Wednesday, July 20, 2011


By A.J. Sargent - Tribune Correspondent   Thursday, January 12, 1978

Driving in Bingham
            Bingham Canyon, Utah, a stone’s throw wide and two miles long, is known far and wide as a place with but one street (practically) and one-way street, at which ends on the lip of one of the most spectacular mining operations in the world.  Founded on mining alone it has the distinction of being the oldest city within the state that has prospered through the years without some type of agriculture work being carried on to help support the family income.  Here we are lucky to have our small plots of grass and a row or two of flowers.
            Bingham Canyon was one of the most typical old west gold mining towns in the state of Utah back in the 1800's but unlike other boom towns it failed to die at the end of the gold rush. Instead it has continued to produce precious minerals at such a tremendous rate that today it could probably claim undisputed title to the richest strike ever made in mining annals of the far west.  It has produced millions of dollars worth of gold, copper, lead, and other precious metals, and the mine now operated by Kennecott Copper Corporation is still enlarging operations.
Swedes from Finland
            The canyon, along with other canyons near Salt Lake City, proved useful to the Mormons upon their arrival in the Salt Lake valley in 1847.  Early in 1848, cattle were brought here to graze and the hillsides were stripped of the red pine trees found growing there, for the use of building in the valley.

 The first men here were brothers, Sanford and Thomas Bingham, sent out by the Mormon Church to graze cattle, and later to help with the work involved in getting the timber cut and on its way to the mills.  It was from these brothers that Bingham Canyon derived its name.
            When the hills were finally stripped of the trees useful to the builders of Salt Lake City the brothers turned to prospecting in their spare time but upon word from Brigham Young they covered their prospect holes and left the area before the “Gentiles” of the country learned of the large mineral deposits.  From then until 1863 it was nothing but another canyon by the valley, but that year George Ogilvie spent a little-time in prospecting here and when he took some samples of his claims to Colonel Patrick E. Connor, the commanding officer at Fort Douglas, things began to happen.
4th of July
            Colonel Conner sent out dispatches saying that there were rich veins of gold, silver and galena (lead) ore to be found here.  He granted passes and leaves of absence to his men to explore the area fully, and the rush was on.  Men started pouring in from the neighboring territories but the pickings were slow and the extremely high cost of materials nearly caused the strike to be abandoned.
            Only through the process of placer mining did the canyon survive the first hectic years. The year 1868, saw one placer–produce more than $100,000 worth of gold.  Dan Clay,. One of the owners, picked up one nugget valued at $128.  It was the largest gold nugget ever to be reported in the state of Utah.
            During the 1870's the population of Bingham Canyon grew to more than 1,000 of whom nearly all were men, as few women would at that time venture to live in the accommodations that were available here.
            With no thought of the future in mind, shacks were thrown up according to convenience instead of any plan for an organized city.  The single street at the bottom of the canyon would around the homes and took the easiest way through.  Even today the street has few places that are straight for more than a couple of hundred feet.  Due to the narrowness of the canyon the width of the street was narrowly confined, and with the wide automobiles of today many a driver heaves a sigh of relief upon leaving the narrow confines of the city streets behind.
Doctor Inglesby's stages
            As gold placers gave out, mills were erected and the town continued to prosper through the mining of silver and lead ores.  Production was limited though because of the lack of a steady large source of water.  A small smelter was erected but it also was limited in production.  The depression of 1893 nearly caused abandonment of all mining here, but a few men with foresight kept the place going.  During all these years no sane person gave much thought to the tremendous deposit of copper found throughout the region because of its extremely low percentages.  Anyone mentioning the word about copper mining was considered to be slightly “tetched.”
            In 1896 Thomas Weir hit a vein of 18 per cent copper and for the first time copper was produced.  This caused the people to begin thinking of the future and that perhaps Bingham would last for a few more years.  Better homes were built and a foundation of future living accommodations was thought about instead of the, so far, crude array of shacks.
            About this time men like Colonel Enos A. Wall, Captain Joseph DeLemar, Robert C. Gemmell and Daniel C. Jackling began working on the problem of mass production of the low­grade copper ore and through them the area has produced many millions of dollars in precious metals.  Men brought their families, and in 1905 the city was finally incorporated and improvements in every line of city development begun.
            Up until then little law enforcement could be found here and to many of the people in the valley it was a good place to stay away from.  In fact, a few old timers from the valley remember in their childhood when they were told that unless they were good they would be sent to live in Bingham Canyon.
            In was enough to scare almost any child into good behavior because many a story came out about brawls, knifings, drinking, and an occasional killing; some stories were true, and others were greatly exaggerated through the retelling of minor incidences.  With its own city government and its local law enforcement the boom town began to die and in its place a fine first class city began to appear.
The first Fifty Years

Bingham Canyon as an incorporated town, the Bingham Canyon volunteer Fire Department and Utah Copper Division of Kennecott Copper Corporation all are just 50 years old.
            The record of all three through the years has been one of great accomplishment in the face of unusual difficulties.
Firemen pulling hand water pump
            Bingham Canyon was incorporated in 1904, and the first Town Board, headed by A.V. Anderson, president, turned its attention first to the water supply and fire protection.  In that year, the first water tank was installed and hose was purchased for the new Volunteer Fire Department, headed by A.L. Heaston, chief.  It was in that year, too, that Utah Copper processed the first ore from its mine.
            In 1905, a group of firemen from the lower end of town established Fire Company No. 2, and John J. Creedon was elected chief of the expanded fire department.
            A year later, a first hose carts were purchased.  Unless a team of horses was handy, the firemen pulled them to the scene of a fire.
            In 1910, Utah Copper and Boston Consolidated Mining Company were merged, bringing together properties that were to become the largest open pit copper mine.
            In 1913, Bingham Canyon enlarged and modernized its water system, built a City Hall and the No. 2 Fire Hall.
Freight wagon
            In 1915, wooden sidewalks were built.  In the same year, the first motorized fire truck was assembled for Company No. 2 by Albert Marriott.  A year later, Francis A. Miller converted a truck into a fire engine for Station No. 1.
            In 1924, the wooden sidewalks were replaced with the present concrete walks.
            In 1928, Bingham’s main street from Lower Bingham to Carr Fork and Main Canyon was paved.
            In 1934, a new sewer system was installed in Bingham Canyon.
            In 1938, the town became a third class city, and Edwin Johnson became the first mayor.
            In 1939-40, the Dry Fork water tunnel was developed for culinary water, and a new line replaced the old wooden line from the tunnel to Freeman tanks.
            In 1952, new regulating valves were added to the water system.
            With the natural hazards presented by the narrow streets and crowded buildings, fire fighting was a job for courageous men with a deep sense of devotion to their fellow citizens.  The early firemen did not have pumps or adequate water pressure, but they did not lack in courage. Many times they have saved the town from destruction.
Boston Con. Town on top of mountain
            Also, because of the town’s geographical location, the problems of the city government were multiplied.  Narrow streets, lack of room for expansion, and snow removal problems led to difficulties not faced by many other cities, at least in the same degree.
            These difficulties have been overcome by men of vision and courage.  Bingham Canyon today can be proud of its accomplishments during the past 50 years.
            Bingham Canyon as an incorporated town, the Bingham Canyon Volunteer Fire Department and the Utah Copper started life together 50 years ago.  They have worked together, grown together and together they have overcome great obstacles.
            Utah Copper is proud to have been associated with the City of Bingham Canyon and its Volunteer Fire Department over the past 50 years.

                                       By George L. West, Chairman City Program

Telephone Co. girls at switch-board
            The town of Bingham Canyon was incorporated in February 1904.  The governor of Utah appointed A.V. Anderson as the first President of the Town Board.  He is turn appointing C.E. Adderley, Jerome Bourgard, Charles Brink and William B. Waters as first trustees of the Town Board, and Dr. Smedley as the first health officer.
            The first consideration was the water supply, so in May 1904, the first water tank was installed and a small section of main line was installed and a few fire hydrants for fire fighting. Also ordered was 1000 feet of two and a half inch fire hose.
            On April 1904 the Rocky Mountain Telephone Company was granted a license to operate. In August the Utah Independent Telephone Company was granted a license to operate.  As the years went by new men were elected into office using the ideas of the past office holders to do the things best for the town, so in 1913 a bond election was held to bond the town for $25,000.00 for the purpose of: improving the water system for $15,000.00. $7,000.00 to build a town hall. $3,000.00 to build No. 2 Fire Hall.  The results of the election were: 98 votes cast, 70 for and 28 against.
wooden side-walks
            In the spring under a new Town Board, Dr. F.E. Straup, President, Mr. Byrun, Willard Evans, Mr. Hays and Stanley Johns were the Trusties.  The new cast iron pipes were laid from top of Carr Fork and the top of Main canyon through the business district to No. 2 Fire Hall, the pipe being eight inch cast iron, and the balance of the town with six inch cast iron pipes and forty-three fire hydrants were connected.  The Town Hall was built as was the No.2 Fire Hall.
            The present sidewalks were poured in 1924.  Up to that time wooden walks were used which were built in 1915.
            In 1928 a new road improvement took place, the board, under President Dr. Flynn bonded the Town for $28,000.00 The impossible was accomplished, the streets of Bingham were paved from lower Bingham to Carr Fork and Main Canyon.
Markham with Canyon Motors
            In 1934 a new sewer system was put through the town placing grizzleys through the system and at each grizzly were three two by twelve boards that is used to dam water three feet high to drop suction pump from fire truck to fight fire in case of water shortage in our main lines. The grizzles are also used to dispose of snow from the town streets.
            In 1938 the town became a third class city, Edwin Johnson being the first mayor.
            In 1939-1940 the Dry Fork water tunnel was developed for culinary water and cemented the full length of tunnel, also a new water line was run from Dry Fork Tunnel to Freeman tanks along our main highway, replacing an old wooden line on the hillside.
            In 1952 the city commission purchased new regulating valve for our water system, the installation being done by Kennecott Copper Corporation as a gift to the city, which was very much appreciated.
            We, as citizens of Bingham, are looking to the future, hoping the next 50 years will be as progressive as the last 50 years.

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