Latuda - Located about seven miles west of Helper
is the old townsite of Latuda. The settlement began when
Francisco Latuda and Charles Picco, both of
Colorado, bought approximately 326 acres of coal lands on August
1, 1917 and began development of the Liberty Mine and formed the Liberty
Fuel company. The first shipment of coal was sent from a temporary tipple
in January, 1918.
Initially, the settlement that grew up
around the mine was comprised of only a few houses, with the rest of the
town made up of tents. However, new structures began to replace the tents
in 1918 and the camp was known as Liberty. When a post office was built,
the name was changed to Latuda, in honor of the mine owner.
Latuda about 1940, photo by William Shipler, courtesy
State Historical Society.
In 1920, a mine office was built of stone,
which also housed a hotel for visiting executives on its top floor, as
well as a doctor's office. A school
building was constructed in 1921, which was also used for meetings and
social functions. Additional homes were built to house the miners in
Coal production increased steadily as the company
continued to make improvements and in 1926, was one of the first mines to
utilize mechanical loading inside the mine.
One of the town’s earliest problems
was with water, which had to be hauled in from Helper, before a
small spring was tapped from some distance, and piped into the town.
Another problem for the "city” was snow slides. Surrounded by mountains at
an elevation of some 6,700 feet, Latuda was subject to snow slides, two of
which occurred on February 16, 1927,
killing two miners and burying a row of houses a nearly a mile of railroad
In 1928 the Liberty
Fuel Company built a new "modern" four track steel tipple, which increased
capacity to 1,500 tons per day.
By the mid 1940s
production had begun to fall, reduced to just about 1,000 tons per day and
by 1954, the company had shut down much of its operation.
In 1966, the mine was
closed permanently, and the entrance blasted shut.
The Population in
the town peaked at about 400 people, but by 1967 no one was left.
Just beyond Latuda at the upper end of Spring Canyon, are the remains of
three small mining camps – Rains, Mutual and Little Standard. These were
so closely grouped together that the towns blended one into the other.
Rains got its start in 1915 when prominent mining engineer Leon Felix
Rains garnered the interest of P.J. Quealy, a coal operator from Wyoming,
in investing in the coal lands west of
Soon, the Carbon Fuel Company was organized, the land was purchased from
the government and Mr. Rains served as president of the company.
Interestingly, Rains had been a grand opera singer until he became
interested in the coal industry, first gaining his experience selling coal
in California. Later, he worked as the general manager for the Standard
Coal Company from 1913 to 1914, before starting the Carbon Fuel Company.