THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A BINGHAM
By John J. Creedon
We realized a dream of over forty years, when our high school basketball team won the “A” division championship for the first time in our history. Our football team advanced to the quarterfinals and won their division.
On the other hand, the old Bingham that we knew and loved was fast disappearing. Landmarks that have stood over half a century are being deserted and demolished and our people are being scattered throughout the county.
The library closed its doors in May, and this removed from our midst a bright spot on Main Street, with its spacious building and large inventory of books. It was a meeting place for the younger set and the genial librarians, Gwen Knudsen, Leota Muir and Eva West gave the library a friendly and welcome atmosphere.
The Diamond and the Carr Fork taverns have been torn down and many of the apartment houses that were never empty since the day they were built were dark and deserted this Christmas week. The Bourgard, Elmerton and Store Apartments are empty shells and soon to be razed by the wrecking crews. Hundreds of fine people lived, were born and even died in these buildings. Stirring stories about the events and people occupying these apartments.
A disastrous fire in June wiped out a large section of Markham, destroying four homes and everything in them. This fire again demonstrated the spirit of Bingham. These families were given shelter, furnishings and money to help ease the tragedy of their losses. This aid came swiftly and generously.
No matter what 1961 has in store for us—let us have heart and faith. There will always be a Bingham. In the hearts and memories of those who loved her may she be a cherished memory, wherever we may be.
I take issue with the writer of the item about Bingham from the New York Times, published in the Bulletin last week. It was full of inaccurate statements. The ranshackle buildings on Main Street are mostly those owned by absentee owners, whose only interest in Bingham over the years has been to milk the renters for all they could get and never spend a nickle on upkeep
We had our saloons and gambling “dens” as all mining towns did and I guess we should feel complimented on the description of “Gaudiest” West of the Rockies. The $40,000 fire was in Highland Boy. I am happy to know that my neighbors in the Salt Lake Valley are “More civilized”. I may have to live there some day and would not like to live with savages or cannibals.
One true statement there was—little or no class distinction, a tribute to our fine people from many lands and creeds who got along so well together.
The classrooms in the Central School are not half empty yet and Christmas decorations were pasted on the windows as they have been for years in the true Christmas spirit. The windows are not grimy and the school building and grounds are well maintained by Mike Zampos, custodian.
We had our Santa Claus at the Civic Center and he came to town in style as usual—on the No. 1 fire truck. A Happy New Year to everyone—except the block who wrote that article.
THE BINGHAM HOSPITAL AND DR. RICHARDS
By John J. Creedon
The original hospital was built by Dr. F.E. Straup many years ago as an addition to his home and office, but it was not until Dr. Richards arrived in Bingham about 1923 to take charge of the hospital that it really began its service to the community and the state.
The need for such an establishment was clear to the man of such vision as Dr. Richards and he spent the next 25 years adding to and building up the facilities and the reputation of the Bingham Hospital.
Prior to that time there was no adequate and complete hospital facilities nearer than Salt Lake City and the need was there as there were several mines working in the canyon with the usual injuries and illnesses that went with underground operations. Babies were being born without the advantages of modern equipment and severely injured persons had to be transported to Salt Lake City for treatment.
The hospital itself was being modernized and changed almost annually. It was said that Dr. Richards had a crew of carpenters on his staff, as they were continually remodeling and making new rooms. A second floor was built and then a third to provide more beds and nurses; quarters.
Any new innovation or improvement in hospital equipment was given its trial by Dr. Richards. He had the outside of the building covered with tin and iron shutters provided for all windows as a fire prevention measure. The firemen were requested to inspect all new improvements and recommend safety precautions.
Anyone who went through the clinic, can attest to the maze of little rooms, each with its particular facility. It was a standing joke about patients being overlooked for days in one of these rooms, but I don’t believe Dr. Richards ever lost one them completely.
Bingham Hospital saw hope and despair, joy and sorrow, success and failure, life and death, but through it all, it stood there as a symbol of hope and aid to the sick and injured. We all felt secure in the knowledge that here was a place with the people and equipment to take care of almost any emergency at a moments notice. What a feeling of security to see the door open and mercy’s light aglow in the hallways.
Many a man with a broken back was brought into the hospital with little hope of ever working, again or even walking normally, but most of them walked out under their own power and resumed useful lives again.
The hospital was good business for Bingham, for it brought many people here as patients and visitors and many lasting friendships were made. It provided work for many, nurses, technicians, maintenance workers. It was good for the drug stores, the cafes, the service stations and reflected its influence on the economy of the town greatly.
Dr. Richards was a demanding administrator, but he did not spare himself. He could be
seen going from the hospital to his home across the street at any time of the day or night and no one but his family knows the hours he put in. Like the other good doctors we have had, much of his service was given freely.
With all the hours given to his profession, he still found time to be a community leader. He was charter president of the Lions Club, school board member and president for many years. A leader and main contributor to our Community Fund from its inception. A leader in the Boy Scouts.
I like to remember Dr. Richards as he participated in our first Galena Days. He made his calls dressed in high silk hat and cut away coat and his little black bag. He entered into the life of the community 100% all the way. As the program was titled when we gave him a farewell in 1948, “A Testimonial to a Great Guy”. That was Dr. Richards!
By John J. Creedon
Bingham’s largest and for many years one of its best apartment buildings is rapidly disappearing, falling to the hands of the wrecking crew.
Bourgard Apartments was the pride and joy of its owner. Jerome Bourgard, pioneer businessman and builder of Bingham. The building was erected about 1914 or 1915 and was designed and built by one of our own carpenters and architects, Leonard Porter.
It filed the need of a growing community by providing modern living in the heart of the busy business section. Many of our leading citizens over the years have called it home. Doctors, lawyers, business and mining executives were among its tenants.
With twelve apartments on the top three floors and space for business establishments on the ground floor, it was always occupied and had a waiting list of those seeking to rent the living quarters.
What a place to watch the passing parade on Main Street. With each unit having a porch, during parades and celebrations the porches were packed by tenants and their friends taking advantage of grandstand seats for the many events taking place up town.
For a short time Wayne Foote had a pool hall on the ground floor and Mrs. Cook had a small restaurant there. The American Express had its offices there for many years.
Herbert Gust had a print shop and put out a newspaper in the north end of the building and later the Bingham Bulletin took over this part of the ground floor and our paper was published there until 1939, when the Bulletin moved to its present location.
Earl James lived over the print shop for some time and he had many a laugh with friends who called there for the first time. In the Bulletin office they had an electric saw that was used to cut and trim steo type plates made of lead. This saw would give out an eerie sound as it cut through these plates. If a stranger was upstairs at the time this saw was going through its duties, Earl or some of his friends would remark, “Well, guess John as another one too long for the coffin”. Of course this would raise the question of what was going on. The answer would be, “John, having a small stock of coffins would have to saw the legs off the corpse and set them back in the coffin”. It was amusing to watch the expression on the faces of the visitors. Some of them were somewhat skeptical, but others really believed the tale.
As much a part of the Bourgard Apartments was the house next door where the Wilford Harris resided for nearly forty years.
Bill was the caretaker and faithful overseer of the property from 1920 until the present time and no man carried out his duties more tirelessly. He was on the job at all hours of the day or night, taking care of the endless task of caring for such a large building and endeavoring to keep the tenants happy and contended.
The Harris home at 444 Main was a meeting place for members of the fire department and their partners after every parade and celebration. I recall many happy times as guests of Connie, Bill and Virginia. Young and old were welcomed and there was always some thing good to eat and drink and most of all the hearty welcome was always evident.
I remember other times when we left a party there to go rabbit hunting next morning, driving 150 miles to hunt the bunnies. Many a basketball team was dined and honored by Connie and Bill and they were among the loyal fans who meant so much to the young boys who made up the teams.
As a fireman I shall breathe a bit easier when the Bourgard is finally leveled, for if there was any one building in town that gave the fire department a chill, it was this one. I don’t remember how many times we have fought an imaginary fire at this location, placing our hose and equipment, getting our pumping stations in operation and in general just what to expect and what we could do. I am thankful we never had to put our plan in action, but there is a sadness for all of us to see it go.
HEASTON CORNER AND MARKHAM GULCH
Gone is another landmark associated with one of the pioneer families of Bingham. This is the Heaston property at the corner of Markham and Main. I remember the Heaston home as one of the better homes and it was always well cared for. I always passed it on my way to school and remember the two plum trees in the front yard, where we would snare a ripe plum or two when they were in reach. For many years, Grandma Heaston had the distinction of being the oldest woman in Bingham and she was featured in the Eagle Magazine, with a picture of her and Bert Hocking, the main supporter of Mother’s Day in the Eagle lodge and in Bingham.
Grandma Heaston was one of the first white children born in the area around Bingham. Her son Ade, was very much in the affairs of the growing community. He was the first fire chief, a deputy sheriff and heath officer. Jerome Bourgard, Dr. F.E. Straup and Ade Heaston were the men who drove the tunnel in Dry Fork and developed the water supply that has furnished Bingham its water for nearly fifty years. He developed the Dry Fork area with a fish pond and when the first load of elk were shipped in from Montana, it was in the Dry Fork area that part of them were established. To this day the area bears his name ind is known as the Heaston Game Preserve. His name was also given to the heights just north of the L.D.S. Church.
The corner of Markham and Main was an important place in the early days, with the school and later the Canyon Hall with its fine dance floor and opera house on the same corner. Just a few steps up Markham stood the Elmerton Hotel, where visiting dignitaries stayed. These included miners, salesmen, and the acting troops who put on shows in the Canyon Hall. Just across the street near the site of the Central School today, was the Julia Dean Mill with the old Copper Belt Railroad running in the rear of the buildings on the east side of the canyon.
Markham Gulch was an important part of the early mining developments, with many small mines in the Gulch, including the Julia Dean, the Mystic Shrine, Ben Butler and Black Dog. Houses lined both sides of the gulch extending almost to Picnic Flat. Some of these homes were outside the city limits and were part of the county.
May spectacular floods roared down Markham and the old Canyon Hall was usually the one building that got the worst of it. The lower portion of the hall would be filled with mud and debris, but it would be cleaned out and open for business as usual.
When the Bingham and Garfield Railroad was built, Markham Gulch had to be spanned with a 200-foot high steel trestle to bring the railroad out of the series of four tunnels into the Bingham yard. This was a spectacular building feat in those days and was one of the selling points of the scenic B.&G. Railroad.
These tramways passed over the homes in the canyon and some of them had heavy wire nets strung over the roofs. I doubt very much if these nets would have done much good if a ton of ore and bucket fell from the great heights over some of the town. From what I can gather, only
once did a cable break and drop any of these buckets and that time the damage was confined to the tramway and did not damage any homes or property.
Markham was a favorite place for sleigh riding too, for those who did not want a longer ride. The gulch was steep and it took real skill to make the turn at the corner without ditching or hitting a wagon or sleigh traveling on Main Street.
Many many years ago much concern arose over the hanging rock on the south side of Markham and after many protests and complaints, a wire cable was placed around this rock to prevent it from falling on the homes underneath. Years have passed and I am sure the cable has rusted through and is useless, but the hanging rock is still there overlooking the changing scene. It has withstood the ravages of time, wind and rain and snow and the shock of the heavy blasting. It will probably be there when the last remnants of Bingham are gone. What an interesting story it could tell, if given the power of speech.
THE BIG GARAGE
This big garage next to the post office was built to survive the ravages of time and the heavy blasting, but it has finally succumbed to the bulldozer and the battering ball. The cement and steel are a jumbled tangle of wreckage and the proud sign, “Bingham” on the roof for the benefit of the airplane is gone.
The big garage came along just at the time that the interest in the automobile was getting into high gear and business was booming until the depression hit in late 1929. The garage had space for 200 cars and there was usually a waiting list for stall space. Most of the delivery trucks and the doctors cars were serviced there. Ambulance and funeral cars were also housed.
Chick and Rn became interested in the infant automobile business after they returned from World War I and have been in the partnership for over 40 years.
Many of our residents bought their first car at the Bingham Garage and some continued to buy their cars from that first one on. They first featured the Model T Ford and at one time they were reported to be the only agency handling the Ford and Chevrolet at the same time. Later came the Hudson, Essex and Terraplane agency and now they handle the Chrysler and Plymouth.
The big garage was a great hangout for the friends of Chick and Ren and many of the great issues of the day were discussed and cussed in the confines of the building. During the great depression it was a meeting place of the unemployed, of whom there were many, and some of the solutions for the problems were unique to say the least. Too bad there was not a tape recorder available during those hectic days.
It was there the great debate was held on the pro and con of moving the high school to Copperton. The issues were hotly debated and oft times feelings and friendships were somewhat strained. Some of the diehards even pledged to remain away from basketball games at Copperton. Some of these kept this pledge for a long time, while others capitulated the first year the games were played in Copperton. Mark James never broke his pledge, and even sat outside the gym, waiting for Mrs. Richards, whom he drove to the gam. Most of the rest of us, saw the advantages of the move to Copperton, later on and relented, but some of us it was the lost years as far as home attendance at games was concerned. Maybe one of the reasons it was it was easier to stay away at that time, was the fact that we didn’t make the tournament for quite a spell. Those were the years that Granite and Jordan dominated our division.
One amusing incident is connected with the building of the garage. In those days we had a character among us, known as the “Gorgeous Greek” or the “Beau Brummel of Athens.”
He was a real dandy. He had a Kaiser Wilhelm mustache, waxed to a high degree with the ends drawn to a point and pointing upwards. He wore shiny leather putees, always freshly shined and rode a motorcycle. He was mighty proud of his appearance and showed it with an arrogance that was hard to take. One day as he was passing the then unfinished garage, he was pulled inside the basement part of the building and two of the carpenters proceeded to cut off one-half of the mustache. He put up quite a fight, until one of them threatened to cut his throat if he didn’t shut up.
There was quite a stir over the incident, as the Greek wanted everyone connected with the building arrested, but no one could identify the culprits and frankly nobody cared to. His ego was deflated and he was never the same arrogant person after that. There would have been a reward collected to pay the persons responsible if they were known at the time. One of these men is still around these parts and he probably never knew what a hero he was for his daring act.