Soldier Creek Mine

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Soldier Creek Coal Company


The coal mined from the Soldier Creek mine, located in Soldier Canyon, was hauled by truck 18 miles to the rail car loadout at Banning on D&RGW's Sunnyside Branch, at Sunnyside Junction, where the railroad branch passes under U.S. Highway 6.

The following comes from Utah Division of Natural Resources, Utah Coal Program, Permit C0070018:

The Soldier Creek Mine is located in the Book Cliffs Coal Field approximately 12 miles northeast of Wellington, Utah. Initial prospecting took place there as early 1906, however actual mining via hand loading methods did not commence until 1935. The limited production from the mine was initially sold as home heating coal in Carbon and Emery counties.

Production reached approximately 1,200,000 tons per year via continuous mining methods conducted in the Sunnyside and Rock Canyon seams before the mine was idled in 1999.

Overburden thickness ranges from approximately 100 feet under Soldier Creek Canyon to over 2,000 feet. The permit area encompasses about 6,600 acres and is comprised of state and federal leases and fee properties.

The road through Soldier Canyon was completed by the state in 1903, allowing residents to pass between Price in Carbon County on the south, and Vernal in the Uintah Basin on the north. The road was built up Soldier Canyon to a pass in Whitmore Park, where it connected with a road in Nine Mile Canyon which then headed northeast and east to another connection with the road in Gate Canyon, then down into Uinta Basin. It was a very basic unimproved road, but it was better than no road at all. The road was greatly improved in 1915 to allow the safe passage of automobiles.

There was an active coal mine in Soldier Canyon as early as April 1932 when a group visited the mine, reporting that it was being run by William Shield, Carl Nyman and George Collingham, and that they were taking coal from a seam that was 10 feet thick. In September 1934, the mine was cited for safety violations by the state coal mine inspector. Carl Nyman later took over the operation of the National Coal company in Gordon Creek canyon.

Premium Coal Company, 1935

January 4, 1935
The Soldier Canyon mine was leased to Premium Coal Company, which continued to ship coal from the mine until 1972. The coal was loaded into wagons, and later trucks, by hand and sold locally for home heating coal in Carbon and Emery counties. Initial prospecting of the Soldier Canyon mine was conducted on the property as early as 1906. (Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, Permit C0070018)

In August 1937, the Soldier Canyon Coal company was awarded a contract to furnish coal to the Price School District.

"William Shield had worked Soldier Canyon Mine mostly by himself until 1945 when he sold his lease to Andrew Marinoni. Marinoni then profited considerably from the economic prosperity immediately following the war." (History of Carbon County, by Ronald G. Watt, Utah State Historical Society, 1997, page 123)

Several news items in February 1950, about a coal miner's strike, mentioned that two trucks were hauling coal from the Soldier Canyon mine to the railroad loading ramp at Wellington, and that the mine was owned by the Marinoni family. At that time the mine was producing 80 tons per day.

Premium Coal company was still operating the Soldier Canyon coal mine in February 1962 when workers at the mine reported a low-flying private airplane. The crash site was found a short time later by the county sheriff, higher in Soldier Canyon with its pilot standing by the crashed airplane, shaken but uninjured.

November 1968
Premium Coal company in Soldier canyon purchased a Jeffery Manufacturing coal washer, capable of 150 to 165 tons per hour. (Coal Age magazine, November 1968, page 50)

Soldier Creek Coal Co., 1973

California Portland Cement subsidiary

In 1973, California Portland Cement Co. began looking for other sources of energy to replace natural gas and fuel oil used at its cement plants. Although looking to sign a long-term supply contract, the company found a property near Wellington that was for sale. The purchase was completed in September 1974. After a period of mine design by mining consulting engineers, in August 1975, Centennial Development Co. started work to drive two slopes to access the coal seams, and rehabilitate the old workings. The mine was ready for production in March 1976, and the first coal was produced on June 14, 1976. (Coal Age magazine, September 1980, page 109)

"The history of Soldier Creek Coal Co. dates back to 1973 when its parent, California Portland Cement, began looking for other sources of energy to replace natural gas and fuel oil consumed at its cement plants. When the cement company first began looking, its management leaned toward a long-term coal contract with a supplier, but as they sought such a supplier, they ran across a property near Price, Utah, that was for sale. That property is now the Soldier Canyon mine, with proven reserves of about 25 million tons. The coal is contained in three seams: Rock Canyon, which is being mined, and the Gilson and Sunnyside seams, which are undergoing exploration drilling." "California Portland Cement Co. acquired the property in September, 1974. Consultants assisted company management with mine design. Centennial Development Co. drove two rock slopes and rehabilitated old workings. This phase started in August, 1975, and was completed in March, 1976. First coal was produced on June 14, 1976." Between the day of first production and January 1980, 1.9 million tons had been produced, and by September 1980 production was reported as averaging 2,700 tons per day. Room-and-pillar mining was the method being used, with three continuous miner machines in use. Coal was shipped 18 miles by truck, using Savage Brothers trucks, from the mine to the railroad loadout. At the loadout, a 200-ton surge loading bin was used, with a capacity of 3,000 tons per hour. Trains were not unit trains, and the actual number of cars shipped to the four cement plants varied. The average train was 21 cars, or about 2,000 tons. (Coal Age magazine, September 1980, page 109)

September 1, 1974
The transfer of the federal coal lease held by Premium Coal Company to California Portland Cement Company went into effect. The transfer was approved on July 31, 1974. (Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, Permit C0070018)

The Soldier Canyon mine was a captive mine, opened in June 1976 by the Soldier Creek Coal Company, a subsidiary of California Portland Cement Company. The mine would furnish coal to three cement plants, at Colton and Mojave, California, and at Rillito, Arizona. California Portland Cement acquired the mine property in September 1974 from the Marinoni family of Price. They were doing business as Premium Coal Company. The mine had been closed since 1972. Rehabilitation work on the mine started in September 1975. (Deseret News, May 19, 1976)

Soldier Canyon mine was developed on what was known as the Soldier Creek Tract, consisting of 2,168 acres. The coal reserves were estimated as 81.9 million tons, of which 37 million tons were potentially recoverable. Annual coal production was planned to be 925,000 tons, over the 40-year life of the mine. Coal was to be trucked 17.6 miles by way of Soldier Creek Road and U. S. Highway 6, to a new loadout east of Wellington, Utah. Coal shipments were planned as 97 truck trips per day, along with 19 trips per day for other purposes. (Bureau of Land Management, Unita-Southwestern Coal Region, Final Environmental Impact Statement)

Soldier Creek Coal Co. completed construction of its Banning coal loadout, to allow coal to be loaded directly into rail cars and moved over the national railroad network. Banning was at mile post 5.5 on D&RGW's Sunnyside Branch, where the branch passes under U.S. Highway 6 at what is known on the highway as Sunnyside Junction. Permitting for the loadout began in 1976.

(Read more about the Banning coal loadout)

Sun Oil, 1985

Prior to buying the Soldier Creek mine in 1985, in 1982 Sun Oil had already bought the coal lease for coal reserves in Dugout canyon, which lay to the east.

(Read more about the Dugout Canyon coal mine.)

July 1985
"Sunedco Coal Co. Buys Soldier Creek Mine -- Sunedco Coal Co., Lakewood, Colo., expects to take possession of Soldier Creek Coal Co., near Price, Utah, this September under a $22 million cash purchase agreement." "Soldier Creek's Soldier Canyon mine, an underground operation 22 miles southeast of Price, is adjacent to Sunedco's undeveloped reserves of more than 130 million tons at Sage Point." "Sunedco has no plans in the immediate future to enlarge operations, "but clearly we're interested in expanding production as market opportunities permit," said Ian Northern, Sunedco vice president for planning." "Soldier Creek produced 600,000 tons last year. Most of the production was sold to industrial users under contracts that will pass to Sunedco." (Coal Age, Volume 90, Number 7, July 1985, page 30)

On September 5, 1985, California Portland Cement Company, a subsidiary of CalMat Co., sold its interests in the Soldier Canyon mine and the associated coal lease to Sunedco Coal Company, a subsidiary of Sunoco Energy Development Corporation (Sunedco), itself a subsidiary of Sun Oil Company (Sunoco). The sale was first announced in June 1985. (San Bernardino Sun, September 4, 1985; September 6, 1985; Deseret News, September 9, 1985; Letter, CalMat Company to Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, dated November 20, 1985)

The sale of Soldier Creek Coal Company to Sunedco was for a reported $22 million. (Los Angeles Times, October 1, 1985)

(CalMat Company had been established in 1984 by the merger of California Portland Cement Company, and Consolidated Rock Products Company, also known as Conrock)

(Sunedco reincorporated Soldier Creek Coal Company in Delaware on January 18, 1985, and transferred all assets of the old company to the new company.)

November 30, 1985
All coal reserves in the state of Utah formerly owned by Sunedco became owned or leased by Sage Point Coal Company. (Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, Permit C0070018)

Sage Point Coal Company had been incorporated in Delaware on November 12, 1985, and was incorporated in Utah on January 8, 1986. Its office was in Roanoke, Virginia. The corporation was dissolved on February 8, 1998. (Utah Secretary of State incorporation records)

March 31, 1986
Elk River Resources paid the $5 permit application fee for the Soldier Canyon mine, although the check was a Sunedco Coal Co. check. (Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, Permit C0070018)

(Elk River Resources had been a subsidiary of Sun Oil Company since August 31, 1979, with the sale made final on October 1, 1979. The price paid was reported as $300 million, in the form of 5.1 million shares of Sun Oil common stock. -- New York Times, September 1, 1979, "yesterday"; SEC Form 10-K, dated March 3, 1994)

December 31, 1987
Sunedco Coal Company and Sunoco Energy Development Corporation were merged into Sage Point Coal Company. At that time, Sage Point Coal Company became the sole and complete owner of Soldier Creek Coal Company. (Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, Permit C0070018; Soldier Canyon Mine)

By late 1992, all of the shares of Soldier Creek Coal Co. were held by Sage Point Coal Co., operator of numerous coal mines in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Coastal States Energy, 1993

July 3, 1993
Coastal States Energy Company, a subsidiary of Coastal Corporation, purchased Elk River Resources, Inc., from Sun Oil Company. Included were subsidiaries Sage Point Coal Company, and its subsidiary Soldier Creek Coal Company. Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining was informed by a letter dated August 9, 1993 that Soldier Creek Coal Company was 100 percent owned by Sage Point Coal Company, which in turn was 100 percent owned by Elk River Resources, Inc. The purpose of the letter was to inform the division that on July 3, 1993, Coastal States had purchased Sage Point Coal Co. from Elk River, and that Coastal States was now the overall parent company. The sale was closed on September 15, 1993. (Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, Permit C0070018; Soldier Canyon Mine; SEC Form 10-Q, dated August 15, 1994)

August 9, 1993
Coastal States applied to the Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining to transfer the Soldier Canyon permit (C007018) previously held by Sunedco, with Elk River Resources as the parent company, to Coastal States as the parent company of Soldier Creek Coal Co. A revised application was submitted on September 3, 1993. The transfer fee of $5 was paid with a Southern Utah Fuel Co. check. (Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, Permit C0070018; Soldier Canyon Mine)

The Soldier Creek Coal property included the Banning loadout on D&RGW's Sunnyside Branch. When production ceased at the Soldier Canyon mine in March 1999, and the Soldier Creek mine sealed in July 1999, the Banning loadout was indefinitely idled.

Canyon Fuel and Arco Coal, 1996

December 1996
The Soldier Creek mine was sold to Canyon Fuel Company, a new company owned jointly by Arco Coal (65%) and Itochu of Japan (35%), the result of the merger of Coastal States Energy Company with four coal mining companies in Utah, including Soldier Creek Coal Company; Sage Point Coal Company; Southern Utah Fuel Company; Skyline Coal Company; along with Coastal Development Company, and Utah Fuel Company. (Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, Permit C0070039; Dugout Canyon Mine)

July 15, 1997
The federal coal lease for the Soldier Creek mine was transferred to Canyon Fuel Company, with an effective date of March 1, 1996. (Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, Permit C0070018; Soldier Canyon Mine; Arch Coal, Inc., SEC Form 10K, dated March 2, 1999, which shows the date as July 19, 1997)

Canyon Fuel and Arch Coal, 1998

June 1, 1998
Arco Coal sold its 65 percent interest in Canyon Fuel Company, to Arch Coal Company. (Arch Coal, Inc., SEC Form 10K, dated March 2, 1999)

Under Arch Coal ownership, production at Canyon Fuel's Soldier Creek mine in Soldier Canyon mine ceased after Canyon Fuel opened its new Dugout Canyon mine in 1998.

October 30, 1998
Last scheduled shift at the Soldier Canyon Mine was on October 30, 1998.

March 25, 1999
Production at the Soldier Canyon mine ceased. (Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, Permit C0070018; Soldier Canyon Mine)

July 1999
The Soldier Canyon mine was indefinitely sealed in July 1999. (Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, Permit C0070018; Soldier Canyon Mine)

(Read more about all of the Canyon Fuel coal properties in Utah)

(The link includes the changes under its parent company, Arco Coal from 1996 to 1998, then under Arch Coal from 1998 to 2013)