A Brief Introduction to the Hickman Family at Bingham Canyon
by Steve Richardson
Hickman Reunion, Copperton, Utah
15 June 1996
William Adams Hickman
Within a month or so of the entry of the Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847, the canyons surrounding it were thoroughly explored and the exploitation of the resources they contained had begun. Bingham Canyon, twenty-five or so miles to the southwest from Salt Lake City, was early noted as a source for water, timber, and grazing lands for cattle, as well as a pleasant place to go on a hot summer day. "The first discovery of mineral wealth in Bingham was in the early fifties when the Mormon pioneers of Salt Lake Valley began to cut down the timber that then grew so abundantly in this cañon. Dragging the timbers along the trails, these loggers picked up masses of rock that being broken open proved to be galena quite rich in silver, although for a time the values were unknown. Many of these pioneers had mined in California and had taken to Utah thousands of ounces of gold dust and gold nuggets that at the mint established in Salt Lake City in the year 1849 were converted into the Mormon $5, $10 and $30 pieces that circulated in Utah for years. But these people, when they discovered silver ores in Bingham Cañon, looked upon their find as simply lead ore, and the farmers, stockmen and woodcutters along the Jordan River east of Bingham simply smelted out small quantities of this float and converted the silver lead bullion, in some cases worth $1,000 per ton, into bullets to fire away at the wild game of those early days."
--Don Maguire, Utah's Great Mining Districts, 1899, p.9-10
In 1862 the Civil War brought soldiers from California into Utah led by Col. Patrick Connor. After conducting the massacre of several hundred Indians in southern Idaho (which resulted in his promotion to the office of general), Connor hired Bill Hickman as a government guide and was wondering what else he could do to keep his men busy. He was not friendly to the Mormons, and a way he could see to dilute their influence of their leaders was to attract large numbers of miners to the Territory. Brigham Young, knowing Utah desperately needed to develop an agricultural economy, made every effort to discourage members of his church from participating in mining. Hickman later wrote that "General Connor asked me about mines, and said he knew it was not the wish of Brigham Young to have mines opened in this country...." Something of a rebel, Bill Hickman took Connor "a good piece of Galena ore from Bingham Cañon, which was the start of mining in Utah." (Hickman, Brigham's Destroying Angel, 1872, p.165) Galena ore from Bingham is associated with high values in silver and gold. Connor organized a picnic party up Bingham Canyon in September 1863 inviting several of his officers and their wives, also Hickman and an equal number of other Mormons who had brought him ore specimens. That day the party located the first mining claim in Utah, the Jordan <2>, which at 5200 feet in length is also the longest mining claim in the United States. A few days later they met at Gardner's mill in West Jordan, organized the West Mountain Mining District <1>, and formed the Jordan Silver Mining Company, shares of which were owned by 25 people, one of whom was Bill Hickman. The laws of the district have their own unique features, but appear to be patterned after mining laws formulated in the gold fields of California. The Federal Government did not develop mining laws until 1866, and more importantly, 1872, which law has governed mining properties until the present. Two other claims, the Jordan Extension <3> and the Vedette <4>, were also filed that day. Though no Hickmans were involved in staking them, they are included in the appendix because they have never been published before. The Jordan Silver Mining Company was originally organized as a corporation under California law; two months later it was incorporated in Utah <5,6>. Mining, of course is a man's work, or at least it was until Connor's wife and nine other women staked the "Woman's lode" at Stockton <7>. The circumstances that led them to do this are open to speculation. The excitement of possibly gaining sudden wealth spread throughout the Salt Lake region, and many men left their families and farms to seek a career in mining. "'Guardian Angels' were stationed at the mouths of the various canyons to discourage anyone from going into the hills to prospect for minerals. Such a 'Guardian Angel' was 'Ham' Stringham, who located at the mouth of Bingham Canyon." (Mining and Metallurgy, October 1948 p.584) General Connor responded by promising military protection to anyone who entered the canyons to prospect wearing a Union blue shirt.
"Brigham Young tried to talk it down. He knew if he would allow the people they would leave their farms and business. He was counseling them all the time. I heard him say myself that he could look and see from where he was standing in the bowery preaching the place that contained millions of gold, but he would not disclose it to his people, as he thought the time had not come for him to do so. His private secretary was the next to speak, and he in his remarks said he was not like Brother Brigham, for if he knew where the gold was he would go one hat full if he had to put in a sheet iron lining. Brigham pulled his coat for him to sit down, as he would create a spirit of apostacy among the people, but all the same they came to Bingham, but the camp was not developed very extensively for many years, until eastern capital came in to do so."
--Life of Adaline Ballou Scoville, p.22
"In the meantime, prospectors, miners, capitalists and speculators awaited the event of the iron horse. During the two-year period following the location of the Old Jordan in '63, hundreds of location notices were posted and claims filed.
When the volunteer troops were disbanded in '65 and '66, the question arose regarding the protection of rights pending the completion of the Trans-Continental Railroad. A general meeting was held and it was agreed that each locator would hold his claim indefinitely if he specified the amount of work that had been done. This debarred others from locating on the same ground and reserved the rights of the original owners."
--Edgar M. Ledyard, Early Mining and Smelting South of Salt Lake City, Ax-I-Dent-Ax, May 1931 p.4
During this period, Bill Hickman continued to prospect, stake claims, and participate in the organization of mining districts. The focus of our study has been Bingham, but in the process of research, clues have come forth indicating that he and his brothers were involved elsewhere as well. For example, the Salt Lake County Recorder's Office contains an index to claims filed in the Mountain Lake (Little Cottonwood) Mining District (now the site of Alta and Snowbird resorts), probably about 1870. Though the index is there, the accompanying record book, Book A, could not be located. The index refers to a Hickman Lode claim issued to W.A. Hickman Et. al, on page 35, a Little Cottonwood Lode claim to W.D. Hickman Et. al. on page 37, and an Oriental Lode claim to W.A. Hickman Et. al. on page 36. The Hickmans were probably involved in other mines as well, but the index only names the first person on the list. The laws of the West Mountain district described the district boundaries as essentially taking in the entire range of the Oquirrh Mountains; the Hickmans were involved in some properties on the Tooele side at Bates and Pole canyons <8,9,10,11>. The boundaries of the district were later adjusted to include just the Oquirrhs to the divide separating Salt Lake County from Tooele and Utah counties, and other districts were organized at Stockton, Ophir, Tooele, and Camp Floyd. It is almost certain that the Hickmans were involved in those places as well, as is indicated by the following newspaper article (The W.H. Hickman mentioned is probably our W.A. Hickman.): A SINGULAR HISTORY "The first meeting for organizing Camp Floyd [Mining District at Mercur] was April 16, 1870, at the town of Fairfield, so long known as Camp Floyd. The minutes of that meeting, as recorded in book A of the district, shows that Gilbert Rolfe was made chairman and Lewis Greeley, secretary, after which "W.H. Hickman stated the object of the meeting was to organize a mining district. Emery Meecham motioned to call it Camp Floyd mining district," and this was carried. "'On motion of W.H. Hickman, the boundaries adopted are as follows: Commencing at Cedar Fort and running nigh a northwest direction to a certain spring on the summit between this place and Seventeen-Mile creek, known as Twelve-Mile Spring, thence west to Rush valley, thence south, taking in all to where it would be a direct line east to Greeley's springs, taking them in; continuing on to the summit of the East mountains, thence northeasterly along the crest of the mountains to where it would be a direct line west to Cedar Fort, to the place of beginning.' This was adopted, W.H. Hickman and L. Greeley were appointed a committee to draw up a code of laws for the district and the Bingham code was adopted to govern until a special code was prepared and adopted. Lewis Greeley was elected recorder for the district, and a few days afterward he recorded the first claim as follows: "'Claim 1, Placer mine. That we locate and claim 400 feet of gulch or canyon for mining purposes, with all facilities pertaining to placer diggings or mineral deposit, etc. Locality in southwest corner of Camp Floyd district. Located April 20, 1870, Good Point lode, Recorded April 24, 1870. "'L. Greeley, Discoverer, 400.' "Other locations followed, some being similar in wording to this sample, while there was a tendency to increase the wording by more explicit language, but the primitive style was probably as good in those days to hold claims by as are the more elaborate location notices of the present day. Then there were not so many claim-jumpers as in these modern times, and besides this, with such men as 'Bill' Hickman as a kind of good father to the district, there was little fear from claim-jumpers. "Up to June 12, 1871, Greeley held the office of recorder, and in that time recorded 262 location notices, which were filed with him. He was superseded by John McFarland, who held the books up to June, 1894, when he was superseded by the present recorder, C.C. Higgins. The first book of record of the district, now marked book A, is a large ledger used by the Quartermaster's department in 1858m at Camp Floyd to keep accounts with various individuals, among which are names quite familiar to many who have lived in Utah the past few years. These ledger accounts give some idea of what prices were in those days, as well as of the habits of some of the patrons of that department. For instance, one man is charged with thirteen bottles of whisky at $2 per bottle, between January 1st and 25th of that year, the whisky being about one-fourth the value of his purchases, and while the size of the bottles are not mentioned, it is presumed the small pocket flask ruled in those days, since all other commodities were several hundred per cent higher than they are today. "Up to January 1, 1895, there had been recorded in the district about 2450 mining claims. During the year 1895, the number aggregated just about 1300, a fact which tells much of the interest that has centered around Mercur during the past twelve months. For the past few weeks Recorder Higgins has been so busy making the records, while he, as notary, did much in acknowledgements of papers and furnishing copies of various mining papers on record. This makes in all about 3750 claims which have been recorded in Camp Floyd district, hundreds of which have lapsed for want of representation, while others were plasters over legitimate claims. Probably two-thirds of all, or say, 2500 claims in the district, stand good today. "Camp Floyd has a singular history. Its first mineral location on the district record books was on a placer claim at the south end of the district, probably somewhere near the Midland group shown on our map. That was in April, 1870. Some time later that year the Sparrow-Hawk and Last Chance were located on ground now covered in the Marion group. Silver ore was soon struck there by the locators, William Thomas, John Allen and "Bill" Hickman. This was northwest of the present town of Mercur some five or six hundred feet. At that place on the north side of Lewiston gulch the gold vein had been carried away by erosion, leaving the silver ledge near the surface. The strike was so good that they soon sold it to an English company, who put up the Sparrow Hawk mill and spent in all about $700,000 in the camp for which they got only about $100,000 in return. The mill was about fifteen-stamp capacity, and was operated off and on a few years prior to being sold, torn down and removed to the mouth of Little Cottonwood canyon, finally to go into decay. It was operated part of the time on Sparrow Hawk ore and part of the time under lease, and run on custom ores. From the mine the chief values extracted were of such high grade as to be more profitably shipped than milled, so in reality the mill product of bullion, while in the district, was not very great. When that mill was built the machinery was freighted from Ogden, freighting in those days being many times higher than now, while mining machinery cost many times as much as it does today, making the erection of this mill at that date a very important event and one which attracted more attention then than the building of a dozen mills now would. "The next big strike in the district--one which is yet talked of by old-timers--was in the Carrie Steele from a pocket, in which some parties scraped out $83,000 in about three months' time. This caused a big excitement, so much so that in 1872-73 the hills were swarming with prospectors, the town of Lewiston was a busy hive, with its stores, saloons, gambling houses, hurdy gurdys, and all that went to make up a lively mining camp in those early days. At that time Stockton was booming--the old Great Basin mine and smelter were in full work and blast, and the Rush Lake smelters being in operation had quite a lively town around them, while Dry Canyon had its town, full of life, energy and excitement way up near the clouds, and its near neighbor down in the deep gulch--Ophir-- was no less lively. Every morning a four or six-horse stage would leave Salt Lake City, swing around past Garfield to Stockton, the smelters, pass the mouth of Ophir canyon, go on to Lewiston and over to Camp Floyd, now known as the town of Fairfield. Of course stages connected with this line to carry people up to Dry Canyon from Stockton and from the mouth of Ophir canyon up to the town. At that time another big stage line ran from Lehi via Fairfield to Silver City, then a booming town, and connected with all portions of Tintic and West Tintic districts. Such was the condition when the several camps began to wane some years later. A few remained in Camp Floyd district holding on to their claims and getting out some ore. Some ore was taken from the Silver Chord, north of the Sparrow Hawk, from an incline run in 150 feet, and shipped as late as in the eighties, but the cost of freight and treatment in those days left little if any profit to Carpenter and Pollock, the miners. "In the incidents of the camp the Mormon Chief mine is cited as being among the liveliest. This property after having been sold for $8000 or $10,000, was jumped, and a fort put in for its defense. Men who had gained reputations in Pioche as fighters became participants in scenes bristling with weapons around the Mormon Chief. While the decline of the camp was not consummated until 1879 or 1880, most of the life had gone out before this. After 1880 there were but few left, and for several years Moses Manning was the lone resident, and spent his time in working his own assessments and that of various other parties. He had interests in the Mercur, Graystone, Protective Tariff, etc., and did not leave the camp until after the Mercur people had bought him out, and then he removed to Los Angeles, taking along some $12,000 or $15,000 saved in selling out. Among his sales was the old Hickman ranch, with the spring which now supplies the Mercur mill and the people of Manning with water. "When Lewiston was in its prime in the seventies, it had about as many buildings as Mercur has now, but they were all of the balloon pattern set on stilts, or resting on the ground. The town had about as many people also, but deserted of its inhabitants, the buildings melted away during the next decade, until by 1890 only one house remained, the one now used as a boarding-house for the Mercur miners. The town passed so completely away as to really leave no signs of the spot ever having been a place of such activity. The town of Mercur now covers the same ground, and is destined to become a place of much more importance and greater popluation than Lewiston ever was. In the days of Lewiston it required $60 silver to pay for mining, milling, or smelting a ton of it, and leave any profit whatever, because there were high wages for miners, high freight charges, and what today would be considered very high working charges, since smelting and milling of ores then were not by any means economical, either in charges or in saving of the metal as compared with the present processes. Then silver sold for fully 75 per cent more than it does now, or else no one in those days could have mined silver. "The times above written about were when gold in Camp Floyd was unknown, and it was not until five or six years ago that its discovery in the great veins there was made...."
--Salt Lake Tribune, 1 January 1896, p.17
After four revivals, Mercur is now the location of a modern gold mine which has been in operation since the early 1980's and still has several years of life left in it. Unfortunately, none of the Hickmans knew about the gold, which is why we are today holding a family reunion instead of a stockholder's meeting. Although Bill Hickman was part owner of one of the richest mineral properties in Utah, the Jordan lode claim, he was faced with some serious difficulties: "The Jordan Silver Mining Company claim had a vein 20 feet thick, with 460 feet of underground workings from which 500 tons of ore were extracted but none shipped nor smelted, up to 1872. The silver in the ore assayed $34.00 a ton and the lead 56 cents a ton." (Edgar M. Ledyard, Early Mining and Smelting South of Salt Lake City, Ax-I-Dent-Ax, May, 1931, p.3) In 1871 in a transaction for which he must have kicked himself later, he sold his interest in the claim for $150 <28>. A year or so previous he wrote about his mining activities at Bingham, perhaps anticipating this event:
"Leads were located, work down, and prospecting by different parties continued, many laboring under great disadvantages; but it has continued until now, showing one of the greatest mineral countries in the world. I have located and helped others who have made nice sums of money; but in many instances have been neglected, and after putting parties in possession of good leads, with the promise of having a show with them, have had my name scratched off the books, or the lead re-located. Miners, as a general thing, are honest and punctual men; but like all other classes of men, have unprincipled dogs among them." (Hickman, Brigham's Destroying Angel, 1872, p.165)
A smelter was constructed in Galena Gulch and the mine and smelter were sold to a British company, the Utah Silver Mining Company. Charcoal for the smelter had to be shipped from Truckee, California by rail, then from Midvale all the way up Bingham Canyon by wagon; the company went bankrupt after a few years of operation. The property passed into the hands of two other companies before coming into possession of Liberty E. Holden, who constructed a gravity powered rail line down the canyon and a concentrator and smelter at Midvale. Holden successfully defended the property through numerous lawsuits, one of which even went before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1907, and the Jordan mine eventually became the basis for development of the United States Smelting Mining and Refining Company, which operated successfully in Bingham until 1972. At Bingham a town developed that was one of the wildest mining camps in the west. If you like neighborhoods dominated by gangs and terrorists, then you would have loved Bingham. To give you some idea of what it was like, in the 1909 another mining camp was developed by the Ohio Copper Company at Lark, and its advantages over Bingham were compared in this way: "One advantage that the Ohio property has over others at Bingham is that it can have its employees live at Lark instead of at Bingham. Those acquainted with conditions at Bingham will appreciate the importance of this. But for those who do not know, it may be added that Bingham is a string town, following the narrow gulches marked by the main water courses. It is over 40 years old, but probably no mining camp in the United States is less inviting. It has no sewerage system. Everything flows into the creek, along which the houses are built. No amusement places are provided other than the moving-picture and 'spieler' adjuncts to the saloons, all of which, or so nearly all that there is little error in the statement, run gambling games, generally of all descriptions, from crap to faro. There are practically no sidewalks, and the main street for blocks is almost a continuous string of saloons, which do such a flourishing business that it is said on good authority that the saloon propietors of Bingham deposit close to $150,000 a month in the Salt Lake banks. There are at least 24 saloons on the short main street, and all the foreign boarding houses sell liquor whenever desired by their patrons without any license. As a result, drunken miners race up and down the canyon mercilessly spurring the horses, up and down the steep grades, firing pistols promiscuously. "Bingham is a disgrace, and especially so to the mining companies operating there, for they have made little effort to correct the conditions. They have not even established one respectable place of amusement, not even a clean, respectable moving-picture show. The monetary loss to the companies arising from this short-sighted policy, the loss of life that results from drunken miners, are hard to estimate, but Bingham only goes to show how short-sighted mining companies are. "The Ohio Copper Company can have its workmen live at Lark, away from all this, in conditions where a married man need not constantly deplore his fate, for Lark is in a broad valley, with abundance of gently rolling ground, where a nice, clean town is possible."
--Mines and Methods, December 1909 p.148
After the Bingham and Camp Floyd Railroad came to Bingham in 1874 <31>, Bingham began to change rapidly, and by 1909 it was almost civilized compared to the same town in 1871 when the Hickmans lived there. An old-time resident described the changes she had seen since 1871: "This is Labor day, 1906, and...I must speak of the many changes that have taken place in Bingham since I became a resident of this camp. I came in April, 1871, and then the mines had not been prospected very much, but now a great change has taken place, both in the inhabitants, mines and traffic. Gold was the first production, then silver and lead and later copper, which is a great producer. When I came there were no railroads, only stage line and wagon. The ores were taken by teams. The output was small, but now the estimate of ores taken daily by the roads is in the thousands. There are two airlines of buckets running day and night, taking ores to the D. & R. G. railroad for smelting purposes. The first railroad built was a narrow gauge, built by Goss & Co. They sold to another company, and the D. & R. G. bought and made over into a wide gauge. They took the ores then by mules down the canyon in small cars, then shipped to the steam train. There were no buggies or carriages in camp. If we rode we went in lumber wagons. Now there are many of every description--single and double rigs. The population did not then exceed 200; now the estimate is 7,000 or 8,000 and more coming every day. There is every nation represented here that care to labor. The new roads that are being constructed employ foreign labor most entirely. Some Americans on the steam shovels. The talk is another airline of buckets and a motor car line from the valley. The buildings that have been put up and are in action of building are immense. There is only one bank and one express office, but an immense traffic in both. Monthly reports of money sent away is up in the thousands; so many working here with families in some other place, and lots send for more to come from abroad. There are twelve or fourteen secret organizations of both male and female membership. We have fine school buildings with modern appliances and other school buildings; two telephone lines and two electric light companies; two opera houses; three public halls; three church buildings and eight or nine stores; three butcher shops; two drug stores; about thirty saloons; three hotels and many restaurants and lodging houses; one smelter, but that is enough to kill all vegetation; several compressors and other methods for reduction of the different metals. In a few years there will be very many more improvements...."
--Life of Adaline Ballou Scoville, by Herself, 1906, p.43-45
Bill's son Deseret (1856-1919) chose to be a miner at Bingham for a time. In 1876 he married Dorothy Ann Carrell (1859-1922) and had a daughter, also named Dorothy (1880-1951), who was born in Bingham Canyon and wrote about their life at the east entrance of Galena Gulch in
"a little cabin or dug-out scarcely large enough to be called a home, with dirt roof and floor.... It was here to seek a livelihood for his wife and two children that my father settled in this mining town, and under these circumstances on a very cold morning 30 March 1880 I was born. The doctor who delivered me was Uncle Jimmy (James) Hickman, my father's uncle, known all over to those in sickness and distress.
"This man and woman, my parents, were hard working people and good, but so poor with scarcely enough to keep soul and body together, for these were hard times and poor pay at the mines. They told me in later years, that a piece of salt bacon, a few beans, a potato, and sometimes a pint of milk watered down, was a luxury in this humble home. An open fire place was used for cooking as well as for heating purposes. "It was a hard struggle for them the winter of '79. My father had no work this winter. The only means of support was with the one horse he had which was used for dragging wood, selling or trading it to those in better circumstances. I also learned from my parents that the mines were not running that winter and they were too proud to complain. My father told me the only shoes he had were picked from the trash piles and were often odd sizes and kinds, but they were happy with their babies, my sister Berley and brother Will. Will was sick all winter from improper diet which consisted mostly of beans.... "Lights called 'bitches' were made by putting a little tallow in a saucer, then twisting a rag to form a sort of wick which was dipped into the tallow. This was all the light they had to use when darkness came. These were crude candles as we would call them today."
--Dorothy Hickman Pectol, pp.2-3
Click here to read more of her life story.
Warren D. Hickman
Warren was the youngest of Edwin and Elizabeth Hickman's children. Since the 1996 reunion we have learned a little more about him, and that information can be seen by clicking here.
James Barton Hickman
Bill's brother James held properties at Bingham named the Blue Bell, the Equinectial, and the Hickman. He agreed in 1870 <21> to sell his interest in these properties for $15,000, $8,000, and $20,000 respectively. He held five other properties jointly with with his brothers Bill and Warren and a man named George G. Snyder; these claims were named the General Connor, the Silas King, the Mastodon, the Argentum, and the Jumper, and they were to be sold for $6,000, $5,000, $20,000, $5,000, and $20,000. Even by today's standards, this is big money. It's likely the Hickman brothers and Mr. Snyder never got it, since no claims bearing these names can be found on any claims maps of Bingham yet discovered. James was a medical doctor, and practiced medicine in addition to mining. He and his brother Warren and Bill's son-in-law Samuel Butcher held a number of placer claims in Lower Bingham, near the mouth of the Canyon. Placer mining for gold is difficult because of the volume of material which must be moved and processed and then discarded after extracting the gold. The most profitable gold zones are near bedrock, but in Lower Bingham nearly all efforts to dig down to bedrock failed due to flooding. Pumping and drainage tunnels were attempted to solve this problem. In 1870 machinery was introduced into the canyon to work the placers in higher volume. This project is discussed in the following report:
"West Mountain mining district, of which Bingham Cañon and its tributaries form the chief feature, is situated about twenty-five miles southwest of Salt Lake City, on the eastern slope of the Oquirrh range of mountains. Bingham Cañon has been noted for some years as the only locality in Utah Territory where placer-mining has prospered. Over $600,000 worth of gold dust has been sold to the bankers and merchants of Salt Lake City from this camp within the last three years. When the sums carried away and otherwise disposed of by the miners are taken into account in making up an estimate, the sum-total of the yield in gold dust from Bingham Cañon placer for the last three years will not fall far short of $1,000,000. Messrs. Taylor & Woodman have entered into contracts with the owners of near three miles of the gulch-claims of this cañon, to put on the necessary engines and pumps for the prospecting and working the bed-rock of the main gulch, which lies from 80 to 100 feet below the surface. The best-informed parties think that the gulch bed-rock of Bingham Cañon will prove equally as rich as 'Alder Gulch' of Montana. Messrs. Taylor & Woodman have imported and have now on the ground a twenty-horse engine and the necessary pumping apparatus for exploring the mysteries of Bingham Cañon Gulch. Messrs. Heaton, Campbell & Co. are now working the bed-rock of this gulch, near the mouth of Carr Fork, which they have reached, after two years' labor and the expenditure of $15,000, by a long drain-tunnel. They inform me that they are averaging $12 per day to the hand, notwithstanding the imperfect manner in which they are at present obliged to work their ground. They have not, as yet, run any side-drifts, and at present raise all their dirt by a windlass worked by two men. When we take into consideration the fact that from the 'pay-dirt' excavated by one drifter enough gold is washed to pay six hands $12 per day each, or a total of $72, abundant evidence is given that the gulch of Bingham is very rich in gold."
--Statistics of Mines and Mining for 1870, U.S. Commissioner of Mining Statistics, 1872, p.219-220
Claim owners entered into an agreement <22> with Woodman and Taylor to have their claims worked. We don't know how successful this effort was. James and Warren Hickman owned the Kenosh lode claim on what was known as Hickman Hill in Bingham. Agreements <23,24,25,26, and 27> are concerned with the development of this property in 1870 involving a contractor, William Angel and the Badger State Smelting and Mining Company, which in 1871 constructed a smelter at about 2800 South in Salt Lake City. The Kenosh is another claim that can't be found on known claims maps, so it's likely the effort failed. The most intriguing of the Hickman properties at Bingham, is the Hickman lode claim in the center of what was known as the copper belt, and probable other properties, most of which were owned by James. These were described in 1874 as follows: "Hickman Lode--Owned by Hickman & Co., copper ore, assaying twenty-five per cent.; developed by two vertical shafts, fifty and eighty-five feet, and one tunnel 150 feet in length."
--Gazetteer of Utah and Salt Lake City Directory, 1874, p.163-165
The 1880 U.S. Census Report also describes the copper belt mines: COPPER MINES OF BINGHAM. Above the town [Bingham], about half-way up the cañon, is a copper belt, the veins of which run nearly at right angles to the silver veins of the district. The principal claims are the What Cheer, Hickman, Murphy, Kingston, and Washington. They are all small veins in quartzite, from 3 inches to 4 feet wide, containing azurite and malachite at the surface, and sulphides of copper and iron at the water line. Traces of silver and gold are also found. The What Cheer was located in 1873, and was worked for two years; only assessment work has been done since. The vein, from 3 to 4 feet wide, assayed in places from 10 to 12 per cent. copper. A four-stamp mill was erected in 1874, but the ore could only be concentrated to 20 per cent. A 300-foot shaft and 200 feet of other cuttings constituted the developments. Considerable ore and concentrations were shipped. The Hickman Lode has 300 feet of tunnels. From the surface deposits $6,000 worth of copper was reported to have been collected. On the Murphy mine is a 170-foot tunnel, showing a 3- to 10-inch vein, and a few feet outside of it impregnations of black sulphide and carbonate. Some jigs, erected for the purpose, failed to concentrate the ore. Below the place where the copper belt crosses the cañon, the water which runs or percolates along the bed-rock contains a small percentage of blue and green vitriol in solution, resulting from the oxidation of copper and iron pyrites. In placer mining fragments and nuggets of copper are found, especially in alluvial soil and among partially decayed twigs and roots, where organic matter has precipitated it. So strongly is the water impregnated with this metal that picks and shovels immersed in it instantly become reddened from the deposit. No attempt has been made to save the very considerable quantity of copper daily running down the cañon."
--1880 U.S. Census Report, the Mining Industries of Utah, p.419
In the early 1880's Dr. James Hickman discovered a method for recovering this copper:
"In the alluvial soil...exists a series of copper occurrences that are locally referred to as 'Copper Placers.' The word placer is, however, erroneously applied, as it implies a broken formation washed and deposited into the bed of the stream, and the deposits referred to were not so created. Instead they appear to be the result of copper in solution coming into contact with masses of carbon formed by decayed timber in the soil, which has precipitated the copper in a metallic form. The area affected is quite limited in extent, and exists on a portion of the Starlus and Amanda claims where the locations extend down into the bed of the creek. Attention was first drawn to the peculiar properties of the water in the immediate locality by the late Dr. Hickman, who constructed some ordinary ground sluices and after filling them with scrap iron, turned the water of the creek through them. In from six to ten weeks time his iron would be converted into a mass of metallic copper, about 85% pure, and the experiment was repeated a number of times during the Doctor's life. Subsequently some placer miners driving from the superficial channel for the rim came upon a beautiful specimen of metallic copper, weighing about 50 lbs., lodged against the trunk of a tree imbedded in the alluvial that had been deposited within their own recollection, and which was not more than 4 ft. below the level of the wagon road. A little exploration revealed numerous additional specimens of various sizes, and close inspection demonstrated that the soil was impregnated with numerous small particles of copper. Some efforts were made to recover the copper thus discovered by wet concentration, but no notable financial success resulted. The soil was not uniformly affected, and there were no superficial signs to guide the prospector in his explorations. With the dissipation of the hope that the Copper Placers would prove valuable in themselves a new value was attached to them as they formed the basis of much speculation, mostly of an unscientific nature, as to their source and origin...."
--Engineering & Mining Journal, May 29 1897 p.543; see also Jun 19 1897 p.628
James Hickman died in 1886. In the 1890's attention at Bingham was shifted from lead, gold, and silver to copper: "In main Bingham gulch, only a short distance above the town, there are several springs carrying copper in solution. The experiment of precipitating the copper has been tried for several years by running the water over scrap-iron. This process causes the iron to pass off by erosion, leaving coatings of copper. These springs promise to produce considerable wealth at a nominal cost, when a process is found by which the copper coatings can be easily removed so as to give free action on the iron. A number of tanks have been put in and considerable copper collected by running water through them over iron scrap. The presence of these springs has lately brought about very active development of copper mines in that vicinity. One of these, known as the Copper Company Mine, is owned by Joseph Clark of Butte, Mont. Some months ago Mr. Clark secured some claims on the west side of main Bingham gulch, on which there were copper outcroppings up in the rim. Since then he has had a tunnel run in just above the creek, to tap the ore bodies. This tunnel is now in 200 feet. He also has an incline eighty feet deep, sunk through ore from above. Drifting on the vein from the tunnel-level is being pushed ahead. This vein is from twenty to forty feet wide, and has two ore streaks. One of these streaks carries ore running 40 per cent lead, twenty-seven ounces silver and $4.50 in gold. The other carries 27 per cent copper, 15 per cent lead, forty ounces silver and $3 in gold. Under the shaft the ore runs 12 per cent lead and 6 to 8 per cent copper, that being considerable above the tunnel-level. In their development work considerable good ore is coming out, and it is proposed to put on machinery and sink [a shaft]. "Mr. Clark contends that all copper veins are much richer below water-level than above. This is in the copper belt which crosses Bingham, Carr Fork and the hills lying between these two canyons in the upper part of Bingham, and having a trend northeast and southwest, the strip being about a quarter-mile wide, the upper side joins on to the conglomerate country."
--Salt Lake Tribune, 1 January 1896
"John Nicholas is arranging a company to resume his lease on the main Bingham canyon, in the center of the copper belt and lying between the What Cheer and Amanda patents. This property was once owned by Black Jack Murphy and Doc Hickman, and is now the property of Messrs. Stansfield, Flynn, Stephens, Cleary & Co. It promises to develop another copper bonanza."
--Inter-Mountain Mining Review, 14 January 1896, p.7
"J.B. Stephens is doing development work on the All's Well, opposite Rogers's mill. He intends running the long tunnel ahead to tap another vein, that went 37 per cent copper. This is the old Hickman property, and supposed to be on the mother copper vein of Bingham. The tunnel has already cut one vein 20 feet wide, in decomposed granite shot through with native copper and copper pyrites. We understand right parties can get a lease on this property."
--Inter-Mountain Mining Review, 12 March 1896, p.7
Prospectors searched in vain for decades seeking the vein that was the source of Bingham's placer gold. They reasoned that since California's placer gold came from gold veins in quartz, Bingham's gold must also. They applied the same theory in their search for a mother copper vein. What they were looking for existed as a large disseminated orebody, but they weren't looking for one of those.
Bingham's Post-Hickman History
Enos A. Wall came in July 1887 to operate a mill at Bingham. It was said that Wall would read the rocks like other men would read a newspaper. While walking up Bingham Canyon in the vicinity of the Copper Placers,
"he noticed a number of prospecting drifts and inclines driven during early days on the small fissures that traverse the quartzite and monzonite on both sides of the canyon. His attention was attracted by a discoloration on the hillside, visible from the road. The stream of water issuing from a spring just above the site of the present 'pit' of the Utah Copper mine had been conducted to a placer near the site of the present railway station. The bare rock on the hillside had become discolored and the gravel in the gulch likewise was stained green by the coppery solution. Upon examination, the ridge of rock proved to be an outcrop of monzonite impregnated with copper sufficiently to assay 3% for a length of 300 ft. An abandoned 'tunnel', 90 ft. long, had been driven into the hill on about the level of the present 'pit'. This tunnel had followed a short-lived fracture that had yielded pieces of ore rich in chalcocite, but the work evidently had proved unprofitable. Entering the tunnel, Wall broke a sample; upon the fresh face of the rock, under the green coloration, he saw that the monzonite was impregnated with black specks of chalcocite and bornite, suggesting a similarity to the ores of Butte [Montana], with which he was familiar. He sampled the tunnel, omitting the 20 ft. next the surface, where the copper-bearing rock was oxidized, and obtained an average of 2.4% copper by assay. Numerous tests by panning showed that a concentrate assaying 30 to 40% copper could be produced.
"Upon enquiring at the Recorder's office, he ascertained that a large part of the ground adjoining and surrounding this exposure of mineral had been abandoned and therefore was subject to re-location; so he staked two claims, which he named 'Dick Mackintosh' and 'Charles Read', after two of his local friends. This gave him an area of 3000 by 600 ft., except a small fraction subject to conflict at one end. Subsequently he located another adjacent claim, which he named the 'Frank Cushing'. He found other old workings, one of them being a tunnel 250 ft. long on the opposite, or east, side of the gulch. This was nearly on the same level and about 700 ft. northeast of the one first inspected; it followed the so-called Quinn fissure, a gash marked by an irregular enrichment with chalcocite, similar to many other short-lived fractures traversing the monzonite mass. The ore in this fissure assayed 5 to 40% copper, but it was not in quantity sufficient to justify the method of selective mining that the former owner of the claim had attempted to apply. A new tunnel 600 ft. northward and on the same side of the gulch had been driven 200 ft., and was in continuous ore averaging 1.8% copper. These facts indicated an extensive dispersion of the copper. He investigated the titles of the claims adjacent to his own locations, meanwhile keeping his hopes to himself."
--T.A. Rickard, The Utah Copper Enterprise, 1918, p.17
It was common in Bingham to hear unkind references to Col. Wall and his "Wall rock." To mine ore of such low grade would need a lot of money, and require a lot of research on how it could best be done. Wall didn't have that kind of money, so he persuaded Joseph R De Lamar, a millionaire mine owner he had known at Mercur to investigate the possibilities. De Lamar couldn't see much hope in developing it as a copper mine, but he thought that by using the newly-invented cyanide process, it could be worked as a gold mine, so he assigned a young engineer from Mercur, Daniel Jackling, to look into it. After a series of metallurgical tests, first by panning, and then by running rock through the old Rogers mill, Jackling became convinced that the prospect could be developed as a copper mine, while De Lamar, whose enthusiasm centered on gold, became skeptical and sold back his one-quarter interest in the property at cost. Jackling continued to seek sources of funding for the project, and eventually he took a group of wealthy Colorado investors up Bingham Canyon to show them the property. They looked at it carefully and agreed to finance the experiment. The Utah Copper Company was thus born in 1903. From Wall's point of view, everything went downhill from there, as he found himself in constant disagreement over how the project should proceed, and he was finally forced out of the company. Embittered, he thereafter took every opportunity to criticize the company, unsuccessfully sued it a few times, and finally, beginning in 1909, he secretly financed publication his own mining journal, Mines and Methods, which grabbed at every opportunity to embarrass the management of the Utah Copper Company. By now he was independently wealthy, but few things seem to have given him as much pleasure as attacking his former friends, now enemies, and the company he had helped create. The Utah Copper Company first had to develop a method of treating large tonnages of low-grade copper ore averaging only 2% copper. A 500 tpd pilot mill was built near the mouth of Bingham Canyon. It was here that the technology of extracting copper, gold, and silver values from the rock was worked out. Since the hill the ore came from was capped with a barren leached wasterock, steam shovels were purchased to remove this material and expose the ore. Almost all of the ore the pilot mill received for the first four or so years of its existence came from a rectangular network of underground tunnels patterned and named after the streets of Salt Lake City, crisscrossing through the orebody. In the meantime, the day was drawing closer that ore would be exposed to the open air, mined by steam shovel, and hauled direct to the mill. Bingham had built its earliest reputation as a mining camp on lead, silver, and gold, and copper was but a minor character in the cast. This had changed by 1900, and the period of time when Utah Copper began was a time of daring copper mining ventures. A British corporation, the Boston Consolidated Company established a twin open-pit porphyry copper mine high on the hill above Utah Copper, and constructed a 3000 tpd mill near Magna, situated near a similar mill being built by Utah Copper, and a giant copper smelter, belonging to American Smelting and Refining Company. The Ohio Copper Company began to mine copper-saturated quartzite underground on a large scale on the east side of the canyon, and hauling the material to be milled in a 2000 tpd mill at Lark in the Oquirrh foothills. A number of long tunnels began in Bingham Canyon, and other major tunnels were driven from Butterfield Canyon, Middle Canyon, and Pine Canyon. The stories of these ventures are every bit as interesting as that of Utah Copper, but one by one, they surrendered to the down side of economics, and the properties that once belonged to them are now part of the Bingham Canyon Mine. Of course, Utah Copper was also to see changes in its own character over the years. Utah Copper Company of Colorado was transformed into Utah Copper Company of New Jersey, owned by Eastern investors; it was eventually acquired and controlled by Kennecott Copper Corporation of New York. By 1909 it had become evident that Utah Copper was a success and was going to continue operating in the district for a long time to come. Many of the faltering companies whose orebodies were being exhausted managed to extend their lives a little longer by trading something they had that Utah Copper needed. That something was usually dumping room, and as the gulches surrounding the mine began to be filled in with wasterock dumps, new facilities for the mines that had once operated in the gulches were constructed elsewhere at Utah Copper's expense. After Utah Copper had taken over the properties of the Boston Consolidated Company, it became obvious that the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad did not understand the need to keep the mills at Magna supplied with ore, and so the copper company built its own railroad, the Bingham & Garfield Railway Company, more suited to the needs of its parent. There was a major and particularly violent strike in 1912, which established the presence of unions at Bingham, there was the First World War, for which Utah Copper became known as an essential producer of war materials. Following the war the demand for copper diminished while the supply continued to grow, and as a result, the prices dropped until the company had to reduce production and finally shut down for a year beginning in 1920. Recognizing the need for a pool of laborers for when the mine could resume production, the company stopped collecting rent from its laid-off employees and provided garden space so that they could sustain themselves and hopefully not leave Bingham. Copper prices recovered, and the company again resumed mining through the remainder of the twenties. A shortage of housing for its men led the company to construct Copperton, a model community at the mouth of the canyon. This town is unique among company towns in that it was intended to showcase the many ways copper could be used in home construction. The Great Depression of the 1930's plunged the nation into poverty, and it stayed there until the Second World War. Utah Copper had learned the value of taking an interest in the personal welfare of its employees, and eased the impact of the Depression in Bingham and Magna by allowing providing part-time employment based on the needs of the men to support their families. World War II again restored prosperity to Bingham, and as the hill continued to be transformed into a pit, three major rail haulage tunnels were driven to reduce the costs of removing ore from the mine. The company also began to deal constructively with its labor unions, developing labor contracts agreeable to both the unions and the company; each time this was usually preceded by bargaining sessions and a strike, of which one in 1967 lasted for nine months. Continued mine expansion eventually indicated that the mine and the town of Bingham could no longer continue to exist together, and Kennecott began to buy out the town until it was all gone by 1972. What buildings remained were converted into offices and storage facilities, and eventually torn down. The last remaining original Bingham community, Lark, was bought out and removed in 1979 to make room for truck dumps. During the 1950's and '60's Kennecott made its presence in the state of Utah known by showcasing its mine as a prime tourist attraction, supporting the universities with research grants and scholarships, promoting the arts, sponsoring a popular Sunday night television show, and providing generous wages and benefits to its employees. An outgrowth of the 1960's was environmental awareness, and mining companies were quickly targeted as major polluters. Kennecott and other companies responded by doing what they could to reduce the pollutants emitted into the environment. Kennecott spent half a billion dollars building a new smelter near Magna. It would be very difficult to convert a copper smelter so that only clean fresh air emerges from the stack, but it eventually became obvious that was what many of the environmental activists wanted, and it wasn't long before that was what they got. In the 1970's the United States copper industry began to experience serious economic difficulties as it found itself competing with developing nations in Africa and South America whose laborers were much less expensive and whose governments had never even considered requiring pollution controls. Some of these mines had been developed at great expense by American mining companies--Kennecott included--only to have them nationalized once they had been made profitable. This was also a time when the oil companies were making great profits and looking for investments to pour their money into. There is a lot more to this story than we have time to tell now, but Kennecott was eventually bought by Standard Oil of Ohio, an oil company that must have expected the purchase to result in profits, rather than losses. Standard Oil was in turn bought out by British Petroleum, and the poor copper market continued. Kennecott continued to cut costs in an attempt to try to make itself look financially better for its new owners, and finally the Utah Copper Division, which had employed 7400 people in 1972, was shut down in 1985, maintaining a payroll of just a few hundred. When the mine shut down, many thought it would never open again. They were wrong. Within a few years copper prices began to rise again, and British Petroleum sold Kennecott to RTZ Limited, a British mining company. A crushing and conveying system was installed to a concentrator built north of Copperton, and tailings and concentrates are pumped through a pipeline to Magna. The Magna mill, in nearly continuous operation since 1906, is still supplied with ore by the company's railroad. A $700,000,000 smelter was constructed whose pollution factor has been reduced by more than 98% and produces 85% of its own smelting energy from the sulphides in the concentrates. Almost continuously from its beginning, Kennecott Utah Copper has been Utah's largest taxpayer. It is interesting to recall how Brigham Young had said "he could look and see from where he was standing in the bowery preaching the place that contained millions of gold, but he would not disclose it to his people, as he thought the time had not come for him to do so." (Life of Adaline Ballou Scoville, p.22) The old Bowery was located on the southwest corner of Temple Square; the speaker's platform faced south, toward Bingham.
To see a map of the West Mountain Upper Mining District, click here. To see a map of the West Mountain Lower Mining District, click here. To visit a site devoted to Bingham Canyon with maps, photos, and census records, click here. For an 1873 map and description of the mines of the Oquirrh Mountains, click here. To see the legal documents referenced in this article, click here. To read the journal Salt Lake Mining Review (1899-1929) click here. To return to the index page of the Hickman web site, click here.