Southern Utah Fuel Co. (Sufco)

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This page was last updated on August 23, 2023.

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Southern Utah Fuel Company, Sufco, has never been a railroad mine. Its coal is trucked to the railroad loadout at Sharp, 78 miles north and west, near Levan, Utah. A railroad has been proposed from Salina to Sharp, but economic conditions continue to delay its construction.

In September 2013, a 8.3 mile paved road was completed in Quitchupah Creek Canyon, allowing Sufco coal to be trucked eastward to customers in Castle Valley, including Rocky Mountain Power's power plants at Hunter, 37 miles, and Huntington, 56 miles.

The following history of Sufco comes from the Garfield County News, November 26, 1981:

The company was born in 1941 when Vernal J. Mortensen, a partner in Western Creamery in Monroe, Sevier County, found himself with a small amount of cash on hand when the Creamery was sold to Pet Milk Co. He met an old friend, a miner and prospector, who talked about some coal property in Convulsion Canyon located northeast of Salina.

Two Salt Lakers, named Thomas and Lund, already had begun development of the coal seam, with the anticipation of shipping the coal on the railroad. The plan was that the Denver and Rio Grande would build a main line from Denver to Los Angeles across the Sevier-Emery summit and through Salina. However, the railroad changed its mind and instead built the main line through Carbon County, to take advantage of the coal mining and shipping there, and on into Provo and Los Angeles. At that point the two Salt Lake developers abandoned the project. Mr. Mortensen recalls that previous work revealed a 13-foot coal seam, free from bone streaks and of a good marketable quality. Mr. Mortensen and three partners incorporated in 1941 and took on, what was then, a formidable task. His partners were Ren Hansen, Gus Hansen and Jack Robinson. Their first purchase was a used Caterpillar tractor and they started to build a road. That road had to be an 11-mile stretch over very rough terrain, requiring several month's of work. The task was finally complete and the road was made passable for small bob-tailed trucks.

The first coal was mined with a used Goodman short-wall cutting machine. The crews hand-loaded the coal for the first six years. By 1948, they had increased production to almost 30,000 tons a year and were selling coal from the Salina tipple instead of at the mine.

By 1973, the SUFCo Mine was producing about 340,000 tons of coal a year. In 1973 the Mortensen family and partners sold the mine to Coastal States Gas Corporation, a Houston energy firm. With growth and expansion continuing, the SUFCo Mine now produces 2.3 million tons a year.

To handle the volume, Coastal last year [1980] built a stockpiling and coal loading facility at Levan to handle 100-car unit trains.

The following comes from United States Department Of Labor, Mine Safety And Health Administration, 2004:

The SUFCO Mine is an underground bituminous coal mine located approximately 30 miles northeast of Salina, Sevier County, Utah. The mine was originally opened in 1941 and was known as the Convulsion Canyon Mine. In 1974, the mine was purchased by Coastal States Energy Company, and a subsidiary, Southern Utah Fuel Company, was created to operate the mine. In 1997, ARCO Uinta Coal Company (ARCO) purchased 65 percent ownership of the property, and Itochu Coal International, Inc. (Itochu) of Japan purchased the remaining 35 percent. At that time, Canyon Fuel Company, LLC (Canyon Fuel) was formed to operate the mine. In 1998, ownership again changed as Arch Western Resources, LLC purchased the 65 percent ownership from ARCO, while Itochu continued its 35 percent ownership.

The mine produced 7.13 million tons of coal in 2003 with 281 employees. Daily production was approximately 28,500 tons. The mine worked two 10-hour production shifts and one overlapping 10-hour maintenance shift per day, five days per week. The mine has one retreating longwall section and two continuous mining machine development sections. The average seam height in the Upper Hiawatha Seam, in which the mine is located, ranges from 8.5 to 13 feet.

The current longwall section is located in the 3 Left Pines East panel, approximately 12 miles from the main portals. The face is 930 feet wide. A Joy 7LS3 shearing machine is used to cut the coal and a DBT PF5/2000/1342 armored face conveyor and stageloader convey the coal to the 60-inch panel belt conveyor. Two-legged Joy 2 x 970 UST shields provide roof support for the face.


October 21, 1910
Southern Utah Fuel Company filed its articles of incorporation with the secretary of state. (Salt Lake Herald, October 22, 1910)

"Articles of incorporation of the Southern Utah Fuel company of Nephi, Juab county, were filed yesterday. The capital stock of $25,000 is divided into 500,000 shares of the par value of five cents each. Three hundred thousand shares are to be held as treasury stock, and the remaining 200,000 are paid for by taking over a group of coal claims in Juab county. The officers of the company are: William A. Starr, president and treasurer; G. T. Holliday, vice president; James R. Reid, secretary. These officers, with George W. Ivory, Alex. Jennings and Charles W. Tolley, comprise the board of directors." (Salt Lake Herald, October 22, 1910)

March 10, 1911
"The Southern Utah Fuel company has purchased the entire business of the Salina Coal company and has reorganized into one corporation whose officers are: President, William Starr of Nephi; general manager and secretary, G F. Holliday of Salt Lake; directors, Charles Fuller of Nephi, Alexander Jennings of Nephi and George Ivory of Fountain Green. Within a few weeks the company expects to mine over 100 tons dally. The coal is of an excellent quality The mines are located in the Salina mountains." (Salt Lake Tribune, March 11, 1911; Eastern Utah Advocate, March 16, 1911)

July 29, 1911
"Ike Jennings of Levan and A. Eggertson of Provo have leased the two coal mines in the Salina canyon, belonging to the Southern Utah Fuel company. They will begin operating during the early part of September and put ten men to work in the lower mine and five in the upper. they will mine over 100 tons per day." (Salt Lake Tribune, July 30, 1911; press release dated July 29th)

August 10, 1911
"The Southern Utah Fuel company operated these veins last winter and produced 200 or 300 tons of coal which was sold to people in various towns in the county." One of the coal veins was located "just east of the second railroad tunnel and 100 yards from Red Aulm hill, and about 14 miles from Salina." The second coal vein was located "in a side canyon north of Saw Tooth and 18 miles from Salina." (Richfield Reaper, August 10, 1911)

May 5, 1927
Southern Utah Fuel company was shown among the companies and individuals of Sevier county that were delinquent and subject to sale at public auction. (Richfield Reaper, May 5, 1927)

May 20, 1937
Southern Utah Fuel company was shown among the companies and individuals of Sevier county that were delinquent and subject to sale at public auction, as a continuing holdover from the Tax Year of 1932. (Richfield Reaper, May 20, 1937)

Southern Utah Fuel company was purchased by Vernal J. Mortensen and three partners, and began coal production. (Garfield County News, November 26, 1981)

Coastal States Energy, 1973

December 1973
Coastal States Energy purchased the Sufco mine in December 1973.

Under Coastal States ownership, the Sufco coal mine was the first in Utah to use a longwall machine. (Coal People magazine, June 2003)

(Read more about all of the Coastal States coal properties in Utah)

Canyon Fuel, 1996

December 1996
The Sufco 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)

"Effective December 20, 1996, Canyon Fuel Company, LLC was formed as a joint venture between ARCO Uinta Coal Company (65% ownership) and ITOCHU Coal International Inc. (35% ownership) for the purpose of acquiring certain Utah coal operations and an approximate 9% interest in Los Angeles Export Terminal, Inc. from Coastal Coal, Inc. and The Coastal Corporation." (Arch Coal, Inc., SEC Form 10K, dated March 2, 1999)

As mentioned above, Canyon Fuel was a joint company of Arco Coal and Itochu of Japan. Two years later, in 1998, Atlantic Richfield (Arco) sold its Arco Coal subsidiary to Arch Coal. In 2013 Arch Coal sold all of its coal properties in Utah to the newly created Bowie Resource Partners.

(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)

Bowie Resource Partners, 2013

August 16, 2013
Bowie Resource Holdings completed its purchase of 100 percent interest of Canyon Fuel Company, a subsidiary of Arch Coal Company. The purchase included the Soldier Canyon mine, along with the Dugout Canyon mine, the Banning loadout, the Sufco mine, and the Gordon Creek mines (previously owned by Mountain Coal Company). The purchase agreement was first signed on June 27, 2013.

In 2018, Bowie Resources Partners was reorganized at Wolverine Fuels.

(Read more about Bowie Resource Partners and later, Wolverine Fuels)

More Information

Sufco in 2003 -- Text of an online article at, July 25, 2003