This is the first photograph
I ever took of the Eagle & Blue Bell mine ore bins way back in 1977. Wow! Can it be that long ago? From the first moment
I laid eyes on it I have been fascinated with it. The massive timbers, the design of the structure, and the history that goes
took me three summers to complete, but with permission of the property superintendent, I photographed and measured every inch
of this structure. I then built a scale model of it. That model became the centerpiece of small model railroad layout
based on early Utah mining.
The hobby, that became a passion, that became a
Little did I know what that family trip to Eureka, Utah all those years ago would begin. After finding and photographing
the Eagle & Blue Bell, other mining properties in the Tintic District were explored and photographed in turn. The Bullion-Beck,
Gemini, Eureka Hill, Centennial Eureka, Chief Consolidated, General Logan, Victoria, and more. Some with structures, others,
just an open shaft with only the ore dump left to give evidence of the workings below.
From that summer to the present time, more than 30 years, I have explored with family and friends the nooks and crannies
of western Utah to find any and all traces of the state's hard-rock mining past. I've found many, but I know I haven't found
them all. The wide variety of places and settings are incredible. From the tops of the highest Wasatch Mountain peaks, to
the barren west desert basins, they are out there, hiding in plain site. Relics of Utah's mining past, and Utah's mining heritage.
Compared to the number of dumps, which count in the thousands, the number of structures is notably fewer. Time and
the elements have taken their toll, but they are not the only reasons for this steady disappearance. Landowner choices, liability
issues, range and forest fires, state and federal reclamations, redevelopment, wood scavengers, vandals, and a host of other
causes, have all contributed to the destruction of these relics of the past.
Some would say, good riddance! Others, like me, appreciate the history and the heritage that is being lost. Second
only to Mormon settlement, early mining did more to help grow and populate the state of Utah than any other cause or industry.
And just like the Latter-Day Saints, mining brought people here from all over the world. Once here, they labored to pull riches
from of the earth. Sometimes with unimaginable success, other times, with little or nothing to show.
Back then, it was a race to claim the riches. Now, it is a race to claim the heritage. It is a race against time, and
sadly, time is winning. Documenting sites and structures before they are gone, compiling histories that give life to those
sites and structures, and then sharing the images and stories with you, that is one part of this effort. In those places where
the structures are gone, period photographs are the next best way to see that past. And I'm not just talking about the one
or two "stock" photos you see in every Utah history book, but rather, the photos you don't see. That is another
sources as close as local book stores and estate sales, to as far away as London, England, this site has them all. Rare, unpublished
or seldom published images are here by the dozens, gathered for one purpose, telling the story of Utah's mining history like
never before! Creation of this site shows that a milestone has been reached and the publishing phase of this work begun. This
new effort however, in no way diminishes or completes the other. The quest to locate material and document Utah's sites goes
Finally, while this is not a forum for debate, as this is my
page, my "soapbox" if you will, I would ask you to contemplate two things of many that I could point out:
Something to ponder...
1) To me, it seems that many find it politically correct to embrace
the notion that mining in any form, anywhere, anytime, was then, and is now, evil. A reality that is not worthy of anything
but distain. Strangely, I have found a number of these same "enlightened" individuals cannot wait to go hiking,
snowshoeing, or cross county skiing on the many beautiful canyon trails that cover the Wasatch Front and other ranges. Trails,
that in most cases originated with sawmill operators providing lumber to the city and the mines, or as pathways blazed and
somewhat improved by the miners to access workings in the upper canyons.
2) In Utah, along with the Federal Government, it seems that millions can be spent in trying reclaim land, mitigate
damages (real and perceived), and outright destruction of historic mining structures, with impunity. All in the name of the
public good. Yet, it is almost impossible to obtain even the smallest amount funding to help preserve these historic structures.
(Ask any historical society that has tried.) Embracing these structures that could be historic landmarks and tourist draws
seems a much better option. This approach has been used very successfully in the areas around Cripple Creek, Victor, and Leadville,
Colorado, as well as other locations in Montana, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and California.
The only place in Utah that I have seen anything close to this kind of approach is Bullion Canyon near Marysvale, and
to a lesser degree, the efforts at Eureka. What they did in Bullion Canyon is great and should be duplicated in other locations
throughout the state. The massive reclamation at Eureka resulted in a great access to some famous mining sites. Sadly, little
or no stabilization or preservation of those structures has taken place. They are the reason for the improved access.
They are the things that people are wanting to see. Yet, they are left to deteriorate. This includes my personal favorite
The Eagle & Blue Bell mine just south of town. But this is an argument for another time and another place. In today's
economy, it seems a more impossible task than ever. Higher priority items will and should be addressed first.
As I step off my soapbox and draw this introduction to a close, I hope I have been able to communicate my passion and
my desire to continue this quest. Documenting for posterity as many historic mining structures and all the related material
I can find before they are gone and lost forever. In closing may I repeat the old saying,
"A picture is worth a thousand words."
Here is my picture and those unspoken thousand words.
The same view as above taken in 2006.