Sunday, March 31, 2013

END OF LARK MINE AND TOWN


LARK the Last Company Town
Gobbled up by the Last Giant
By Eugene Halverson
“Memories”
Lark with Concentrator  in back-ground
I was born and raised in Telegraph, much higher than the Copperfield group of towns.  They were the “GOOD OLD DAYS”.  I did live in Frog Town for a while when my father was fired for getting sick.  It seemed like we were just a part of the mine.  Trains were whistling belching steam and smoke in front of the house as well as each side of the mountain.  Bridges ran over our house, mines ran under our house, the ruins of the Yampa Smelter and abandoned mines where ever you looked.  Yet we got along and lived a happy life.  It was quite a difference from these new “Lords and Masters” today with their gates, fences, armed guards and “NO TRESPASSING SIGNS”.
I lived in Telegraph a “Company Town” near the top of the mountain.  Depending on what direction I took I had a birds-eye view of Highland Boy with its “Aerial Tramway headed over the mountain to the Tooele Smelter.  South I was looking at Butterfield and Middle Canyons. 
Looking down at Lark
Dalton Mine with Town in back-ground
Winter forced my brother, Lee and I out of the high passes down to the foothills above the valley far below us.   This was Lark during its hay-day.  It may have been a “company town” like mine but it was built with more care.  It was nestled in an Oak brush covered draw facing the Wasatch Mountains to the east.  In fact you had a birds-eye view of all of Salt Lake County.  The workings of the mine seemed separated from the town.  I remember the houses, Bill Farni’s store, a school, a Church, and more houses.  I am not sure about a hotel or other buildings. 
For almost a hundred years the miners had been prospecting and digging holes all over the mountain.  The big mines had names and roads to them but many of the others were just scars and holes on the mountain without even a trail to them.  Many fortunes were made as they followed the veins of ore down to the water when they were forced to quit.  
I walked and hunted down over the mountain to the valley below many times and even skied down there once but I never did go into town.  We came for the cotton-tail rabbits on the “HORSE-SHOE-BEND” rail bed.  It was a long way but the hunting was great.

History
I have found history books of every Bingham town except Lark and if it wasn’t for the State Lark would soon be forgotten. Only three residents who lived there during my time are now dead and buried.
Lark in Winter in good old Days

In 1945-46 the Jordan School District cooperated with the State to save the stories and information of the various communities
Where would we be today except for Dora McDonald and her intermediate Boys and Girls, for recording and saving what little are left of Larks history?
OQUIRRH is an Indian name for the “Shinning Mountains”
What a wonderful place it was until the “Whiteman” began messing it up. The northern slopes were heavily forested with pine trees measuring three feet in diameter.  In the “BIG GROVE” above Silver Shield many measured five feet in diameter.  Many other kinds of trees covered the higher slopes.  The hills above Lark were mostly covered with Oak brush with various bushes and flowers. 
Soon after the “Old Jordan Claim” in Upper Bingham we had hundreds of prospectors and soldiers scattered here and there all over the mountains looking for color.  Gold was found in the Bingham gravel bars but silver was showing itself all around the Oquirrh Mountain. 
But it seems like two old experienced prospectors by the names of Lark and Dalton were the first to file claims here.  Dalton’s claim was bit higher up.  Both were developing into towns. A school was built mid-way between the two towns and it was only a short walk.  When the Mascotte Tunnel started, all the people and all the houses were moved down from Dalton to Lark. Many claims were soon filed to get a part of the riches.  Many of the mines were still working during my time and many of their dumps were huge.  Many roads and trails were cut into the mountain to bring the ore down.  The hill-side will show its scares forever.  It has been over a hundred years yet no grasses, weeds or bushes have grown here. Just look at the holes (shafts) and dumps.
a mule or horse rail-road
Horse Rail-Road
Mr. Lark and Mr. Dalton may have found the claims and named the Towns.  They may have begun some mining to prove its worth.  It took many years before the mills, smelters or concentrators were built.  “ORE” was first hauled by horse and wagons and later horse-drawn rail cars.

HISTORY FROM JORDAN SCHOOL BOOK
Any story of Lark would not be complete without mention of the people and personalities who not only make up this community, but have been instrumental in the development of this great mineral area.  Lark is the main town and center for forty-five years of practically continuous employment of all its inhabitants. 
In the early part of this century Italians, and Austrians, began to filter in to the Lark area, along with Cornishmen from Michigan. 
Freight Wagon in front of  boarding house
 Single transient miners predominated and every mine had a boarding and bunk-house.  A successful operator of a boarding house saw that the best food and plenty of it was provided.  Mr. and Mrs. Leo Erdman ran a very successful boarding house at Dalton.  When a new boarding house was erected at Lark, Mrs. Fuge and her daughter served splendid meals.  Then Mrs. Herrenger, then it was Mrs. Marie Peterson, and now it is Mr. and Mrs. Carlberg.
The first houses were boarded up tents.  The first real house was built for the mine superintendent. It now belongs to Leonard Steel.
Among the early families to settle in Lark were the Kuphaldts.  He homesteaded a farm south of Lark.  He furnished milk, butter, eggs, and vegetables to the people living in Dalton and Lark. Other families were the Parks, Welches, Reeds, Olivers, Davises, Eckards, Andersons, Osborns, Rindlisbachs, Petersons, Wells, Serassios, Bullocks, Hatts, Stilinovichs, Crittendens, and Fraziers.
Lark has always had a store.  In 1903 the Bingham Consolidated built the last one in 1903.  It was a company store run by a Mr. Green, and then a Mr. Murtah came.  Later “Miner’s Mercantile” in Upper Bingham” a Mr. Zwincky was in charge.  During the 1907 Panic the people went over the mountain to the Miner’s Merc. That was situated in Upper Bingham. 
Masecotte Tunnel
Mr. Fahrni has the store today.  The town has its saloon with a dance hall over it.  Of course with the saloon came the gambling; Poker, Twenty-one and a Roulette Wheel.
The Freight Wagon
When the mines around Lark first started, there were no railroads.  They had to bring all the supplies in freight wagons and take the ore out and over to Sandy as there was a smelter there.  In the spring of the year, the wagon would sink in the mud almost to the body of the wagon.  A freighter’s life in the early days was a hard and dangerous one.  It was also hard on the animals and equipment. 


WHITE TOP BUGGY
When people wanted to leave town they had to ride the “White Top Buggy” over to the Re Vere Switch to catch the “Bingham Bill”, which was a train to Bingham or to Salt Lake City.  People could hire the Buggy for rides or go on a picnic. 
Liver Stables flourished in the early days before the automobile.  Horseback riding was a favorite sport so the Stable kept a string of saddle horses. A few surreys were rented were very popular for the young men and their girlfriends.
Schools
When Lark was first settled there were really two towns.  Dalton was up on the hill and Lark was father down.  There were not enough children for two schools so they build a one-room school house half way between them.  It was quite a sight sitting all by its self in the sage brush.   All eight grades were taught by a lady teacher.
The new school house was built about thirty-five years ago (1910).  All eight grades were still taught here but later the seventh and eighths grades were bussed to the Bingham High School. Today we have a three-teacher school.  Two grades are in each room.  (1946)
CHURCH When Lark was first founded there were two represented. 
The Methodist Minister came through the tunnel from Bingham on the “ore train”.  He would hold church once a week at the home of Mrs. Blum.
The Mormon Church had an interesting history. First it was a boarded up tent.  Then it was bought by a Mr. Soyka who built it up and made it into a restaurant.  At first there were such few members living here they couldn’t even carry on the activities of the Ward so it was disbanded.  Then the Church bought it and remodeled it into the nice little chapel we have today.
DRINKING WATER
Lark was built far away from the canyons with water and it was a real problem.  At first they used the water that drained out of the tunnel and down into a ditch.  They came to the ditch to get their buckets full of water.
Later, the company piped the water out of the mine to a tap.  People then came to a tap near the entrance to fill their buckets.  Later a pressurized water system was installed for the town. 
Sometime in the 1890’s when the railroads came GIANT corporations began buying, building, remodeling and eventually being bought out by bigger “Giants.
US Office, shops, compressor, Bingham Tunnel, Mascotte Tunnel, town of Lark
 and sand waste left by the Concentrator in the center
In 1948 the Company towns of “US” (Galena) and Telegraph where I lived were shut-down.  By 1961 the towns in Butterfield and Bingham were gone.
“Lark” was the last Company town owned by the US Mine. But with the completion of the tunnel from Lark to the Niagara in Copperfield, it looked like Lark had a “Rosy Future” and would be the only town left alone.  But after a time of low profits the US decided to sell everything to the “BIGGEST GIANT” on the mountain.  They sold everything they owned from here to Garfield.  They then closed their Lark mine.
A few years before the sell-off lead and silver prices improved and good profits could be made.  They contacted an old employee a Geologist by the name of Dick Rubright, what it would take to reopening the Mascotte Tunnel.  It wasn’t possible he said, “Just turning off the pumps and closing the door was not the way to close down a mine.  All the pumps and equipment was ruined and nothing could be salvaged”. 
EVICTION NOTICES
So in 1977 the people in Lark were given eviction notices so about 50 families who had houses on leased land were evicted and their house demolished.  Many of the residents owned the land their houses sat on.  Some went to a subdivision below Copperton.  A few like the Charlie Whetsel and Fern and Bob Peterson absolutely refused to leave. It seems like each family had its own fight, I hope they did better than the rest of us when our world was demolished. 
The Giants brought people from all over the world.  Usually these people came as scabs to replace the workers who were fired because of a strike.  In time we accepted them and learned to love them as neighbors, some like brothers.  We learned from each other and enjoyed their food and customs. Sixty-five years have gone by and I still miss what I had in Bingham.  I would go back today if I could.  Life in the Valley was never like Bingham.  

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the information you have published regarding the town of Lark. Many of my ancestors migrated from England and either settled in Herrriman, Bingham Canyon or Lark. My Great Grandfather, Samuel Ernest Oliver was killed in in the Lark mine in December of 1913 when the ceiling caved in. I was wondering if you could tell me if Lark was located in the mouth of Bingham Canyon or where a gate to the pit mine is located today. Thanks Again.

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  2. Just like my story, Lark has been erased. There is no access anywhere. Everything is fenced off and No Trespassing signs are everywhere.

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