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History of the Railroad in Utah
Taken from the Utah History Encyclopedia (Links Added)
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About ten miles north of Mercur was the mining camp of Bingham Canyon. By the late 1890s the silver mines in Bingham Canyon were fading. Any further expansion would require much larger financial resources--resources that the local operators didn't have. A series of mining company consolidations, with out-of-state financial backing, took place over the next decade. These consolidations were spurred on by the increasing quantities of copper ore discovered. Copper ore was becoming a consideration because of the growing market for copper, coming mostly from the growing use of electricity in America's households and the consequent need for copper electrical wiring.

In 1903 the Utah Copper Company was organized to mine the vast quantities of low-grade copper ore discovered in Bingham Canyon. Utah Copper, along with Boston Consolidated, and later Ohio Copper Company, soon developed the methods of mining and milling that were needed to make the mining of the low-grade ore profitable.

Railroad transportation played a very important part in the new mining method, which is called open-cut mining. First, steam shovels would remove the capping, or waste material, which covered the ore, and then load it into railroad cards for movement to other locations. As the ore was exposed, the shovels would load it into rail cars and these would be transported to the mills. Both Utah Copper and Boston Consolidated built mills sixteen miles north of Bingham Canyon on the south shore of the Great Salt Lake, where the availability of free-flowing springs could furnish enough water for the milling operations. Ohio Copper chose to build its mill at Lark, just outside of Bingham Canyon.

At first the facilities of the Rio Grande Western's Bingham branch, along with the Copper Belt Railway, completed in 1901, were sufficient to handle the growing amounts of traffic. To increase the capacity, in 1907 the Rio Grande Western completed a new line into the canyon, allowing for the operation of larger and heavier trains.


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