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Carbon County Ghost Towns
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Carbon County Ghost Towns:
Spring Canyon Road:
The Blue Blaze Coal Mine in Consumers,
Utah in 1936, photo by Dorthea Lange.
There is nothing left of the
south and east of the Wasatch Plateau and west of the Book Cliffs, Carbon
County’s history dates back thousands of years to when the
lived extensively throughout the area, leaving behind numerous rock art
panels. And before these ancient natives called it home, the land was
roamed by dinosaurs, the footprints of which have been found in many of
the area coal mines.
The first white settlers;
however, were the Mormons, who began to cross the Wasatch Plateau,
building numerous small communities all along the Price River in the late
1870s. The initial roads into the region included paths off the Old
Spanish Trail, the Nine Mile Canyon freight road from Price to the Uinta
Basin, and a route over Soldier Summit, were utilized by the early farmers
and ranchers for transporting goods and supplies.
However, it was in the
early 1880s when the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad began to seek
a route from Denver to Salt Lake City that the area really began to be
populated. As the railroad opened up the area, they discovered coal and
mining further developed the area as numerous coal companies moved in,
often building and running many of the mining camps. Within no time, the
mining camps were populated with immigrants from all over the world, so
much so that Helper became known as the town of "57 Varieties" due to its
Though the new mines
brought people and prosperity to the region, it also brought tragedy and
violence in mining explosions and major strikes. However, coal mining
continues to play a vital role in county’s economy.
Ghost Towns and Mining Camps:
Just south of Helper,
Utah, Consumers Road
(UT-290/139) heads west off of US-6/191 into the mountains to the old
mining camp sites of Coal City, National, Consumers and Sweet. Though a
few old buildings can still be seen along this vintage path, active coal
mining still exists, which has no doubt taken its toll on many of the
remains of these once thriving mining camps. Most provide only a view of a
few old foundations.
City/Dempsey - The site of this old mining
camp was originally settled around 1885 when it was called Oak Springs
Bench and later, Cedar Mesa Ranch. However, early settlers found the 7,000
foot elevation unsuitable for farming and ranching and soon moved on.
However, when coal was
discovered in the area, small scale mining began, but due to the town’s
distance to the nearest railroad, it was never a huge success. However, in
August, 1921, plans were made to change that and an official town was
platted and named Coal City. The Great Western Coal Mines Company was
incorporated in October 1921 and coal shipments began a few years later,
hauled by wagon to the nearest railroad.
During 1923, Jack
Dempsey, the famous heavyweight fighter, was training in Coal City and as
locals tried to get him to invest in the mining operations, the town was
frequently referred to as "Coal City with a punch behind it," which soon
grew into Dempseyville or Dempsey City. However, when Dempsey didn’t
invest and moved on, the town name reverted to Coal City.
The mine got a reprieve
when the National Coal Railway began operations around 1924. Though the
city was primarily made up of tents, school was first held in a log cabin
in 1925 and the following year, a new cement block school house was built,
which housed about 24 pupils. A mercantile store and bakery were also
built and many of the tents were replaced with permanent housing.
However, the mine was
seemingly doomed from the beginning. The company’s president, George A.
Storrs was indicted for mail fraud for soliciting bond investments through
the U. S. Mail. Though he was cleared of the charges in 1926, the mining
company was struggling and the same year went into bankruptcy proceedings
and by December, had discontinued operations. Mining resumed briefly
resumed in October, 1928 for just a couple of months before it ended for
the last time.
This old stone building has withstood the ravages of time and
new coal operations along Consumers Road, probably Coal City, April, 2008, Kathy Weiser.
This image available for photo prints & commercial downloads
The town’s population was primarily made up of
foreign immigrants, which peaked at about 70 people. Today, there are just
a few buildings left at the site. Coal City is located about nine miles
west of US-6/191 on Consumers Road (UT-290/139)
Continued Next Page
Castle Gate Lost Treasure
Spring Canyon Treasure
The White Lady of Spring Canyon
Winter Quarters - Hidden Loot in a Ghost
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