About the Book

Copper Mining
   And Utah History

Featuring the book "Copperfield Remembered"
by R. Eldon Bray

About the book

The book "Copperfield Remembered" contains over 140 photos of the Copperfield-Bingham Canyon area including the Utah Copper (Kennecott) open-pit mine. Most of the photos are of historic scenes dating from the late 1890s to the 1950s. The photos include mules, early steam engines and steam shovels, electric locomotives, huge modern electric shovels and diesel-powered haulage trucks. Descriptions with the photos provide considerable detail of significance to Utah history. The photos and descriptions provide a perspective from the early years of underground mining of silver-lead-gold ores and of placer gold mining to the earliest years of open-cut copper mining and all the way to the present huge open-pit Bingham Copper Mine that has engulfed the original town of Bingham and the adjoining small communities including Copperfield. Pictures show the underground mines on the first recorded mining claim in Utah, the mule-powered Holden tramway, Shay engines and Dinky steam engines, the first steam shovel operations of the Boston Consolidated high on The Copper Hill, the first steam shovel work of the Utah Copper company at the bottom of The Hill, three railway bridges in Copperfield and the Kennecott Utah Copper open-pit mine and equipment as it grew in size and was modernized. The pictures illustrate the birth of the modern-day copper mining industry and its role in Utah History.
Features of the town from the 1930s to its demise in 1958 are described. These descriptions include the neighborhood, businesses, schools, the underground mines and the open-pit mine that were literally part of the town of Copperfield, or Upper Bingham, and the mile-and-a-quarter long vehicular tunnel that led to the Observation Point for the world-famous open-pit mine. In addition to the well-known attractions there were several little-publicized places familiar to all who lived in Copperfield such as "The Copper Water", "The Cocoa Dirt", "Big Tree" and the abandoned railroad grade of the Shay Track along which small steam engines once hauled ore. There are many photos of Main Street, Terrace Heights, Dinkeyville, Jap Camp, Greek Camp, Telegraph and the U.S.. Also shown are the first and second (rebuilt after a fire) Copperfield schools, Fox's Switch, the Circle, U.S. Hotel, vehicular tunnel, Miners Merc, Combination Bar, Observation Point and E-Line bridge.
The activities of the people who lived in Copperfield are described. They included Boy Scout Troop 112, matinees at the Princess Theater (down in Bingham), selling ore specimens to the tourists and sleigh riding. The inhabitants had considerable interaction with the copper mine and the railroad tracks that traversed the community. A section of the book about neighborhood adventures includes boys showering in arsenic-laden water, little kids going home after school via an underground mine tunnel and shaft and a boy becoming airborne while launching a homemade model airplane from a mine dump.
Several humorous stories from the Utah Copper mine are recounted. These stories tell of the locomotive engineer who soaked his false teeth in the drinking water bucket, the bulldozer operator who was caught with his dozer festooned with twenty-seven untagged deer and the trackshifter operator who was determined to better the skunk that had sprayed him but came out second-best.
In 1958 the town of Copperfield was finally overcome by the open-pit mine. Several pictures show the town being demolished and ultimately disappearing into thin air. Older residents of Copperfield can only look at the giant open-pit mine and speculate about where, in the void above the mine, their homes used to be. Copperfield and all the other communities of Bingham Canyon are gone now except for the small town of Copperton at the mouth of the canyon.
The last of the book is taken up by the author's and his family's personal history and adventures in the copper mining town. Some of the highlights include kids losing their lunch money to the slot machines, taking a shortcut through the mountain by way of an abandoned mine tunnel, "playing" with dynamite and with carbide "bombs", the front-room store that exploded, and the irate father who stabbed his son's football to death. The author's brother was subjected to the family car having a unique "governor" installed, was "saved from electrocution" while working on the track gang, and became crippled while alone in the High Uintas. The author's father, who was born in Bingham, had numerous adventures. These included his car, with no brakes, rolling backward down the steep road below Telegraph and accidentally swallowing a small toad that hopped away after he coughed it back up.
Near the end of the book are stories of kids and men hunting in the hills around the copper mine. The boys' dog "Tip" chased deer and attacked porcupines at every opportunity but when he finally was in a position to "catch" a deer he didn't know what to do.
The book is concluded with several amusing stories of the author's adventures as a Geologist for Kennecott and a Scoutmaster in Copperton. Two of these "Geologic" tales are of the fire hydrant in the street of Bingham that claimed its last victim in the 1960s and the mysterious water can that was never empty. A memorable scouting story is of the rope that broke in a tug-of-war and launched a young scout into the air and then a landing in the creek.
A fitting last photo is that of two men who are dropping a thousand pound mule down a 4-foot shaft.
Copperfield was a very unique section of Bingham Canyon which itself was a unique mining town in Utah. Copperfield and indeed, all the communities in the canyon, including Bingham itself are irretrievably gone - only the written word, photos, and memories remain. Many of the photos in this book have not been previously printed in any other book; most of the stories in it are original. This book serves to preserve much of the history of Copperfield and of Bingham and is a contribution to copper mining and to Utah history.
The author hopes that all readers enjoy this book as much as he enjoyed researching and writing it.
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