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o the Progress t t n e m e l supp County y r e m E & cate 014 Sun Advo January 2

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January 2014 • Century in Coal Country • 3

1904-2004: 100 years of Castle Country history The history of the Castle Country began well before the white man came to eastern Utah and settled it. For a thousand years or more this area was colonized by various native American tribes. We have little to go on when it comes to their history with the exception of some remnants of where they lived and their rock writings on cliffs and stone walls. In this third annual issue of A Century in Coal Country, we wanted to consider the history of the 100 year period between 1904 and 2004, which always has been tied to the mining of coal. But there is also a lot more about the area than just coal. How does one do honor to all that has gone on in a century, yet give both those who work in the energy industry and those that have pursued other endeavors their due. First of all, there are many ways to look at history. We could tell it chronologically and give every detail of every year through the eyes of the newspapers that have been printed here at that time. But there are two problems with that: the time to ferret those details out and

the volume of information which would be overwhelming. So, in this publication each year, we have endeavored to give the flavor of the different decades since 1904 to our readers, yet still allow some detail about what has transpired. We decided to use what we call “Keystone Issues” of the Sun Advocate (and its predecessors) and the Emery County Progress. That meant one issue per decade, for the 10 decades between 1904 and 2004. We chose to use the first issue of September for each paper in the years 1904-2004 with the exception of 1924 because there are no newspaper archives we can access for that issue. So instead for 1924 we used the first issue in October. What you will see in this issue is a combination of pages that list years with stories coming from papers that were included in those particular issues. Some of what we put on pages were big stories, others were just small. We even included pieces of gossip columns in various places. But newspapers are more than just their stories. They also include photos and advertising pieces from days gone

by. We picked those for interest because they tell the tale of commerce and everyday living in our communities. By looking at these you can compare styles, prices and trends in various kinds of businesses in the community. Even a decade can make a huge difference in the price of a car or a can of corn. And as technology changes it is fun to look at was was cutting edge at the time. We have also included some cartoons and a few other tidbits as well. Even with restricting the publication to only one issue per decade makes the task of presenting the entire flavor of that snapshot in time difficult. There are also other stories in this publication as well. One tells the story of the Castle Gate Mine disaster in 1924, which will fit in because its 90th anniversary will take place in March of 2014. The 30th anniversary of the Wilberg Mine disaster will also be highligted on a few pages because in 2014 it will have been 30 years since that crushing blow to the area. We hope you enjoy this special edi-

tion. While it is a lot of work putting these types of publications together, they are also very enjoyable to produce. Putting them together really brings us to earth about how much we owe those that have gone before us both in the newspaper business in eastern Utah and in the community in general. I’d like to thank our staff for the work they have put in on this issue. Jenni Fasselin, Cheryl Young, Lynna Tweddell and Diana Root did an outstanding job lining up advertisers for it so we could put it together. Thanks to John Serfustini and Kevin Scannell for helping proof and critique and CJ McManus for the writing he did for the publication as well. And of course we certainly need to thank our composition department, circulation crew, back room workers who put the paper together and the business office people who help us get through each and every day so we can continue to put out both newspapers and publications like this. Richard Shaw Publisher

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4 • Century in Coal Country • January 2014

September 1904


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September 1904

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6 • Century in Coal Country • January 2014

September 1904 Headlines from 1904’s Eastern Utah Advocate •No religion classes in school houses •Sale of Moffat Road all Fairy Tale (rumors about railroad sale) •The Advocate installs new plant of machinery (The stories and drawings took up the entire front page) •Water system for Price (first culinary water system to be installed) •Horse Thieves Nailed •Looks bad for J.V. Long (Price resident in jail in Salt Lake for performing illegal operation) •To connect up towns (Local telephone company is ready to connect towns to Salt Lake) •Black Ozokerite or mineral wax found only in Utah (near Colton) •John B. Milburn shot down (one of Price’s oldest residents shot by former town marshal) •Fire cripples fuel company (Utah Fuel Sunnyside has buildings destroyed) •All gambling must stop •White girl Chinese bride (cook and waitress run off to Evanston, Wyo., to marry)

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January 2014 • Century in Coal Country • 7

September 1914 The year 1914 was a year in which while the United States was not yet engaged what was called The Great War at the time, they would be within a few years. American’s felt isolated from it, but it’s mention and the pages of stories in newspapers from what was going on in Europe affected a lot of what was going on in the country. Even advertising as seen below, was influenced by what was later called World War I.

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8 • Century in Coal Country • January 2014

September 1914 Headlines from 1914’s Carbon County News •Despondency leads to grave •Three killed in snow slide (slide in Storrs in Spring Canyon) •Charges filed against sheriff (for refusing to break up gambling rings in Price) •Helper Marshall shoots a man (man resists arrest) •One man dead, another in jail (Walter Johnson dies at hands of Clarence Kelley) •School officials are sorely peeved (board members mad about audit, saying integrity impugned) •First conference in new Tabernacle •Holdup kills his victim (Tom Cummings shot by undetermined person for $6) •New chamber (of commerce in Price) is organized •Suffocated under horse (horse falls on man in wash) •Jury acquits sheriff Kelter (of charges he refused to break up gambling rings) •Jealous husband murders his wife (Ed Godat killed wife who had been charged with adultery) •Carbon county again a republic (Democrats win 10 of 11 county seats) •Young Italian is found dead (Suspicion that he was shot by someone else since he only had a shotgun and he was killed by a single bullet) •Some mystery about killing (Italian’s body dug up, reveals could not have been suicide)

A gruesome find Yesterday a goernment surveyor working near the fork of Gordon Creek, stumbled upon the badly decomposed remains of a man. He at once notified the authorities here, and Sheriff Kelter went out to investigate. A cursory examination convinced him taht there had been foul play and the body was left until a coroner’s jury could be summoned. The body was found about 200 yards from the railroad tracks of the Utah Railway company, and about 400 yards from the bridge across Gordon Creek. Sheriff Kelter theinks tha the man has been dead about three months and death was apparently due to a blow above the left eye which crushed the skull. There was no coat or aht with the remains and nothing in the pockets but an empty snuff box. (Carbon County News, Sept. 8, 1914)

Working in secret

While no notices t6o that effect have been posted about PRice, the News is informed that certain members of the democratic party have sent outa few invitations to the Braffet supporters is that party to meet at Price on Sept. 11 in county convention. This si the date of the republican convention, and it is claimed by those who should know, that Braffet and his crowd will attempt to force the democrats to fuse with the republicans in order to give them a chance to defeat the progressives at the November election. Just how the rank and file of the democratic party will view this move remains to be seen.

January 2014 • Century in Coal Country • 9

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10 • Century in Coal Country • January 2014

October 1924

It was the middle of the Roaring Twenties. The Great War was over, America had bailed out France and Britain and the economy was overheated. Americans began to see themselves as part of the entire world, but still saw the two oceans as a dividing point between the old and the new world. But while Wall Street boomed, poverty still plagued much of the country. But the working man became more powerful as unions rose. In eastern Utah the biggest story of the year was the Castle Gate Mine Disaster. In March of 2014 the 90th anniversary of the blast that killed 200 people will be remembered.

Poor voting record Our forefathers fought against taxation without representation. We would fight today if any foreign or domestic force should attempt to deprive us of the ballot. Yet, in the last presidential electiononly 49 percent of eligible citizens voted and in many primary elections less than 25 percent cast their ballots. This indifference to one of our fundamental civic duties is a menace to representative government. Those who deliberately disinfranchsed themselves are unworthy of citizenship. From The Sun Oct. 10, 1924.

2014 Century in Coal Published by the Sun Advocate

Rick Shaw, Publisher Jenni Fasselin, Director of Sales Lynna Tweddell, Sales Christa Kaminski, Sales Diana Root, Sales Cheryl Young, Sales

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January 2014 • Century in Coal Country • 11

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12 • Century in Coal Country • January 2014

October 1924

Headlines from 1924’s The Sun

•Three persons take their own lives here and at Helper in the past week. •Bond buyers well impressed with the big Scofield Reservoir Project •One is murdered and two wounded Sunday morning at Castle Gate •State and federal prohibition operatives make record raid locally •Utah goes for Coolidge; elects Democrat for governor (George H. Dern) •Armistice Day in Price highly successful •Cry for a city nurse overwhelms council (Price City) •Carbon footballers now state champions (tied for state champions with Brigham Young Academy, Final state game was a 0-0 tie) •Alleged theft of money from punchboard leads up to shooting scrape •Denver and Rio Grande retains its rights over Salina Canyon way

About the coal camps United States Fuel company camps are working some better these last few weeks. Two and three days. Val Jeffs from Emery county was badly crushed between two mine cars over at Wattis a few days ago. William Littlejohn, general superintendent of the Utah Fuel properties is fast recoving form an attack of pneumonia following close on a broken leg about three weeks ago at Castle Gate. C.N. Orr, mine superintendent at Hiawatha, was taken to St. Marks Hospital in Salt Lake for an operation for appendicitis.


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January 2014 • Century in Coal Country • 13

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14 • Century in Coal Country • January 2014

Disaster in Utah’s coal country More people lost their lives in March of 1924 than in any other mining accident except one On March 8, 1924, three explosions rocked the small town at Castle Gate. The blasts came from the mine, near the town bode poorly for its inhabitants. It had taken the Castle Country area 24 years to recuperate from the trauma stemming from Winter Quarters accident in 1900 that killed 200 miners. This disaster was almost as bad and considering the lessons learned probably should have never happened. At approximately 7:30 a.m., on March 8, 1924, 172 underground workers entered the main corridor at Castle Gate mine two, an underground operation ranked as one of the best equipped and safest in the nation at the time. For the “show mine of Utah,” the day represented only the third eight-hour shift miners had worked during the month. Dropping demand for coal had dramatically cut on-the-job hours at Castle Gate, and the community was feeling the pinch. Men working a full shift were considered lucky, since most miners had wives and children to support. Feeding and clothing families posed a difficult chore during the coal industry’s busts, when periods of lower demand and slow production cut into company profits and workers wages. At approximately 8:30 a.m. those extra hours turned into deaths wages when the explosion ripped through the mine. Only an hour before idle underground workers were thinking how they wished they had the shift that was being worked. Instead those same men became lucky bystanders rather than victims of a major mining tragedy. The force of the violent eruption blew over telephone, light poles, timber and pipes next to the tramway into the mine across the valley. Some (Continued on page 16)

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Pall bearers and volunteers load the coffin of a coal miner killed in Castle Valley’s second major 20th century underground disaster. On the morning of March 8, 1924, three explosions jarred the small mining community at Castle Gate. At approximately 7:30 a.m., 172 underground workers entered the main corridor of Utah Fuel Company’s mine two, a coal production operation ranked as one of the best equipped and safest in the nation. For the ‘show mine of Utah,’ the day represented only the third eight-hour shift for miners to work during the month of March 1924.

January 2014 • Century in Coal Country • 15

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16 • Century in Coal Country • January 2014

Worst disaster in Utah’s coal country (Continued from page 14)

were sent as far as a quarter mile from where they once stood. Coal dust showered the area around the mine, covering trees, rocks and the ground on the mountain opposite the portal. The black dust also embedded in the tombstones at the small cemetery located near the mine. Poles were splintered into kindling and boulders along with pipes were scattered on the valley floor. One minute later, a second explosion blew out the fan house wall. Twenty minutes later, a third explosion caved in the primary entry way into Utah Fuel’s underground coal operation. The force wrecked the company’s main office building, a structure located 100 feet from the portal, and knocked the miners’ metal checks off the rack. The metal checks verified when miners worked shifts at the Utah Fuel facility. Those checks were there and then they weren’t much like the men in the mine who they were representations of. The shuddering sounds and devastation of the violent blasts sent frightened women and children running toward the mine which was one mile east of the town. Accumulated gas and coal dust ignited the violent explosion inside the number two mine, Carbon Fuel’s “showcase” facility. The first shattering blast occurred about 7,000 feet from the mine entrance. The initial explosion trapped more than 100 miners in the underground shafts, according to physical as well as eyewitness evidence and reports later compiled in connection with the incident. In addition to trapping the under ground workers, the force from the initial blast blew the steel doors off the entrance, literally tearing the hinges out of concrete. The doors were hurled across the canyon and embedded in the mountainside. Heavy timbers used inside the mine at Castle (Continued on page 32)

Utah Historical Society photo

This photo was taken only a few days before the mine explosions rocked the Castle Gate Mine. Some of the miners pictured here probably lost their lives in the diaster. All in all 174 men died in the disaster.

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January 2014 • Century in Coal Country • 17

The Great Depression In 1934 Carbon County found itself in the middle of the Great Depression. No one knew when it would end, but the fear of even further economic collapse and growing tensions in Europe and the Orient worried Americans. This was the time that the Greatest Generation were tempered in. It was a time of make do with what one had.

September 1934


FOUND--CAME TO MY PLACE. Jersey cow, branded NT underscored with bar. Owner may have same by paying for care and advertising. Sheridan R. Powell, Price. LOST--BROWN AND WHITE Scotch Collie. Answers for name of “Tricks” Finder call Price 214. FOR SALE--HOME AND SMALL tract of land west of Price. John Milano, 349 West First North FOR SALE--MODERN BEER DISPENSER, in first class condition. Will sell cheap. 100 Tavern Hotel. Photo courtesy Walt Borla

Helper’s Main Street looking west in the late 1930s. Note the construction of the Post Office going on.

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September 1934 Headlines from 1934’s Sun Advocate •Large reductions made in salaries of city employees •Birthday ball in Roosevelt’s honor •Fire at airport brings great loss to Carbon County •Three youths confess to starting blaze at Carbon landing field •Union of west Colorado, east Utah to form new state urged. •Campaign started to obtain funds for new city hospital •Union leaders convicted by jury on riot charge (regarding the riots in 1933 in Price) •Work progress rapidly on new Price hospital •Over 50 schools in three states to enter music tourney (to be held in Price) •New work agreement reached by United Miners, operators •Former Carbon High principal named school superintendent (G. J. Reeves) •Heart attack is fatal to wealthy Price physician (Dr. F.F. Fisk) •Fisk will leaves $75,000 to Carbon County for hospital; property for building also willed; aggregate $356,000 •Blast east of Price kills three train employees •Sweeping victory recorded by Democrats •Impressive ceremonies mark dedication of city hospital

Fire Department personnel in Price in the 1930s.

Price unable to get guard unit at present time J.F. MacKnight, secretary of the Price Chamber of Commerce was advised this week by Rep. Abe Murdock tht he had conferred with Adjutant General W.G. Williams relative to the possibility of securing a national guard unit for Price. General Williams advised the congressman that the state is now up to the full strength allowed ty the president, namely 1437 officers and men, and until such a time as new units and greater strength are authorized it will be impossible to place a unit at Price, unless there is a failure of some unit to maintain the necessary strength or fail to pass inspections by federal officers. However, he believes that that a unit in Carbon County would e very worthwhile and that Price would be the logical location. From the Sept. 6, 1934 issue of the Sun Advocate.

Photo courtesy Merline DeCaro

January 2014 • Century in Coal Country • 19

September 1944

The War

The Greatest Generation, tempered by the Great Depression then found themselves embroiled in a war that would encompass the entire world. Men from Carbon would serve all over the planet and they would also die there. Almost weekly the reports would come in about a new eastern Utah lad losing his life. In 1944, the Allies were turning the tide, and by September of that year Europe was being liberated. Still, no one was sure what would happen. In the Pacific many forecast that the war could last until the late 1940s. But life went on just the same, even if it was with some great sacrifice.

The town of National during the 1940s.

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20 • Century in Coal Country • January 2014

Headlines from 1944’s Sun Advocate

September 1944

•Scofield Dam case decided favorably (Utah State Supreme Court holds the building of dam legal) •Miners demand more meat of ration board •Group of sportsmen hang up prizes for destroying magpies •Proposed Salt Lake-Denver airline may use Price port •Another loss reported for Price in war (Daly Dent, Jr. reported missing, probable prisoner of war) •Kiwanis cigarette drive going well (Drive to get money to supply servicemen with cigarettes) •Work on Scofield Dam now being pushed; men needed •Price mayor enters drive for governor (J. Bracken Lee would try a second time to become governor of Utah, but would lose) •Carbon youth gives life in Pacific area (Richard Frandsen of Price was killed in the South Pacific war) •Carbon follows Democratic pattern; Governor Maw holds state lead, Lee given majority in Carbon •Jordan meets Carbon in semi-finals (football) •War strikes at Carbon; two youths reported as missing, three wounded •Rationing of more food is OPA’s action (Office of Price Administration controlled prices and goods The old Scofield Dam as it stood just before construction of the new dam began. during World War II)

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January 2014 • Century in Coal Country • 21

September 1944

Photo courtesy of Joe Cha

This photo from the 1940s shows a mix of boys from Carbon County who were buddys and relatives. Included in the photo are Charlie Pavignano, Fred Cha, Joe Cha (in uniform), Albert Pavignano, Lawrence Cha and Henry Scarzato.

22 • Century in Coal Country • January 2014

September 1954 Headlines from 1954’s Sun Advocate •Carbon Petition Signed on Hospital Deathbed (Union organizer Frank Bonacci) •This Little Porker Went to Market 24 Times for Polio (Piglet was auctioned and returned for re-auction) •Carbon, Emery Counties Get Nod For Polio Vaccine Test •Survey Indicates 300% Jobless Rise Locally (1,200 out of 10,000, mainly miners) •City of Price To Be Featured on KDYL Television •TV Service License Granted to Vetere by Price City (cable TV, Lou Vetere) •Flying Saucer or Balloon – It Was Here Tuesday •First Lady Honor Goes to Mrs. Omar Bunnell (Outstanding woman of the year, they never mention her first name) •Coal Industry, Railroads, Labor Unite to Fight Gas; Strong Support Develops to Prevent Importation of Canadian Natural Gas •Public Apathy on Water Problem Hit by Price Mayor (Gooseberry as part of Upper Colorado River Project) •Alternate Water Turns Decreed for City Users •“Horror” Comic Books Suppression Urged •Carbon College Wins Battle For Survival; Overwhelming majority of voters rescind action of Utah Legislature •Police Seek Clues to Cause Of $100,000 LDS Chapel Fire (3rd Ward) •Carbon Steam-Electric Generating Plant Begins Production •Carbon Voters Give Okay For New Hospital Addition; Special Bond issuance wins by almost 16 to one Count on Tuesday Ballot A recreation basketball team sponsored by Price Trading Company in the 1950s.

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January 2014 • Century in Coal Country • 23

September 1954

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24 • Century in Coal Country • January 2014

The journey from darkness to light Craig Evan Royce’s Uranium Seekers By C.J. McMANUS Sun Advocate reporter

Coal and that life it has provided for generations of Castle Country residents has pinned the black rock to local hearts forever. Coal, however, is not the only product to bring the life blood of population and industry to Carbon and Emery counties. Author, instructor and mining claim owner Craig Evan Royce’s most recent book “Uranium Seekers, A photo-essay Tribute to Miners,” is a chronicle of the stalwart and magical people who came west, with pick axes and mules, looking to pull a life from the land. In Royce’s own words, Uranium Seekers is a, “loosely edited collection of snippets from a much larger original text I had compiled back in the mid1970s. I wanted to chronicle America’s Uranium industry and pay tribute to the hands of the men and women who chased radio active ore body below the earth’s crust, often many miles from

domestic water.” Sitting with Royce at Sheperd’s Cafe in East Carbon, he continues, “remember uranium was developed to cure cancerous growths, that is what Madame Curie was working on. I mean it’s really a very harmonious element.” According to the California native, a major portion of the Uranium ore collected since the turn of the century has been mined right here in the San Rafael Swell at Temple Mountain. Royce, who to this day still owns a mining claim in the Swell, took a jagged path before landing in Utah’s Castle Country. In the early 1970s, the self-professed art junky was managing a small museum and gallery in Laguna Beach, which specialized in Kentucky bred artists, when he was visited by Brenda Migliaccio-Kalatzes. “She learned that I had a book coming out and told me she had quite an amazing story for me,” said Royce, whose first work, “Country Miles are (Continued on page 25)


Royce looks out over the Bookcliff Range, at the base of which he makes his home in East Carbon. The self proclaimed “archeology nut” can be found just east of his mining claim at Temple Mountain looking for the remains of ancient civilizations. Royce has also discovered and recorded Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Dinosaur bone and eggshell sites through Utah State University Eastern’s Prehistoric Museum.



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January 2014 • Century in Coal Country • 25

The journey from darkness to light (Continued from page 24) Longer than City Miles,” was just being published. “She began relaying the story of her father Lawrence Migliaccio and his peers. The Pioneers of Temple Mountain. Needless to say, I was blown away.” The project took on a life of its own at this point as Migliaccio compensated Royce for expenses, and sent him to Utah in order to collect information about her father’s history and the history of uranium mining in the swell. “We worked for years to document her father as well as many other miners of the time,” said Royce. “Her father Lawrence became famous for several reasons including court battles concerning land boundaries as well as the environment.” As we speak of the legal issues that Craig insists often tell the story of mining more than anything else, it becomes clear just how vital this issue is to Royce’s existence. Whether it be coal, uranium or any other prize, Royce’s passion and by proxy the passion of this book, emanate from his knowledge of

the land and the people who draw life from it. The book’s center is staged on Royce’s appreciation of people. Of miners, their dedication and struggle, their failure and success. Uranium Seekers begins in Central City, Colo., where, according to the author, the earliest record of uranium’s existence in the United States dates to 1871 on Denver’s “Front Range.” “Because of the ruggedness, age, isolation and intensity of this region, uranium and associated properties have always been available. Primarily to persons of tremendous vision and strength,” states Royce in the book’s first chapter. To the author, his time in Utah was precious from the beginning. He describes the 1970’s as the last period where America’s true “west” was available to all who wished to become part of it’s storied independence. “In 1976, with the passage of the Federal Land Policy Management Act, in which the government mandated bodies to identify all the land in the western United States with wilderness charac-

teristics,” he explained. “Where man’s influence imprint is not noticeable. All the land had to be identified by 1979. So on my first trip here, this was still the wild west. At that time, a man could go out in the morning penniless and come home that night a multimillionaire.” According to Royce, the Uranium boom provided another “gold rush,” only much smaller and ending much more quickly. To the author, this act, closed with finality the availability for the individual to really “strike it rich,” on his own. As Uranium Seekers moves from Colorado to Temple Mountain, the story of Lawrence Migliaccio begins. And as the book blossoms, the sheer amount of names and dates shows the depth of his research from the late 1970s. Almost as important as the book’s words are the images which were captured by world famous photographer and portrait specialist, Martin. Having known the Hollywood facet from his time in Laguna Beach, Royce was able to lure Martin to the dessert. “When Brenda told me about these

histories, I immediately thought of Martin and how cool it would be to take him from the Sunset Strip to Temple (Continued on page 26) 1.435.613.1220

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(Continued from page 25) Mountain,� he said. In addition to Martin, who is the book’s principle photographer. Two images are also included by award winning sports photographer Al Szabol. From Moab to Monticello and Cresent Junction, Uranium Seekers, tell a sweeping tale of mining history from a bit of a different angle. The focus on the Migliaccio is especially detailed and well crafted. Royce’s enchantment with the area only grew after his experiences in the late 1970s. He still owns the mineral rights to a claim in the San Rafael Swell, a right he has maintained since 1980. After leaving California for SEC Basketball and the University of Kentucky, Royce has followed a meandering path, which always seemed to point to Utah. Following his college graduation, the chased occupations ranging from art curator to Peregrine

Falcon restoration volunteer. Today, the semi-retired Royce works part-time as a teacher for Pinnacle Elementary in Price. He can be found at most every school basketball game providing his own unique form of excited motivation and congratulations for every nice play. The eclectic author stands out, whether at a game or jogging in his home town of East Carbon. The sincerity which lies within the author and shines through pages of Uranium Seekers begins with the book’s dedication. “To all miners from Crandall Canyon, Utah to Upper Big Branch, West Virginia and on to China. Miners who now lay, eternally entombed, where standing, within their portal. For miners are persons who make light where once there was only darkness....� Uranium Seekers is available USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum as well as the Helper Mining and Railroad Museum.


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January 2014 • Century in Coal Country • 31

September 1964 Headlines from 1964’s Sun Advocate •Controversy between state, UMWA flares again •Veterans of Carbon receive $24,700 in insurance checks (491 shared the money) •Governor replies to alleged state irresponsibility as aftermath to mine blast •Football to be cut from athletic program at college •Interpretation of “Helper” clause in coal contract brings work halt •Tragedy marks June 17 to 21 in Carbon area in varied accidents; miners injured, gun fatality, 2 road deaths •Educational TV slated to be received by Carbon sets in Fall •“Al” the Allosaurus now completely mounted, big Museum attraction •Price canyon project to start in about one month (two-year project closed canyon) •Carbon College announces plans for science center •Boy Scout life saving medal awarded to 10 year old Price boy (David Kobe rescued companion during school swim party) •“Spacemobile” schedules visit to Carbon County (NASA educational vehicle) •Ground breaking ceremonies slated as forerunner to Price Canyon road construction •Gasoline tanker, house, drive-in involved in freak Main Street fire (Cook’s Velvet Freeze & home at 4th East & Main) •First visit by Santa attracts over 1,500 children and adults •Price Canyon closed to traffic as construction starts •(Governor) Clyde okehs establishment of Job Corps camp near Price for 100 boys

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Worst disaster in Utah’s coal country (Continued from page 16)

Gate were also thrown more than one mile across the canyon, into the side of the mountain. The force of the blasts and the resulting heat were so great that the coal along the walls inside the underground production facility had been coked by the first explosion and glazed over by the second. The coal coking and glazing process requires a minimum temperature of 662 degrees Fahrenheit to complete. Relatives and friends of the entombed coal miners crowded the roadway leading to the production facility’s entrance. The silence of death filled the air as the rescue crews entered the mine, leading horses into the shafts to carry out the victims. By March 10, 1924, the bodies of 26 Castle Gate miners who died in the explosions had been removed from the underground shafts. Many of the mining disaster victims’ bodies were mutilated and dismembered beyond recognition due to the sheer force of the explosions as well as the intense heat created by the explosions. After the explosions, deadly gas and flooding water filled the underground shafts at Castle Gate. Rescue and search crews worked for almost two weeks before all of the victims’ bodies were removed from the mine. By March 11, the bodies of more than 100 victims of the mine explosions had been recovered, squelching any

hope that remained and ending the grim suspense. By March 18, 172 bodies had been removed from the underground shafts carried out of the mine by rescue crews using horses to aide them. The disaster and resulting afterdamp claimed the lives of 173 men, including one would-be rescuer.The youngest fatality was the 15-year-old brother of another victim killed in the mining accident. On March 24, the hauntingly sad sound of “Taps” echoed from the hillside above Castle Gate in memory of the dead miners. Sealed caskets were carried from the town’s amusement halls, which had served as temporary morgues, and loaded onto the beds of trucks. Grieving survivors followed the funeral processions to cemeteries in Price and Helper. Many also were buried in the Castle Gate cemetery, which today is located near USU Easterns Energy Development Center.

This is what the mine area looked like only a few years before the disaster took place.

Utah Historical Society photo

Coffins of some of those who died lined up while families and other miners pay their respects.

Left: The disaster left many widows and many orphans in its wake. Archie Henderson was killed in the explosion and his wife and children were left without support. In this photo take after he was killed, Mrs. Henderson is expecting and it also shows two of the children, Archie, Jr., nine, and Myrtle, 12. Two other children were not photographed. Utah Historical Society photo

January 2014 • Century in Coal Country • 33

September 1974 Headlines from 1974’s Sun Advocate •Two hurt in gunshot duel during Christmas melee (Stolen truck leads to two captured after police put shotgun shells into truck. They later pled guilty to charges) •Castle Gate to be leveled •Judge studies dress code (School district dress rules) •Fire razes warehouse. $1 million loss (Utah Wholesale Grocery) •Key dates first area flight (Air service by Key Airlines to begin on April 15) •Judge Sheya throws out Carbon School District dress code with verdict •Area gasoline forecast-short supply, high costs •Police declare bike war (Going after unregistered and Price City’s Main Street from 100 West looking east in the 1970s. unlicensed motorbikes in hills around Price after a weekend of citizen complaints about noise and dust) •Alpine Morel fire leaves high loss mark Price Elementary razed by spectacular fire (Six year old school was newest in district at time, was valued at $1.3 million) •First North route okayed for Price bypass connection •Volunteers sought to reopen Price Central (School) (To make up for the loss of the school, which housed over 500 students, burned in the fire a few weeks before) •Industry speaks out against EPA studies •Kidnap victims found safe in Price motel (Two kidnapped men from Moab were found bound and gagged at the Crest Motel. The kidnapper was later arrested in Portland, Ore.) •Coal strike on, Rampton in Price about emergency coal production •’Ambush,’ dynamite found in Price


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Headlines from 1974’s Sun Advocate •Yes, the road is really open (Highway 6 open past slide zone, no more going through Duchesne to the Wasatch Front) •Miracle landing cheats death (Helicopter crash results in no deaths) •Sutton guilty in teen murder (Jonas Daniel Paul Sutton pleaded guilty to murder of Betty Joell Kellum that occurred in 1983) •Slide cuts off Carbon again; Highway 6 closed for several more days •Federal suit filed against mayor, city (Former inmate at jail claimed breathalyser test was rigged) •Man killed in elevator (Elevator company employee crushed by elevator as he was working on it) •Miners recalled but some strike; Negotiations begin today •Clean air regulations may prevent development •Castleview Hospital dedicates expansion •Residents stunned by Wilberg tragedy

From the Sept. 5, 1984 edition of the Sun Advocate

January 2014 • Century in Coal Country • 39

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40 • Century in Coal Country • January 2014

Remembering Wilberg In December of 1984, a disaster happened at an Emery County MIne that made national news, and to date recorded the largest loss of life in a coal mine in Utah since the Castle Gate explosion of 1924. On Dec. 19 of that year a fire erupted approximately 5,000 feet from the main entrance into the Wilberg underground coal production facility operated by Emery Mining Corporation. The 9:30 p.m. blaze trapped 27 employees working inside the longwall, fifth right section, at Utah Power & Light’s operation near the cities of Castle Dale and Orangeville in Emery County. According to the official recorded statements, two management employees along with 25 miners and a general maintenance foreman were attempting to set a world’s record for tonnage produced in

a 24-hour period on a longwall operation when the fatal fire ignited inside the underground facility. Only one person working inside the underground facility at the time of the incident managed to escape from Wilberg’s smoke-filled shafts on that fateful Wednesday evening 29 years ago. Maintenance foreman Kenneth Blake, identified as a Price resident when the deadly fire erupted in the underground shafts, was the only Wilberg employee working inside the underground coal production to survive the disaster. Concentrated rescue efforts on Dec. 20, 1984 included drilling a three-inch hole from the Little Dove mine through 700 feet of solid rock into a new entryway being cut at Wilberg. The purpose behind drilling the three-inch hole focused on

establishing a means to supply food, water and air to any trapped workers who had managed to avoid succumbing to the smoke and poisonous gases permeating Wilberg’s mining shafts. The company and miners from throughout the Carbon-Emery area, along with United States Mine Safety and Health Administration representatives, hoped that the 27 employees had been able to reach

a new entryway being driven near the face of Wilberg. Officials theorized that the deadend area at the mine entryway site would keep the air circulation down in the shafts. And by constructing an emergency brattice barricade at the entrance, perhaps the trapped workers managed to survive on the relatively clean air remaining in the chamber. (Continued on page 41)

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The fire in the Wilberg Mine rages in December of 1984.

January 2014 • Century in Coal Country • 41

Remembering Wilberg (Continued from page 40)

After entering Wilberg on Dec. 21, 1984, rescue team members discovered a group of nine dead underground coal miners at a location only 200 feet beyond the fire. Later that day, search and rescue personnel found the bodies of four victims approximately 600 feet from the blaze. The crews also discovered two more of the trapped underground workers at a site another 50 feet away. Approaching Wilberg’s face late Dec. 22, 1984, rescue teams found 12 additional dead miners. Rescuers also discovered a partially erected barricade approximately 2,700 feet from the entrance into the section. But the searchers found no evidence to Helping you produce the Energy we all use

indicate that any of the 27 trapped employees ever reached the dead-end area at the mine’s new entryway site. Three of the victims’ bodies were located in front of the barricade, seven dead miners were lying behind it and two workers were discovered in a separate underground shaft at Wilberg. Before search and rescue crew members could remove the bodies of the 27 Emery Mining employees, the fire raged completely out of control. The blazing inferno forced the teams to pull out of the Wilberg mine in what ultimately constituted the final 1984 effort to recover the trapped workers’s remains from the underground facility. On Sunday, Dec. 23, 1984, the first attempt to seal the Wilberg mine portal failed when the

fire flared up and rising levels of poisonous gas forced evacuation of more than 100 rescuers from the area near the entryway. Also on Dec. 23, a helicopter carried a sharpshooter armed with a high-powered rifle into the sky above the Wilberg mine property. The plan called for the sharpshooter to rupture the fuel tank on the generator pumping air into the underground facility. However, the thick cloud of smoke belching from the portal made it impossible for the sharpshooter to spot the equipment in question. On Christmas Eve 1984, the sharpshooter fired five rounds into the radiator cooling the diesel engine running the generator. The engine overheated and stalled, effectively shutting down the generator and stopping the (Continued on page 42)


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Remembering Wilberg (Continued from page 41)

fan circulating air into Wilberg mine. By Thursday, Dec. 27, 1984, all but two mine shafts were sealed. Officials declined to predict how long it would take for the fire to extinguish and allow recovery teams to retrieve the 27 bodies. The bodies of the victims killed at Wilberg were not recovered until December 1985 - one year after the underground mining disaster occurred. Initially, officials investigating the December 1984 incident speculated that an overheated bearing on the belt drive at Wilberg’s main entry may have caused the fatal blaze to erupt. But in 1986, MSHA released the federal agency’s investigation results. (Continued on page 43)

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Remembering Wilberg (Continued from page 42)

The investigation pinpointed an air compressor inside the underground facility as the fire’s source. Emery Mining employees killed in the 1984 Wilberg disaster included company officials James Hamlin of Price, vice president of operations; and David Bocook, also of Price, mine manager. The first female worker to die in an accident in the underground coal mining shafts in the Carbon-Emery area was Nannette Wheeler of Castle Dale. The remaining victims who died in the Wilberg fire included Alex Poulos of Price, Vic Cigolani of Huntington, Leroy Hersh of East Carbon, James Bertuzzi of Castle

Dale, Phillip Bell of Orangeville, Lester Walls Jr. of Huntington, Ricci Camberlango of Price, Robert Christensen of Castle Dale, Lee Johansen of Ferron, John Waldoch of Huntington, Lynn Robinson of Ferron, Bert Bennett of Fillmore, Brian Howard of Castle Dale, Randy Curry of Castle Dale, Joel Nevitt of Price, Gordon Conover of Ferron, Robert Ellis of Ferron, Curtis Carter of Huntington, Owen Curtis of Price, Gary Jennings of Huntington, John Wilsey of Orangeville Kelly Riddle of Ferron and Ray Snow of Ferron. The tragic loss of lives resulting from the December 1984 underground fire at Wilberg rocked the entire Carbon-Emery County mining community.





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44 â&#x20AC;˘ Century in Coal Country â&#x20AC;˘ January 2014

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September 2004 Headlines from 2004’s Sun Advocate

•Carbon commission to discuss meth problem, drug court option •Price hotels guest arrested on drug charges •Price city officials investigate counterfeiting case •Price council brings motocross event to Carbon County •Sun Advocate dominates Utah Press Association Awards •National Guard not coming home as expected •Price City recognized with national award (Best city in Utah, population under 10,000) •Scofield reservoir dwindling •Advisory panel reviews new road project for Nine Mile Canyon •Murder, suicide investigated near East Carbon •Downtown Price to receive facelift (10 buildings to get historic renovation) •Automotive industry recognizes CEU automotive department •Pinnacle Canyon Academy to become High School (certification nears) •Nationwide flu vaccination shortage effects local citizens •Price considers ban on outdoor smoking

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Helper Alliance meets to discuss civic topics For the last few months a new group, dedicated to making Helper a better place to have businesses and to live in has been meeting. The initial meetings have been organized by the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce, but now leaders from the community are starting to emerge and add to the meetings. On August 24 the group held it’s latest meeting with people from business areas, as well as civic groups attending. “It’s interesting,” said Ken Larson, the president of the Carbon Chamber as he started the meeting. “We have had different groups of people here each time. The first time it was a lot of civic leaders, last time there were a lot of the artists in town and this time there are more business people.” The largest point of discussion during the meeting was talk about what could be done to get

people to come into Helper from the highway. There were a number of suggestions. First came the idea of having a large horseshoe tournament by possibly setting them up at the old pony league field in town. That idea met with most peoples support. Next Mayor Joe Bonacci talked about the fact that the city has put in an recreational vehicle dump station and plans on putting up signs on the highway to advertise it is there. He said those signs are presently being made. Some in the group asked why the city doesn’t advertise that area as a rest stop, but Bonacci said that to be qualified as a rest stop there must be certain kindsof facilities as well as adequate parking for such a venue. “The state has regulations about that and we don’t meet the requirements,” he said.

48 • Century in Coal Country • January 2014

September 2004

From the Sept. 2, 2004 issue of the Sun Advocate.








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January 2014 â&#x20AC;˘ Century in Coal Country â&#x20AC;˘ 49

Castle Valley agriculture through the years

Bud, June and Dee Fausett topping sugar beets near Wellington.

Photo courtesy Marie Fausett

Bert and Bertram Jacob with some tall cornstalks.

Some unknown farmers hauling loose hay with a horse drawn wagon.

Bailing hay before the advent of field balers.

All animals know the grass is always greener on the other side...

50 • Century in Coal Country • January 2014

More than just newspapers... much more 30 Special Sections Each year

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