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Carbon County Ghost Towns - Page 3

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Spring Canyon Road:






Due west of Helper, Utah is Spring Canyon Road, where numerous coal mining camps once stood. Today, this old road still displays many remnants of those more prosperous times and the ghost towns of Standardville, Rains, Peerless, Mutual, Latuda and Storrs. Traveling this vintage path, it is difficult to know where one townsite began and another ended, as remnants and crumbling buildings dot the road for miles and numerous foundations and mining remains poke up from the hills.


Peerless - Just three miles west of Helper, Utah, Peerless was the first coal camp developed in the Spring Canyon District. In 1916, 440 acres were purchased by William H. and Charles N. Sweet, who began to develop coal operations, including a gravity tramway and a tipple on the canyon floor at the railroad spur.


However, in 1917, the Sweets sold the property to the Peerless Coal Company, which had been organized by James Murdoch and Ezra Thompson of Salt Lake City.


Sping Canyon, Utah Mining Ruins

Mining ruins in Spring Canyon in the 1960's.


The first superintendent was Robert Howard, a former state coal mine inspector, who managed the wresting the coal from the ground, a difficult task as the coal seam was split and included burned portions. However, he was successful and shipments began over the D&RG Railroad in 1918. For the next couple of years, the town boomed, as the mine paid for itself, completely paying off its debt by 1920.


The community of Peerless included about thirty houses, a store, a school, the company mine office, a post office, and a clubhouse for company officials. At its peak production, the mine employed about 150 men.


But, like other mining operations in the area, it would have its difficulties and its profitability varied over the years. More burned coal was later encountered and the estimates of minable ore in the already thin seams was reduced sharply.


In July, 1930, the Peerless Coal company discontinued operations at the Peerless Mine due to low production and the following year was bankrupt. The railroad removed its tracks to the mine. In August, 1931, the mine was leased to Howard & Turner who utilized new mining technology that reduced the operational costs and began to ship coal over the Utah Railway beginning in September, 1931. However, less than a year later, the mine taken over by the Peerless Sales Company in May, 1932, who began to ship the coal by trucks.


Mining operations continued on a small scale until March, 1953, at which time the mine was completely closed and all its assets were sold.


Today, there is nothing left of Peerless but a few foundations.


Spring Canyon/Storrs - Though the area where the Spring Canyon Coal Company would develop a mine had been known for years as having a rich coal seam, it would be decades before commercial operations would be established. In the late 1800’s, Helper residents were often known to haul coal by wagons from an opening on the side of the mountain. A small mine was worked in Sowbelly Gulch by  Teancum Pratt in 1895 when he built a wagon road and began to haul coal back to Helper. Around 1897, bought the acreage, operating his small coal mining venture until 1912. At that time, Jesse Knight and other investors in Provo, Utah purchased the land and organized the Spring Canyon Coal Company.


Spring Canyon Coal Company, 1925

Spring Canyon Coal Company, 1925, William Shipler.

This image available for photo prints & commercial downloads HERE!


The company began to develop some 2,000 acres of coal land and made plans to build a railroad to connect the mine in Spring Canyon with the D&RG Railroad at nearby Helper. Starting with just about a half dozen miners, supervised by Provo ex-sheriff George Storrs, coal was first shipped to Helper via wagons.

However, when the railroad was completed in October, 1912, the mine began to make its first shipments on the train, which sported a brand new locomotive. Storrs also was the superintendent of the railroad, as well as the mine.  

Coal was delivered from the mine to the canyon floor by way of an  aerial tramway. Expanding quickly, a new steel tipple began to be built in March, 1913, which had a capacity to handle some 2,000 tons of coal per day. By may, it was operational and was shipping about 600 tons per day with expectations of quick growth. That same year, the private railroad was bought by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.


As the mine expanded the camp that supported it was also growing, taking on the name of Storrs, for the mine superintendent. The company also built a number of four room cottages for the miners which included hot and cold running water, a store, a hotel, and a hospital. By the end of 1914, the mine was producing about 1,000 tons of coal per day.


In 1919, a new surface tramway to replaced the mine’s aerial tramway.

Jesse Knight died on March 14, 1921 and the following year, the company was sold to James B. Smith and his associates of San Francisco, California.


In 1924 the Town of Storrs changed its name to Spring Canyon, perhaps because its first superintendent, George Storrs, who had moved on and started his own company, had been indicted on mail fraud charges in connection with  promotion of his Great Western Coal Company in Gordon Creek Canyon. Though Storrs would later be cleared of the charges, the town would forever be known as Spring Canyon. By that time, the town boasted a population of approximately 1,100 people.


By 1940 the Spring Canyon mine was ranked as the fourth largest producer in the state. Ever expanding, by 1948, the Spring Canyon Coal Company was also operating the Standard and Royal Mines.


However, the prosperity couldn’t last forever, and by 1954, much of the coal had been depleted and the Spring Canyon Coal shut down the vast majority of its operations, operating with just a skeleton crew. Most of the residents left town, but the mine continued to operate until 1969, when it was closed forever.


Unfortunately, six years later, in 1975, the entire town was raised, leaving only parts of the tipple trestle.



Continued Next Page

Spring Canyon Railroad

Remains of the once busy railroad that ran through Spring Canyon can

 still be seen today, April, 2008, Kathy Weiser.

This image available for photo prints & commercial downloads HERE!


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