Thursday, April 19, 2012

Small Towns In Bingham Canyon

By Eldon Bray   6-24-2010

Bingham Canyon was settled in 1848 by Sanford and Thomas Bingham. They had, through a drawing, been allocated this area for herding cattle. From 1848 to 1863 cattle grazing and logging were the primary activities in the canyon.
In 1863 lead-silver (galena) mineralization, with some gold, was discovered in bedrock in the upper reaches of the main canyon (which became known as Galena Gulch). Placer gold was discovered shortly afterward in the creek beds. The bedrock deposits were generally unprofitable in the first decade of mining. Placer gold was easier to mine and could be immediately sold so during the early years it was the economic basis for the several small mining communities which had sprung up in the canyon.
After the Transcontinental Railroad was completed at Promontory Summit in 1869 the railroad was extended southward to Salt Lake City and then to Bingham Canyon in 1873. The railroad greatly reduced the costs associated with mining and ushered in an era of profitable underground mining in the canyon.
The underground mines were generally located in a zone that encircled “The Copper Hill” which was composed of unprofitable low-grade copper-bearing rock. Small communities were often built near these underground mines and many of them assumed the name of the mine at which they were located. The Galena, Old Jordan, Silver Shield, and Niagara were among the mines and communities in Galena Gulch. Copperfield (Upper Bingham) and Telegraph were in the upper part of the main canyon; Terrace Heights, Dinkeyville, Jap Camp and Greek Camp were sections of Copperfield. The Frisco, Boston Con, Highland Boy, Yampa, Phoenix, and Apex were among the communities up Carr Fork. Other areas farther down in the main canyon included Markham, Freeman, and Frog Town (Lower Bingham).
As the near-surface orebodies were exhausted the small mines were often consolidated and then, as larger companies with larger orebodies and more capital, pursued the veins to greater depths. The small mines in Galena Gulch were consolidated by the USSR&M Co and the community became known as the U.S.. The small mines in upper Carr Fork were similarly consolidated and the town in the area was known as Highland Boy. The Mascotte Tunnel was driven from the foothills in the Salt Lake Valley to enable mining at greater depths; the town at the mouth of the tunnel was named Lark. The Dalton and Lark, Yosemite, Butterfield, and Queen were also small communities associated with mines at lower elevations immediately to the east and south of Bingham Canyon.
Copper had been a nuisance in the early decades of underground mining and The Copper Hill could not be profitably mined. In the late 1890s copper became more valuable and the exploration and exploitation of The Copper Hill began. The Commercial and Boston Con mines and their adjoining communities were located on The Hill.
In March of 1906 the Boston Consolidated Co began open-cut mining of the upper part of The Hill with steam shovels. Five months later, in August of 1906, the Utah Copper Co also began open-cut mining with steam shovels -- on the lower part of The Hill. The Boston Con and the Utah Copper merged in 1910. The Utah Copper mine, as it expanded laterally, began to gnaw away at the small communities around its edges and its waste dumps threatened to cover several communities. The first three communities to be destroyed by the open-cut mine were the Commercial and the Boston Con (mined away), and the Niagara (covered by waste dumps in Galena Gulch). As the bottom of the mine was dug deeper and deeper it became a pit below the bottom of the canyon and "The Hill" began to be referred to as "The Pit".
A few new communities were built in Bingham Canyon as a result of the Utah Copper’s operations; these included Dry Fork, Lead Mine, and Copperton (constructed and entirely owned by the Utah Copper).
In 1958 Copperfield, (which had already been mostly mined away) ceased to exist as a community; the U.S. had done so even earlier. Highland Boy, Carr Fork, main Bingham (including Markham, Freeman, and Frog Town) soon followed. On November 22, 1971 the town of Bingham Canyon expired. Copperton (and Lead Mine) at the mouth of the canyon, are the only survivors of all the communities in Bingham Canyon.
Eldon Bray grew up in Copperfield and graduated from BHS and from the U of U. He is author of the book “Copperfield Remembered” and will gladly donate one book to each BHS class reunion. He can be reached at or at 970-245-8209. He is currently working on a second Bingham book and would welcome donations of human interest stories or unusual photos to include in it.


  1. Hello! A Google search for Bingham Canyon history led me to your blog. I'm excited to see so much history being offered here. I'm currently writing a family history book, and my family lived in Heaston Heights for a number of years. I'm anxious to hear more about that community. Would you consider a future blog post about Heaston Heights? I'm looking forward to reading more about the Bingham Canyon area.

    1. Laurel,
      I'm in the process of restarting my website and will get back to you later.