Saturday, July 9, 2011


Bear Gulch
My Mountain my Time and Earlier
Compiled By Eugene Halverson

old Telegraph Mine
I was born and raised in Telegraph.  I lived in a company house just below the Old Telegraph Mine.  This was about 7,500 feet above sea level, lots of snow.  My mountain was high but I had no idea how high it was all I knew was how steep it was when I walked from canyon to canyon. The highest elevation is Flat Top Mountain at 10,620 feet.  About 600 feet short of the highest mountains east of Salt Lake.  I always knew my mountain had an Indian name, Oquirrh is a Ute name for shining mountain and they do shine in the winter.  By following the artifacts like chippings and arrowheads, I followed their trails up the creeks and over the mountain passes finding their villages along my way. Sun Shine Peak always fascinated me with its height and snow even in July.  I have so many wonderful memories of the canyons and the many mines, dumps, gulches, canyons and peaks and we had names for all of them.  In earlier times the mines and the people lived and accepted each other.  Now the whole damn mountain is locked away without memories I would have nothing.     
Gold and silver was scatted across the whole mountain and was safe until the white man came with its lust for wealth and power.  There are many stories who found it first but the first mine was organized by Colonel Connors and a bunch of apostate Mormons in 1863.  Then gold rush began.  The California Militia under Connors were scouring the mountains for gold, along with local farmers and loggers, and even travelers on the way to Oregon and California. There are many conflicting stories of who first found the Jordan claim but this is where the silver/lead bullets were made that massacred the 500 Indians at Bear River. Soon hundreds of other claims of valuable mines followed, but my story is about those mines near my home; the Jordan, Silver Shield, Telegraph, Roman Giant, Yosemite, May Berry and the Queen. 
Looking at Copperfield from Telegraph
At first the high paying gold taken by placer mining methods lower in the canyon with hot spots going up both forks.  Over a million dollars in ores were taken out within the next six or seven years.  The records show that about 6500 mining locations have been made, but not over 600 or 700 claims were held and only 63 were patented.  That accounts for all the holes and dumps scarring the mountain.  Beside the Hickman family I had other relatives from Finland looking for wealth but no one got rich.  In the end they sold out or got pushed out by the big boys. The big boys were never in to the small stuff and that is now covered up or dumped away.  So there was still gold for me to pan but laws made it illegal for me to sale, I gave my gold to Alvin Cole.  Gold was going for &25.00 an ounce then.  Some mining friends had a quart jar almost full setting on a shelf in an open garage for years.  My house was sometimes too close to Bear Creek in the spring but it was a time for panning and sluice boxes. 
Back then transporting the ores by team and wagon across properties and through the towns was almost impossible, so the Walker’s in July 1874 began building a mule powered tramway from the Jordan to Frog Town in lower Bingham.  It was finished a year latter.  What once was a narrow gauge railroad back then was now my trail to Dinkyville.  I have read about many fights over right-of-ways when the tramway crossed over other mining claims and private property but eventually they crossed.  Gravity was what moved the loaded cars from the mines down and mule power brought the empty ones back.  Many stories were told about this tramway for the time it operated.  John Creedon tells such a story in the 1920’s.
men pulling on brakes--mule trains up
Holden knew of the great potential of the mineral wealth and began acquiring properties of three richly mineralized groups of mining claims all of which were located upon the Jordan limestone.  Holden got backing from the Rockefeller’s in Colorado as well as his own money and the United States Mining Company was organized on March 26, 1899 This group was notorious in their fights with labor and more than likely brought the gun turret on railroad wheels that I played and wrote about.  The Jordan/Galena (24 claims), Niagara (23 claims), and Telegraph (15 claims) and all located in Galena and Bear Gulches.  A great deal of time and money was spent on these properties.  No ore was shipped until 1902 when a 11,400 foot long aerial tramway replaced the mule tramway, now 50 tons of ore per hour could be transported from the mines to the Rio Grande Western in Frog Town and then on to its own smelter in Midvale with its 60 stamp mill.   
Aerial tram after mule-tram
The Telegraph mine was a very important mine with a silver lead vein 150 feet wide it shipped its first ore in 1874.  It was the first producing mine of the later United States Mining group.  But law-suits followed and the courts gave these claims to a French company, called the “Societe des mines d Argent et Fonderies de Bingham” in 1879.  During this time an experimental called the Jordan 10 stamp mill built below the mine and town.  This mill crushed the gold and iron, leaving the coca dirt, a fine dark brown dirt we are all familiar with.  The gold I panned here was dark too.  Saw mills were also harvesting the trees and there were a number of them. 

Silver Shield
By the 1890s, there were twenty-one mining companies instead of the thirty-five companies in 1871 and by the 1900’s fewer again.  After a world depression when profits shrunk most of these mines were bought up by The United States Mining Co. by 1900’s they owned the Jordan, Brooklyn, Telegraph, Galena, and Yosemite properties. The Telegraph was first opened around 1873 and closed long before my time.  Nothing remained of the tunnel or boarding house.  The three apartments were built a while latter.  This was where most of families still living and while working at the Copperfield portal.  Our quite town soon became a beehive of activity when some leaser’s uncovered Carl Johns silver vein and the US Mine followed it with the May Berry Mine.  A little later in 1948 we were told we were in the way and to move.  They took my house but never my memories.  I remember the Giant Chief in back of my house.  The head frames were gone but the compressor and parts of the hoist were still there.  In 1915 it had a 200 foot shaft and several hundred feet of drifts.  This was back and west of my house the dump was where I sailed my 14 foot glider and me down the canyon.  Just to the east was another big dump called the Roman Empire and some other mines that I am trying to find a name for.  A road/trail going east and over the mountain of my house in Telegraph passed Black, Hawk, and Indian rocks to the Brooklyn and Yosemite workings. 

Yosemite was working during my time
These were still working mines one still had a head frame and a working hoist on an inclined shaft.  A walk south up Bear Gulch and over the top brought me to the Queen Mine.  I remember its beautiful galena lead being mined by leasers.  The road to the Silver Shield and Jordan passed back of my house and up Bingham Gulch.  I still have some grand memories when the mines were working and towns were full of families.  The trees, bushes, peaks and canyons are still there to see.  The Old Utah Copper was people friendly and would never lock up the whole mountain like the damn English companies have.  I would stay away from their stupid mine and dumps, they are ugly mean nothing to me but I would love to walk around and see my mountain. And relive my past.   

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