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
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.
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.
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.