Sunday, October 6, 2013


  Said, “Chicken Little”. 
Eugene Halverson
One day the sky fell and my world ended too.
We were told to, “Pack up and get out”.
So we moved to the valley below, they didn’t want us either. 
My world has vanished and Bingham will never be seen again.  At least Brigadoon comes back for a day every 100 years.  Bingham is buried never to be seen again. 
Nothing for the old to see and the young will never understand our sorrow of losing our town and the scattering our friends.
Bingham is Gone       Author Unknown
Men took a mountain of grass and pines,
And left in its place what they call a mine.
Levels of orange, green and tan,
The “Worlds Eighths Wonder”---a work of man!
Into the canyon they called all the folk,
To dredge out its minerals by daily yoke.
Work from the morning till setting sun,
Until another level of copper is begun.
Into the cant the worker brought homes,
The mountains surrounding for the wee folk to roam.
No green yards nor big front window pane,
No blade of grass or country lane---
Just hung on the hills up to the skies,
Level on level their homes did rise.
They built them shacks on the sides of the hill.
But the people made homes as all miners will.
Clean and neat and happy the places,
Peopled together, a number of races.
They lived together and loved their town.
But now today, men are tearing it down.
Under tons of rock they can no longer can bleed.
They are leaving people with a desperate need.
Children were born in the canyon gorge,
Went on to good lives and ways to forge;
Loved this ugly place so well.
Stories to their children their strange life did tell.
They told of the mountains they could climb.
They told of the snow slides, and the dead at the mine.
Of dancing in the streets when finally paved.
At the Greyhound tourists from their windows waved.
They had a good life and loved their town.
You tear up their roots as you tear her down.
You leave old people with nowhere to rest.
To Giant on the mountain they have given their best.
No home for the children now grown.
You scatter them farther with each rock thrown.
Would that the progress and knowledge of today,
Could find other means to make the mine pay.
To have left her old, but a lady proud,
Tumbled down shacks under blue sky and cloud,
Not buried deep—without even a sign.
BINGHAM was the once rowdy lady at the base of the mine.

Another Poem
There used to be a town there,
With trestles, trains and play’
We climbed up to our homes there,
“Til giants moved it away.

The mountain lived until the White-man came.  The Indians worshipped it and took care of it.  It feed, clothed and housed them.  At every mountain pass, every spring and every stream I found a camp.  There were chippings and arrowheads other signs.  Every canyon had a stream of water.  Grass, bushes, trees of all kinds showed its self in all of nature’s glory. 

One day I found a four hundred year old forest.  Years later I found a mining journal that called it the “Red Grove” and the Mormons cut it to build Salt Lake City.  I had no camera to take a picture.  The stumps were humongous, they were over five feet in diameter.   Several years ago I found a picture of a tree like ours high on Mount Timpanogos.  The tree was twenty-two feet in circumference, it was a tree when the pilgrims landed.  It survived fire, bugs, and lightning. 

They built houses and farms in the flats below the canyon but disappeared creek waters became too polluted to use. 
Stories were told of gold and silver, and the miners came.  Placer miners found gold in the creeks.  Silver with lead was found just lying on top of the ground in upper Galena Gulch.  Thousands miners and soldiers were out searching and scarring the mountains, but they mostly ended in failure until the railroads came. 

MONEY CAME and everything changed.  When Placer Mining ended tunnels began following the color.  There were many specimens of metal but they could not separate the copper with the “cyaniding process”.  “Big Money People from back East and around the world began buying up entire mountain sides.  The Rockefellers of Standard Oil bought out most of the underground mines, while the Guggenheims put their money on open-pit mining.  The money allowed the Utah Copper to build their railroads.  Back then both trains and shovels needed tracks.  Rockefellers D&RGW Railroad were hauling the ores from the U.S. mines and Copperfield as well as the Utah Copper’s ore from the Assembly Yards in the pit.  Copper Belt Trains with their elaborate gearing system climbed the mountain easily but very dangerous because of a poor braking system.  Many a train rolled off the mountain to the town below.     

People were coming in and Bingham was growing.  First to come were the hard-rock miners like the Welch, Irish and Cornish.  Then companies began bringing all the cheap unskilled workers from all over the world.  Thousands of Greeks, Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, and Italians answered the call.  Hundreds of Swedes and Finns came.  Most were placed in “Company Towns” so all their wages came back to the company.  They rented houses or boarding houses, all clothing and groceries had to be bought at the company store and some had company Bars.  Some went to tent towns or shanty towns, and dugouts (hole in the ground with a door).  Businesses were built along the single one-way road so the houses climbed the mountain almost one on top of the other.  Eventually we became the third largest city in Utah.  Aunt Edla Antbrams came to Bingham in 1903 and wrote about how she loved Bingham and how beautiful the mountains were to picnic in.  She tells about a bear in a mine and how scary it was to see a mountain lion in town.  “Look them in the eye but do not run”.  She tells of the steep sloping mountain side that made the houses look like they were stacked one on top of another up along the mountainside.  She described the town as 10-Kilometer long draining ditch. 

This “drainage ditch” was really a “sewer” many out houses were built over it.  It was also a drainage ditch running out of the mines.  The water was the color of the minerals leaving the mines.  It was so poisonous that it killed the smell as well as the bacteria in the water. 

We called it the sewer but at times it was mostly “copper water” and it was valuable.  The Utah Copper had a large precipitating plant at Lead Mine to collect and use it and Robbie had one below it.  Little did they know that others like George Panos and Lance Turner were collecting tin cans and making copper as well.  You could put an iron nail in the water one day and it would be a copper nail the next morning.  You could see the nail change color in a very short time.  The sand along the creek was soft and pure white and fun to play in.   

Across the street from the precipitating plant was the Copperton Smelter and closer to Frog Town we had the Yampa and Winnemucca Smelters, they were all abandoned long before my time.  The new smelters were built in Murray, Sandy and Midvale but the valley farmers didn’t like the smoke either and had them shut down. 
The English Dairy was at the bottom of Dry Fork with milk cows and pigs running free.  Here we also had old Bingham Cemetery with Chandlers Mausoleum.  The Dry Fork shops was just below the cemetery.  And right in the middle we had the Garbage Dump.  Just above the dump was a pump sending drinking water to Lower Bingham.
There was lots of things to do for a boy in Frog Town.  Across the street we had the train depot and the Ice House (no refrigerators then).  It was fun to watch the steam locomotives blowing their horn as they came to town.  Like a monstrous dragon they came whistling, hissing, and smoking. 
We played in the ruins of the Yampa Smelter the square smoke stack was still standing but the walls were caving in and the roof was gone.  We played on some giant black rocks across the road, around a few mines and buildings that were falling down.  In the spring when the flowers bloomed the hill side turned pink with the Pink flowers.  It was quite a hike up over the Utah Copper Dumps and down to the beautiful creeks in Freeman and Markham.  The streams ended at the dumps and make big wonderful ponds to play in.  Sometimes they would break loose and flood the town below. 

Little things I Remember
We could hardly wait for the sun to go down.  Work and cleaning ended and the old folks came out to talk and the kids came to play.   It was a different world in those days.  Women with a dozen kids had time to socialize.  Men with stories to tell. 
No yards, no grass and no fences, we could go everywhere.  No playgrounds so we played in the streets or someplace not in use.  Mostly some place the bigger boys wasn’t playing in.   I liked to play with the older boys.  They had all the toys and things to play with.   They had the only ball in town. 

I still remember the Grove kids and their rubber guns.  The guns were wood mostly powder boxes.  The bullets was knotted bands of inner-tubes and were made of real live rubber from the rubber trees in the Philippines.  The gun had either a cloths pin for a trigger or leather strap to pull to release the band.  The bigger boys like the Groves kids needed a target so they let us play.  They tied knots in the bands and stretched them tight to make sure that they would hurt.  Our little clothes pin guns couldn’t hurt anybody but if you hit one of them they were dead and they didn’t shoot you, fairs is fair I guess.

“Can the Can” a game much like cricket.  Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played by two—two man teams.  One team at bat the other team the pitchers.  The pitcher throws a tennis ball as hard as he can at the two opposite cans.  Each can knocked over is an out.  The batter tries to hit the ball hard enough so he and his partner can run to the opposite hole and score a run.

There was an ice-house near the depot where train-loads of ice was stored and covered with saw-dust.  We had no refrigerators back then so ice was delivered to the homes.  Our butter was set in a wet burlap covered box to keep cool.  A water can with a small hole kept the burlap sack wet. 
Milk was delivered from a few different dairies.  Some people even had water delivered.  Farmers from the valley brought in fresh fruits and vegetables.  Fresh mead was hard to buy or keep in the homes.  Dad was out of work when we lived in Frog Town and too far away in Telegraph.  In Telegraph our pantry was a door to the tunnel that made the dump our house was on. 

During the Depression people were hungry.  Someone down in Provo began bringing Carp and Suckers and leaving them in barrels.  Mother told me to look for the suckers or small carp.  I liked them both then.  A few years ago I cooked a carp, sure looked good but smelled terrible.  I threw it out. 
Mother fed us lots of salted and dried foods.  I liked the dried beef, bacon or pork in a white sauce over toast.  Mother made the best bread ever.  Bread and milk was my favorite breakfast.    
The Bingham Mercantile always had dried salted fish in wooden boxes setting outside the store. 

When we moved to Telegraph Miner’s Mercantile became our store.  It was a US Company store.  We lived in a company house.  My dad worked for the company.  In the summer I carried our water in two buckets with a yoke up the hill from a little shed below the dump.  When the line froze in the winter I had to carry it from the water tank tunnel a hundred yards away.  On bath day I carried lots of water and mother heated the water on an old kitchen stove.  When I turned 16 number two tub was a stand only tub.   

The “1912 Strike” was blamed on the Greeks.  They were then either fired of quit working in the mines.  John Leventis who ran a coffee house in Copperfield said, “Stay out of the mines”, and they did.  They pooled their money and went into being businessmen.  I remember the Pan Hellenic Grocery run by the Mackris’s, the Lendaris Mercantile, the Independent Grocery, Mike the Barber, Cairo Club and maybe the Butcher Shop were operated by Greek families.  The Saltis’s had a grocery store somewhere.

Dad was fired when he got sick and we were forced to move from the company apartments and had no place to go.   In Frog Town George Panos let us live in the Panos apartments.  Chris Apostol’s Grocery store allowed us to charge our food.  It took me many years to realize just how poor we were back then and the sacrifices my mother made to feed and clothe us.  Another wonderful old Greek was Lew Ballamis, I knew the family in Frog Town and later when I served as his helper and apprentice.  We still had several steam engines to care for and he was the man too do it.  I can still see him as we pulled the fire from a jitney, threw wet rags in the fire box, then I covered him the best I could and watched as he went entered the fire-box with a 90 pound rivet gun.  It took two of us on the outside with our 90 pounder to hit the stay-bolt.  When the steam stopped escaping we knew we had done a good job.  He was like a father to me and I loved him.  Eventually the old boiler work ended and he ran the shop crane.  Quite a guy.  They all were great and I was proud to know them.

“Chicago Charley” was another famous “Greek”.  He was a “NUT” and he’ll agree.  I never had or seen anyone with so much enthusiasm but that was what Bingham needed to wake us up and realize there was a war going on.  Charley had been a soldier in a war and knew what soldiers missed the most.  Letters from home.  He had been wounded and personally decorated by King Alexander of Greece. 
Ku-Klux-Klan were burning crosses in Frog Town
also in Dinkeyville above Old Greek Camp
He started the “Victory Flag Society” in Copperfield and it soon spread like wildfire.  Charley wanted nothing but the best for the soldiers fighting in some foreign land.  Soldiers wanted news from home and we wanted news about them.  Every day Charley got a letter from a soldier to share and he sent a monthly newsletter back.  They treasured his newsletter—it was unique no other city in America had one.  The letters written home were treasures every one wanted to read.  He was raised money in many ways and made us proud.  Charley wrote that Bingham was hit with 240 mile per hour winds and the snow was 30 feet deep.  Mike Gerbich told about mosquitos in the Tropics with bad dispositions and at night spiders and lizards fought each other to see who would sleep with him.  He was our “greatest patriot” and our famous “nut”.  In addition to the monthly newsletter the “VFS” published at year end books with messages and pictures of all those who served as well as all those who were killed in the war.  One thing about Bingham everyone was different.


The Greeks were wonderful people, who were persecuted by the “mining companies and the Mormons who hated all foreigners.   The Ku-Klux-Klan burning “Crosses” in Frog Town and Copperfield to intimidate the Greeks and Mexicans.  Life was hard for them for many years.   
Mining was dangerous there were many injuries and deaths.  The loss of a husband left many mothers with children living in poverty.  The mother and children did what they could to survive.  My aunt was left with seven children to raise.  Mr. Isoluoma, who could no longer work sat at the mine entrance in the hoping that some miner happened to save something for him in his lunch-box. 

I remember an old lady who was not quite all there and she had look that could stop a clock.  She wore two or more ragged dresses and a couple of dirty coats to keep warm as she walked the streets some called her “Dumb Dora”, I wondered if she could talk.  She would silently come around to the back porch and look in the windows one by one until she was noticed.  My brother, was about five then and he was terrified of her.  Lee was always watching and seemed to see her first and came screaming to mother.  Mother always invited her in and sit by the stove and feed her.  My mother seemed to have saved something for her even though we had little to eat ourselves.  There was a great deal of suffering back then.  I often wondered who she was and what ever happened to her.
When DOCTOR PAUL RICHARDS came to the Bingham Hospital in 1922 it was no more than a first aid station and a dirty one at that.  At that time all the surgeries were performed in Salt Lake City.  Well he sure changed that and in a few days many operations were soon performed and as the hospital grew and he was accepted into the town’s activities.  He fondly remembers being invited into different Serbian homes for Christmas.  The hospital grew from five employees to 76 with five doctors.
With a town population near 20,000 and an open sewer running through it Bingham had many diseases.  He organized immunization campaigns for typhoid fever, smallpox, and diphtheria.  Then he began giving “tonsillectomies en masse”.   I got mine out in the Copperfield School just a few years after he saved my leg and probably my life.  The other doctors wanted to cut it off at the hip. 
He proved to the mine owners the advantages of mine safety.   Just the wetting down of mine dust and wearing of safety hats and glasses would save lives and money. His daughter, Lenore said, “He was going to be a ladies doctor and woke up being the miners savior.  He was best in the country in performing disc operations on the back.  Doctors from everywhere came to his hospital to learn his methods.  
Galena Days was started because of him.  He also footed the bill for feeding hundreds of Boy Scouts at Tracy Wigwam.  He certainly was loved in our family.  My mother even name a son, Paul after him.

Doctor Frazier far right
DOCTOR RUSSELL FRAZIER came to Bingham in 1918 as a company doctor for the Utah Copper until 1961 when the town was evacuated to make room for mine expansion.  His story as told by the UHS 1960 Quarterly.

I started to work for Dr. D.H. Ray.  My conveyance was a big, black horse, my salary $100.00 per month, room board and experience.  My competitors were Dr. J.F. Flynn and Dr. F.E. Straup, the mayor of the town. 
The Bingham district including Lark had a population of about 9,000 people.  At one time Bingham had 17 different nationalities.

With the aid of Mrs. Breckon, Grandma Mayne and Mary Jane Crow, we delivered over 4,000 babies in homes without an infection, which speaks volumes for the good care these women gave in the homes of Italians, Greeks, Slovakians and just plain Americans.  Many of these mothers could not speak one word of English, but the children from these homes became some of Utah's finest citizens.  I have seen them wade through snow up to their waists to be at the side of some girl when she was having her first baby.  The comforting presence of these kindly women holding the hand of a girl in pain made my work much easier. 

On Saturday afternoons, the "good" women and their daughters did not come uptown.  The girls from "up the street" started their parade to the doctor’s office for their weekly checkup.  At one time there were over 50 of these girls in town.  As they came rustling down the street in their silks and satin and big picture hats.  The pool halls emptied on to the narrow steps out in front to watch but there was no whistling or calling.

The narrow street was part of Bingham --seven miles long and 40 feet wide, with a narrow strip of concrete for a sidewalk.  The houses were built back up the mountainside.  My roof was your front porch and running right down through the center of town was the open sewer.  No stench and no bacteria.  You probably wonder why we did not all die from some epidemic.  The copper water from the mines killed both stench and bacteria.

Frazier claimed ancestry and early upbringing for the adventuresome career be enjoyed as a mining camp physician, river runner, and Antarctic explorer.  I remember him on skis and poles above Telegraph and his home-made ski jump on the Queen ridge.  So, I made skis out of barrel stays and talked mother into buying me a pair.  I have a picture of him running the Colorado River.  I also followed him down to the “Wayne Wonderland” red rock country. 

By FOOT, By HORSE, By CRUMMY (a company Train)
LOUISE VAN Ee--- came to Bingham in 1921 to School Nurse  teach general health care, the washing of hands, faces and cleaning teeth.  It wasn’t easy with 27 poor foreign immigrant children.  She had a difficult time of stopping the mother’s habit of sewing the winter underwear on their children.  She taught preventive medicine, vaccinations, and clinics.  She even started school lunch program.

IVY BAKER PRIEST grew from a tomboyish miner’s daughter in pigtails in Carr Fork to her position as one of the outstanding women in government.  Ivy’s Dad came home one day and said, I’ve found a place to live.  “An’ what sort of “ouse ‘ave ye found” asked mother?  The biggest in town.  Luckily it was for her Dad was brought home with a broken leg and now Mother ran a boarding house.  The house soon had 20 boarders that meant 20 breakfasts, 20 lunch boxes filled with sandwiches, cake and fruit and 20 for super.  Ivy at 12 years old now had a full time job.  Ivy went to school in Bingham and learned the many things that made her the lady she became.
Ivy’s mother’s successful campaign to elect Doctor Sraupp as Bingham’s mayor was later used by Ivy to help elect General Eisenhower to be our new President.  He in turn made her “Secretary of the Treasury”.

Max Salazar and I got to know each other in the 2nd grade after a fight.  We had many fights.  He was tall and had the reach on me but I was strong and finished him off when he tired.  Then we usually went to his house, cleaned up and ate some soup his mother made.  I think we liked to fight but other than that we were very good friends.  We went to the High School until he lied about his age and enlisted in the Navy.  He was 13 years old then.  He was Utah’s youngest veteran in World War II and was honorably discharged when his age was discovered at 15 while recovering from wounds he received at Saipan when he saved his commanding officer who was trapped in some burning oil.  For this act of bravery, he was awarded the Presidential Citation.  He then joined the Merchant Marines and had that torpedoed and sunk.  He was found a month later living on some island in the Pacific.  
Then he was Union leader until he resigned to be the Chief Mine Inspector.  Then became the Bureau Chief of Safety and Health for the State of Montana.  Active in Little League.  He ran for Senator.  I have a picture of him with President Kennedy and another with President Johnson.
He married Virginia Jones and together they raised 15 children. She said, “Being married to a fellow by the name of Salazar called for becoming an expert at enchiladas and tortillas during her first year of marriage.”  Virginia dismisses cooking for the gang with the fact it’s easy because all her pans are large so she just fills them.  “I don’t know what I would do if I had to cook for four people for a month.” she said laughingly.  “There sure would be a lot of leftovers or waste or something.”
She said a nightly ritual is someone in the kitchen boiling up a few potatoes for breakfast hash browns to go with about two dozen eggs. ADELA 

Coal was delivered to the house no matter where you lived.  We had at least three coal yards.  There were gas stations all the way to Highland boy but none in Copperfield even after the mine separated us from Bingham.  We had hotels and boarding houses from Frog Town all the way to US and in Highland Boy some were also in Lark.   

The “Princess Theater” in Bingham was the biggest and best and we even had a Princess something in Copperfield all owned by Harold Chesler.  Someone asked if he was a Jew.  Yup! I told him about my brother, Lee winning a race on Galena Days.  Harold came up in front of a big audience and presented Lee with a whole roll of movie tickets, you should have heard the applause, but when a bunch of Copperfield boys came to the show with one of Lee’s tickets.  Chesler, said, “NO! NO! Not today!  Galena Day is over.”  Well, we still remember. 
Joe Berger’s lost his morticians license by displaying Lopez’s victims in his store.  I remember the live rattlesnakes he kept for show to advertise the feast when they were eaten.  He gave me money for bottles and gave me $50 cents for porcupine I killed and dragged to his Bar.  A gruff old guy but I liked him.

Enough about leaders and heroes, it was the everyday people you would meet.  During my generation skin color was never noticed and we were welcome in any home.  Whenever we would recognize anyone from Bingham time stood still until we told our story.  Down in the valley where I lived we were shunned and it took many years before I made friends.  They would rather avoid any eye contact and conversation with people from Bingham.    

Bo hunk Christmas was a big day in Highland Boy and it was a happy Doctor Richards when he was invited.  Lambs and pork was roasted and most houses had cabbage rolls called Sarma.

The Swedes had their Lutefisk setting pots of lie and stinking Carr Fork up.  But what a dinner it made.  Christmas a pretty girl with a lighted crown serving coffee and cakes.  Wreaths and a Christmas tree and dancing at the Swede hall.  

Jackie Myakki would take Max and I into the hot tubs in Jap Camp.  Before the War the Japanese kids were taught to speak and read their own language, to write and draw.  They had two schools to go to.  In ours we used their talents on a few class projects.

The Copper-Belt trains brought the empty cars around the Horseshoe Bend passed through Bingham up to Copperfield replacing the Holden mule-train.  The “Aerial Trams day ended when the three smelters shut down. 
The Bingham-Garfield railway replaced the Copper-Belt which was replaced by the “Low-Line” to Magna.
The Low-Line was replaced by a pipe pumping ore as a slurry to Magna. 
Huge trucks and conveyers have replace all the trains at the Mine. 
We lived in harmony with all the Mines as they grew up an around us and now we were removed and scattered.
Bingham is Gone
Where have all my “Neighbors” gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Oh, when will they ever learn?
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the graveyards gone?

Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Oh, when will they ever learn?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic information of the town I still Love. Thank You