Letter to the Editor: a Little Mining History
At age 88, I feel that I am perhaps one of the few oldest men alive that worked in the coal mines in Huntington Canyon. I can recall when Byron Howard opened the Deer Creek Mine which I later worked in.
The first coal mine I worked in Huntington Canyon was the Church Mine in Meetinghouse Canyon. We would leave Huntington sometimes right after the Junior Prom or Senior Sneak and head up Huntington Canyon in a wagon pulled by two horses, to get coal for our heating stove in the front room and coal for the kitchen cooking range stove.
When arriving at the mine, sometimes there would be two or three wagons ahead of my brother Al and me. Each wagon carried a ton, or six-eight mines carts. So we would put on extra hats with carbide lights and go in and help load the cart which was pulled by one horse and stay inside the mine either drilling holes to blast coal from the entry face or shoveling coal to load the mine cart.
Sometimes I would help them make sleeves with newspaper wrapped around a spade shovel handle to make paper tubes to hold the black powder they would use to blast the coal from the face. Using rope fuse with a blasting cap on the end, we would measure the length of the fuse to determine the time we wanted it detonated.
Then we would push the paper tube loaded with black powder into the hole we had just drilled with a hand crank. Then damp dirt would be tamped in behind the powder, the fuse would be lit, then we would run like hell down the entry before the powder detonated.
The last mine I worked in Huntington Canyon was a mine in Rilda Canyon right at the forks. J.B. Johnson (Uncle Joe Johnson) opened a mine on the left side of Rilda Canyon right at the forks. His sons, Eldred, Armond, Clell and Marx worked the mine. Being cousins, we would go up there sometimes and help them.
I worked two months in the Bear Canyon Mine but it shut down. It had no customers. Then I worked for two years at the Freed Coal Mine in Trail Canyon. It was owned by Ellis Freed of the Freeds in Salt Lake City which at one time was one of the largest car dealers in Salt Lake City. I understand the Bountiful Merry-Go-Round Park is owned by the same family. During those two years I worked under G.A. Stephenson. Later the Freeds sold the mine to the Co-op Mining Company.
From there, I went over to Rilda Canyon and worked a part of a summer for my uncle J.B. Johnson (Joe). I can remember when Von Leamaster opened the Crandall Canyon Mine. I will not take sides with the present issue hovering over the Crandall Canyon Mine tragedy as there are definitely more than two sides to this tragic event.
But, I will take this position. I own my own 35 foot flag pole which has an 18 inch Eagle on top. I will fly Old Glory and our Utah State flag at half mast until the Crandall Canyon Mine issue is resolved.