A Boy in Bingham
By Eugene Halverson
|Gene at Grandpa's|
A Boy in Bingham
I, Eugene Harvey Halverson was born 18 July 1928 in the Bingham Hospital in Bingham Canyon, Utah. My doctor was Paul Richards and my nurse was Miss Treloar. I was the first child born to Signe Elisabeth Holmes and Harvey Halverson.
I was blessed with having a wonderful mother. She was a miner’s daughter of Swedish-Finn immigrant who was born in Frisco, Utah. Frisco was the site of the famous Horn Silver Mine that had collapsed and had taken the town with it. She was raised in the metal mining towns of Frisco and Eureka, Utah. She came to Bingham Canyon to find employment where she met and married my father, Harvey Halverson.
|Our house in Telegraph|
Why Eugene there were no Eugene’s anywhere in the family? but when I got to Finland the puzzle was solved with a smile or a hug.
“Eugen Day” is celebrated in Finland every year on 16 June the day Eugen killed Boblikof, the Czar’s Governor-General. Massive strikes and revolt soon began. They celebrated his death and everyone was happy. Anyone caught smiling was imprisoned for “unmotivated happiness”.
I was born while living in their first home in Telegraph. Although I was too young to remember being in our first home I know where it was, it was number 5B Telegraph, the center of the three four-plexus apartments, you could hear the neighbors through the walls on both sides, it was small and run down. The apartments were built on the big dump left by the Telegraph Mine. The apartments were built by the United States Smelting and Refining Company. It was a true "Company Town", if you lost your job or went on a strike, you were evicted.
|Dad's garden Telegraph|
Our back yard was the mountain and the front yard was a mine dump about 50 yards wide and 100 yards long. Our yard was just one large yellow dusty pile of rocks and dirt full of arsenic, sulfur and lead, nothing could ever grow on it not even weeds. The yard in front was held in place by a large timber cribbing. Squirrels and chipmunks made their homes there. The mountains were scared by many mines with their dumps, trenches, holes and old rusty machinery. There were at least three active working mines back then.
My mother’s family was one of the hundreds of Swedish-Finns from Vasa, Finland who came to Bingham during the 1890's to finally be free from Russian dominance and fighting in wars not of their making. I have looked at the cemetery records of both the Chandler and the Bingham Cemeteries for these friends and relatives. I found a few in Park City and many in Eureka cemeteries.
|Holms Manor Rokio, Finland|
Most of the old folk spock with a wonderful accent. I remember the food and old country atmosphere, I loved it. Mother told me stories about Finland and I grew up knowing only my mother's family it was many years later that I found out that I was also a Dane with a Norwegian name. Last year a cousin from Rokio, Finland sent me two books, “Klippinga Bergen” (Rocky Mountain). Two chapters are stories of the part of my family who went back to Finland. It tells of their life in Bingham in the 1900’s. In 2004 I visited both sides of my mother’s family in Finland, where I walked through my ancestor’s homes, farms and woods.
My brother, Lee was born 1 August 1930 while we were living here in Telegraph. Grandpa Halverson had died in Mapleton, Utah just after I was born in December 1928 and Grandmother Lisa Antbrams Holmes died in Eureka, Utah just after Lee was born. This was also about the time Dad got sick with what is called Silicosis and was fired because of his illness. This caused us to be kicked out of our company house.
|2nd house in Telegraph|
We moved to the Panos Apartments in Frog Town. George Panos must have been a good man the let us live there when dad had no job or money. This was at the worst time during the “Great Depression”. Our food came from the Chris Apostle Store and our milk from Hogan Dairy. All on a promise that our family would eventually pay it off, and we did. There was no governmental or church help for us. After we moved back to Telegraph Hogan Dairy if there was milk left over would give us a bottle or two on credit. Dad would work for days at a time to pay him back which was only fair.
We now lived in Frog Town that had no frogs. Back then French were called Frogs. An Englishman was either a Cletamore or a Limie. We also had Wops, Bohunks and who knows what. At times he worked at the Aderley Nichols Garage pouring gas. He suffered from bouts of pneumonia, his resistance was low he left home when Lee and I got the chicken pox or measles. Everything had gone wrong for Dad, no work, no money and now another new baby, Paul. It was common in those days to see a “Quarantine sign” hanging on someone’s house for something or other. I can’t remember how many times we were quarantined. Dad lived away from us during those times.
|Yampa Smelter Frog Town|
I still wonder how Mother fed and clothed us. I know she tried not to charge any more food at the store than she had to, just the staples like flour and things. With this she made delicious crusty bread and we had bread and milk till it came out of our ears, but I liked it. We never could afford to buy meat or coal. Mother asked me to gather wood, I still remember dragging parts of old buildings, railroad ties, trees off the mountain and other wood to the back yard, putting them on a sawhorse and sawing them up for firewood. I was six and Lee was four when we were doing this. Lee and I played together from the time he was old enough to get around, I felt that it was my responsibility to protect him. Of course he said it was my safaris and ideas that caused most of his health problems. He was always willing to go and do the things I liked to do. I remember when he needed to take shots everyday for an allergy that we couldn't afford so the doctor said, "Have a bee sting him everyday that's what's in the shot", so that what he did.
|water pipe trail to Dry Fork|
In those days I Indians were my hero’s and I did what I thought they did. One day I decided to show Lee how the Indians roasted and ate grasshoppers, everything was fine until the fire got out of control and set the cheat grass on fire in the back yard, up it went up the mountain where it burned its self out below the B&G railroad. No one ever found out who did it and we never told.
One day we noticed a trail in our back yard heading down the canyon later we learned it was a covered pipeline that brought drinking water by pipe to fill a cement under ground water tank above Frog Town. The trail was ugly, hot and dusty with nothing but grass and shrubs on a very barren hillside. No animal life except a rattle snake. The closer to Dry Fork the more snakes. I went there many times, Dry Fork was very beautiful in those days. We always came home up the road in the bottom of the canyon or up the creek which was also the sewer. I don’t know which was the dumbest playing in the sewer or the remains of the smelters. The English’s had a dairy there that sold milk and pigs to the miners in Bingham. The pigs fed themselves on the garbage from the Bingham Garbage Dump that was next to them. There was good drinking water and lots of rattlesnakes in the canyon.
|front yard mountain|
The mountain in the front yard and across the road was also very pretty. The trees were mostly large oak bushes but were quite tall, tree size. There were many bushes and flowers, especially the “Pinkies” we brought home to mother. There were two large rocks there to play on and under them. One of the rocks had a cave, probably a mine tunnel. I used to dream about it and in it was a very big lion. Night after night that damn old lion came to eat me, what a way to start a day.
|Ice House Frog Town|
I was older when I found the other water canyons like Markham and Freeman. The last time I went to Markham was with Bobbie Madsen, who had moved from the U.S. down there somewhere. It was quite a hike to get over the dumps but it was well worth it. Beautiful clear water stream that came from some large springs. The scenery above the dump was more like the Wasatch Canyons than any of the canyons here. The mine dump stopped the flow of water forming a large swimming pool. There were all kinds of trees there, pine and fir trees, Quaken Aspen, mahogany, choke cherry and elderberry and a thousand kinds of flowers. This has always been a favorite memory of mine, I can still see it in my mind, just as colorful now as the day I first seen it. As close as it was to town I never ever seen any people or signs of people there.
All my springs, streams, rocks and canyons are now buried. Even my poor lion.
|Markham blocked by mine dump|
I remember the old Ice House across the road, and the tennis courts and the coal yards above. Tons of ice was stored and saved there. Very few families had refrigerators in those days. I was about 14 years old when we got our first one. Frog Town had a few stores, Apostles and Prigastis's and a beer joint or two. There were also many open mines and old foundations of some mills and smelters. The railroad yards always had a coal fired steam driven locomotives smoking and blowing steam. It was an interesting place to live.
|Seven miles of snow also|
Games and Toys
|4 of July Copperfield|
|4th of July|
First I learned to use two crutches and later one, I could run almost as fast as Lee on one crutch but I did crash and burn. I would get angry at times and throw the crutch away and then crawl after it. I later learned to walk again by myself, but it was painful and slow. I was held back in the first grade and almost again because I didn't go to school much the following year either. It's hard watching your friends go on without you. I missed an awfully lot of school, I know I struggled for a few years but in time things got better.
|Adela Salazar 4th of July|
Well, the accident was terrible but it got dad a chance to work again. The father of Fred Hoyne was also the superintendent of the US Mine he was afraid of a lawsuit over the accident so Dad was given the job of running this huge giant air compressor in Copperfield. When Wride quit his job, Dad got his job and his house. The house was at the top end of the canyon in Telegraph and it to was built on a small mine dump. It was an ugly house but it was surrounded by some beautiful trees; pines, quakies and choke cherries. My memories are still quite sharp and vivid. I loved this place.
Our address now was 231 Telegraph and it was over 7000 feet elevation. Dad was actually too sick to work but he had too. He had a hard time walking home from work. It took him a long time and he was completely exhausted when he got home. This probably in the long run cured Dads Silicosis. I remember him as being mean and angry to me. I was also recovering from a broken hip and pelvis and was on crutches. Lee said I was meaner than the devil too. Lee had health problems too and I remember he was angry too. Poor Mother what a life she must have had. But I remember only her constant love and care. She never raised her voice or spanked us or anything.
|Copperfield Grade School|
|Gene, Paul, Mother|
|Telegraph Boarding house and Mine|
We were extremely poor but I didn’t know it. For a few years there was no meat to eat. Mother would send me down to get the jackrabbits and carp people would bring home from the valley. When you body feels starved for meat you will eat anything, carp, suckers and jackrabbits that the hunters and fishermen brought in suited us just fine. How mother ever got the fish not to taste fishy and how the rabbit ever got tender and tasty I’ll never know. I remember going in the mountains and killing and cooking on a spit the many porcupines, rock chucks, squirrels, many small birds and even fish that we killed with rocks and clubs. We always carried a potato to bake in the coals to go with the animal if we killed something.
living in Bingham Mother cooked a lot of Swedish dishes, I have tried many
times to cook the fish and sweet-soups that she made, but I can't quite get the
taste right. The codfish she bought was
as hard as a rock, it was preserved by salting and drying. She fish had to be soaked in lye water, fresh
water, lye water and back to fresh again, how many times I don’t know. She cooked the fish many different ways. She took special care of wild game to make it
extra tasty. We seemed to acquire some
venison at times. I was 10 years old before
we got a radio and a lamp, no gadgets in those days.
|Paul and Gene|
Our town was simply called Upper Bingham. We did have a few stores and a school. I believe the name Copperfield School was named before we named the town after the mine cut us off from the rest of Bingham. Each ethnic group or nationality had its own part of town that they lived in. We had our Jap Camp, Greek Camp, Dinkyville, Upper and Lower Copperfield and Terrace Heights.
Copperfield School was something else. You had to learn to fight to survive. My first day at school I had a fight. I had many fights at least one a week maybe more, all after school. I got in trouble a few times for fighting during school time. A new boy always had to be tested. I did try to avoid these fights because I didn't know how. I learned the hard way, school of hard knocks. I usually fought Max Salazar, he was the one to beat, and he was the leader of the Jap Camp and Copperfield gang. Later it was Carl Espanoza, he was no problem until to my surprise he was being trained by a professional to be a boxer, I got lumps all over my head the last time we fought, and he was a good one to avoid after that. Carl was the leader of the Dinkyville Gang. Marion Carter was the leader of the Terrace Height’s and Dinkyville gang. Telegraph and Carl’s part of the
gang would always join together to fight the Copperfield gang. Each part of town had its own gang. We formed gangs for protection but our fights
were fair. I still remember the scolding
I and a few others got one day from “Old man Wooten” when the principal called
him up to stop the fighting. The boys
had to be the same size or there was no fight.
Mostly we just walked around acting tough and if there was a fight it
was the leaders who fought. We didn’t
use clubs and guns in those days. I
never had a fight in High School but I did get knocked out in the Library
once. I didn’t know what happened until
I woke up. Someone was always putting a
chip on his shoulder and daring someone to knock it off.
|Lower Telegraph Apartments|
I was always one of the smaller boys in my classes at school and to make matters even worse I had too live with a bad limp because of an injured hip. I was required to carry all the water and saw all the wood that mother needed for the house. In time this hard work made me a great deal stronger than anyone in my class. I had to win my fights by endurance. They seemed to dance around me and punch me at will. I took my lumps but eventually they would tire and I would get my turn. In time I learned to box and even enjoyed it. I never cried, my mother said, "Don't let them see you cry that's what they want you to do. Be strong and things will always get better, just wait". This was Sisu that she taught me in her own way. I could endure pain, fatigue and go long periods without food or water. What has to be endured can be endured.
|Old Telegraph aerial tram|
|Telegraph mule train|
Marbles was played with the winner taking the opponents marble. Some kids could shoot a marble so hard they could break the marbles.
Our skis were barrel stays with straps nailed to the sides. We were always on them but one day I got the bright idea of skiing down to the Horse-Shoe Bend near Lark to hunt cotton-tail rabbits on the barrel staves. Why we did this on such a cold winter day I’ll never know. Skiing seven miles was fine but the walk back home up over the high mountain was too much for Lee. Our pants had long ago frozen in to something like a stove-pipes, Lee was cold and tired and wanted to lay down and sleep, I knew he would have died if he did so I pushed and pulled him all the way home. We still laugh about all the dumb things we did back then.
We had “Coca Dirt” in Telegraph and everybody came to play in it. We would make roads and tunnels in it. We would also grab a handful like you would make a snowball and throw it at each other. We looked like someone had dumped a can of coca on your head. It was the tailings from an old mill and concentrator. It was full of arsenic, lead, iron and sulfur.
The “Big Tree” was just above Telegraph and everybody who ever lived in the Copperfield area, remembers it. It was on the way to the Queen Mine. It was the most magnificent old cottonwood tree you would ever want to see. It must have been hundreds of years old, and three or four feet in diameter. It was the only cottonwood tree in the canyon. I have just found a picture of it, Isabel Rose Scroggen gave I to me. It was near a spring with cool clear water but mining activity eventually polluted it. It was on an old Indian trail from the Salt Lake valley over the Oquirrh Mountains to the Tooele valley. The tree was the site of their summer home, burial grounds and a hunting area. I was able to find a large collection of arrowheads, spearheads and knives. I found other arrowheads here near the tree and all over the mountain. Some at the old Scout Camp in Butterfield but mostly at the Big Tree was they must have been their burial grounds as well as being on the trail to the desert .
At the head of a canyon above the Silver Shield Mine there were giant stumps of an ancient old forest of giant trees that had been clear cut back in pioneer days. The stumps were all about four to six feet in diameter. No one would believe me when I told them how big they were. Only a few of us during my lifetime had ever seen them. I was grown up and moved away before I found out who had cut them. In a geology book I found out that they called my trees the "Big Grove". Brigham Young had sent his people to build a saw mill and cut these trees. The tabernacle and most all the valleys buildings were built from these trees. The trouble was the clear cutting caused this particular species of Red Pine to become extinct. Mining and logging has now destroyed this mountain. It was a beautiful mountain and it is hard access to what is left of it. The Indians called it Oquirrh Mountain, meaning the Shining Mountain. I didn’t realize the many of the trails that I walked on were logging roads not ore haulage roads. Every canyon had a spring for drinking if you knew where to look. Mining eventually destroyed the aquifer which caused the many springs and creeks to dry up. The water now drains from the mouths of the many mines but it is polluted with arsenic and other metals.
From the time we moved back to Telegraph, my Mothers Swedish-Finn friends started visiting us, they all spoke Swedish and they were fun. They came when Dad was working, two or three at a time, friends she worked with when she too worked in the boarding houses. I now believe many of these girls were actually relatives. Mother always made lasting friends. In time I began to understand what was said, sometimes Mother would send me outside when my ears got to big. When the boarding houses closed the girls left.
|Harvey Halverson--Marsal Chea|
There was an old man who lived in one of the original old Telegraph mine buildings his name was Karl John, we never did know his last name. He was German who immigrated here after World War I, he had boxes and boxes of money in his house. He would give us handfuls of it when we got courage enough to just ask for it. The only problem was that it was old German marks and was worthless.
There were all kinds of dangers, the mountains were full of abandoned mine shafts and tunnels that were caving in leaving holes that were several hundreds of feet deep. We knew what to look for and how to stay out of danger. I lost two dogs in them and the Ivies lost a horse.
|Big Tree above Telegraph|
I learned to ski early by watching Doctor Frazier, (the Town Doctor and Antarctica Explorer), here I learned that there was more to getting on a pair of skis and crashing at the bottom of the hill. He must have been preparing for Antarctica when he built a ski-jump up towards Queen about a mile or so above our old house. I seen his ski-tracks in the snow but couldn't figure out the round holes in the snow, made by the ski-poles, I had never seen ski-poles before. I tried his ski-jump but very seldom ever made it and I never learned to turn either, if I did it was because I was in his tracks.
I found that I could build a better plane or glider than I could buy. In time I built them bigger and bigger and they flew well. In a couple of years they grew from 18 inches to fourteen feet. No more glue and balsa wood they were now made of firing strips and cloth. I paid many visits to the U.S. Mine’s carpenter shop. There I would gather all the long thin strips of fir I could carry and then sneak past the watchmen and the bosses before I was caught. The frame of the fourteen footer was finally built and then I had to go talk some of the mothers out of their petticoats to cover it.
When the big day finally came to fly it. Kids from all over came to see it. We carried it to the top of the highest and largest mine dump in Telegraph. It was the head of the canyon and had good up-drafts of wind. I had to balance all my gliders with a weight just in front of the wing. I knew by feel how much weight was needed. This one took about 35 pounds of steel that we took from an old air compressor. I had made several attempts to launch it but either the wind or the balance of the weight didn't feel right. As I tried to perfect the glider the wind took over and I was yanked off the ground and up in the air. Down the dump I went afraid to let go. I flew for about 100 yards before I could let go. I had to wait until I reached the bottom of the dump where I could fall into some large maple trees. It wasn't an easy landing, I was scratched and my clothes were torn. What was worse I never even got to see it but everyone said it sailed high in the air and down the canyon, it was beautiful. It swooped and soared like a big bird right into Marsell Chea's garage. The weight made a big hole right through the top. We were lucky he and his car was gone. We gathered up the glider and laid low for a few days, I don't think he ever figured out what happened to his garage. I was in the fifth grade at the time.
I was asked one day by my Grandson, "What kind of toys did you have when you were a boy"? It was the same question that Billy McIvor asked when he came to play with me when I was little. He said, "What can I play with"? Other than my airplanes, I had no store-bought toys, if I played trucks it wasn't with a truck it was a block of wood or a can. I guess I had a good imagination and made many things and was proud of what I had made. Billy's father was rich and he had room’s full toys, he was also two or three years older than I was. One day he had his father bring all these toys to my house and gave them to me, they didn't work because Billy couldn't fix anything. I soon had them all running again. One was the largest Lionel Trains I had ever seen, with all the automatic switches, dumping stations, tunnels and lots of track, A large erector set and steam driven engine. They had been abused but in time I had them all working. Billy said his father had given him new ones.
I always believed that I would have been a good Indian. They were my heroes. I had been collecting arrow heads from all over the mountains and had read a lot of books, I wanted to be an Indian, live off the land. I gave up on BB guns, they never seemed to kill much. I always carried a flipper crutch in my back pocket and was quite good with it. I also had a sling-shot like David in the Bible had, but it wasn't as accurate or as fast, it did hit hard though. When I was 12 on Christmas I was given a single shot twenty-two, what a wonderful day that was. It's a wonder I never caught the bubonic plague or something as bad. For years I had been eating all kinds of animals and birds, chickadees, Jays, squirrels, porcupines and rock chucks. I always carried matches, I wonder why I never carried salt. I never carried food, water or bedding. At times it was too far to return the same day. I had a Rat Terrier named Tippie who was a better hunter and killed more animals than I did. He sounded like a bear when he went down a hole. In time out he would come dragging a squirrel or rock chuck. Some of the animals were larger than he was. We ate what he killed too.
Lee still tells the story of one Spring day when five of us went to Butterfield Canyon and decided to spend the night there with only one blanket to sleep under, it snowed four inches and got real cold, one by one the other three left for home, Lee and I were alone come morning. This is when we asked some old mining friends of mine for food. They lived in the mountains alone working an old mine claim. Their house had a dirt floor with a rabbit hole in most every corner, we watched the rabbits as they came and went. They feed us strawberry jam and home made bread. Our trail to Butterfield followed an old water line to Queen where they were. I can remember when Queen was quite a large community. A boarding house for the single men and a half a dozen houses.
|top to bottom in Telegraph|
|road to Telegraph|
I was 11years old in 1939 when Russia declared war on Finland with thousands of tanks, planes and guns, Russia was supposed to be Americas ally because they were fighting Germany but they were never an ally of mine. Mother and I cheered for Finland all the way. Russia for all her size and might couldn't seem to conquer Finland but sadly in the end they did prevail.
Two years later on 7 December 1941 an announcement came on the radio that said we were at War. The Japs had caught our fleet anchored and defenseless in Pearl Harbor. All of our ships were sinking and burning, they were bombing at will any installation on the Island. Hawaii was bombed and strafed mercilessly all day long, losses in lives, ships and aircraft were beyond belief. In a little while we heard the declaration of war by our president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, World War II had begun. We had declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy. Russia was now supposed to be our ally now that we were in it but I never trusted or liked them, still don't like or trust any European country.
|Panos and Turner kids |
I remember my Mother during these years would volunteer to serve on various Civil Defense committees where she learned first aid and what to do if we were bombed, I remember the pump tank she kept in the house to put out phosphorescent bombs. Food, tires, gas and many other items were rationed, you could only buy these item if you had a ration book with the right colored stamp in it.
|Winter at Copperfield|
6A TELEGRAPH Eventually we moved away from our little house in the trees down to the top row of one of the apartments, it was Neally's old house. The house was larger and it was modern but I still liked the old house. In the old house we were isolated and now we around other people began to play with other kids and families that lived there. When apartments were full, 17 or 18 families were there, at sundown there would be a baseball game, men, women and children would come out, some played, others watched. All seemed to enjoy the night and each other’s company. Wintertime there was sleigh riding and bob-sleighing.
Bingham at one time was one of the largest cities in Utah. In my time they had about 7000 living there. There was every kind of stores, many saloons, theaters, even houses of ill repute. Then in 1948 the expanding mining operations finally forced everyone to leave Bingham altogether and move to West Jordan. Bingham is now a ghost town and if you could see my many different homes they would be either setting out in the sky or buried under rock and dirt. My neighbors and friends are scattered like so much chaff in the wind.