Thursday, February 23, 2012


W. Dee Halverson

Day Break Senior's Great Hall
Victorian manor house in Yorkshire by Sir Edwin Lutyens—high vaulted ceilings with hammer-beam trusses, massive entry-way walnut doors window surrounds, Gobilen tapestry hanging prominently in foyer, I love the glass-bay conservatory w/ fireplace and wood-paneled ceiling, gentlemen’s billiard room, carved wall partitions and bookcases.  We are seated in the Great Hall w/ heavy Victorian draperies, stately chandeliers, high dormer windows and solid wood flooring.

Ivy's parents, Ivy 9, Max 2, Fearnley baby
Ivy Baker moved to Bingham Canyon in 1913 when she was 7 years old.  When her father was injured in a mining accident, her mother, Clara, decided to take in boarders.  Over the years the Baker boardinghouse became well-known for clean beds and good food.  Clara’s attention then turned to making the streets of Bingham safer and cleaner.  She convinced the local physician, Dr. Fred Straup, to run for mayor on the Republican ticket.  She insisted that one of his major platforms was to build boardwalks to keep the pedestrians on Main Street out of the mud.  In a miracle of organization and getting out the vote, Clara got the good doctor elected for three straight terms.  The boardwalks were built.
Ivy also became politically active in the Republican minority of the area. In 1950 she campaigned for election to the U.S. House of Representatives, but lost in a close vote.  Her get-out-the-vote organization was noticed by the Republican National Committee and her name was suggested to President-elect Eisenhower after his election in 1952 to be named Treasurer of the United States.  He agreed and Ivy served in that office for the next eight years.
Of her first White House dinner Ivy later recalled, “The April night seemed to be filled with the magic which spring brings to Washington. A spell seemed to hover over the White House dining room where we were seated.  Just two places from me sat the President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower with his wife, Mamie. Also seated around the table were well-known senators, congressmen and ambassadors with their wives.
Ivy with Mr. & Mrs. President Eisenhower  
            “I found myself staring at the place card in front of my plate, which read:
Ivy Baker Priest, Treasurer of the United States.  Suddenly, I was overwhelmed by the wonder of it all.  My thoughts went racing back through the years. . .back to Bingham Canyon, Utah.  Back to days when there was never enough money in our home for food and clothing, or the basic amenities.
“I was seated next to Dr. Norman Vincent Peale when he turned to me and said:  ‘Mrs. Priest, the people I have known in this world who have achieved things have all overcome some great handicap to reach their goal.  I hope you won’t mind my asking what your own handicap was.
Ivy shelling peas in boarding house
“POVERTY,” I replied without hesitation.  Then Dr. Peale replied with a hearty laugh. ‘And now you are in charge of all that money,’”

Ivy never forgot her humble beginnings as a poor copper miner’s daughter from Utah.

In 1848 (the year after the Mormon pioneers settled the Salt Lake Valley), Thomas and Sanford Bingham, were sent to the area by Brigham Young, who requested them to take a herd of horses and cattle to graze the high ground around the main canyon.  They built a small cabin on the north side of the creek.  From that time on the new Mormon settlers called the canyon “Bingham” in their honor.  The canyon proved to be an ideal place not only for herding livestock, but also for cutting timber.  At that time the Oquirrh Mountains were heavily forested wilderness with huge stands of Red Pine 3-feet in diameter. The Bingham brothers spent their time herding, sawing logs and prospecting for valuable minerals.
Some ores were discovered, but because of primitive technology and expensive transportation the brothers weren’t able to cash in on their discoveries.  In addition, LDS President Brigham Young—although not opposed to mining in general—feared the negative effects that a gold rush would have on the new local farming communities in the Utah Territory
He advised the brothers against further prospecting and they moved north to settle in Weber County.  The Bingham brothers sold their mining claim for a paltry $50, little did they know it would become world famous and be worth billions.     

Grandpa Andrew Halverson  Joe Crump  James & Ray halverson at Rag Town
            Andrew Lars Halverson, my great-grandfather, was born and raised in Denmark.  At the age of 21, he and his entire family listened to the Mormon missionaries and were converted to this new faith.  The Halverson family immigrated to Utah in 1884 where they began farming.  After years of one crop failure after another, Andrew moved his growing family up to Idaho where he had rented a 100-acre sugar beet farm.   His harvest after the first year was a booming success which led him to and his oldest sons, Jim, (my grandfather), Chris, Ray and Harvey to plant even more sugar beets.  The year 1910 was especially harsh for the family.  The spring was very rainy making it hard to seed the beet fields and the early frost froze the ground solid making it impossible to get the beets out of the ground.
James Halverson  Joe Crump  at Rag Town
            In desperation Andrew left his family in Idaho and took a job as an oiler at the Magna Mill for the Utah Copper Company.  When the general strike of 1912 forced 900 copper miners to lose their jobs which paid each man $2 per 10-hour-day (about $65. Somehow Andrew was able to hold onto his job.  As outsiders were being hired to replace the striking workers, Andrew wrote to my grandfather and his brothers and told them to move the family down to Utah immediately.  They all got jobs, but could only find a very small wood-frame shack in Ragtown, Utah for their family of 11.

Suddenly these two photos from our family album made sense to me!
Train on Carr Fork bridge
            For the next five years the Halverson boys prospered.  Jim the oldest married his sweetheart, Mary Vincent and in 1919 moved to Utah County. His younger brother, Harvey Halverson, lived and worked in Bingham Canyon for the next 43 years.  Living in Frog Town, Telegraph and Bingham gave him and his sons a ringside seat on all the events which took place in Bingham Canyon before all of the settlements became ghost towns because of the expansion of the open pit copper mine.

Steam shovels and steam train
The arrival of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 dramatically changed Bingham Canyon’s fortunes.  It brought town builders.  During the 1870s, the rugged mining camp grew within the confines of the narrow canyon walls.  Miners erected dugouts and wooden shanties in haphazard patterns along the canyon floor.  Boarding houses, general mercantile store, livery stables, a blacksmith shop, as well as a generous number of saloons, were all part of the town’s landscape.  The population soon reached nearly 2,000.
            The ore could be easily shipped by rail to smelters for refining, and also the invention of dynamite and mechanical drilling made production numbers soar.  From 1880 to 1896 lead and silver mining replaced gold mining.  At that time hardly anyone thought that Bingham Canyon was destined to become famous for its copper.  But Thomas Edison’s inventions and the coming of the Electric Age and the rapidly increased demand for copper wiring all across the country changed that.
Highland boy
            By 1906, Daniel Jackling a young mining engineer, with the financial backing of the Rockefellers of Standard Oil and the Guggenheims, organized the Utah Copper Company and began open cut mining operations.  Jackling’s vision of producing copper from very low-grade ore by processing huge quantities of material proved successful.  From 1906 until his retirement in 1942, UCC would become one of the nation’s foremost copper producers.  Jackling proved the profitability of mining low 2% copper ore with methods that had worldwide significance.
            In 1914 at the start of World War I in Europe there were more than 10,000 miners in Bingham Canyon.  The price for copper had never been higher, especially after the Allied Forces ordered 25 million artillery shell casings which equaled more than 110 million pounds of copper.
By 1925 there were over 20,000 miners and their families living, working and dying in the dozen towns and settlements up and down the seven-mile long Bingham Canyon.  Each nationality had its own stores, coffeehouses, saloons and pool halls.
With the beginning of World War II in 1939, demand for copper again grew at outstanding rates.  Copper production reached a high point as the Bingham Mine produced about 30% of all the copper used by the Allies to win the war against Germany and Japan.
Copperfield 4th of July  1937
As the copper pit grew deeper in the 1940s and 50s, the expenses of hauling thousands of trainloads of ore up the mine’s terraces became cost prohibitive.  In 1947 the assets of the UCC were acquired by the Kennecott Copper Corporation.  Kennecott embarked upon a period of technological innovation and growth.  It discovered a process to recover other very valuable minerals along with the copper.  By 1963 huge haulage trucks replaced the railroads within the open pit.
Within a very short time by the diligent use of dynamite, gigantic power shovels and thousands of miners the company made an 8,000-foot mountain into the “richest hole in the world” measuring three miles wide and a mile deep.

The Bingham Canyon miners literally came from everywhere in the world!   They came from many sections of Utah and the rest of the United States.  They came from the British Isles. They came from Italy.  They came from what are now the Balkan States.  They came from all the Scandinavian countries.  They came from China and from Japan and from Korea.  They came from Greece. They came from Mexico and from Spain.  There was always such a diversity of languages and cultures up and down the various towns.  More than 30 languages and dialects were spoken by the residents of Bingham Canyon. These groups created distinct communities:  Finns, Swedes and Norwegians came to Carr Fork; Slovaks and Italians to Highland Boy; Greeks, Japanese, British and Scandinavians to Copperfield; Austrians, Welch, Britons, French and Irish to Bingham Town and Lark.

            Due to its steep topography, Bingham Canyon had room for only one main street.  The rough road snaked its way for 7 miles up past Frog Town, Winamuck and the main business district of Bingham Town.  The right fork road led to Carr Fork and Highland Boy, and the left fork road continued up to Copperfield, Terrace Heights and Telegraph, passing trough Dinkeyville, Jap Camp, Little Italy and Greek Camp. 
            Noisy, vibrant and dynamic, Bingham Canyon was a cacophony of sight, sound and activity.  Trains with their whistles echoing throughout the canyon, could be seen plying their 
Main business center Bingham wooden side-walks
way over the mountain slopes.   Spread out from the narrow 20-foot wide main street and perched all they way up the sides of the canyon walls, were the frame houses, shacks, shanties and apartments that housed the town’s citizens.  The limited space left precious little room for yards or playgrounds.

After the famous baseball star Babe Ruth visited the copper mine, baseball games were played wherever there was space.  In Carr Fork this was in the street and when the ball went into the sewer, someone would race ahead to where there was an opening and retrieve it and play would resume.  Baseball was played underneath the “L” Bridge and along the creek in Frogtown.
Halverson house in Telegraph  1936
In the winter, sleigh-riding and skiing were popular.  All the kids needed to do was to step out of their door and they were on a sleigh-riding hill.  The older youths would ride bobsleds all the way from Highland Boy down to the mouth of the canyon.

            Harvey Halverson contracted “miner’s con” (silicosis of the lungs) while he worked in the underground mine.  As a result, he lost his job (no workman’s comp in those days) and the family was immediately evicted from their home in Telegraph.  They found shelter and food thanks to the kindness of the Greek owners  of the Panos apartments and Apostol’s grocery in Frog Town.
            On New Year’s Day 1936 while sleding down Main Street the Halverson boys, Gene and Leland, were hit by a speeding car.  Gene’s hip bone was shattered and Leland’s front teeth were all knocked out.  Luckily the driver was the son of the chief mining superintendent.  He quickly loaded the injured boys into his car and drove up to Dr. Richard’s hospital.  His father volunteered to pay all the medical expenses and found Father Harvey a good job!  WHAT A LUCKY BREAK!

Bingham Canyon  left fork Copperfield  Right Highland Boy
Recently, I asked my 84-year-old cousin, Gene Halverson, to take me on a virtual drive up the seven-mile road to the top of Bingham Canyon and tell me what it looked like during his heyday.
He started off by explaining that the hillsides along the Bingham Canyon road were filled with unpainted wood-frame houses without yards, rundown and unkempt on the outside, but almost dust-free and immaculately clean on the inside.

Swedes in Carr Fork
LEADMINE:  This was the site of the first copper smelter of 1909.  When the smelter was deemed too small in capacity the area was abandoned.  Then it was settled by Greek and Italian immigrants who were unwelcome at first.

FROG TOWNYampa smelter, the slaughterhouse, Panos Apartments and Chris Apostol’s grocery and meat market.

WINAMUCK:  The Bingham Dairy, Prigmore’s Coal Yard, the #2 Fire Station, and then the big S-Curve in the road.

Gene said that Monday was always wash day all up and down Bingham Canyon.  On that day flying wash flew from every house and in every direction.  It hung on clothes lines running from houses to nearby telephone poles; it ran from upstairs windows up the side of the hill.  It ran from porch to porch.  It went uphill and downhill and the laundry was on exhibit to everyone who came by.  There were no wardrobe secrets in Bingham Canyon. Then there were the Saturday Night baths in the #3 galvanized wash tub that was filled with hot water from the cook stove.  Later some of the teenaged boys especially opted for hiking up to Silver Shield where they could shower in hot water from the mine.  The only problem was that they had to remember to keep their eyes and mouths shut because of the arsenic in the water.

HESTON HEIGHTS:  Bingham Central School, American Legion Post #30, the Community Methodist Church and the small LDS Meetinghouse. Ironically, Bingham Canyon was one of the few places in Utah where the Mormons were definitely in the minority!  In 1900 only 11 LDS families lived in Bingham Canyon.

BINGHAM TOWN:  Four-miles up from the mouth of the canyon consisted of Canyon Social Hall, post office, Bingham Hotel, Utah Copper Hospital, Citizen’s State Bank and the Bingham Press Bulletin newspaper.  J.C. Penny built his Golden Rule Store #3, Princess Theater, Vienna Café, Bingham Stage Lines, California Hotel and the infamous “sporting houses” at #505 and #520 Main Street.

In back of Bourgard’s butcher shop on Main Street was a huge smokehouse, where hams and bacon were cured.  The vent on top was a favorite fishing hole for the town’s children. “We used to fish through this hole for a stray sausage or two,” remembered Gene.  “I believe the owner used to leave them there on purpose for us to have fun with.”
Taking a right turn at CARR FORK:  The Holy Rosary Catholic Church, The Tram, Gemmell Social Club, Swedish Lutheran Church and Clara Baker’s Boarding house where Ivy Baker grew up.
Heaston Heights and Mormon Church

Boarding houses charged the miners $20 per month for board and room which entitled them to all the food they could eat.
Ivy Baker wrote, “When Dad was severely injured in a mining accident, Mother decided to open a small boarding house for single miners in Bingham Canyon.  Her pragmatic, homespun philosophy seemed to work.  And so did her tireless hands.  At a very early age, I had practically a full-time job in our boardinghouse.  At 5 a.m. I would tumble out of bed in my cold room, slip into black long-handled underwear, black bloomers, black stockings and the plain black cotton dress which I always wore to school.
            “There was the breakfast table to set and then there were sandwiches to make for the men’s lunch buckets.  The first boarders would appear for breakfast at 6 and no sooner had they gone clomping off to the mine than another shift would sit down.  The men devoured huge bowls of steaming mush, ham and eggs and polished these off with hot cakes or hot homemade bread spread with Mother’s elderberry jam.
            “Then I’d see that my sleepy-eyed brothers ate their breakfast and afterward shepherd them to school.  When I got home in the afternoon, it would be time to set the table for the first supper shift.  Later came supper for the day workers who were just emerging from the copper mine.  Before going to bed Mother and I would start packing lunch buckets for the men who went to work after midnight on the graveyard shift.  We would make hot coffee and leave it on the stove with doughnuts and cake on the table—then we would both tumble into bed.”
Frog Town and Yampa Smelter

If the boarding house supplied Bingham Canyon with much of its stability, it was the saloon which supplied much of its reputation.  Among the best saloons in the canyon were the Copper King and the California.
Dinkeyville top   Copperfield with US Mine boarding house
Saloons offered carefree miners diversions that no company clubhouse could match.  Companionship, liquor, meals, all varieties of tobacco, and gambling—poker, faro, craps and roulette.  Nearly every saloon maintained an orchestra or a mechanical piano. Some saloon proprietors became promoters of sporting events.  Al Bunker regularly booked 20-round boxing matches into his Copperfield establishment.  Many local boxers including Jack Dempsey were often featured.
Wrestling was also a drawing card in some saloons with Greeks matched against Japanese.  And there were the usual backyard dog and cock fights.  Even during the Prohibition Years of 1920 to 1933 you could always get a stiff drink in Bingham Canyon.  The 36 saloons along Main Street (now soft-drink parlors) continued to quench the thirst of thousands of miners around the clock.

Next we come to HIGHLAND BOY:  Settled by Austrians and Slavs. It also contained the smaller camps of Phoenix, Frisco and Boston Con.  The best known building was the Community House run by Ada Duhigg—the Angel of Highland Boy because of her bravery during the devastating fire of 1932.

Miss Duhigg Highland Boy Kiids
 Then at last to COPPERFIELD:  with its familiar landmark, the Rex Hotel and the Copperfield Theater and several other businesses, boarding houses and bars. 

In my research I found that a study of the local surnames found in the U.S. Census Records of 1930 told the story:  JUST LISTEN TO THESE NAMES!  Adams, Andreason and Anagnostakis; Badovinatz, Balamis, Borich and Bernado; Carrigan and Compagno;  Depenza and Durnford; Ericksen, Espinosa and Epis; Fernandez, Fassio and Faddis; Golesh, Gerbic and Gavilovich; Halverson, Huebner and Hatfield; Ishimatsu and Ivie; Jiminez, Jacques and Jimas; Kenner and Kliebenstein; Lopez, Lombardi and Larish; MacNeil and Markovitch; Nepolis and Nix;  Ogawa and O’Mally; Pino, Papanikolas and Pagnotta; Rubich, Rubalcava and Rasmussen; Speros, Serassio and Suzuki; Trujillo and Tobiason, Vlasic, Vardakis and Vasquez; Whetzel and Xanthos, Yengich and Zdunich.   A little United Nations

            Expansion of its open pit mine was essential and the Kennecott Copper Corporation began buying property around the canyon as it became available for some time prior to 1959.  In the middle of that year a long workers’ strike began against Kennecott and more families left the area. As the year dragged toward a close the handwriting was on the wall.
Galena Days with Doctor Richards
       On December 9, 1959, nearly all of the property owners in Bingham Canyon met with Kennecott officials to discuss the sale of the towns and surrounding areas.  Gradually the purchase of all parcels of living areas for miners led to the huge expansion of the open copper pit and the swallowing up of the old towns in the canyon.  Highland Boy and Copperfield were dismantled in 1960 and the last buildings in Bingham Town were torn down in 1972.  Lark disappeared from the map by the end of 1980. 
Today more than 150 years since the first mining activity, the town of Copperton remains the sole survivor of the 15 towns and settlements that made Bingham Canyon one of the most culturally diverse and rich areas of Utah.
Copperfield businesses 
300,000 tons of copper per year=$3.75 x 2000 x 300,000= $22.5 BILLION
500,000 ounces of gold=$1,725 x 500,000=$1.2 BILLION
4,000,000 ounces of silver=$33 x 4 M=$132 MILLION

I love this little rhyme written by a student at Bingham Canyon Elementary:

There used to be towns here,
With trestles, trains and play;
We climbed up to our homes here
‘Till giants moved it away.

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