Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bingham Copper Mine is One Big Hole In The Ground

A number of years ago, back in my high school days I can remember more than once going out to the town of Bingham, To Bingham High School to play basketball and also football.

At that time Bingham High School was a small school located in the Southwest part of the Salt Lake Valley. The town of Bingham was in the Bingham Canyon which was a narrow canyon in the Oqirrh Mountains.

The canyon received its name from the areas first settlers, two brothers, Thomas and Sanford Bingham. The brothers arrived in the canyon in 1848 and used the area to graze their horses and cattle.

In their travels chasing their livestock they happened upon a discovery of gold.

Being of the LDS faith and being upstanding members of that community they took their discovery to Brigham Young who was the head of the church.

Brigham Young did not want to have a gold rush started in this area because he did not want the influence that a gold rush would bring and so Brigham told the Bingham brothers to just let it be. And they did!

It was a number of years before anyone did anything. And nothing more was heard of the gold in Bingham Canyon until in 1863 soldiers from the US Army found the gold and staked mining claims in the area and start mining the gold.

With the mining started, by 1873 over $2 million worth of gold had been dug out the canyon. Siver was also being mined but by 1900 copper became the focus and gold and silver took a back seat to the copper.

Then Kennecott Copper came in and took over and by 1920 there were 15,000 people living in the Bingham area and another town, Highland Boy, had sprung up to the north of Bingham Canyon.

It is said that the area sported 30 saloons.

But by 1972 the town of Bingham was gone!

Not because the mine failed or ran out but because the mine flourished. And it really flourished. The town of Bingham was consumed by that ever expanding hole in the ground.

In November of 1971 the town's remaining 31 residents voted 11-2 to disincorporate the town of Bingham. In 1972 the last of the buildings were razed.

The town of Lark succumbed to the mine's advance and the town of Highland Boy went by the wayside also.

The township of Copperton was established in 1926 and is still there in the mouth of Bingham Canyon. The Bingham City Cemetary is still in place but not too well cared for anymore.

But the mine is still growing and going strong!

That hole in the ground is the largest excavation in the world and it can be seen from outer space.

It is nearly a mile deep and 3 miles across and continues to grow.

The amount of material that has been moved boggles the mind. Just looking at the tailings piles is an absolutely astounding experience especially when you get up close to them like driving up over them to get to the visitors center.

Mountains have literally been moved.

And the men and machinery and technoloy used to accomplish this feat are a sight to behold and a wonder to watch.