 26, 1976)
The following comes from the January 2, 1975 issue of the Sun Advocate newspaper.
The American Coal Company with an office at Huntington is a relatively new company, having its beginnings in early 1971 [late 1971] when Utah Power and Light Company purchased the Beehive and Deseret mines in Orangeville from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The original church mine came into existence in 1936. Labor was donated by LDS Church members at that time. It was operated as a wagon mine until operation was interrupted by World War II. Deseret Coal mine was officially re-opened as a mechanical mine October 23,1946. Shirl McArthur was superintendent.
The management of these mines is presently under contract with the American Coal Co. The main offices of the company are located in Huntington. McArthur is president of the company. American Coal employs approximately 180 persons. This number includes a transportation division located south of Price which maintains the fleet of about 20 trucks which transports coal from the mines.
In 1977, the Little Dove Mine was opened.
The mine plan map dated 1990 shows that the Little Dove mine was on the west side of the same outcrop as the Beehive mine, with the Little Dove mine workings progressing directly west from the portal opening, at about the 9 o'clock position, beginning in March 1978. The Beehive mine workings were progressing directly north from the 12 o'clock position. Both at approximately 7910 feet elevation. The Deseret mine portal was also at the westerly 9 o'clock position, but was at 7775 feet elevation, about 135 feet lower and about 300 feet to the southeast from the Little Dove portal. By 1981, all of the coal being produced was exiting the mine complex either through the lower site for the Deseret mine, or from the upper Little Dove mine. The Beehive mine and its production had been fully integrated with the Little Dove mine by underground workings and was serving as the exhaust for ventilation fans of the other two mines.
The following snippets come from the April 13, 1977 issue of the Sun Advocate newspaper.
Since March 24, when the company signed a contract to mine coal for UP&L from the Deer Creek and Wilberg mines formerly owned by Peabody Coal, the number of employees has jumped from 267 to 709.
The company's coal tonnage has risen from over 1 million tons in 1976 to a projected 4.5 million tons in 1978.
Beehive, Deseret and Little Dove mines. Little Dove is a new mine being developed west of the Beehive seam.
The Deer Creek mine on the north slopes of East Mountain and the Wilberg mine on the south slopes of the same mountain range were both developed through Castle Valley Mining, a private enterprise headed by Mr. McArthur, who also served many years as superintendent of the LDS Church Welfare Coal Mine.
All coal produced is used to operate power plants except for a contractual agreement with the LDS church.
American Coal has become the largest single employer in southeastern Utah.
Because of their extensive underground workings extending to the north, both the Desert mine in the (lower) Hiawatha coal seam, and the Beehive mine in the (upper) Blind Canyon coal seam, in later years opened their coal seams where they were exposed on the other side of East Mountain. Both "breakouts" were at the head of Maple Gulch, directly southeast of the Deer Creek mine above Huntington Canyon. Underground development and crossover between the Des-Bee-Dove mines, and the adjacent Cottonwood-Wilberg mines was limited by the Deer Creek Fault line that geologically separated the two areas.
(Additional coverage of the Des-Bee-Dove mine after 1977 took place under Utah Power & Light ownership.)
Wilberg Coal Mine
The original mine at the head of Grimes Wash was known as the Castle Valley mine and was intermittently active from 1898 to 1936. It was idle from 1936 to 1949. In 1949 an adjacent opening in the same coal seam was developed as the Wilberg mine. Over the years, a variety of operators had leases on the mine, and in those times the mine had other names, such as Fox, Straight Canyon, Crow, and Reed.
In August 1949, Cyrus Wilberg was offering the "Straight Canyon" coal mine for sale. (Emery County Progress, August 12, 1949)
September 23, 1949
"Castle Dale -- It was announced this week by Mr. Cyrus Wilberg of Castle Dale that the Wilberg Coal Co. (also Wilberg and Sons) has now opened a new coal mine in Grimes Wash. This mine is just 5 miles off the Straight Canyon road and has a good road leading to it. The coal is of a good quality burning up clean and holding a good fire, according to those who have already used the coal. They have plenty of coal now on hand and an attendant is at the mine at all times ready to supply independent truckers. The Wilberg Coal Co. will also make deliveries on request. They can supply you with whatever you need: lump, nut or slack. The slack can be had dry or oiled. Former operator of the Black Diamond Coal mine in Straight Canyon, Mr. Wilberg has stated that the coal in the Grimes Wash mine is equal in quality to the Black Diamond coal." (Emery County Progress, September 23, 1949)
August 4, 1950
Cyrus Wilberg leased his coal mine to a group of Salt Lake businessmen who planned to operate it as the San Rafael Mining Co., to take effect on August 1, 1950. Cyrus Wilberg was vice president of the new company. Production was expected to be 150 to 300 tons per day. (Emery County Progress, August 4, 1950; Deseret News, August 13, 1950)
December 16, 1954
By late 1954 the mine known as the Wilberg Coal Company and was producing 75 tons per day. The name change may have been an informal name used by the newspaper, or the previous company's lease had ended. (Sun Advocate, December 16, 1954)
July 21, 1955
"Father, Four Sons Own, Operate Wilberg Mine -- The Wilberg Coal Mine is a family owned and operated property. Cyrus Wilberg, the father, and his four married sons, Kenneth, La Mar, Lloyd, and Ted, are all interested in and work in some capacity at the mine. They all live within a block of each other at Castle Dale. The Wilbergs began their mining operation in 1949 when they took over the old Griffith Mine which is about 55 years old. Mr. Wilberg said its resources are unlimited. He told of a natural rock bin next to the mine which will hold up to 1,500 tons of coal. The coal is stockpiled there until it is trucked to the railroad at Mohrland, where they have several ramps for unloading the contents of the trucks into railroad cars. From here it is shipped to points in the northwest, Salt Lake City and Provo. Coal is taken to San Pete, Sevier, and Wayne counties by truck. They produce about 75 tons of coal daily, according to Mr. Wilberg, and on the average load about two freight cars per day. They have four trucks, all family operated, to take the coal to the railroad. Their mine, he said, was fully mechanized and they make their own power with two complete diesel generating sets." (Green River Journal, July 21, 1955)
Nevada Power was about to award a contract to supply its new Moapa power plant with coal from Utah. The Peabody Coal company was one of the prospective bidders, but was still searching for a source of coal in Utah. The coal needed to be Utah because the boilers had been designed to burn a particular mix of BTUs, low ash, and low sulphur unique to Utah coal. The were five bidders, offering coal from seven properties, but Nevada Power wanted the coal to come from just one company and one mine. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 13, 1963)
(When the Utah-Wyoming Coal Operators Association complained to the U. S. Justice Department in November 1963 that Nevada Power was giving Peabody Coal preferential treatment in the bidding process, Nevada Power responded that they had received nine bids in their competitive process, adding that the complaint "sounds like sour grapes." -- Ogden Standard Examiner, November 7, 1963; Helper Journal, November 14, 1963)
February 7, 1964
The following comes from the February 8, 1964 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper.
Peabody Goal Co., St. Louis, Mo., has won that long-term from Nevada Power Co. to supply coal from Carbon and Emery counties, Utah, for a steam electric plant complex under construction at Moapa, Nev., it was reported Friday [February 7th].
Nevada Power's initial coal requirements for the first 100,000 to 115,000 kw unit, 50 miles north of Las Vegas, will be in the order of 300,000 tons annually. The first unit of the plant goes on stream in early 1965.
As previously reported in The Tribune, Peabody representatives in recent weeks have been active in the Carbon-Emery coal fields, conducting investigations in connection with supply of fuel for the Nevada Power contract requirements.
The Tribune learned that the coal firm had completed arrangements to purchase coal in the Utah fields from certain established producers for an initial period, pending completion of final operating plans.
Peabody Coal won a contract to supply coal to Nevada Power's new Reid Gardner power plant at Moapa, Nevada. The coal was to come from the Wilberg mine of the Castle Valley Mining company and would be hauled by truck from the mine and transferred to rail cars for the trip to Nevada. The boilers of the Moapa power plant had been designed to burn coal unique to Carbon and Emery counties in Utah. (Sun Advocate, February 13, 1964)
October 7, 1965
While reporting on during discussions for a strip mine at Black Mesa in northern Arizona, the Sun Advocate newspaper in Price was concerned about how it would affect the coal mines in Carbon County. "Peabody Coal currently buys substantial amounts of coal from U. S. Fuel and from Spring Canyon Coal for delivery to Nevada Power Company's power plant in Moapa." (Sun Advocate, October 7, 1965)
February 10, 1967
On February 10, 1967 Peabody Coal of St. Louis contracted with Castle Valley Mining company to do an investigation of the Wilberg mine. The access road had already been graded and widened in preparation for increased haulage by truck. There were rumors that D&RGW was planning to build a spur to serve the Wilberg mine. (Sun Advocate, February 16, 1967)
(Although several sources note that Castle Valley Mining was organized by Shirl McArthur and his wife in 1961, the above news item in February 1967 was the first mention of the company in available online newspapers. A general internet search also fails to find any reference to the company in the period between 1961 and the late 1960s.)
March 9, 1967
The Castle Valley Mining Company purchased the Wilberg mine. "Prospect work has so far proven satisfactory, and they are now looking to see if the mining and transportation conditions would warrant producing coal at a reasonable cost. If this checks out satisfactorily, this mine would become a large scale operation. There would also be a possibility of the railroad extending a spur line into the county to transport this coal." (Emery County Progress, March 9, 1967)
Peabody Coal bought the mining rights of the Wilberg mine. Peabody idled the mine except for limited exploratory mining until March 1974, when energy prices saw a sharp rise. (Documents on file with th Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining)
April 18, 1977
Utah Power & Light purchased the rights to the mine on April 18, 1977, and then contracted out operating the mine to American Coal Company. In June 1979 Emery Mining Corporation took over operations. (Documents on file with th Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining)
(Additional coverage of the Wilberg mine after 1977 took place under Utah Power & Light ownership.)
Utah Power & Light Coal Mines
(After 1971) (all were captive coal mines, with UP&L as their only customer)
Utah Power & Light, and PacifiCorp after 1992, owned and operated three coal mines. The Deseret-Beehive-Little-Dove (Des-Bee-Dove) complex, and the Cottonwood-Wilberg complex west of Castle Dale, and the Deer Creek mine west of Huntington.
The Wilberg and Deseret mines produced their coal from the Hiawatha coal seam.
The Beehive and Little Dove mines, west of Castle Dale, and the Deer Creek mine west of Huntington, mined their coal from the Blind Canyon coal seam, located about 50 feet above the Hiawatha seam.
The following comes from documents on file with the Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining.
Peabody Coal Company acquired leases on the Deer Creek property and began operations in 1969. In 1977, Utah Power and Light Company purchased the Peabody operation and leases. In 1987, PacifiCorp and UP&L merged and the Deer Creek, Cottonwood-Wilberg, and Des-Bee-Dove mines were operated by the UP&L Mining Division. By 1990, The UP&L Mining Division was replaced by Energy West Mining Company as the mine operator. In 2020, PacifiCorp dissolved Energy West Mining Company and became operator of its two remaining mine sites; Deer Creek Mine and Cottonwood-Wilberg Mine.
In the late 1990's, as underground mine development expanded north, maintaining adequate ventilation had become a problem. To aid in mine ventilation, two ventilation breakouts were established in the north fork of Meetinghouse Canyon. These portals were constructed from the underground workings to the outside. In 2015, the Meetinghouse Canyon portals were sealed. In October 2016, final reclamation of the Meetinghouse portals was completed.
In March 2015, the southern end of the Deer Creek Mine was closed and sealed. The north mine workings were separated from the southern mine workings by underground seals. The portals in Deer Creek Canyon were sealed and backfilled in March 2015, leaving the transportation and ventilation openings intact to serve the north mine workings.
Demolition of the portal facilities of the north mine workings in Rilda Canyon was completed in July 2018. Earthwork operations for reclamation began in September 2018 after delays caused by the 2018 Trail Mountain Fire. Reclamation of the site was completed in June 2019.
Final reclamation of the of the mine site in Deer Creek Canyon, including removal of the conveyor system to the Huntington power plant, was completed in November 2019.
The following about Utah Power & Light's coal leases comes from Patterns and Trends in Federal Coal Lease Ownership, 1950-80 (April 1981).
In 1972, the company acquired its first lease by assignment from the Church of the Latter Day Saints, which had held it since 1957. In 1976, it added a second lease, which had previously been owned by five individuals in the course of its 43-year history. In 1977, several more leases were added, one from an individual and four from Peabody Coal. Peabody's leases had previously been owned by several independent coal mining companies or individuals active in the coal mining industry. In December 1979, Utah Power added its final five leases, all by assignment from Peabody. These leases had previously been owned, a few for several decades, by a succession of individuals and independent land agents.
The following summary of UP&L operations comes from the Utah Coal Report for 1995.
In 1969 Peabody Coal Company as the lease holder of the coal property and Malcolm McKinnon as the contractor opened up the Deer Creek Mine. He had also previously opened the Rilda Canyon and McKinnon Mine and was the original lease holder of the Skyline Mine which was sold to Utah Fuel Company.
UP&L had entered into a long-term contractual relationship with Peabody Coal Company in 1971 to supply coal to the Huntington and Hunter Plants. The relationship began to deteriorate soon after as coal costs almost tripled from 1969 to 1976. In 1976 Peabody indicated that further increases were necessary to retain profitability and requested that the contract be renegotiated. At this point UP&L determined that the best alternative was to purchase the properties from Peabody.
In 1976 UP&L purchased the Deer Creek and Wilberg Mines from Peabody Coal Company, securing coal reserves for the Huntington and Hunter power plants. American Coal Company was again retained as independent contractor to operate these mines.
The Deseret Mine began being replaced as the principle coal source for the Carbon, Gadsby and Hale plants in 1978 when contract purchases from Valley Camp Coal Company were instituted. In June 1979, a new contract with Valley Camp was signed, eventually providing 100 percent of the coal requirements to these plants. Currently the coal reserves of the Deseret, Deer Creek and Wilberg Mines are totally dedicated to the Huntington and Hunter power plants. These mines are strategically located allowing coal deliveries to the Huntington Plant via a two-mile conveyor [from the Deer Creek mine] and to Hunter Plant by short truck haul roads (Wilberg 12.5 miles, Deseret 13.5 miles).
American Coal Company operated the mines through April 30, 1979 until Emery Mining Corporation (EMC) purchased the operating agreements from American Coal Company. EMC guided operations through April 1986 bringing the UP&L properties into the longwall era.
In May 1979, UP&L began installation of highly productive longwall mining equipment, eventually operating four longwall mining systems in 1981. The UP&L mines now comprise one of the most productive underground mining facility's in the West in addition to being the largest.
In 1981, the Meetinghouse Canyon and Cottonwood properties were acquired and in 1985 the West Appa property was purchased, all adjacent to currently owned UP&L properties.
UP&L's involvement in coal mining began in 1972 (or late 1971) with the acquisition of the Deseret Mine from the LDS Church. The Deseret Mine replaced North American Coal Company (Castle Gate) as coal supplier for the Carbon, Gadsby and Hale power plants. Management of the day-to-day mining operations at Deseret was contracted out to American Coal Company.
May 30, 1974
Coal for the new UP&L power plant at Emery was to be trucked 13 miles from Peabody Coal's Wilberg mine in Cottonwood Canyon. (Sun Advocate, May 30, 1974)
August 26, 1976
By 1976 the "Deseret and Beehive" mine was better known as the American Coal mine of the American Coal Co., a local company. The mine was already owned and controlled by Utah Power & Light, and UP&L was in negotiations with Peabody Coal to purchase Peabody's Deer Creek and Wilberg mines. (Emery County Progress, August 26, 1976)
Utah Power & Light was a member of the Utility Group, Inc., which made an unsuccessful bid to purchase all of the assets of Peabody Coal from Kennecott. The bid was unsuccessful because Kennecott received a higher bid from another group. After the failed bid, Utah Power & Light bid for just the two mines in Utah, and Kennecott accepted the bid.
"Kennecott Copper Corp. votes to sell Peabody Coal Co. on October 14. The FTC had ordered the divestiture as anti-competitive in 1971." (Coal Age, Volume 81, Number 11, November 1976, page 27)
January 28, 1977
Utah Power & Light agreed to purchase Peabody Coal's Deer Creek and Wilberg coal mines for a reported $25.5 million. This was part of the forced divestiture of the assets of Peabody Coal by Kennecott Copper. Kennecott had purchased Peabody Coal in March 1968, but the sale (merger) was protested in May 1971 by the Federal Trade Commission, which sued to stop it. In April 1974 the U. S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, thereby letting the FTC's decision stand. From January until June 1977, the other coal mining assets of Peabody Coal were for sale to the highest bidder.
March 11, 1977
The Utah Public Service Commission held public hearings on February 17, 1977 as part of its approval of the sale. On February 25, 1977 the Federal Trade Commission approved the sale of the two coal mines to Utah Power & Light. The Utah commission approved the sale on March 11, 1977, thus allowing the sale to go through. UP&L reported that its purchase of the two mines would save $5 per ton from one mine, and $2 per ton from the other mine.
March 17, 1977
The following comes from the March 17, 1977 issue of the Sun Advocate newspaper.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Utah Public Service Commission has authorized Utah Power & Light Co. to purchase the Deer Creek and Wilberg coal mines in Central Utah from Peabody Coal Co. Purchase price for the two properties, with mineable reserves of a minimum of 146 million tons, was $25.37 million.
American Coal Co., which is under contract by Utah Power to mine the utility's Deseret Mine in Emery County, will also mine and operate the two acquired properties.
The Utah Commission's order said, "... evidence shows that Utah Power can achieve a cost savings of about $5 per ton on coal from the Deer Creek Mine and $1 to $2 per ton on coal from the Wilberg Mine ..." and fuel costs "have a direct relationship to the price consumer's pay for power and energy ..."
Utah Power and Peabody Coal Co. has had a longterm supply arrangement through which Peabody Coal supplied fuel from its Deer Creek Mine for Utah Power's Huntington Plant and had contracted to supply coal for the company's future Emery Plant from the Peabody Mine.
In October of last year, the Utilities Group, Inc., of which Utah Power was a member, made an unsuccessful bid to purchase the common stock of Peabody Coal Co. from Kennecott Copper Corporation. However, Kennecott accepted a higher bid from a competing group and Utah Power entered into an agreement to purchase the two Emery properties subject to approval of regulatory authorities.
March 24, 1977
Utah Power & Light signed a contract with Shirl McArthur's American Coal Company to operate its newly acquired Deer Creek and Wilberg coal mines. (Emery County Progress, April 14, 1977)
In June 1977, all of the remaining assets of Peabody Coal Company not sold to Utah Power & Light, were sold to a newly organized holding company made up of a consortium of other large companies with mining interests where Peabody held interest as the second largest coal producer in the nation. Peabody also held mining interests in other parts of the world, including Australia. The consortium was needed due to the $1.2 billion stated value of Peabody Coal.
The following comes from the October 1978 issue of Coal Age magazine.
American Coal Co. has two new mines under development and three in full production for UP&L. It is standardizing equipment at all five mines, installing longwall retreat machines at the new Wilberg Mine and the older Deer Creek Mine. It has 1,000 employees. The Deer Creek is the largest of the five, at 7,000 tons per day, followed by the Wilberg at 3,000 tons per day (still in development) and the Des Bee Dove at 4,000 tons per day The Des Bee Dove is the combined Deseret, Beehive, and Little Dove Mines.
Productivity at times has exceeded 25 tons per manshift. UP&L has invested $600 million in the Price/Huntington areas to date, and will raise that to $1.5 billion by 1985. American Coal was founded by Shirl C. McArthur, in 1970, who was previously responsible for developing and mechanizing the Church Welfare Mine (the Des Bee Dove mines). The Des Bee Dove property was purchased by UP&L in 1970, and American Coal took over operation in 1972, and has since been developing the Little Dove Mine on the Des Bee Dove property. UP&L later purchased the Deer Creek and Wilberg Mines from Peabody Coal, which had been forced to divest some of its holdings.
Since purchase UP&L has increased production from slightly over 1 million tons to about 2 million tons in 1977. Projected production for 1981 is 6.5 million tons per year, and could top 10 million tons per year by the early 1990s. American Coal's goal is to supply 100% of UP&L's needs while maintaining an adequate supply for the church.
The Deseret Mine is in the Hiawatha seam (8' average thickness); the Beehive and Little Dove in the Blind Canyon seam (12'). The Des Bee Dove trucks its coal eight miles to the Emery Plant. Some of its coal is also trucked to the Huntington plant 20 miles away, and some is also trucked 25 miles to a loadout at Mohrland on the Utah Railway for shipment to other UP&L power plants. The Deer Creek Mine is in the Blind Canyon seam (12'), and the Wilberg in the Hiawatha seam (14-16').
The Deer Creek mine serves a 2-mile conveyor belt which feeds UP&L's Huntington power plant. The 400-Mw Emery No. 1 power plant is on line, the No. 2 unit is scheduled for completion by 1980, the No. 3 by 1983, and the No. 4 by 1985. (Coal Age, Volume 124, Number 10, October 1978, page 124)
"The American Coal Company awarded a contract to the Industrial Sales and Marketing Corporation for construction of a railroad siding at its Wilberg mine near Orangeville. The mine supplies coal to Utah Power and Light Company. Work on the $200,000 project was started in November. The Wilberg mine produced 244,287 tons of coal in 1977 and approximately 460,000 tons in 1978. American Coal has nine mines and employs some 1,100 people. Nearly 2.5 million tons of coal were produced in 1978." (Utah Mineral Industry Activity Review 1978, Utah Geological And Mineral Survey, July 1979)
(The railroad line serving the Wilberg mine was not built.)
February 14, 1979
"The largest coal operation in the state of Utah is American Coal Company of Huntington, which has nine mines and employs approximately 1,100 people. It produced some 3 million tons in 1978." "American is the operating company for Utah Power and Light Company which owns the mines. They are: Deer Creek, Des-Bee-Dove (consisting of three mines on multiple seams, working two); Deseret and Beehive (formerly owned by the LDS Church); the Wilberg and Little Dove, a new one started in 1977." "Extraction is by continuous mining machines. It is planned to use the longwall digging system in the Deer Creek and Wilberg drifts in the near future. Coal goes to UP&L's plants by truck." "There are preparation plants at the Des-Bee-Dove and Deer Creek mines for screening, sizing and crushing." (Sun Advocate, February 14, 1979)
March 28, 1979
The following comes from the March 28, 1979 issue of the Sun Advocate newspaper.
The owners of American Coal of Huntington are attempting to sell their corporation to Utah Power and Light, according to spokesmen of both companies.
Sidney Baucom, UP&L vice president and general counsel, said that, should the two companies reach an agreement, the sale could be consummated in 30- 60 days.
Sources within American Coal say UP&L has become increasingly dissatisfied with American Coal's performance. They say that the company faced takeover by UP&L or loss of its contract. Inability to meet production demands, accompanied by rising costs, have plagued American Coal. Strikes have hampered production seriously over the past year and a half. Others within the firm say poor hiring practices, including nepotism, have added to UP&L's impatience with the company.
Don Childs, personnel director at American Coal, said the operation has grown so massive that outside financial expertise would probably be a good thing.
The company operates the Deer Creek mine in Huntington Canyon, the Wilberg mine near Orangeville, and the Deseret, Beehive and Little Dove mines near Castle Dale and employs some 1,200 people. UP&L owns the mines, the equipment and buildings at the sites.
In April 1979 Utah Power & Light had asked for preferential treatment in is selection of coal leases on the Wasatch Plateau, in exchange for leases it held on the Kaiparowits Plateau in Garfield and Kane counties. The Kaiparowits leases were not going to be developed due to environmental concerns.
May 2, 1979
"American Coal Company has been bought by Savage Brothers, a trucking firm based in American Fork. Shirl and Bessie McArthur, officers of American Coal, made the announcement Tuesday. Savage Brothers owns Western Coal Carriers, which already hauls the coal from the mines American Coal operates for Utah Power and Light. Savage Brothers also operates other trucking concerns throughout the state." (Sun Advocate, May 2, 1979)
June 1, 1979
The Emery Mining Corporation purchased the operating contract for the UP&L coal mines. The new company was a subsidiary of the Savage Brothers trucking firm. The American Coal company, the largest coal operator in the state, sold the operating contract to Savage Brothers on May 1, 1979, and Savage Brothers had 30 days to find a new name, with Emery Mining Corporation being the name chosen on June 1, 1979, which is also when the transfer was made. No personnel changes among the 1300 employees were planned because of the change. UP&L and American Coal had been in talks since March 1979 for UP&L to purchase the operating company itself, but the details could not be worked out. (Sun Advocate, May 2, 1979; Salt Lake Tribune, May 5, 1979; Emery County Progress, June 7, 1979; December 27, 1979)
Savage Brothers already had another company the provided truck hauling of coal from the mines to the power plants: Western Coal Carrier Corporation. (Sun Advocate, February 14, 1979)
(One of the factors in canceling the American Coal contract was its handling of the strike by coal miners in December 1977 through March 1978, which closed the mines and affected UP&L's ability to produce electricity. There were also wildcat strikes in mid April 1978 and again in early June over a change in trucking companies. About 60 percent of UP&L's power generation came from coal-fired power plants that received their coal from Emery County coal mines, and the strike in 1977-1978 essentially used up UP&L's 90-day stockpile of coal at each of its power plants.)
"The Utah Public Service Commission in November gave permission for Utah Power & Light Company to build two 400,000 kilowatt coal-fired generators at a cost of about $667 million. The two units are scheduled for operation in 1983 and 1985 and will bring total capacity of the utility's Hunter plant in Emery County to 1,600 megawatts." (Utah Mineral Industry Activity Review 1978, Utah Geological And Mineral Survey, July 1979)
In September 1979, the UP&L coal mines were producing 30,000 tons per day, to feed the two power plants (Huntington and Hunter) that each required 1.2 million tons annually at full capacity. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 30, 1979) (Simple math indicates that the two plants needed a total of 6600 tons per day, at full capacity. The remaining production of approximately 23,000 tons was likely used to build a stockpile that served as a 90-day supply.)
December 19, 1984
The Wilberg Mine Fire occurred on December 19, 1984, killing 27 miners and management personnel. (Read the Wikipedia article about the Wilberg Mine)
"UP&L claims losses of $4.4 million from the Wilberg Mine fire and $1.4 million from a fire at the Des Bee Dove Mine on December 29, 1983, for insurance deductibles and purchase of power from northwestern utilities. Both supply coal to the three 400-Mw units at the Hunter Generating Station near Castle Dale." (Coal Age, Volume 90, Number 7, July 1985, page 19)
October 25, 1979
Utah Power & Light's made a request to allow a portal in Cottonwood Canyon for its Wilberg mine. "The proposed mine and surface portal facilities are located in Cottonwood Canyon approximately 2.7 miles north of the junction of Straight Canyon and Cottonwood Canyon, which point is approximately 6.5 miles west of Orangeville, Utah on State Highway U-29, and are immediately adjacent to the Trail Mountain Coal Company. It is also proposed to construct a loadout terminal at the junction of Straight Canyon and Cottonwood Creek adjacent to Highway U-29. (Emery County Progress, October 25, 1979; November 1, 1979)
(This new Cottonwood Portal was in the same canyon as the existing Trail Mountain mine, and directly east across the narrow canyon from that mine. It was about three miles due west of the Wilberg mine in Grimes Wash.)
On July 1, 1985, the Wilberg Mine and the adjacent "South Lease" area were separated into two distinct mines; the Wilberg Mine and Cottonwood Mine, after UP&L successively bid the South Lease federal coal tract in 1982. Each mine operated independently of the other utilizing separate equipment and ventilation systems. The Wilberg portals were located on the north coal outcrop in Grimes Wash on the southern end of East Mountain. Mine personnel and coal transfer facilities were located at the Wilberg portal. The Cottonwood portals were located on the south coal outcrop of Grimes Wash. These portals provided for men and equipment access, underground conveyor belt coal haulage system, and mine ventilation. Although they were separate underground operations, the two mines shared common surface facilities, thus forming the Cottonwood-Wilberg complex. (Documents on file with the Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining)
The majority of coal produced from Cottonwood Mine was from the Hiawatha seam. The coal haulage conveyor system of the Cottonwood-Wilberg Mine is located in this seam.
April 16, 1986
UP&L bought for cash all of Emery Mining's assets with respect to the operation of all of its mines, including the Wilberg Mine, and for the first time assumed operating control of the Cottonwood-Wilberg Mine. (Emery Mining and Utah Power & Light vs. Secretary Of Labor, Mine Safety And Health Administration, March 9, 1988)
Utah Power & Light and PacifiCorp (former Pacific Power & Light) merge. (Read the Wikipedia article about PacifiCorp)
In 1990, Utah Power & Light organized a new subsidiary called Energy West Mining Corporation to manage its coal ming interests.
In 1992, Utah Power's Cottonwood-Wilberg mine, west of Castle Dale, was the third largest producer in Utah using longwall mining. Its Deer Creek mine, west of Huntington, was the seventh largest.
By 1992, large portions of the Wilberg mine had been mined out and the leases were relinquished. More areas were relinquished in 1997. The portions within the so-called South Lease, better known as the Cottonwood mine, were slated to remain in production into 2026.
October 6, 1992
PacifiCorp purchased the Trail Mountain mine from Mountain Coal Company, a subsidiary of Arco Coal, which in turn was a subsidiary of Atlantic Richfield. The economic conditions were making the mine's room-and-pillar and continuous miner methods more expensive than the low-cost longwall methods of other mines. PacifiCorp would lay off the Trail Mountain's miners, shut down operations at the Trail Mountain mine, and expand its own opertions into the Trail Mountain mine's coal reserves. "The area will eventually be mined from the Cottonwood operation." The two companies were mining coal from the same coal seam. PacifiCorp's current Cottonwood operations were two miles distant from the Trail Mountain reserves, but would be linked within a year. (Emery County Progress, October 6, 1992; Salt Lake Tribune, October 29, 1992)
"Utah Power's Hunter I, II, and III, with availability of 91.92 percent and utilized availability of 96.0 percent, consumed 4.25 million tons of coal to generate 9,160 GWh of electricity. This coal was produced by Utah Power's Cottonwood Mine." (1993 Utah Coal Report, dated November 1994)
"Huntington I and II, with plant availability of about 91.69 percent and utilized availability of over 96.78 percent, consumed 2.84 million tons of coal to generate 6,344 GWh of electricity. This coal was produced by Utah Power's Deer Creek mine." (1993 Utah Coal Report, dated November 1994)
"The Carbon Plant, with availability of 94.9 percent and utilized availability of almost 97.2 percent, consumed more than 639,000 tons of coal to generate 1,360 GWh of electricity. The coal for this plant was purchased on the spot market by competitive bids from various companies. Going to the spot market to meet the coal needs of its Carbon plant, helped Utah Power reduce coal costs." (1993 Utah Coal Report, dated November 1994)
"It is anticipated that the last longwall panels in the Cottonwood Mine will be completed in the last quarter of 1995. Following that project the longwall production will be shifted to the Trail Mountain Mine to the west." (1995 Utah Coal Report, dated September 1995)
September 18, 1994
PacifiCorp was shown as owning three coal mines in Emery County, including the Cottonwood mine, the Deer Creek mine, and the Trail Mountain mine. PacifiCorp employed 700 miners to mine its coal in Emery County. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 18, 1994)
December 13, 1994
It was reported "that in the spring of 1995 work on a conveyor system will begin which will run coal from the Trail Mountain to the Cottonwood mine. In 1996 it is anticipated that the longwall system will be moved to the Trail Mountain side of the mining operation." (Emery County Progress, December 13, 1994)
"Longwall mining in the Cottonwood Mine was completed in September and production was then moved to the Trail Mountain Mine. The Cottonwood Mine workings are being maintained and are being used to transport coal from the Trail Mountain Mine to the Cottonwood Truck load-out." "Longwall production in the Trail Mountain mine began in 1995." (1995 Utah Coal Report, dated November 1996)
(By October 1995 the longwall system was in place and operating in the Trail Mountain mine, replacing the previous room-and-pillar method. The longwall system had been moved from a mined-out part of the Cottonwood mine. It allowed 30 percent more coal to be mined, compared to the previous room-and-pillar method. The federal Bureau of Land Management had rejected PacifiCorp's extraction plan, wanting the company to use continuous miner machines to remove more coal from areas of the mine that a longwall machine could not reach. BLM said using only a longwall machine, PacifiCorp was leaving 10 million tons of coal in the ground, depriving the federal government of $15 million in coal royalties, half of which would go the the State of Utah. The federal government collected 8 percent of the value of coal extracted from federal lands. Both PacifiCorp and the miner's union held the position that using a longwall machine was considerably safer that using continuous miner machines. BLM's guidance came from a 1987 law stipulating that federal coal leases require that all coal that can be safely and economically removed should be mined, and royalties paid. "Safely" was the key word being discussed. The dispute was settled in March 1996. -- Salt Lake Tribune, October 6, 1995; Sun Advocate, October 10, 1995; March 12, 1996)
"1996 saw the first full year of longwall product ion in Trail Mountain mine. Production totaled 3.83 million tons at Trail Mountain. This is a dramatic increase over 1995 when combined production for Cottonwood and Trail Mountain mines was 3.50 million tons. Trail Mountain mine coal was shipped by truck to the wash plant near Hunter Power Plant. There it was blended with other stockpiled coal to achieve the desired ash level." (1996 Utah Coal Report, dated December 1997)
On May 6, 1996, the Cottonwood-Wilberg mine and its attached facilities were reassigned as the Trail Mountain mine. This action was taken because all Trail Mountain coal was transported through the Cottonwood mine. In 2015, the Trail Mountain Mine was sold and transferred to new ownership. Coal from the Trail Mountain mine was being trucked to the Hunter power plant, and moved by conveyor through the Cottonwood and Deer Creek underground workings to the Huntington power plant.
January 21, 1997
"Energy West [PacifiCorp's coal mining subsidiary] operates the Deer Creek and Trail Mountain mines in Emery County. The facilities supply coal to the Huntington and Hunter power plants. Energy West's 600 employees produce some 8 million tons of coal annually." (Sun Advocate, January 21, 1997) (Note that the Des-Bee-Dove, Wilberg and Cottonwood mines are not shown.)
(In addition to the dispute with federal regulators mentioned above for 1995-1996, a similar dispute arose between PacifiCorp and the State of Utah over the lost royalties for coal extracted from state school trust lands. The years in dispute spanned from 1979 to 1985. PacifiCorp sued the state to contest the royalties because they did not own the Trail Mountain mine in those years. The case progressed to the U. S. Supreme Court. In February 1997 the Court rejected PacifiCorp's appeal that it should not have to pay the royalties. -- Emery County Progress, February 25, 1997)
(This news story in February 1997 came from an Associated Press news wire story which also stated that the Trail Mountain mine was owned by Arch Minerals. This was only partly correct since Arch Mineral only owned the mine during 1987. In the 1979-1985 period in dispute, the Trail Mountain mine was owned by three separate groups, either investors or oil companies, and was sold to Arco Coal in 1987. The owning company in Utah was and still is Canyon Fuel Company, first a subsidiary of Arco Coal, then of Bowie Resources, and now of Wolverine Fuels. Yes, it's confusing.)
"In 1998, PacifiCorp produced a total of 7.159 million tons of coal from their Central Utah underground mines. The Deer Creek mine produced 3.748 million tons of coal while the Trail Mountain mine produced 3.411 million tons. Each of the two mines employed two continuous miner sections for development and one longwall section, which produced the majority of the coal. The Deer Creek mine produced 3.006 million tons of coal using longwall methods and 0.742 million tons with continuous miners. The Trail Mountain mine produced 2.907 million tons of coal using longwall methods and 0.504 million tons with continuous miners." (1998 Utah Coal Report, dated July 1999)
"On April 12, 2000, PacifiCorp announced the closure of the Trail Mountain mine scheduled for the fall of 2001. This will result in the reduction of approximately 200 employees affiliated with the mine. The closure of the mine is due to the depletion of reserves and is not related to the merger between PacifiCorp and Scottish Power. Following the closure of the Trail Mountain mine, the Hunter Power plant will receive fuel from the Deer Creek mine and other Utah mines." (1999 Utah Coal Report, dated July 2000)
PacifiCorp shut down the Trail Mountain mine in early March 2001. The closure was announced in early 2000 and stated that the mineable coal would be exhausted within 18 months. Most of the employees either retired, or found work in PacifiCorp's Deer Creek mine, or in PacifiCorp's Cottonwood preparation plant. The portal was to be sealed by June 2001. (Emery County Press, March 13, 2001, "last week")
"With the closure of the Trail Mountain mine, PacifiCorp has diversified its fuel supply options. New coal supply contracts have been signed with various other Utah coal producers." (2001 Utah Coal Report, dated January 2003)
In June 2011 PacifiCorp organized a new subsidiary to manage its regulated coal reserves. The new company was Fossil Rock Fuels and was incorporated on June 9, 2011. Its first property was the Cottonwood Lease of 2007, which had been awarded to Ark Land, as a subsidiary of Arch Coal. Ownership of the Cottonwood Lease passed to PacifiCorp in 2011.
On December 12, 2014 PacifiCorp sold the Trail Mountain mine to Bowie Resource Partners. The sale was finalized on June 5, 2015. "In the future the Trail Mountain Mine will be referred to as the Fossil Rock Mine." The Fossil Rock Mine is owned by Fossil Rock Resources, organized in Delaware on August 29, 2014 and owned 100 percent by Canyon Fuel Company. Canyon Fuel Company was organized in Delaware on December 10, 1996, and is in turn is owned 100 percent by Bowie Holdings (changed to Wolverine Fuels on October 15, 2018.) (Documents on file at the Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining)
Mining in the Rilda Canyon area has been conducted since the 1940's. Four historic mines (Helco Mine, Leroy Mine, Jeppson Mine, and Rominger Mine) are located in Rilda Canyon that were reclaimed by the Abandoned Mined program in 1988.
In 1995, PacifiCorp expanded its Deer Creek mining operations into the North Rilda area, approximately two miles northwest of Deer Creek Canyon. Much of the surface area of the Rilda Canyon facilities occurred west of the abandoned Leroy, Rominger, and Jeppson mines.
"The Rilda Canyon breakout was completed to provide an air intake to aid in ventilating the north end of the mine workings and to provide an emergency escape way. The facilities at the portals include a substation and a fan installation. The roadway in Rilda Canyon was also upgraded to provide better access to the portal area." (1995 Utah Coal Report, dated November 1996)
Approximately 23 million tons of mineable coal was anticipated to be mined from this area during life-of-mine production. Surface ventilation facilities were constructed in the Left Fork of Rilda Canyon to provide for ventilation to the North Fork area. Because of the need to expand the mining operations farther to the northwest, into the Mill Fork area (1.5 miles north of Rilda Canyon), surface facilities are required in Rilda Canyon. The actual and final construction of the North Rilda Canyon Portal facilities, completed in November 2008, included two portals, facility pad, fan, electrical facilities, and storage facilities. Mine maps show that all of the mining of the North Rilda area was by longwall retreat mining, except for the use of continuous miner machines used in developing the longwall sections.
In January 2015, the Deer Creek Mine ceased production and began mine closure activities. The southern portion of the mine was separated by underground seals from the Mill Fork Area and the portals at the Deer Creek canyon facility and the ventilation portals were sealed and backfilled in April 2015. The only active portion of the Deer Creek Mine was accessed through the portals in the Rilda Canyon Portal Facilities. Ventilation and water pumping activities were the only operations occurring in the North Rilda and Mill Fork areas of the underground mine.
Mining in the North Rilda Area produced coal from both the Blind Canyon and Hiawatha coal seams. Approximately 23 million tons of mineable coal was mined from the North Rilda Area during the years it was active. No coal processing or coal transportation facilities was utilized at the North Rilda facilities. All mined coal from the extended Deer Creek Mine continued to be transported through the Deer Creek Canyon portals and processed at these facilities. The processed coal was then transported via conveyor to the Huntington Power Plant, owned and operated by PacifiCorp.
The North Rilda and Mill Fork portals were sealed in November 2017. The Left Fork Rilda portals were sealed in December 2017. Demolition of this facility was completed in February 2018.
Demolition of the Rilda Canyon portal facilities was completed in July 2018. Earthwork operations for reclamation began in September 2018 after delays caused by the 2018 Trail Mountain Fire. Reclamation of the site was completed in June 2019. The Trail Mountain fire not only burned the surrounding forest, but also ignited abandoned coal and waste piles at the old Helco Mine site. These coal pile fires burned for over a year until the coal and waste piles were excavated, extinguished with water, and buried on site. The site was then reclaimed. (Unless otherwise noted, Rilda Canyon comments from documents on file with the Utah Division of Oil gas and Mining)
(Unless noted, all information about reclamation activities comes from documents on file with th Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining. In many cases, the information is surprisingly incomplete and hard to discover among the intra-agency bureaucratic haze. There are an amazing number of single-page transmittal letters.)
UP&L temporarily idled the Des-Bee-Dove mine in 1987 and the portals were sealed. The property sat idle from 1987 through 1997 as attempts were made to sell the mine and all its assets. In 1997, PacifiCorp, as successor to UP&L, began relinquishing its mined-out coal leases and submitted a notice to the Utah Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining that it would start reclamation of the entire Des-Bee-Dove mine complex. Reclamation started in 1999 when the all portal openings were permanently sealed and backfilled, and all surface facilities were demolished and removed. Reclamation of the Beehive and Little Dove portal areas was completed in May 2002. Reclamation of the Deseret portal and adjacent tipple area was completed in June 2003.
The Des-Bee-Dove mine site was reclaimed in phases with the upper decks (Beehive and Little Dove mines) reclaimed in 2001, and the lower deck (the Deseret Mine) reclaimed in 2003. Reclamation included removal of approximately 110,000 tons of coal fines from the canyon bottom and restoration of the original contour of the canyon.
PacifiCorp announced the closure of the Deer Creek mine in December 2014. The Deer Creek mine was shut down in April 2015.
"Due to quality issues with the coal reserves at PacifiCorp's Deer Creek mine in Utah and rising costs at PacifiCorp's wholly owned subsidiary, Energy West Mining Company, PacifiCorp believes the Deer Creek coal reserves are no longer able to be economically mined. As a result, in December 2014, PacifiCorp filed applications with the regulatory bodies in Utah, Wyoming, Oregon and Idaho seeking approval to close its Deer Creek mining operations, as well as sell certain coal mining assets." (Berkshire Hathaway Energy Form 10-K dated December 31, 2015)
By late 2014, PacifiCorp was generically referring to its Utah coal mines (Deer Creek and Cottonwood-Wilberg) as the Deer Creek mine. This reflects, as shown in the mine plan maps of both mines, the reality that by this time, the Deer Creek mine and the Cottonwood-Wilberg mine were fully connected and integrated by their extensive underground workings.
January 7, 2015
PacifiCorp's coal mining subsidiary, Energy West Mining Company, ceased operations on January 7, 2015.
PacifiCorp sold the Cottonwood preparation plant and the Trail Mountain coal reserves to Bowie Resource Partners in June 2015. These were located in Cottonwood Canyon, 3.5 miles due west of the Wilberg mine's surface facilities, and were connected to the Cottonwood-Wilberg mine by extensive underground workings and passages. The site today is known as the Fossil Rock mine.
(Read more about the Trail Mountain mine; owned and operated by PacifiCorp from 1992 to 2015)
PacifiCorp completed final reclamation of the Wilberg and Cottonwood mines in March of 2018. The combined surface facilities occupied approximately twenty acres of disturbed land at the confluence of the Left and Right forks of the Grimes Wash. The surface facilities included coal handling, electrical substation, equipment maintenance, material storage, parking areas and drainage and sediment control structures. Office, bathhouse and warehouse facilities were located underground. These facilities were demolished and the land surface regraded and replanted with native species.
(The Des-Bee-Dove mine was closed in 1987. The Deer Creek mine was closed in 2015. Much of the mineable coal in both the Wilberg mine and Cottonwood mine had been mined out by 1992 and 1997, with only one longwall "block" in each mine set to remain in production into 2026. In early 2015, changing coal market conditions brought closure to the Cottonwood-Wilberg mine, sometimes referred to more accurately as the Cottonwood-Trail Mountain mine. The surface areas at the Deer Creek, Wilberg, Cottonwood, and Trail Mountain mines were reclaimed in early 2018. This last closure meant that PacifiCorp was no longer in the coal mining business, and buys all of its coal from other mines in the area.)
Other Emery County Mines
Bear Canyon Mine
(not a UP&L mine)
The coal mines located in Bear Canyon, about 12 miles by highway west of Huntington, have been active since 1939. The coal is sold locally, or on the open market, with no known contract buyers.
Huntington Coal Mine
(not a UP&L mine)
The Huntington mine (also known as the Meetinghouse or Community mine) was active from 1921 -1952.
In the 1920's another mine known as the Community Mine was opened in Meetinghouse Canyon, west of Deer Creek. This was a community project and was operated and used only by community members. A special permit for the project was obtained from the U. S. Department of Interior through the effort of H. S. Loveless, president of the Huntington Commercial Club. (Castle Valley, A History of Emery County)
Emery Deep Mine
(not a UP&L mine)
Emery Deep Mine -- Information about the Emery Deep Mine, located four miles south of Emery, in Emery County, Utah. Operated by Consolidation Coal Co. (Consol Energy) from 1968 to 2010, then by Bronco Utah.