Utah Coal Miscellaneous Notes

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This page was last updated on July 19, 2021.

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(Miscellaneous subjects listed alphbetically; use index at right.)

Coking Coal for Geneva Steel

From Bruce Collins, posted to the D&RGW mailing list, October 11, 1998:

The company I worked for (Mid-Continent Resources) supplied almost all of Geneva's coking coal from 1985 or so until 1990, when we had a fire that ultimately resulted in complete closure in 1991. Prior to 1985 we supplied about 50% of USS's demand from about 1966, and about 20% from 1956 until 1966 (Mid-Continent Coal & Coke then). To the best of my knowledge USS and its successor Geneva Steel used no coke from outside sources until after our closure in January of 1991, although somewhere about then they tried a shipment from China that was a disaster (supposedly mostly dust by the time it got to Utah). They did try a trainload or two of eastern coking coal during contract price negotiations in the late 1980s but these trials weren't particularly successful. Unless you call beating down our price, which eventually in part led to our closure and higher coal prices to GSC successful. Anyway, screened coke is used in a lot of chemical processes, from sugar refining to phosphate reduction, as well as smelting purposes other than iron, and I suspect what you saw were such shipments. Incidentally, Mid-Continent Coal & Coke at least used to be the largest domestic supplier of screened coke.

From Mark Hemphill, posted to the D&RGW mailing list, October 11, 1998:

Note that Geneva Steel Corp. purchased the Geneva Works on August 31, 1987 after USS shut the works down following a strike in summer 1986.

I assume that the remainder of the coking coal supplied to Geneva in the USS era came from Horse Canyon (Columbia closed at some point, I forget exactly when), with small amounts from Somerset?

Why did the amount increase from 20% to 50% in 1966? I assume that the increase from 50% to nearly all in 1985 was due to Horse Canyon shutting down at about that time?

I assume that "screened coke" is the same thing as coke breeze, i.e., the fines left over after the coke is dumped out of the byproduct oven onto the wharf, cooled, and screened? The stuff that's too small to support the burden in the blast furnace?

Where did Mid-Continent coke their coal? In those old beehive ovens at Redstone? I had assumed that coking along the Crystal River had ceased long, long ago.

From Mark Hemphill, posted to the D&RGW mailing list, October 11, 1998:

According to a former D&RGW Coal Desk employee, the only movement of coke to Geneva was from the Port of Richmond. As for the NS and CR car sets returning empty, he said this may have happened on occasion when D&RGW had a temporary excess of cars. The NS and CR cars were deemed undesirable by the operating department because they lacked high-strength couplers, by the mines and customers because they were old and had leaky side sheets and doors, and by the marketing department because they were often not 100-ton capacity. The lack of high-strength couplers required additional helper crews and locomotives to be called.

If you're modeling the D&RGW in the 1990s, this would imply a different set of criteria for operation.

From Dave Nelson, posted to the D&RGW mailing list, October 12, 1998:

When Geneva was started up as a commercial mill (late 40's), it was necessary to import various grades of coking coal to mix with the Utah coal. Coal from the Ft. Smith region of Arkansas (and nearby Oklahoma) was shipped west (a few hundred thousand tons) and for at least one year, a small amount of coal from British Columbia was imported as well (67,000 tons).

For modeling purposes, this gives a good excuse for an occasional Frisco or MP hopper, as well as something from the CP. Not that those cars from those roads were known to be used, but they do represent the railroads in the originating regions.

Co-op Mining Company

(Read more about the coal mines in Bear Canyon, near Huntington, Utah, including the original mine operated by Co-Op Mining Company.)

Eastern Utah Railroad

The Eastern Utah Railroad was to be an electric line between Wellington on the D&RG and the town of Emery. The railroad was to begin grading at Wellington "next week." Organizers included: Henry Wade, president; Orange Seely, vice president; Dr. I. R. Parsons, a dentist in Price, treasurer; Dr. M. V. Maloney, secretary; W. J. Tidwell, director; W. S. Avery, director; and H. C. Pitts, director. (Eastern Utah Advocate, October 20, 1910)

Articles of incorporation for the Eastern Utah Railroad were filed on February 21, 1911 with the county clerk (Salt Lake County?), according to the Herald-Republican of February 21, 1911. Dr. Maloney was a dentist who gave up his practice in Price to devote all of his time to the building of the Eastern Utah railroad. (Eastern Utah Advocate, February 23, 1911, "Looks Good For Road Out of Wellington")

Grading for the Eastern Utah Railroad began on March 22, 1911 at Wellington, for a connection with D&RG. (Eastern Utah Advocate, March 23, 1911)

According to Henry Wade, one of the organizers, grading for the Eastern Utah Railroad was under way between Wellington and Orangeville, except for two bridges. (Eastern Utah Advocate, April 6, 1911, "Eastern Utah Road Assured")

By late July 1911, the Eastern Utah was being graded. Twelve teams were at work between Wellington and Cleveland. (Eastern Utah Advocate, July 27, 1911)

Highway Trucks

An automobile road, called the Midland Trail, between Price and Colton, was completed in July 1913. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, July 17, 1913, p. 1)

That same highway was called the "Pikes Peak Highway" in 1947. The Pikes Peak Highway was completed in 1931. (Madsen, p. 54)

By late 1940 highway trucks were becoming a consideration in the movement of coal to market. On one day in early December 1940, eighty-six trucks, each with at least ten tons each, passed through Spanish Fork canyon during a one hour and forty-five minute period of time. (Coal Index: Sun Advocate, December 12, 1940, p. 1)

Longwall Mining

The following comes from the May 31, 1992 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper:

In the past, many jobs returned each time the boom-and-bust cycle boomed. But mechanization is transforming mining into an industry that needs fewer people to produce more coal. The longwall-mining machine is largely responsible. Its blade can chew away relentlessly at the coal seam as it sweeps back and forth across the length of the machine, which can extend up to 1,000 feet. Small chunks are dumped on a conveyor belt and carried out of the mine. A longwall crew of 10 can produce as much coal in a day as hundreds of miners did in a month just decades ago.

As a result, coal production in Utah never has been greater. Some 22 million tons were excavated in each of the last two years, triple the output 15 years earlier. Yet, the price of coal declined in 1991 for the 10th straight year. A ton of coal sold for $21.55 last year, down from $29.42 in 1982. In industry mathematics, more coal plus lower prices equal fewer employees.

Employment peaked in 1982 with 4,300 people at 29 Utah mines. Now there are roughly 2,500 miners in 16 Utah mines. The longwall's efficiency will keep numbers down. Newer longwalls, in fact, have smaller crews. Computers perform tasks previously done by one or two miners.

Not all companies can use longwalls because of geologic conditions. Others cannot afford them. The price is $20 million to $25 million. Coastal States Energy Co. is one company that can. Its subsidiaries own the Skyline mines outside of Scofield and the Sufco Mine near Salina. They employ about 660. An additional longwall made the Skyline mines Utah's top producer in 1991 and the country's second most productive underground mine (Utah Power's Wilberg/Cottonwood Mine is third, its Deer Creek Mine seventh).

December 1961
Kaiser's coal mine at Sunnyside was one of the first installations of longwall mining in the United States. "Investigation of the possibilities was stimulated by the exhibition of the Dowty self-advancing support system at the 1959 Coal Show of the American Mining Congress. As early as 1944, John Peperakis, manager of the Sunnyside mines, had become interested in longwall as a result of his experience and observations as a commanding officer in charge of one of the coal districts in Germany for the American army. In 1960 a trip abroad was made by R. G. Heers, Kaiser manager of mines and raw materials, to see and evaluate the units already in service. The possibilities appeared impressive and as a result it was decided to try longwall." "In the initial months of operation (the first full one was December, 1961), the usual achievement was 4 cuts per shift, providing about 500 tons of material, including the partings. Rates of 7 tons per minute were marked up on several occasions. The best shift produced 700 tons of material." (Coal Age magazine, May 1962)

Miscellaneous Notes

The national coal industry was under federal control, as of April 5, 1918. (Coal Index: The Sun, April 5, 1918, p. 2)

On April 1, 1922 the coal miners go on nationwide strike. (79 ICC 188)

On August 31, 1922 the national coal miners strike settled. "Considerable numbers" of miners in Utah returned to work during July. (79 ICC 188)

Deer Creek mine, owned by Rocky Mountain Power's Energy West coal mining subsidiary. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 13, 2007)

Proposed Railroads

The Utah Coal, Coke & Railway Company was organized in late summer 1878. The new company hoped to build a 70-mile railroad between Provo and newly discovered coal lands in Huntington Canyon. The majority shareholders were DeLacy Loucks, William B. Welles, and S. McCornick, all of Salt Lake City. Apparently, after the formality of the September 28, 1878 organization, the organizers failed to get sufficient financial support for their venture because no further mention of the company can be found. (Reeder, p. 372, from state incorporation records; Utah corporation, index number 4303)

On November 6, 1888 the Emery County Railway was incorporated to build a railroad line from a connection with Denver & Rio Grande near Castle Gate to mines located in Panther canyon. (Utah corporation, index number 499, 4326)

For unexplained reasons, two months later, on January 9, 1889, the Deseret Railway was incorporated by the same interests which had just organized the Emery County Railway, with the same stated route. (Utah corporation, index number 509, 4327)

The Coal Belt Railway was incorporated on September 20, 1905 by S. B. Milner of Salt Lake City, along with four others, with a stated route of an 89-mile railroad between Spanish Fork and coal mines in Carbon County. Milner was the president of the new corporation and held, as a trustee, all but fifty of the 50,000 shares of the company. (Utah corporation, index number 5351)

Salina Canyon Mines

Coal had been discovered in Salina canyon as early as March 1895, with experts from Denver being asked to examine the coal outcrops. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 25, 1895)

Southern Utah Fuel Comapany (SUFCO)

(1941 to present)

(Read more about SUFCO)

Sevier Valley Coal Company at Crystal

(Read more about Sevier Valley Coal company)

Utah Central (of 1922)

On August 25, 1922 the Utah Central Railroad (third) incorporated, in South Dakota, to build from connection with D&RGW to coal mines in Huntington canyon.

ICC issued a certificate in March 1923 to allow Utah Central to build a 33-mile railroad, from Huntington Canyon to Healy Siding, ten miles south of Utah Railway Junction. (Coal Index: The Sun, March 9, 1923, p. 3)

Utah Power & Light

Utah Power & Light Company's third 400 Mw coal-fired plant at Hunter Generating Station near Castle Dale, Utah, is in operation. The $436 million plant had been in its testing phase since early March 1983. (Coal Age magazine, July 1983, page 32)