Wednesday, July 20, 2011


                                             OLD LANDMARK NOW GONE
                                                         By John J. Creedon

            The Bingham Merc. Has been erased from the local scene, by the march of progress of the Kennecott Copper Pit, but the memories of its influence on the town and people will linger for many a year.
            I remember–first–the founder and guiding hand of the Big Store for over a half century, Charles E. Adderley, truly a noble character and one of the finest men I have ever known.  Gentle, kind, generous, a friend to young and old alike, a solid citizen.  He supported every organization and activity in the community.  As a member of the Carr Fork Giants baseball team, I solicited the business establishments for money to buy uniforms and Mr. Adderley’s name headed the list.  In later years selling tickets to the Firemen’s dances, again it was Mr. Adderley who headed the list, “firstest with the mostest.”
World War 1 Bingham Vererans
            I remember the staff:–Min and Cora in the office and the ladies wear department; Jim Wilson, with his high stiff collar in the grocery section; genial Ross Hocking in the hardware; Harry Mitchell and Rex T. Tripp in the men’s furnishings and Bert Hocking in the stock room. Hundreds of our citizens worked at one time or another in the Big Store.
            I remember Bert and Otto Lee dashing out of the long tunnel when the fire bell would ring and marvel how Otto cleared the low ceiling in such a hurry.
            I remember the wonderful summers when John Helds’ band played concerts on the wooden platform.  I saw Shirley Temple, Abbott and Costello and Jack Dempsey on the Merc. porch.  Governors Spry, Bamberger and Dern all appeared on the platform.  Governors Blood and Lee passed by it on other occasions.  The tallest man in the world appeared with Mr. Adderley.
            I remember the stirring political speeches by Dr. Straup, Dr. Flynn, Otto Kapple, Arthur C. Cole and many others, from the historic porch.
            I remember those holiday celebrations that all passed by or broke up at the corner–the Miners Day, Columbus Day parade with all the kids carrying American and Italian Flags and John Feraco in the Santa Maria as Christopher Columbus, the Fourth of July celebrations and later the Galena Days.  I remember the news of the first World War—the beginning and the end were announced from the platform.  The day Jack Dempsey won the title from Willard, the results were announced from the porch, likewise the results of the World Series games.
            The posses formed to hunt Lopez were organized in front of the Merc.–in fact every activity of any importance focused around the corner.  It saw the town grow from a few scattered houses to a thriving community and now the pendulum swings the other way and again the town is getting smaller as the mine expands.
Copper Belt train
            I remember the loaded ore wagons coming down both gulches and converging at the corner—what artists with the reins those teamsters were: Dave Werritt, Billy McCloud, Jose Carlston and that one-armed marvel, Joe Hamilton.
            I remember the sleigh riding parties we had in the winter;–from the Highland Boy flat to the Merc. at breakneck speeds, the mud holes in the spring in front of the Merc. and the taxi drivers throwing nickels and dimes in the mud for the kids to dive after.
            I remember the Bingham Livery where the Princess Theater now stands with the horses and surreys for hire and some of the colorful “skinners”, Smiler Shelley, Peggy McGee, Peg Leg Pratt and Monk Wilcox.  George Black and his Cannon Ball Express was a familiar sight in those early days with his favorite horse, Bessie.
            I remember the Copper Belt Railroad and its colorful shay engines clanking past the Merc. on its way to Leadmine.   I remember the big fires close by–how the Merc. stood as a fire break protecting the rest of the town from the spread of fire.  I remember the telephone office and A. Geffins’ Jewelry store and Bruce and Golden Ivie’s barber shop in the basement, for in the early days all the store was upstairs.
            Farewell, old friend! You saw history made in historic Bingham Canyon–you are gone, but you shall never be forgotten by your old friends and associates.

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By John J. Creedon, Chief, B.V.F.D.
            The Bingham Volunteer Fire Department looks back with pride to the many years of service to the citizen’s of Bingham Canyon and vicinity in protecting life and property from the ravages of fire and standing by to answer any call of emergency.
            From a humble beginning–a few public spirited men gathered together in the last month of 1903 in Judge George Lee’s office and decided to organize a fire department.  A temporary set of officers were set up with J.T. Dean as Chairman and Chief and Dr. A.L. Inglesby, Secretary, and C.H. Roberts, Treasurer.
            This group met again in   They advertised in the local paper for all citizens who had any of the fire equipment in their possession to turn it over to the department.
Wooden side-walks and horse and wagons
December 1903 and in January 1904 a permanent organization was formed with A.L. Heaston, Chief.
            In August 1905 a group of the firemen from the lower end of town petitioned for the formation of another company to be called Company No. 2 and to have two stations with a Captain in charge of each company.  The department operated with two sets of officers until 1948 when the department consolidated into one unit with John J. Creedon being elected Chief.
            The first hose carts were purchased in 1906 and it was a case of pulling them to the scene of the fire, unless a team of horses was handy.
            In 1915 the first motor fire truck was assembled for Company No. 2 by Albert Marriott and the following year No. 1 had a truck assembled by Francis A. Miller.
            With the natural hazards presented by the narrow streets and the buildings so close together, 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 and many times saved the town from total destruction.
Fire-men pulling pump-cart to fire
            The local department was among the Charter Departments that formed the Utah State Firemen’s Association in 1908 and they have continued to be one of the outstanding volunteer departments in our State.
            We pause to salute our founders and look forward to the next fifty years with a steadfast promise to continue to serve our community to the fullest.

 By  John J. Creedon
many horse team on one wagon
            Bingham in 1911 was a typical western mining town.  Where there were sidewalks they were wooden, about three feet wide and made of three inch planking.
            The road was dirt and in wet weather it was a quagmire of mud.  There was always a big mud hole by No. 2 Fire Hall, another at the top of Butcher Hill, about where the Post Office now stands and the biggest of all by the Bingham Merc.
            When a six or eight horse ore team hit the mud, everyone scurried for a doorway or between buildings to get out of the line of fire.  You could tell the amount of rainfall by the height of the mud line on the poles and buildings.
            Ore teams with their heavy loads were constantly on the move.  They used a heavy chain or rough lock on the wheels as an aid to their brakes.  In the winter the wheels were replaced by sleigh runners and rough locks were used on these also.
            Runaways were frequent and the teams did not stop usually until they had straddled a telephone pole or the wagons or sled tipped over.  Often the horses would break a leg and have to be destroyed.
            All supplies of foodstuffs, coal and other merchandise were delivered by wagons.  There were hitching posts at several places in town and drinking troughs for the horses.  One of these was across the street from the Miller Apartments.  There was a spring there and man and horse could get an ice cold drink any time.
            To care for the horses and stable the, there were several livery stables.  The Bingham Livery was one of the largest.  It was owned by George Chandler and was situated where the Princess Theater now stands.  How those skinners used to come down that runway and make the turn up or down the canyon on two wheels was a thrilling sight to see.  Some of the others were the Utah Livery, Star Livery near No. 2 Fire Hall, Blacks’ near the Rio Grande Depot and the Bingham Coal in Hegland Ave.
            Most of these stables kept saddle horses for hire and on Sundays and holidays every horse in town would be rented.  These horses were trained to return to their stalls whenever they were turned loose.  A man could hire a horse to go to Upper Bingham or Highland Boy and on arriving at his destination he would place the reins over the saddle horn and the horse would go home.  It was very difficult to catch one of these horses for a free ride.
            The doctors made their calls on horseback and the letter carriers were horse mounted.  In those bygone days taking your best girl for a horseback ride was tops in entertainment. Comparable with today’s convertible or hot-rod ride.
Blacksmiths shop
            What a sight to watch the blacksmiths shoe the horses!  We would watch fascinated by the flying sparks from the bellows and anvil.  It was a skillful profession—fitting and shaping a red hot shoe on the hoof of a nervous and sometime violent horse and nailing it in place in the matter of minutes.  In the winter time sharp shoeing was a must so the horses could stand up on the slippery roads.
            Seemed like there was always a dog around the blacksmith shop, waiting for the pieces of hoof trimmed off.  It was called, “frog”.
            The blacksmiths would oblige us by making rings out of horseshoe nails.  I always marveled at the way these men could shape and weld a heavy iron tire on a wagon wheel, or tell by the color of the red hot metal when the temper was just right.
            Some of these early blacksmiths were Albert Marriott, Ross Marriott, Ray Allen, Francis A. Miller, Roy Hughes, Joe Marriott and Jesse Prigmore.
            Albert Marriott’s shop was located where the Bingham Grocery now stands; Ross Marriott’s at 171 Main; Joe Marriott’s just above No. 2 Fire Hall on the opposite side of the street; Francis Miller’s just below Standard Garage.  Ray Allen was a blacksmith at the Bingham Coal shop.
  These men did more than shoe horses and retire wagon wheels.  They built wagons, repaired buggy tops and sharpened picks and other tools.  Albert and Ross Marriott built the first motorized fire truck for the No. 2 Fire Department and a year later, Francis Miller built a truck for No. 1 department.

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