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Consolidated Fuel Company
Southern Utah Railroad

This page was last updated on July 1, 2013.

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(This is a work in progress; research continues.)

The original mine in Miller Creek Canyon at Hiawatha, later known as East Hiawatha or Old Hiawatha.

In 1907 coal was found in Miller Creek Canyon, the site of present day Hiawatha. This led to the organization of the Consolidated Fuel Company to develop 1,700 acres of land which included those same coal deposits. (Eastern Utah Advocate, October 24, 1907)

Ten separate parcels of land, each a quarter section containing 160 acres (total of 1,600 acres), were sold to the Consolidated company on October 15, 1907. (Carbon County Miscellaneous Records Book 3-A, pp. 436-445, 614-616)

The Consolidated Fuel Company was incorporated on October 16, 1907. The corporation was involuntarily dissolved on October 5, 1927. (Utah corporation, index number 6618)

Just six weeks earlier, on August 31, 1907, the same people also organized the Southern Utah Railroad to haul their coal from their new Miller Creek mine twenty‑three miles north to Price, where the new railroad would connect with the Denver & Rio Grande. (Utah corporation, index number 6549)

(Read more about the Southern Utah Railroad, and the Castle Valley Railroad which jointly operated the line to Price)

Work began on developing the mine in Miller Creek as soon as the coal company was organized in October 1907. In February 1908, work was halted and the coal stockpiled until the railroad reached the mine. (Zehnder, p. 34)

The development of the mine of Consolidated Fuel was progressing well, with the rails for the mine trackage having been delivered. The destination for the Southern Utah Railroad beyond those first southern seven miles from the mine are as yet unknown. (Eastern Utah Advocate, November 26, 1908)

In December 1908, the three largest entries for coal lands, up to that time, were made at the U. S. Land Office by Charles Croft, John Heiner, Arthur Tribe, and Charles Heiner, all at Miller Creek. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, December 10, 1908, p. 1)

On June 19, 1909 the Consolidated Fuel Company purchased an "improved electric stationary " Box Car Loader with a 50 H.P. 440 volts, 60 cycle motor from the Ottumwa Box Car Loader Company of Ottumwa, Iowa. The purchase price was $2,750.00 and the loader was to be delivered on or before September 1, 1909. The Loader company agreed to furnish a competent mechanic, at the coal company's expense, to oversee the installation of the loader. The coal company was to furnish the foundation, steam and electrical connections and any changes to the tracks, chutes, and tipple necessary for the satisfactory operation of the loader. (Carbon County Miscellaneous Records Book 3-B, p. 65)

On November 30, 1909 the Southern Utah Railroad purchased the entire flow of Miller Creek from William H. Sweet, secretary of the company. (Carbon County Miscellaneous Records Book 3-B, p. 59)

Hiawatha was chosen as a name for the mine by Fred Sweet, and was named after a famous coal mine in Pennsylvania, which itself was named for Hiawatha, a famous chief of the Five Nations. (Sun Advocate & Helper Journal, January 2, 1975, p. 2)

(Another, undocumented version has it simply that Longfellow's famous 1855 poem, Song of Hiawatha, was one of Fred Sweet's favorites. The version of him naming it after a larger, more famous mine in Pennsylvania makes a bit more sense.)

Construction and finishing work on the new railroad continued during November and December 1909. (Eastern Utah Advocate, January 13, 1910, "First coal out of Hiawatha")

A later account said that the first train of Hiawatha coal was shipped on January 1, 1910. (Eastern Utah Advocate, March 24, 1910)

By mid February the Southern Utah Railroad was shipping ten cars (about 300 tons) per day from the Hiawatha mine. (Eastern Utah Advocate, February 17, 1910)

By early March, the mine was shipping twelve cars a day. The Hiawatha mine was, in March 1910, the only mine in Utah to be equipped with electric shaker screens, providing a clean coal, free from dust and slack. (Eastern Utah Advocate, March 24, 1910, "One Of Carbon County's Greatest Coal Camps", with photograph of Southern Utah number 100, courtesy of Lima)

"Among those connected with the company are F. A. Sweet, B. F. Bauer, A. A. Sweet, L. H. Curtis, F. W. Francis, W. H. Sweet, C. T. Lemley, E. D. Miller, C. M. Sweet, W. J. Burton, C. W. Reece, and J. H. R. Franklin." (Eastern Utah Advocate, March 24, 1910)

The Hiawatha mine of the Consolidated Fuel Company held two principle coal veins, called "measures". The main measure was eighteen feet thick and was worked from two openings which faced each other across Miller Creek canyon, level with the upper terminal of the tramway. A second measure, located about twenty feet above the lower measure, was six and a half feet thick and contained coal of superior coking quality. (Higgins: Consolidated, p. 18)

Hiawatha No. 1 was on the south side and Hiawatha No. 2 was on the north side. (Higgins: Hiawatha, p. 15-18)

The two mines together (Miller Creek and Cedar Creek) had a capacity of 2,000 tons per day. Twelve-ton Goodman electric locomotives were used to move the loaded mine cars along the main haulage way within the mines out to the surface at the upper terminal of the 10,500 foot long gravity tramway, with one locomotive assigned to each of the two mines. The in-mine gathering was done with five-ton Goodman locomotives. The mine cars each had a capacity of three and a half tons and were assembled into twenty car trains, called "trips", which were lowered by way of the two-mile gravity tramway to the rail car loading tipple at East Hiawatha. The tramway was controlled by a brake and a winding engine at the upper terminal, but was operated by gravity. The controlling mechanism was located at the upper terminal and consisted of a General Electric 82-horsepower induction motor connected to two tandem and coupled six-inch drums (one for lowering and the other for raising), the speed being controlled by a clutch. The trips of cars were connected to their respective drums by two miles of one-inch cable. The lowering of twenty loaded cars raised a similar train of twenty empty mine cars back to the mine. The two inside rails of Consolidated Fuel's double track mine-to-tipple tramway were set at standard gauge to allow the operation of Southern Utah's Shay locomotive to the mine when the necessity arose. (Higgins: Consolidated, pp. 18,19)

(NOTE: A photo accompanying this article shows that the double tracks of the gravity tramway were laid used long, single length ties, giving credence to the claim that the inside rails of the tramway were standard gauge to allow the Shay to get to the mine, although the gauge looks much wider than the two tramway tracks, which would have had a gauge of either forty or forty-two inches.)

The wooden tipple was fully modern in construction and design, using equipment furnished by Link-Belt of Chicago. Five different grades of coal were shipped in rail cars from the East Hiawatha tipple: regular lump (eight-inch minus); domestic lump (six-inch minus); nut or egg coal; and slack coal. The fifth grade was "especially large lump", with lumps weighing as much as a hundred pounds, and used mainly for storage purposes. Also at East Hiawatha was the company's electric power plant which generated power for the mine's hoisting, pumping, hauling and lighting, and for the coal grading screens at the tipple. The power plant used slack and waste coal from the mine as fuel. The Hiawatha mine was a success from the start. (Higgins: Consolidated, p. 19)

In 1910 the mine produced 152,000 tons of coal. (Higgins: Consolidated, p. 20, approximately 3,800 forty-ton car loads, or about 12 cars per day for a 300 day year.)

Within a year of May 1911, plans called for the increase of the then-current 2,000 tons per day to 4,000 or 5,000 tons per day. To accommodate this increase, plans also called for a new, steel tipple to be constructed at East Hiawatha. Expansion plans also called for the construction of coke ovens, to allow the use of the reserve of coking coal, which had been tested against coking coal from Pennsylvania and found to be superior. (Higgins: Hiawatha, p. 18)

The mine to tipple gravity tramway had a grade of nine percent, and was shown as the beginning two mile portion of the Southern Utah Railroad. (condensed profile of the Southern Utah Railroad)

Business was good for the two coal companies. To show off the success, on Sunday August 7, 1910, Fred Sweet accompanied noted Salt Lake photographer Harry Shipler out on the railroad line and at the Miller Creek mine, where Shipler took twenty-five views that would be used in the promotion of the coal companies' products. (Eastern Utah Advocate, August 11, 1910)

By December 1910, Consolidated Fuel was producing 1,200 tons per day. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, December 1, 1910, p. 1)

Consolidated Fuel purchased an additional 1,500 acres of coal lands in March 1911, bringing its holdings up to over 3,000 acres. (Salt Lake Mining Review, March 30, 1911, p. 32)

On the financial side, on May 1, 1911 the Consolidated Fuel Company and the Southern Utah Railroad Company arranged for a $600,000.00 mortgage with Utah Savings & Trust Company of Salt Lake City. Utah Savings attempted to sell bonds in the equivalent amount but was unsuccessful. The mortgage was released on August 28, 1911. The cost of constructing the improvements at the mine, together with the railroad had been $750,000.00, half of which had been from a earlier mortgage. (Carbon County Mortgages Book 4-C, pp. 123-137,185-189) (Pages 125 and 126 contain a complete description of the property and improvements subject to the mortgage, of both the coal company and the railroad.)

Another mortgage was filed between the coal company, the railroad, and Continental & Commercial Trust & Savings Company of Illinois on September 1, 1911. The description of the property of the Southern Utah at the time of the mortgage shows four locomotives: numbers 50, 100, 102, and 104. Consolidated Fuel owned all of the stock of the Southern Utah Railroad at the time of the mortgage. (Carbon County Mortgages Book 4-C, pp. 205-243) The mortgage was released by Continental on October 11, 1923. (Carbon County Mortgages Book 4-J, p. 201)

A special Southern Utah Railroad stockholders meeting was held to get Consolidated Fuel to extend its credit to the Southern Utah to allow the railroad to extend its line to Salina Canyon. (Eastern Utah Advocate, August 3, 1911)

In mid July 1913, the Consolidated Fuel Company bought all of the coal land holdings of the American Steel & Fuel Company in Miller Creek Canyon, near Hiawatha. (Eastern Utah Advocate, July 13, 1913) American Steel & Fuel had purchased that property from Charles T. Lemley. The property consisted of the Southeast Quarter of Section 18, Township 15 South, Range 8 East. (Carbon County Miscellaneous Records Book 3-B, page 64) (C. T. Lemley was shown as "being connected" with the Consolidated Fuel Company in early 1910.)

March 19, 1915
"Mammoth Coal Merger -- Four Big Utah Mines to be Consolidated -- Salt Lake City -- It is reported here that four large Utah coal companies will be merged on April 1 into one company, to be known as the United States Fuel Company, with a total capitalization of $10,000,000. The companies whose holdings are to be taken over by the big new company are the Castle Valley Coal company, the Consolidated Fuel company, the Black Hawk Coal company and the Panther Coal company. These four companies are the owners of extensive tracts of coal lands and producing coal mines in Carbon and Emery counties." (Carbon County News, March 19, 1915)

March 30, 1915
United States Fuel Company was incorporated in Nevada on March 30, 1915. (Nevada Secretary of State, entity C208-1915; revoked in December 1991, reinstated in February 1992, still active as of July 2013, offices in Memphis, Tennessee)

January 3, 1916
The property of Consolidated Fuel Company was conveyed to United States Fuel Company on January 3, 1916. (Carbon County Miscellaneous Records Book 3-D, pages 254-259)

The Utah Company was incorporated in Maine on March 26, 1912, as a holding company subsidiary of USSR&M. The Utah Company was shown in 1916 as holding 100 percent of the following companies, except as noted.

January 3, 1916
United States Fuel Company filed articles of incorporation with Utah secretary of state. Capitalized for $10 million, with incorporators being E. L. Carpenter, Moroni Heiner, E. R. Gibson, G. E. Forrester and H. R. Mcmillan. the company was to take over the interests of Consolidated Fuel Company, Castle Valley Coal Company, Black Hawk Coal Company, Utah Coal Sales Company, and a number of smaller coal mines in Emery and Carbon counties. United States Fuel Company was organized in Nevada. (News Advocate, January 7, 1916, page 1, "Monday")

Southern Utah Railroad

Southern Utah Railroad -- Information about the Southern Utah Railroad and its line between Price and Hiawatha, taken over by Utah Railway in 1917.

More Information

Castle Valley Coal Company -- Information about the parent company of Castle Valley Railroad

Black Hawk Coal Company -- Information about the Black Hawk Coal Co. mine at Black Hawk, later known as Hiawatha or King Mine, sold to United States Fuel Company, served by Utah Railway.

Panther Coal Company -- Information about the Panther Coal Company and its mine near Castle Gate, served by Utah Railway; opened in 1912, closed in 1937.

United States Fuel -- Information about the mines of United States Fuel Company, the merger of Consolidated Fuel, Castle Valley Coal and Black Hawk Coal companies, served by Utah Railway after 1914.