Wednesday, July 20, 2011

BINGHAM MEMORY LANE by CREEDON

DOWN MEMORY LANE
 By John J. Creedon
            Bingham! Upper Bingham! And U.S. Mine!

 Those were the first words I recall hearing on arriving in Bingham forty-nine years ago, October 1911.  We got off the train called Bingham Bill at the Rio Grande Depot in lower Bingham and climbed into Black’s Cannon Ball Express.  We were headed for our new home at the B.&G. Yards.
 George Black loaded our luggage on and away we went up town.  Whether misdirected or what we were left out near the old whistle shack on the Upper Bingham road at the south end of Auxiliary Yard.  From there we walked through Auxiliary Yard, across Carr Fork bridge, dodging dinky engines, belching smoke and bouncing over the tracks like a nervous dog on a leash.

Arriving at the B.&G. Yards we were directed to the new section house which was to be my home for the next twenty-nine years.  Mother vowed she wouldn’t stay overnight in such a place, but like so many others, remained here for the balance of her life.

Add caption
What a sight for all of us, father, mother, my brothers, Dan 14, Charles 12, and 5 year old me.  We had left San Carlos Colorado, a station on the Denver and Rio Grande, about eight miles north of Pueblo, on a flat desolate prairie.  Here we were perched on the side of a narrow canyon overlooking the town and with a clear view of the hill where the steam shovels were tearing away the mountain and loading it in railroad cars.  The din was terrific with the engines and steam shovels whistling and the deep tone of the big whistle warning of the blasting and the sharp report of the blasting and the rumbling sound a moment later.  In those days it was a big hill and not a huge hole in the ground.  On the road to Upper Bingham there were several shelters for travelers to stay while the blasting was in operation, as the road was close to the hill.

            Directly across from our house, on the east side of the canyon was Cuprum, the site of the yards of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad where the ore trains were made up for shipment to Magna.  From the beginning of operations of the Utah Copper Company in 1904, the D&RG had hauled all the ore.  In 1911 the Bingham and Garfield Railway was completed by the Utah Copper Company and for the next eight or nine years both railroads carried the ore to the mills.  About 1920 ore haulage over the D&RG was discontinued and the B.&G. Handled all the tonnage.

            Cuprum consisted of several houses occupied by employees of the D&RG and one of the landmarks was the Van Trump home, situated on the east side of the canyon almost on a direct line with our home.  A series of stairs and pathways provided means of getting from Bingham to Cuprum, the stairway beginning just south of the City Hall and Jail.  Mother used to sit by the hour at the kitchen window during the winter, laughing at the antics of people slipping and falling in the snow on this pathway.  It was especially amusing watching a couple of drunks trying to help each other navigate the slippery trail.

            Another landmark was Spaulding’s shack, a small shanty where a Mr. Spaulding was stationed to tend a switch for the waste trains.  At that time there were just three tracks on the east side.

            My father had left the Rio Grande at the urging of Haymond superintendent of the new Bingham Garfield Railway.  He had worked with him on the Rio Grande and when Haymond came to the B&G he brought many of his associates with him to staff the new railroad.

            One of the first jobs my father worked on was the laying of track for the tram connecting the B&G with Carr Fork. 
            The mountains west of our house were very pretty before they were covered with waste. The big mountain southwest of Highland Boy was heavily wooded with pine and spruce. Cottonwood, Dixon, Markhan and Freeman Gulches were covered with scrub oak and mountain maple and the wild flowers and choke cherries and elder berries grew profusely.  In contrast the mountain back of the Yampa Smelter at the north end of town was barren and black.  The smelter fumes had killed all vegetation and to this day very little foliage grows there.



No comments:

Post a Comment