Sunday, July 24, 2011


Bear Gulch Tramway
 My First Job
by John J. Creedon 16 Mar 1921
Holden Tram-way --man operated brakes

One of the most outstanding man made Bingham landmarks, now all but completely removed or covered over, was the old Tramway skirting the left side of the Canyon up to the mouth of Bear Gulch, where it crossed the Canyon on a wooden trestle and continued on the right wall of Jordan and Galena Gulch.
This tramway was built in the days of hand work and black powder, in the late “80's” by the Old Jordan Company.  The track was 39 inch gauge, the same as the old narrow gauge railroad, originally built into Bingham by the D&RGW railroad, later made over to standard gauge width.
This tramway was taken over by Standish and Jimpson, two early day business men, and operated in connection with their coal and lumber business, which was later sold to George E. Chandler, who incorporated the Bingham Coal and Lumber Company.
My first remembrance of the tramway was as a small boy.  I watched Grandpa Tibble (grandfather of Clyde) work on track repairs.  I remember his old white horse that lived to an old age.  This tram way was operated to convey supplies up to the Old Jordan Mine and cars loaded with ore and dropped down the steep grade by hand brakes.
Mule-train at US Mine
On the trip up to the mine horses were used, two or three in tandem according to the size of the load on each car and the trip usually consisted of ten or twelve cars requiring some 20 to 25 horses.
Here is where I came in, for I was hired to lead the string of horses back to the yard, my first job.  I rode the lead horse followed by the others with the halter strap of one tied to the tail of the preceding horse.  Not many people now living, can recall seeing a small boy of 11 years, about 65 pounds, riding the first horse with the others trailing along down the three miles of dusty road in the summer and the mud, knee deep in the early spring.
There was no sidewalks in the canyon and anyone that was unlucky enough to be along side of the muddy road enjoyed the pleasure of a mud bath.
When I was asked by Mr. Jimpson one day, to drive a one horse passenger car to take Mr. and Mrs. Ray Bemis from the Bingham train to the Galena Mine, I was on my own.  There was no means of informing the ore train coming down that the passenger car was on the way up-each had to watch for the other.  On this day, the horse, “Ned” was more on the job than myself, because just at the sharp turn below Colonel Wall’s Starless Mine, I saw Ned’s ears stand up and almost at the same instant, Ned jumped down hill off the track and the ore train hit the passenger car, throwing us to the ground.  Mrs. Bemis remained in the car.
The ore train came to a stop with each car touching the one ahead.  However, the passenger car was not thrown off the track and started down grade with Mrs. Bemis on the floor between the two lengthwise seats, with no one in control.
One of the ore train drivers was my good friend, Victor Finnel, who ran along side and put on the brake and stopped the car with minor bruises to the three of us.  The men lifted the passenger car off the track, so the ore
train could pass, then lifted it back on the track and “Ned” and I proceeded to complete the trip.  I braked the car slowly back to the yard and “Ned” came home on his own power.
The men who made up the ore train were the leader, L.B. “Ren” Jenkins, Dave Wherret, Joe Shelley, Oscar Christopherson, Victor Finnel, George Hobbs and Gene Barton, all fine men.
The preceding article came from the pen of my good friend, Isador Gauchet, who I am happy to report has recovered from a severe heart attack suffered in January.

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