Wednesday, July 20, 2011

BINGHAM MELTING POT by CREEDON


BINGHAM—MELTING POT OF THE WEST

By John J. Creedon
            With the establishment of the canyon as a permanent mining camp, other people and groups were attracted to this promising new area where a man willing to work could always get a job in one of the several mines.
            As mentioned before, Bingham was not a boom camp, where a man could pick up a fortune overnight with a rich strike.  You had to work for the precious metals.  Nature had placed an abundant variety of minerals but it was up to the ingenuity of the miner to get them out and make a profit.  With the coming of the first railroad, completed in 1873, new mines and business men came to Bingham.  Men who had built smelters and mills in other sections of the west were brought in to construct mills and smelters in the canyon.  The freight rates were so high that it was a necessity to have the facilities of reducing the ore near at hand.
            It was probably the railroad that first attracted George E. Chandler, pioneer builder and reportedly the wealthiest man in the history of Bingham, to this area.  He came from Montana to serve as telegraph operator at the station.
Gold Mining
            As reported in the Bingham souvenir booklet, published in 1909, there were 21 producing mines in 1891.  In 1893, when the Sherman Silver Act was repealed and the government purchasing of silver was suspended, Bingham was dealt a hard blow, as it was mainly a silver and lead producer at that time.  A few years later, copper-sulphide ore was found in the Highland Boy Mine and the mining of the red metal took preference over the others from that day on.
            After the panic of the 1890's the camp surged forward again and when D.C. Jackling convinced the eastern magnates that his hill of low grade copper ore could be worked profitably, a new era dawned in the Oquirrh Mountains.
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            The name “Old Reliable” was given to the Bingham area, for it seemed that the mines were long lasting and guaranteed steady work for the miner, instead of the boom and but of the typical mining camp.
            This brought a new influx of people to the community and for the first time, the names took on a different look.  Names that were hard to pronounce and spoke of places far over the sea.
            For many years miners from the British Isles were familiar to the West.  Men from Wales and the Cornishmen from England and the Irish who left their native lands to seek freedom and fortune.  Many of these found their way to Bingham.
Swedish-Fins
            At the turn of the century, great numbers of Finns arrived in Bingham to work in the mines and they settled mostly in Carr Fork, which was known as Finn town.  From Southern Europe came the Italians, Austrian and Slav folk and what a fine group of people they were.  Hard workers and fun loving.  They brought their language and customs with them and in the early days the holidays in Highland Boy were delightful and entertaining.
            With the building of the railroads to Bingham and the many miles of track at the Utah Copper Company, need for trackmen were filled largely by the Japanese.  These men from the east brought their colorful customs with them and who can forget the New Year’s celebrations at Jap Camp.
            Copperfield became the main setting for the Japanese and Greek settlements.  Many of the Italians settled in Upper Main street in Bingham.  There were many other nationalities in the camp, as it became the melting pot of the West.  We even had a few Chinese, but most of these worked for themselves, in laundry or café business.
            Another important segment of our people, who came a little later was Spanish speaking folk from Mexico, southwestern United States and Basques from Spain.
            And still later came the Puerto Ricans and Navaho Indians to fill the labor gap during World War II.

GOODBY KIM
By John J. Creedon
            Memory lane takes me this week to a little home in Freeman where life in Bingham began for a black haired boy–a boy whose life ended so suddenly last week in Las Vegas at the age of 41.  In this short time allotted him in this troubled world, he left a lasting impression on everyone who knew him or came in contact with him.  He had a great zest in life and he loved people and let them know it by his friendly manner that was so much a part of him.
            I remember him as a little boy–always the same happy little guy who seemed to get a kick out of everything he did.  He never packed a grudge and got along well with his friends and neighbors.       
            As he grew he entered into the life of the community and was active in sports, climaxed in 1939 and 1940 when he was a member of the champion football team at Bingham High School, first team to bring the winner’s trophy to Bingham.

            While still going to school he found time to work too and he became well known to the early risers, when he delivered milk for Hogan Dairy.  We used to kid him about rattling the milk bottles and waking everyone in the neighborhood but he just laughed and went on his way.
            He gradually earned his way to one of the head jobs with the dairy and it was through his dynamic personality that many new customers were added each year to the delivery service of the dairy.  Shortly after graduating from high school, he married one of his schoolmates and they set
out to make a home and family in Bingham.  This union has been a happy one and they shared the love and respect of their friends and associates.
            After many years of service to Hogan’s, an opportunity to go into business for himself, came about when Leonard Miller took over the Lark Mercantile and sold his store in Bingham to Kimmy.  Against the advice of his friends and his employer, he ventured into a new life and from the start it was clear that he was a natural in the grocery business.  He had a host of friends in the old business and they stayed with him in the new enterprise.
            It was not all a bed of roses, as any business man in the community knows.  There were strikes and layoffs and hard times that go along with life in a mining community.  These men and their families must live and eat and it was up to the merchants to carry them over the rough spots. Kimmy was not found wanting when these emergencies arose.  He did his part in easing the hardships that visited our area at quite regular intervals.  Most of those he helped were grateful and they have never forgotten their good friend.
            A few short years ago, another problem presented itself to Kim.  The city of Bingham was rapidly being bought out and the customers he had for so many years were leaving.  Eventually he was forced to move too, and here again, he faced up to a big decision.
            He took the bull by the horns so to speak, and in the face of almost unsurmountable odds, built Kim’s Supermarket at Copperton.  Most of us said it couldn’t be done and the Kimmy would go broke this time for sure.
            His confidence and faith in his ability came out on top again and the market was a success from the start.  He hardly lost a customer from his old store in Bingham and he picked up many new ones.  His faithful patrons, many of whom Kim helped over the hard times stayed with him.
            Kim’s Supermarket became a meeting place for old Binghamites and the friendly personality of Kim and Ruth rubbed off on the employees and I doubt if you could find a store or market anywhere to equal this one in friendliness and service.
            Birthday’s anniversaries and other days of note were often celebrated in the back room and I have been invited in on many of these little impromptu gatherings.
            If the sun shines a bit less brighter in Copperton this week, it is because the sunshine of Kimmy’s smile has been dimmed.
            We need more men like Kimmy Goff to spread sunshine and cheer in the world.  We have all lost a friend.  God bless your memory Kim.

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