The Bingham Canyon Cooper Mine is a very noticeable land mark that is visible almost anywhere in the Salt Lake Valley but there was also another open pit copper mine in Ruth, Nevada. Ruth, Nevada is 6-8 miles from Ely, Nevada, along highway 50 going east.
The mining started in 1869 when silver was discovered lying on the ground which started a silver rush in the areas around Ruth and Ely Nevada.
Like Ruth the Bingham Copper Mine had begun as a gold and silver mining operation and later copper took the forefront of the mining. Ruth likewise soon found that there was not a lot of silver in the ground but there was copper to be mined.
Mining continued and copper soon became the ore that was sought after and most of the mining work was done underground. Mining continued working underground until 1958.
In 1956 Kennecott Cooper bought the Ruth mine from Nevada Consolidated Copper and started open pit mining in 1958. Almost immediately the town of Ruth was moved because the mining opened up a pit and it grew rapidly. Kennecott built a new town and turned it over to White Pine County for administration.
I remember going to Ely in the early part of 1963 and working as vacation relief. I worked at Safeway Food Stores and for a while I worked as vacation relief for the Meat managers in the Salt Lake division. I spent two weeks in Ely which was close to Ruth and it was a very busy store. Things were going good at that point in time for the Ruth mine.
Kennecott Copper soon turned the Ruth Mine into the largest open pit operation in Nevada. Copper mining at Ruth remained strong until the downturn in the market hit in 1999.
Ruth today is about 500 in population and the mines and railway are idle, but if the mines and railway come back so will Ruth.