Friday, July 8, 2011


Copperfield (Upper Bingham)

Eugene H. Halverson

At onetime Bingham was just one long narrow city then the ever expanding Utah Copper separated us from Bingham.  For awhile we were just called “Upper Bingham.  Soon a large thriving community developed as hundreds of families as well as hundreds of single males made their homes here.  Many boarding houses, hotels, saloons, stores, restaurants, 4 churches, also a theater and a whorehouse.  Apartments were scattered here and there and everywhere
They built Copperfield Grade School in 1919.  About this time the town was called Copperfield too.  I have often wondered which one was named first, the town or the school, which came first the chicken or the egg.  The E-line Bridge, a mammoth wooden trestle separated us from the mine.  The only access to town was walking or driving up through the bottom of the copper pit.  It was sometimes a little scary because of the blasting and the operation of trains and trucks.  When a whistle blew you ran to a wooden shelter and stayed there until the all clear whistle.  Then in 1939 a new access to Copperfield was built.  It was through a 1 ¼ mile tunnel with a one way road The road was operated by automatic electric red/green lights that hardly ever worked right.  The sewer ran under the sidewalk.  Every so often the Copperfield door would close and the fan would clear the air of fumes but they never cleaned the dust and dirt that accumulated over the years.  I hated that dirty dark old tunnel.

The US Mine and the Utah Copper did build some houses for their employees but most of the houses we lived in were quite primitive with no running water, outhouses were common.  People had to carry water from a water tap centrally located here and there.  We had to carry our water about 100 yards.  Our perishables were stored in a mine entrance accessed from our house.  We had no sink, refrigerator , no wall-plugs just a light with a pull-cord to turn the light on.  Our house was a company house that had never seen any paint for the 20 years we lived there.  It sat on a mine dump that was so poisonous that weeds couldn’t even grow on it.  For insulation the walls were filed with the same kind of dirt.  I wonder what the EPA would say about this.  We must have had a lot of lead and arsenic in our veins. 

We were poor and never knew it.  We had a real melting pot of people there with 20 or so nationalities scattered here and there.  Sometimes it was hard to talk to each other because some couldn’t understand and speak English.  Kids were scolded if they spoke their native language on the school grounds.  A few of the supervisors had private lawns and privacy but at the school we played in dirt.  As you walked up the street Jap Camp and Greek Camp high on the right side of the road and Terrace Heights and Dinkyville were high on the left.  Telegraph were I lived was a mile farther up the road.  US (formerly called Galena) was 2 miles above us.

 We contended with trains in front of the house, back of the house as well as other ore mining equipment using he roads.  There were also trestles and bridges, mines and shafts to fall in or off of.  Running copper water so potent that it could turns an iron nail to copper in a minute.  We played in cocoa dirt that was nothing more than the dangerous silt or leftovers from an old mill.  But the mountains were beautiful with pines, quakies, and oak brush.  This is where we found the grass to play on and the flowers to bring home to mother.  Many people came our way to enjoy the outdoors. 

We fought the floods in the spring but this was also the time to pan gold and it was fun.  We lived in Bear Gulch and it still had deposits of gold, silver and lead.  At 6500 to 7000 feet elevation snow was a problem.  We had animals and birds everywhere.  I lived near a creek in pines and quakies about a half a mile below the “Big Tree”.  If you lived in Copperfield you knew about the big tree.  The Indians must have loved it here too because of the many arrowheads and artifacts they left behind. 
My home was destroyed by the US Mine in 1948 and by 1958 Kennecott took all the rest of the homes and businesses.  Our town was just scooped away.  A ghost town now just sitting in the air above the Copper Pit.  On the third Sunday of August every year about a hundred or so of us gather in the Copperton Park to hold our Copperfield Reunion.  Where we talk and remember the good friends and fun times we had over a wonderful pot luck dinner. 

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