William Gibson Sharp

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Biographical Notes

(March 17, 1857 - July 1, 1919)

William G. Sharp was the major moving force behind the development of coal mining in Carbon County, including United States Fuel Co., and Utah Railway. By age 28, in 1885, he was superintendent of the coal mine in Pleasant Valley, gradually working his way to the top by 1900 as the general manager of Utah Fuel Co., and its Pleasant Valley Coal Co., subsidiary.

Sharp moved east in 1902 to manage the largest coal mining company in Pennsylvania, and in 1906 when United States Smelting Refining and Mining Co. was formed to consolidate several metal mining and coal mining companies, along with several smelting companies, Sharp was appointed as the new company's president, with offices in New York, and later in Boston. Sharp sought to develop several coal mining properties he had become familiar with during his time in Utah.

Although he left Utah in 1902, he returned on a very regular basis to oversee his company's interests in the state, including mines in Bingham Canyon, in Tintic, and in Carbon County, as well as smelting interests in Salt Lake City. At a early date, he saw the close relationship between mining and railroads, and worked closely to insure the success of the Utah Railway and its predecessor companies, as they transported coal from the company mines, to markets throughout the West.

William Gibson Sharp was the son of John Sharp and Anne Gibson Sharp of Salt Lake City. His father was John Sharp, an LDS bishop and general manager of the old Utah Central Railway. W. G. Sharp was educated at Deseret University, and later graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy, New York, with a civil engineer's degree, and then from Columbia with a mining engineer's degree. He worked with his father as a telegraph operator on the Utah Central, then took a position with the Pleasant Valley Coal company. He advanced until he was general manager of Utah Fuel company. In 1902 he went East as manager of Consolidated Coal company in West Virginia. (News Advocate, July 10, 1919)

"He was chosen in 1906 to be president and directing head of the United States Smelting Refining and Mining Company. He always retained his interest in Utah and did much to continue the development of the mining industry here. One of his chief activities was the organization of United States Fuel company as a merger of the mines at Hiawatha, Black Hawk, Mohrland and Panther. This company was a subsidiary of the smelting company. He later planned and carried out the building of the Utah railway, the coal route from the mines to Provo." (News Advocate, July 10, 1919)

W. G. Sharp had six sisters and two brothers, Joseph R. Sharp, and John Sharp. His brother John had died in March 1915 and had been Utah State Fish and Game commissioner for 11 years. (Logan Republican, March 18, 1918) His father, John Sharp, died in January 1913.


March 17, 1857
William Gibson Sharp was born in Utah.

W. G. Sharp graduated from Troy Polytechnic Institute. (Eastern Utah Advocate, March 22, 1906)

April 1880
William Sharp was shown in the 1880 U. S. census, age 23, living with his widowed mother in Salt Lake City.

According to the 1881 Canada census, William Sharp was a farm laborer, living in Ontario, Canada.

In 1885, Pleasant Valley Coal Company, under the new management of W. G. Sharp, took over the operation of the Winter Quarters mine and shut down the Mud Creek mine. (Watts: First Mine, page 38)

W. G. Sharp was superintendent of the Union Pacific coal mine from 1887 to 1892. The coal from the Scofield mine was used by Union Pacific to supply coal for the engines on its Utah Division. The coal seam opened by the Utah Central Coal Company at Scofield was twenty-eight feet thick, and called the Pleasant Valley Seam. On January 1, 1884 the tipple caught fire, burned down, and set the coal in the mine on fire. The original No. 1 opening was permanently closed. In the early spring of 1884 additional property was purchased and another, second, Pleasant Valley No. 1 mine was opened nearby to continue working the Pleasant Valley Seam. On October 1, 1891, UP applied to the RGW for a reduced rate, from $1.25 to $1.00 per ton, to ship its coal from Scofield to Salt Lake City. RGW declined and UP began getting its Utah Division engine coal from its Rock Springs, Wyoming mine. With that change, the Scofield mine was only "worked to take care of the commercial trade." The demand for commercial coal went down with the "financial panic of 1897", and the mine was closed and sealed. (Union Pacific Coal Company, pp. 124,125)

April 1900
William G. Sharp was shown in the 1900 U. S. census as living with his wife, Hester, at 551 E. South Temple. He was 43 years of age, and she was 37 years of age. He was shown as a "Supt. of Coal Com."

May 1, 1900
W. G. Sharp was superintendent of the Winter Quarters coal mine at the time of the Scofield Mine Disaster on May 1, 1900.

January 1902
W. G. Sharp resigned as general manager of Pleasant Valley Coal company, and its parent company Utah Fuel, to move east and enter upon his new duties with Fairmont Coal company. His brother, Joseph R. Sharp was shown as the superintendent of the Sunnyside mine. (Salt Lake Herald, December 27, 1901; Deseret News, January 6, 1902)

February 1902
W. G. Sharp was appointed as treasurer of the newly organized Somerset Coal company, with general offices in New York City. The new company had just recently taken possession of fourteen coal properties located on the B&O railroad in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, including the property of the Fairmont Coal company. (Deseret News, February 1, 1902)

November 1904
William G. Sharp was general manager of Fairmont and other coal companies in New York. At that time, E. L. Carpenter was "placed in charge of the New York offices of the Consolidation, Fairmont and Somerset companies. Prior to his advancement, Carpenter had been general sales manager of Utah Fuel company, and had been sent for by Sharp. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 24, 1904)

March 10, 1906
United States Smelting Refining and Mining company was organized. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 23, 1907)

March 1906
W. G. Sharp was appointed president of United States Smelting Refining and Mining company, with offices in New York City. (Eastern Utah Advocate, March 22, 1906)

April 1906
D. J. Sharp of Helper, Utah, was W. G. Sharp's brother. (Eastern Utah Advocate, April 5, 1906)

October 1912
Utah Railway was referred to as the "W. G. Sharp Road." (Eastern Utah Advocate, October 31, 1912)

A different William G. (Graves) Sharp, of Elyria, Ohio, was the U. S. Ambassador to France during the Wilson administration.

January 7, 1916
W. G. Sharp, president and general manager of United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Company, "has not been in the best of health for a considerable time." (Eastern Utah Advocate, January 7, 1916)

July 1, 1919
W. G. Sharp died in his home in Winham, Massachusetts, near Boston. He was buried in Salt Lake City on July 6, 1919, in the Harkness family vault at Mount Olivet cemetery. (Salt Lake Herald, July 6, 1919, "last Tuesday") (His death certificate shows that he was born in Utah on March 16, 1859, and was 60 years old upon his death. The cause of death was "Angina Pectoris.")

His wife was Hester Harkness, daughter of Judge Robert Harkness.