Mohrland Coal Mines

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Castle Valley Coal Company
Castle Valley Railroad

This page was last updated on June 26, 2022.

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The coal mine in Cedar Creek Canyon.


The name Mohrland was selected for the townsite at the Cedar Creek mine of the Castle Valley Coal Company, assembled from the last names of the coal company's organizers: M-O-H-R-land; James H. Mays, Walter C. Orem, Moroni Heiner, and Winsor V. Rice. (Thompson, page 101)

The first coal mine in Cedar Creek canyon was opened in 1906 by the Howard brothers, William and Erin. The Howard brothers lost their original mine to a faulty filing of their claim. The same mine was filed on by Samuel, Ulysses and Ernest Grange, and their friend, Albert Gardner. William Howard and his son, Ernest, filed on a nearby forty acre claim and opened a second mine. The coal was hauled by wagon out of the seventeen-foot high coal seam. Two years after the filing, both mines were purchased by James H. Mays, Moroni Heiner, Walter C. Orem, and Windsor C. Rice. (Zehnder, Chuck. A Guide To Carbon County Coal Camps And Ghost Towns, page 36)

The "Old Marshall Mine" was purchased by James H. Mays and Moroni Heiner, and the Castle Valley Coal Company was organized to develop the mine as a commercial venture. The mine was located in Cedar Creek Canyon and was originally a wagon mine operated by William Marshall and Erin Howard, of Huntington. The mine had been the source of coal for the local market for about fifteen to twenty years. (Higgins: Castle Valley, page 15)

The mine was purchased from its owner-operator, Erin Howard. (Sun Advocate & Helper Journal, January 2, 1975, page 2)

(RESEARCH: Find out exactly who filed the first coal claim in Cedar Creek Canyon, William Marshall, the Howard brothers, or the Grange brothers, and who sold the claim to Mays and Heiner. Look at contemporary newspaper accounts, and look at tax and land ownership records for Emery County, in beautiful, downtown Castle Dale, Utah.)

The following comes from Explosives Engineer magazine, Volume 13, Number 7, July 1935, page 197, discussing how Moroni Heiner came to develop the Mohrland coal mine:

"In 1907, having gone down into Emery County to count sheep for a Salt Lake bank that was about to foreclose on a mortgage, he noticed coal being used in a large stove in the hotel. Coal was a matter of particular interest, for the recent growth of a large smelting industry in the Salt Lake Valley had stimulated a demand that was rapidly boosting the state's annual output of this fuel. On inquiry, he was told that the coal came from a mine about seven miles out of Huntington. Driving as far as he could, then walking two miles through snow that deepened to four or five feet, Heiner came at last to where a tunnel, large enough to admit a team and wagon, had been driven into the hill.

"An offer to purchase was refused. Back in Salt Lake, a search of Land Office records followed. The discovery that only about two hundred acres of the coal land had been taken up was offset by learning that by presidential order, Carbon and Emery County land had been withdrawn from filing, as a result of some fraudulent entries.

"Not to be balked, Mr. Heiner went at once to Washington, where he obtained interviews with President Roosevelt, and with Garfield, Secretary of the Interior. Only the possibility of consolidating a considerable acreage, he explained, would justify building the railroad that would make possible the development of this great natural resource. As a result, Secretary Garfield, a few weeks later, visited Salt Lake, where approval was given to Mr. Heiner's plans, and the Castle Valley Coal Company was organized. A railroad was built from Price to Mohrland, and coal production began. Later, control of the coal company was sold to the U. S. Smelting, Refining, and Mining Company, by which it still is operated."

During 1908 coal was first developed in Cedar Creek Canyon, just south of Miller Creek Canyon and just over the county line into Emery County. During late 1908, Mays, Orem & Company had been shipping coal from their Cedar Creek Mine by wagon to Price, and announced that they may build a railroad during 1909 to connect with the then under-construction Southern Utah line. (Eastern Utah Advocate, December 17, 1908, page 8)

Castle Valley Coal Company

On July 12, 1909 the Castle Valley Coal Company organized and incorporated in Wyoming on July 19, 1909 to develop the new coal lands in Cedar Creek canyon. The corporation filed in Utah on August 9, 1909. (Utah corporation, index number 7854)

On July 20, 1909 James H. Mays, of Castle Valley Coal, for the amount of $125,000.00, purchased a half interest in Southern Utah railroad line and telephone line between Price and a junction to be built near Miller Creek Canyon, to be called Castle Junction. The Castle Valley Railroad was not in existence but was contemplated upon the agreement and would be incorporated as soon as convenient. The Southern Utah line was only graded at the time. The $125,000 purchase price was to be paid in five installments, with the last installment of $25,000.00, scheduled to be due on upon actual completion of the new joint line, projected to be on October 1, 1910. The joint track was to be built to include two side tracks with the capacity of at least twenty cars each. Each railroad was to operate its own trains over the joint track at its own expense. (Carbon County Miscellaneous Records Book 3-B, p. 33-37)

(Read more about the Castle Valley Railroad, and the Southern Utah Railroad which was operated jointly to Price)

The holdings of the new corporation consisted of 4,000 acres of coal lands located in Emery County, about two miles south of the line with Carbon County, along with 1,200 acres of ranch land and future town site, and the entire flow of Cedar Creek. The company was organized by James H. Mays, Moroni Heiner, A. J. Orem, Walter C. Orem, and Windsor V. Rice, James G, Berryhill, and W. W. Armstrong. (Higgins: Castle Valley, page 15)

James G. Berryhill was apparently the major financial force behind the organization of the Castle Valley Coal Company, and was a millionaire many times over. (Eastern Utah Advocate, July 22, 1909)

The Castle Valley Coal Company began development of its Cedar Creek Canyon mine during October 1909. (Higgins: Castle Valley, page 15)

The Castle Valley Coal Company acquired the Monson Ranch for the location of its townsite that was to be adjacent to its new mine in Cedar Creek Canyon. The ranch property was needed for its valuable water rights. Surveying for the new town site and mine began during the last week of July 1909. (Eastern Utah Advocate, July 29, 1909)

On February 27, 1910 the Castle Valley Railroad operated its first train from Mohrland. (Eastern Utah Advocate, March 17, 1910)

July 31, 1910
The brand name of "King Coal" was used by Western Fuel Company, a retail coal supplier in Salt Lake City that was closely associated with Castle Valley Coal company. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 31, 1910)

December 1, 1910
Castle Valley Coal was producing about 600 tons per day. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, December 1, 1910, page 1)

September 1, 1911
The production of the Castle Valley Coal Company during mid 1911 was about 500 tons daily, increasing to about 1,000 tons per day by September 1, 1911. The coal was mined with machine undercutters and hauled from the mine in four-ton wooden and steel mine cars, using three Goodman 12-ton and one Goodman 6-ton electric locomotives in the mine haulage. After leaving the mine, the loaded mine cars were lowered to the tipple at Mohrland through the use of a 7,000 foot, four-foot gauge, double-track gravity tramway, which had a maximum downward grade of nine percent. The Castle Valley mine was noted for not needing timbering within the mine, as was the Hiawatha mine, an advantage of the particular hardness of the coal produced by the two mines. The coal at the Castle Valley mine came from three different veins, located one above the other, with all three veins totaling sixty-three feet thick in veins of from seven to twenty-three feet thick. (Higgins: Castle Valley, pages 15-18)

October 12, 1911
Castle Valley Coal was shipping 800 tons per day. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, October 12, 1911, page 3)

January 15, 1912
James H. Mays purchased the Orem interests in the Castle Valley Coal Company and the Castle Valley Railroad. (Salt Lake Mining Review, January 15, 1912, page 23)

April 11, 1912
Castle Valley Coal Company increased its capital stock from $5 million to $7.5 million, in part to provide funding for a new coal loading facility at its Mohrland mine. (Coal Age, April 11, 1912, page 1026)

July 18, 1912
Castle Valley Coal Company installed a new Jeffery tipple and three boxcar loaders at Mohrland. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, July 18, 1912, page 5)

January 30, 1913
At the time of its purchase by the United States company, the Castle Valley Coal Company consisted of 4,000 acres of coal lands, 1,200 acres of agricultural lands, with water rights, the town of Mohrland, the Castle Valley Railroad, the Mohrland Mercantile store, Western Fuel Company of Salt Lake City, and Western Pacific Fuel Company of San Francisco. The United States company owned 923,000 shares (virtually all shares issued) of the 1.5 million shares authorized. (Eastern Utah Advocate, January 30, 1913, "Carbon County's Mining Interests")

The mine of the Castle Valley Coal company, and its tipple at Mohrland, were separated by a incline tram road that was 6,600 feet long, with a maximum grade of 10 percent. The tracks passed through two tunnels, one of which was 400 feet long and on a 4 degree curve. (Robert S. Lewis, "The Book Cliffs Coal Field, Utah," AIME Transactions, Volume 50, 1914, page 674)

July 1914
As early as July 1914, the coal from the Mohrland mine was referred to as "King" coal, when the coal from the Castle Valley, Consolidated, and Black Hawk mines were called out as King, Hiawatha, and Black Hawk coal. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1914, page 32)

In August 1914, the annual meeting of the Castle Valley Coal Company was held in Evanston, Wyoming. Officers present at the meeting were: J. H. Mays, president; E. L. Carpenter, first vice president; Moroni Heiner, second vice president; J. E. Forrester, secretary-treasurer. D. H. Livingston, W. S. McCornick, H. R. MacMillian were directors. The old board of directors was re-elected. (Eastern Utah Advocate, August 6, 1914)

(Apparently, by August 1914, United States Smelting did not yet own all of Castle Valley stock, a fact that would come up later with the organization of United States Fuel.)

October 31, 1914
Upon the completion of the new Castle Valley Railroad (called the "Black Hawk-Mohrland Cut-off Line"), Utah Railway bought the new line on October 31, 1914, at a cost of $246,911.42. James H. Mays was shown as the president of Castle Valley Railroad. (Utah Railway: Manual, page 22; Carbon County Deeds Book 5-G, pages 143-145, recorded on November 28, 1914)

Construction of the new Castle Valley Railroad had started in September 1912, and was completed in July 1913.

March 19, 1915
"Mammoth Coal Merger -- Four Big Utah Mines to be Consolidated -- Salt Lake City -- It is reported here that four large Utah coal companies will be merged on April 1 into one company, to be known as the United States Fuel Company, with a total capitalization of $10,000,000. The companies whose holdings are to be taken over by the big new company are the Castle Valley Coal company, the Consolidated Fuel company, the Black Hawk Coal company and the Panther Coal company. These four companies are the owners of extensive tracts of coal lands and producing coal mines in Carbon and Emery counties." (Carbon County News, March 19, 1915)

March 30, 1915
United States Fuel Company was incorporated in Nevada on March 30, 1915. (Nevada Secretary of State, entity C208-1915; revoked in December 1991, reinstated in February 1992, still active as of July 2013, offices in Memphis, Tennessee)

January 3, 1916
The property of Castle Valley Coal Company was conveyed to United States Fuel Company on January 3, 1916. (Emery County Book A-5, pages 315-318; Carbon County Miscellaneous Records Book 3-D, pages 254,256)

The Utah Company was incorporated in Maine on March 26, 1912, as a holding company subsidiary of USSR&M. The Utah Company was shown in 1916 as holding 100 percent of the following companies, except as noted.

January 3, 1916
United States Fuel Company filed articles of incorporation with Utah secretary of state. Capitalized for $10 million, with incorporators being E. L. Carpenter, Moroni Heiner, E. R. Gibson, G. E. Forrester and H. R. Mcmillan. the company was to take over the interests of Consolidated Fuel Company, Castle Valley Coal Company, Black Hawk Coal Company, Utah Coal Sales Company, and a number of smaller coal mines in Emery and Carbon counties. United States Fuel Company was organized in Nevada. (News Advocate, January 7, 1916, page 1, "Monday")

(research continues, to fill in the time between 1916 and 1991)

May 1978
From about May 1978 through at least late July 1979, a unit coal train was operated between the Mohrland loadout, and the Union Electric coal-fired power plant at Labadie, Missouri. The train ran from Mohrland westward on Utah Railway to Provo, by Union Pacific from Provo to Kansas City, where it was interchanged with CRI&P (Rock Island). The train operated using 100 bright blue ROCK hopper cars on a schedule of once every 10 or more days as a loaded train, and similarly as an empty. (Dennis Opferman, email dated July 30, 2014)

(View a James Belmont photo of the Union Electric unit train loading at Mohrland in July 1979)

"Union Electric, now Ameren, bought the former CRI&P St. Louis-Kansas City mainline from the UP in 1996 to ensure rail service to the Labadie plant. The SP/SSW had bought it from the Rock Island's bankruptcy estate, but had never operated a train over it, save for local service at both ends. Only the eastern 60 miles is operated. The rest is torn up. In the middle, there is still a derailment from the last days of the Rock that was never cleaned up." (David Wilkins, Facebook, Rails Through The Wasatch, June 13, 2016)

March 1986
The Intermountain Power Agency, operators of the Intermountain Power Project near Delta, Utah, purchased the entire Mohrland coal field from United States Fuel Company. The following comes from the Deseret News newspaper, March 27, 1986.

Power agency buys coal reserve in Emery to fuel plant near Delta -- The Intermountain Power Agency has purchased a 35-million ton coal reserve in Emery County to fuel its 1,500 megawatt electrical generation plant near Delta.

IPA purchased the Mohrland coal field from United States Fuel Co. for $28 million, IPA spokeswoman Ann Garrett said.

The agreement alters a previous contract between IPA and United States Fuel, which called for the purchase of a certain tonnage of coal from the Mohrland mine.

Garrett explained the new agreement benefits both parties by offering United States Fuel an immediate cash payment for its coal, while allowing IPA to determine the amount of coal it uses at the plant and leaving an option open to sell excess coal from the reserve.

The Intermountain Power Project electrical generation plant will use an estimated 4 million tons of Utah coal annually, she said.

IPA has previously signed other agreements to purchase coal from Utah mines operated by Coastal States Energy, Tower Resources and Cyprus Minerals.

The $5.8 billion power plant project is near completion, Garrett said.

Operating tests are being run along IPP's northern transmission lines and and the first commercial power generation is scheduled in or before July. The plant's two, 750-megawatt generators will be in full operation by July 1987.

More than 75 percent of the electricity generated from the plant will be delivered along 590 miles of transmission lines from Delta to southern California.

Six California communities have purchased power shares In the project along with 23 Utah municipalities, five Utah cooperative utilities, Utah Power & Light and a Nevada cooperative.

The project has been praised by local government officials and economists as one of Utah's largest industrial undertakings, employing more than 4,500 workers in 1985.

Coal continued to be loaded at Mohrland as late as April 1991, with Utah Railway operating trains over its Mohrland Branch to be loaded at the mine.

The Mohrland loadout was still active, loading 200,000 tons per year, destined for the Southwest Portland Cement plant at Victorville, California. (Don Marson, "The Utah Railway," Pacific RailNews, December 1996)

Castle Valley Railroad

Castle Valley Railroad -- Information about the Castle Valley Railroad, built from Hiawatha to Mohrland in 1910, and sold to Utah Railway in 1914.

More Information

Consolidated Fuel Company -- Information about the mines in Miller Creek Canyon, including the original Consolidated Fuel mine at East Hiawatha or Old Hiawatha, and Southern Utah Railroad.

Black Hawk Coal Company -- Information about the Black Hawk Coal Co. mine at Black Hawk, later known as Hiawatha or King Mine, sold to United States Fuel Company, served by Utah Railway.

Panther Coal Company -- Information about the Panther Coal Company and its mine near Castle Gate, served by Utah Railway; opened in 1912, closed in 1937.

United States Fuel -- Information about the mines of United States Fuel Company, the merger of Consolidated Fuel, Castle Valley Coal and Black Hawk Coal companies, served by Utah Railway after 1914.