Carbon Fuel Coal Mine

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This page was last updated on February 26, 2019.

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(Note: The Utah Railway shops at Martin are located at the mouth of Hardscrabble canyon.)

The coal mines in Hardscrabble canyon, above the small railroad town of Martin, Utah, west of Helper, were first developed in the late 1880s, but were always small "wagon" mines, not served by a railroad.

Helper Coal Company

In 1916 the John G. and George Diamanti families leased property in Hardscrabble Canyon from Helper Coal Company.

John Diamanti and his brother George Diamanti, opened the Helper Coal Company in Hardscrabble canyon in 1917. (Coal Age magazine, January 1964)

September 8, 1927
The earliest mention of the Hardscrabble Coal company in online newspapers was in September 1927. (Helper Journal, September 8, 1927)

Hardscrabble Coal Company

During the 1930s John Diamanti and his sons Steve, Jim, and Chris secured a lease and formed the Hardscrabble Coal Company.

Febrary 1, 1935
In February 1935, there was a Hardscrabble Coal Company named in a law suite to recover wages. (Helper Journal, February 1, 1935)

July 11, 1940
In July 1940, a news item mentioned "George Diamanti, working at the Hardscrabble Coal Company..." (Helper Journal, July 11, 1940)

March 19, 1942
In March 1942, the Diamantis (Steve, Chris, James) applied to use "Hardscrabble Coal Company" as a trademark. (Helper Journal, March 19, 1942)

February 10, 1949
In February 1949, the Hardscrabble No. 2 mine was reported as producing 80 tons of coal per day during 1948. Of the 22 mines listed, the Hardscrabble mine ranked as number 22. (Helper Journal, February 10, 1949)

October 12, 1950
Research in available online newspapers found that the last mention of Hardscrabble Coal Company was in a small advertisement in the October 12, 1950 issue of the Helper Journal newspaper.

Carbon Fuel Company

The original Carbon Fuel Company had developed the Rains coal mine in Spring Canyon, starting in 1913. Then in about 1950, when that mine closed, the name became available, and the Diamantis took it for their mine in Hardscrabble canyon.

(Read more about the first Carbon Fuel company in Spring Canyon)

After World War II the Diamanti's Hardscrabble Coal Company mine in Hardscrabble Canyon continued to expand, and when the Carbon Fuel Company, which operated the Rains Mine in Spring Canyon disbanded, the Diamantis took over the name of Carbon Fuel Company.

November 25, 1954
Research in available online newspapers found that the first mention of Carbon Fuel Company in Hardscrabble Canyon was in the November 25, 1954 issue of the Helper Journal newspaper.

The following comes from the Sun Advocate & Helper Journal, January 2, 1975:

During the 1930s, John Diamanti and his sons, Steve, Jim and Chris organized the Hardscrabble Coal Company and began to mine the low coal in the Castle Gate Sub II seam in Hardscrabble canyon. During World War Two, another son, Lee, joined the family run business. In 1945 the family moved to another location in the canyon. The mine was operated under a lease from Utah Fuel.

In 1950, after Kaiser bought Utah Fuel, the Hardscrabble property passed to Salt Lake City attorney James White in return for his legal work for Kaiser. White later sold the Hardscrabble property to the Diamanti family. The name of the company was changed from Hardscrabble Coal Company to Carbon Fuel Company, after that name became available with the closure of the earlier company's mine at Rains in Spring Canyon (at some time between 1943 and 1954).

During 1975 the company planned on opening already worked coal seams in Spring canyon, calling the new workings No. 4 and No. 5, conveying the mined coal underground to the Castle Gate coal preparation and stockpiling facilities of McCulloch Oil Company.

August 1960
The following comes from Coal Age magazine, August 1960:

Carbon Fuel Wins Hanford Contract -- Carbon Fuel Co., Helper, Utah, submitted the low bid on supplying 120,000 tons of coal to the Hanford Works of the Atomic Energy Commission in the state of Washington.

The bids for the 1961 fiscal year were received July 6. Carbon Fuel bid on coal shipments from its Castle Gate, Utah, mines. The AEC indicated that it plans to purchase 320,000 tons, but no more than 120,000 tons from any one bidder. Plans are to purchase 200,000 tons from other bidders in the labor surplus areas if they agree to meet the price in Carbon Fuel's bid, which was 30,000 Btu's delivered for one cent." (Coal Age, Volume 65, number 8, August 1960, p. 53)

(The underground mining methods of the Carbon Fuel Company's coal mine in Hardscrabble canyon were the subject of a nine-page article in Coal Age magazine, January 1964. The article included several photos of the underground operations.)

August 1969
"Carbon Fuel Co., Helper, Utah, has revealed plans to open a second coal mine next spring near Helper. The privately held firm was acquired last August by Glen Exploration, Inc., Dallas, Tex., through purchase of a substantial portion of stock held by James J. Diamanti. Mr. Diamanti continues as president and manager of the coal operation, which now is a Glen Exploration subsidiary." (Coal Age magazine, December 1969, page 28)

July 9, 1970
Carbon Fuel opened a new mine No. 3, mining new ground in the Castle Gate Sub 3 seam. The coal would be hauled to the surface at a new opening in Hardscrabble canyon about one-half mile down-canyon from the company's current No. 2 mine, which would soon be closed. Within a year, the company would complete a new rock tunnel about 900 feet, which would allow direct underground haulage to a new coal washer and tipple, that in-turn would load directly into railroad cars. Production within one year was expected to be 2500 tons per day, employing 100 men. (Helper Journal, July 9, 1970)

The coal was trucked to Martin from the mine in Hardscrabble canyon, for loading into rail cars until the mine closed in 1989. The loading site at Martin was just north of the Utah Railway's locomotive shop.

Sale To McCulloch Oil, 1971

"Carbon Fuel was sold to McCulloch Oil Corporation, which renamed the operational company as Braztah Corporation." (Branson v. Price River Coal Co., U. S. District Court, District of Utah, 627 F. Supp. 1324, Decided February 3, 1986)

(Read more about the Hardscrabble coal mines after the sale to McCulloch Oil)

In 1986, McCulloch sold the coal mines west of Castle Gate, including both the Hardscrabble complex and the Sowbelly complex, to AMAX.

(Read more about Cyprus Amax, Cyprus Plateau, and the later RAG American Coal Company -- including the corporate succession to today's Alpha American Coal Company, LLC.)

"AMAX Coal Company, operated the mine most recently up until 1989. Since then all mine portals in Hardscrabble Canyon have been temporarily sealed. Most of the buildings utilized during the mining operation are still in place, as is the substation in the #4 Mine portal arm of the canyon." (Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, Report of the slope stability of the Hardscrabble No. 4 mine, February 1992)

Hardscrabble Reclamation

Hardscrabble reclamation began in 1984 with reclamation of the Goose Island refuse pile followed by reclamation of the No.3 and 4 Mine areas during the years of 1993 through 1999. (Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, Permit C0070004)

Reclamation started in 1992 in Sowbelly Canyon (the former Spring Canyon Coal Co. in Spring Canyon) and 1993 through 1999 in Hardscrabble Canyon at the Carbon Fuel company's mine. Phase I bond release was approved for Hardscrabble and Sowbelly in February 2001; Phase II bond release on June 5, 2003. Hardscrabble and Sowbelly Substations and Adit #1 received Phase I bond releases in May 2006. Johnny Pappas received the OSM reclamation award for the Hardscrabble area in 2003. Final Phase III Bond Release was approved on July 15, 2014. This mine has been fully reclaimed. (Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, Permit C0070004)